Why every fly counts
Without insects, humanity would have no chance. That is why Dr. Hans-Dietrich Reckhaus published his book "Why every fly counts" (German title: „Warum jede Fliege zählt“). It is only a few creatures humans have so many conflicts with like insects. A producer of biocides of all people now points out the value and the threats of these animals.
Dr. Hans Dietrich Reckhaus (2017): Why every fly counts.
A Documentation about the Value and Endangerment of Insects. Springer Verlag.
"Warum jede Fliege zählt“ was published in English by Springer publishing house under the title „Why Every Fly Counts“ in summer 2017.
Dr. Hans-Dietrich Reckhaus (2016): Warum jede Fliege zählt.
A documentation about the value and threat of insects. Gais, Bielefeld: Insect Respect.
The book illuminates the ambivalent relationship between humans and insects: Are these animals rather valueable or threatful to us? Which role do they play for the diversity of species and ecosystems (biodiversity)? How do climate change and the demographic development effect them: Is the number of insects increasing or decreasing?
It is not only in Europe that the number and diversity of insects is declining dramatically. That results in longterm consequences: "Without insects, humanity has only few months left to live", learned Dr. Hans-Dietrich Reckhaus from the world-famous entomologist Edward Wilson. Thus, the CEO of an established biocides company studied for three years the value, threat and development of insects. He now shares his findings in his new book "Why every fly counts" (Warum jede Fliege zählt, German).
"The publications of Insect Respect are unique: They do not discuss single aspects like biotechnology or beneficial insects or pests, they rather show the important role of this animal group in the whole balance of ecosystems. This kind of literature really bridges a gap in the market."
Prof. Dr. Stanislav N. Gorb, Zoological Institute, Functional Morphology and Biomechanics, Kiel University
"How does a producer of biocides get the idea of concerning the benefit of insects? That’s why this book is unique. If you already did ask yourself, what is the benefit of this annoying small animals, you will find hundreds of well-founded answers in this book. Enjoy reading!"
Priska Seri, Research Associate at the Natural History Museum St. Gallen
"With this book, Dr. Hans-Dietrich Reckhaus succeeds in presenting a current overview of the relationship between humans and insects. The well-researched numbers and correlations astonish the reader and summon respect for these often misunderstood creatures."
Dr. Hans R. Herren, Pioneer in biological pest control, President of the Millennium Foundation, winner of the Alternative Nobel Prize
"This is an important book in the age of unrestrained bees and insects dying. It is based on well investigated examples and demonstrates the importance of insects in their various functions for life on this planet as well as the fact that they can be unpleasent for humans. Thus their benefits for humans and ecosystems are presented as well as the dangers, which they can cause in their role as disease carriers or parasites for humans. Insects play a key role in the fine-tuned processes and the resilience of ecological processes that are essential for the preservation of an environment beneficial to human beings. However this balance was destroyed by human activities, such as the industrialized agriculture, where large amounts of insecticides are used. This book is not just an appeal to change our behaviour: In another publication (title: „Insect Respect“) the author points out ways to handle this challenge."
Dr. Angelika Hilbeck, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Institute of Integrative Biology IBZ, ETH Zürich
This is why insects deserve more respect.
It’s high time we respect insects – especially since we sometimes combat them. Not only have insects already populated the earth millions of years before humans have, they also assume numerous valuable functions. Edward Wilson, the renowned American entomologist, has calculated that we would only be able to survive for a few months without insects.
Ten good reasons to respect insects
Why do we actually need insects? The researcher and bestselling author, May Berenbaum, considers this question to be exceptionally unfair. After all, no one ever asks about the purpose of songbirds, although there are “only” 10,000 types of birds on earth, in comparison to 900,000 types of insects.
The benefits of insects, both for nature and mankind, are just as varied as they are priceless:
Resilience: Insects make nature more ruggedised.
Only when nature is multifarious it is also resistant. Since insects are the most species-rich class of animals, they significantly contribute to the biodiversity of our planet. Because they keep the cycle of nutrition, digestion and decomposition in equilibrium. Because they decompose substances that are harmful for other living organisms. And because they “spur” flora and fauna on to respond to the insects’ intelligence with continually improved strategies.
Pollination: Insects keep the plant kingdom alive.
Thanks to pollination or seed transportation, not only do industrious bees contribute to the propagation of flora, but so do mosquitos, flies and plenty of other insects. Up to 75% of our cultivated plants and up to 90% of all wild plants are dependent on insects. This performance is worth a great deal of money. By means of an example: Experts estimate the economic benefit of pollination to be worth 265 million euros per year.
Ecosystem: Insects are an important part of the food chain.
