On the other hand, sadly, there are many for whom the idea of fewer insects seems attractive, for insects are often associated with annoyance, bites, stings and the spread of disease. When recently asked about the seriousness of global wildlife declines on national UK radio, medical doctor, professor and well-known TV presenter Lord Robert Winston replied: “There are quite a lot of insects we don’t really need on the planet”. This response likely epitomises the attitude of many.
Insects make up the bulk of known species and are intimately involved in all terrestrial and freshwater food webs. Without insects, a multitude of birds, bats, reptiles, amphibians, small mammals and fish would disappear, for they would have nothing to eat. 87% of all plant species require animal pollination, most of it delivered by insects [Ollerton et al. 2011]. That is pretty much all of them aside from the grasses and conifers. Approximately three-quarters of all crop types grown by humans require pollination by insects, a service estimated to be worth between $235 billion and $577 billion per year worldwide [Lautenbach et al. 2012]. Financial aspects aside, we could not feed the global human population without pollinators.