Incredible Creatures: Singing praises for National Insect Appreciation Day

Lacewing pictured on canola.

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Saturday June 8th, 2019 was the first annual National Insect Appreciation Day! Really! Now there are many ways insects are beneficial and deserve our appreciation. I could go on and on over their role as pollinators, predators of potential pests, decomposers, food for birds, fish and other animals, etc. But it may be best to celebrate National Insect Appreciation Day with song, since it is such a special occasion. And what better way then to rewrite a classic with an entomological slant.
In my opinion, the songwriters for A Sound of Music missed a glorious opportunity to extol the many virtues of insects, although in fairness they do mention bees in one of the most popular songs from the movie. But could the lyrics from the movie be rewritten so it only deals with the positive virtues of insects? Here is my rewrite of the song “My Favorite Things”:

My Favorite Things:
The Entomological Version
Monarchs on milkweed and honey bees on flowers
Bright swallowtails, I could watch these for hours
Brown field crickets playing fiddles without strings
These are a few of my favorite things

Green coloured lacewings and beetles like jewels
Golden flies and dung beetles, that live in stools
Luna moths that have the moon on their wings.
These are a few of my favorite things

Morpho butterfly wings, with bright blue sashes
Watching at night for firefly flashes
Cicadas and katydids and all that sings
These are a few of my favorite things

When the fly bites
When the bee stings
When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite bugs
And then I don’t feel so bad

My apologies to Julie Andrews if you are reading this column. Wait until you see how I rewrote the script for “The Sound of Insects”.
A Few Insect Attributes to
Appreciate
Without insects our lives would be vastly different. Without pollinators we would not have many of the fruits, vegetables and flowers we have. If you ever need convincing, cover one of your raspberry plants or a branch from your apple tree during flowering and see how much fruit you get. If we had no insects in our communities we would have no apples on our trees, fruit on our vines, etc. It is estimated that 80% of plants depend on insects for pollination.
Many communities in Manitoba do a great job keeping our communities clean. Municipal workers look after collecting and disposing of trash, compost and recycling. But there is also a natural form of waste disposal continuously happening. Insects are very important as primary or secondary decomposers. Without insects to help break down and dispose of wastes, dead animals and plant material would accumulate in our environment and it would be messy. Insects can also be under appreciated for their role in the food web. They are the sole food source for many amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. It is estimated that 60% of birds reply on insects as a source of food.
There are many other valuable services by insects that can be overlooked or under appreciated. Although there are some insects that can be pests when levels get high, and unfortunately give the group a bad name, there are many others that prey on other insects or weeds. And there is aesthetic value for those who enjoy watching butterflies, dragonflies, etc.
So take the time to show your appreciation for insects. Put a few flowering plants in your garden and watch the show. Or go critter dipping in your favorite pond. Even if insects may not be your favorite things, we should be grateful for the many services they provide.
Incredible Creatures is a monthly contribution to provide information on some of the common yet often not well known creatures that we share space with in Manitoba and abroad.

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