A lesson in ecosystems
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A Lesson in Ecosystems. The Impact of Insects. Helpful vs. harmful. Insects can be very helpful to humans: The honey bee helps pollinate crops, so we have fruits and vegetables to eat. Beetles and flies are decomposers, keeping ecosystems healthy and adding nitrogen back into the soil.

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A Lesson in Ecosystems

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A lesson in ecosystems

A Lesson in Ecosystems

The Impact of Insects


Helpful vs harmful

Helpful vs. harmful

  • Insects can be very helpful to humans:

    • The honey bee helps pollinate crops, so we have fruits and vegetables to eat.

    • Beetles and flies are decomposers, keeping ecosystems healthy and adding nitrogen back into the soil.

    • Many food chains and food webs depend on insects.


Helpful vs harmful1

helpful vs. harmful

  • Insects can be very harmful:

    • Some insects carry diseases, such as malaria (mosquitoes) and plague (fleas).

    • Some insects destroy crops, such as locusts or boll weevils.

    • Some invade our homes, such as cockroaches.


Insect control

Insect Control

  • Most of the time, insects are no problem.

  • Occasionally, we need to control the population.

  • Humans have learned to use chemicals, called insecticides and pesticides, to kill insects.

  • Sometimes, these chemicals stay in the environment and cause some unintended consequences.


Unintended consequences

Unintended Consequences

  • In the 1960’s, scientists noticed many birds of prey were not able to hatch their young. The shells of the eggs were too fragile for the parent to sit on without breaking them.

  • Scientists performed investigations and tracked the problem to a pesticide called DDT.

  • Farmers had sprayed their crops with DDT to kill insects, such as the boll weevil.


Unintended consequences1

Unintended Consequences

  • When it rained, the pesticide would wash off the plants and flow in run-off water into streams and other areas where water accumulated.

  • The pesticide got into the bodies of small fish, which in turn, were eaten by larger fish. Eventually, birds, such as the eagle and the brown pelican, ate the large fish.

  • When DDT was transferred into the birds, the chemical made the shells of the eggs easy to break (fragile). There was a dramatic drop in eagle and brown pelican populations.


Ecosystems

Ecosystems

  • Learning about insecticides and pesticides helped us to realize that everything in the ecosystem is connected.

  • Human activity can have an impact on the environment.


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