Insects are important elements of the food chain: Most birds, freshwater fish, reptiles and amphibians as well as various mammals are dependent in feed on insects. For example the swift (Apus apus) nourishes more than 500 species of insects such as aphids, hymenoptera such as bees and ants, beetles, flies and arachnids. Nourishing breeding pairs collect over 20,000 insects for their small animals per day. Also many mammals feed on insects, such as for example the hedgehog. Even in the water insects are important: freshwater fish's diet consists of insect larvae up to 90%. Even insects eat insects, which leverages the pest control in agriculture. Over 50 species of insects are today specially bred and sold commercially.
Feed and food: Insects save the world's nourishment.
Approximately one third of all food can be put down to the pollination work performed by insects. Fruit-producing plants, low-growing fruits and vegetables are unimaginable without insects. Without insects, even a cheeseburger would only be a bread roll, because cows prefer eating forage crops that have been pollinated by insects. And, by the way, did you know that mosquitos are the only pollinators of the cocoa tree, so that industrious insects are involved in every single piece of chocolate? But there is more: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations discusses eating insects as a promising solution of achieving a more sustainable global nutrition.
Hygiene: Insects get rid of our «waste».
Without insects, we would have a big hygiene problem. What happens, for example, with all the cow dung on our pastures? Insects that feed on feces, take care of the dunghill. They are called coprophagous. Some insects directly put their eggs in the feces and live there, others dig up to ten centimetres deep tunnels and move with the feces there. Scarab beetles bring this even many yards away, to nourish it in protection against competitors.
Soil: Insects make the earth fertile.
Just like earthworms, insects also belong to the family of arthropods. And, just like earthworms, many insects are involved in the rearrangement, mixing and aeration of soil. This promotes the “breathing ability” of soil and root formation of plants. By decomposing organic substances, insects also directly contribute to humus formation and soil fertility.
Clothes: Insects are essential for textile production.
Without insects we would be pretty naked. This does not only refer to silk, which is produced by an insect. Without the active involvement of insects, gossypium (cotton) plants could also not thrive. The same also applies for leather goods, because the animals, whose hides provide us with leather, are also reliant on forage crops – and these, in turn, on the work of insects.
Industry: Insects produce chemicals.
Insects help the industry in chemical production: The greasy skin lubricant and flour lice is used for wax production and armoured scale insects (diaspididae) provide resin. Particularly well known is the cochineal (laccifer lacca). The obtained "shellac" from these adheres to many surfaces, has good thermal plasticity and low sensitivity to many solvents and is biodegradable. The product is now used worldwide in many forms for isolating, embitter and sealing: electrical equipment, shoe polishes, hair sprays, nail polish, floor polishes, printing inks, etc.
Medicine: Insects can heal and pollinate medicinal plants.
Most of these health-promoting plants do not get along without pollination by insects, for example valerian, lavender, lemon balm, eucalyptus, chamomile, St. John's wort and sage. The worldwide market for medicinal plants has been growing for years with around 10 percent and is now around $ 100 billion Dollar. Due to the occurrence of multi-resistant pathogens, for which medicine has no safe treatment, the maggot therapy won in recent years again in importance. Even bee venom has been used successfully since 1930 in the medicine to treat arthritis.
Research: Insects are scientifically very valuable.
Moths can smell up to 100 times better than we humans, ants can carry several times their body weight, mosquitoes easily defy the power of large drops of rain and beetle orientate reliably without electronic navigation system to the stars. Why fireflies glow, how springtails are permeable to air and are robust at the same time against friction and how ants live in communities of up to 800,000 individuals together peacefully? Insects are interesting animals, we can learn much from their exploration.
And, last but not least, respect of insects is question of ethics, which has to be answered by every single one of us individually. The reply of Insect Respect: Whenever we cannot avoid combatting insects, we must equilibrate this intrusion in the ecological system by providing compensation areas.
In-depth and additional information on the value of insects
For even more reasons to respect insects, we strongly recommend the texts of the following publications:
Pests or Beneficials?
With plenty of facts, our compilation reveals that ants, mosquitos, clothes moths and cockroaches are much more valuable than their reputation might suggest.
Open fact sheet (PDF)
In this fascinating contribution by the monthly magazine «NZZ Folio» the entomologist, May Berenbaum, explains why the world would collapse into chaos without insects.
Open article (PDF)
The expert report of the environmental organization Greenpeace and the University of Exeter (England) attests the risks that the colony collapse of bees and other pollinators has on the European agriculture.
Open report (PDF)
Between the creatures of nature, there is a variety of network relationships. This 3-part documentary on Swiss television explores the role that insects play in the symphony of life in a fabulous way.
(videos currently not available, see dates of broadcast (in German))