logo


no avatar

The buzz on bugs: They’re not always a pest

By Stephanie Carson • Updated Oct 10, 2017 at 9:00 AM

NASHVILLE – Insects don’t get the respect they deserve, but author David MacNeal highlighted their importance and diversity in his new book, “Bugged: The Insects Who Rule the World and the People Obsessed with Them.”

MacNeal said bugs aren’t living in our world – we’re living in theirs. There are 1.4 billion bugs for every human on earth. 

Recently, views of one insect in particular, bees, have changed, and more people recognize their importance. 

But MacNeal said other bugs are vital to the economy, as well.

“These two entomologists calculated, ‘OK, besides pollination, what other services do insects provide?’” he said. “And they put that number around $57 billion [a year]. 

“However, the incalculable figure was decomposition – recycling nutrients. I mean, who knows how much that would cost.”

MacNeal said the work of beetles and other insects in processing dead matter and rejuvenating soil is perhaps the most crucial and overlooked role bugs play. It’s especially crucial for people who work on the land.

MacNeal described bugs as bio-indicators for the planet. In other words, when the health of insects is looked at, there’s an understanding of how the environment is doing.

“The more we look at them – which we are now, more so than ever – the better chances of future generations actually casting aside their aversion and appreciating insects as this kind of gateway to nature – really, this mediator between man and nature,” he states.

MacNeal said bugs could play an even more vital role in the future, possibly becoming widespread as snacks, because they’re a good source of protein. 

Medicine, too, could benefit. MacNeal said there is research into the use of scorpion venom in the treatment of brain tumors.

Recommended for You