Wilson: Insects essential to human life

Jul 01, 2007

Ant expert Edward O. Wilson, in Washington for National Pollinator Week, is warning extinctions in the insect world could threaten life as we know it.

Speaking at the Kaiser Family Foundation, Wilson said if humans vanished, only three species of insect would join them in extinction. Close relatives of body and head lice would continue to live on our primate cousins.

But mass insect extinction could mean no more nematodes and other worms moving soil around, and bees and other pollinators aiding plant reproduction. Agricultural yields would drop, bringing starvation, war and an "ecological dark age."

"The survivors would offer prayers for the return of weeds and bugs," Wilson said.

Beekeepers in the United States already are confronting colony collapse disorder. In about 25 percent of the managed hives in the United States, worker bees are leaving and not coming back -- and no one knows why.

Wilson, a longtime Harvard professor, has won two Pulitzer prizes for his popular science writing.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International

Explore further: Lemurs match scent of a friend to sound of her voice

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Insect research gives humans six legs up

Jun 30, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- You could say that Bert Hölldobler's career began during a childhood walk in the Bavarian woods with his father. The elder Holldobler turned over a rock out in the forest, exposing a colony ...

Fountain of Youth to be found in the anthill?

Nov 20, 2008

Aging – we are all doing it. It is relentless and terminal. Auguries and alchemists, mendicants and magicians, philosophers and science fiction writers, researchers and plastic surgeons have employed all ...

Life has a future; Naturalist E.O. Wilson is optimistic

Jun 15, 2006

Despite all the destruction of forests, pollution, overpopulation, and overfishing, Edward O. Wilson is optimistic about the future of life on Earth. Science, prudent actions, and moral courage are showing ...

Recommended for you

Lemurs match scent of a friend to sound of her voice

6 hours ago

Humans aren't alone in their ability to match a voice to a face—animals such as dogs, horses, crows and monkeys are able to recognize familiar individuals this way too, a growing body of research shows.

Chrono, the last piece of the circadian clock puzzle?

8 hours ago

All organisms, from mammals to fungi, have daily cycles controlled by a tightly regulated internal clock, called the circadian clock. The whole-body circadian clock, influenced by the exposure to light, dictates the wake-sleep ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Low Vitamin D may not be a culprit in menopause symptoms

A new study from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) shows no significant connection between vitamin D levels and menopause symptoms. The study was published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopa ...

Astronomers: 'Tilt-a-worlds' could harbor life

A fluctuating tilt in a planet's orbit does not preclude the possibility of life, according to new research by astronomers at the University of Washington, Utah's Weber State University and NASA. In fact, ...