It's often in the little things that the big issues are hidden. And when we look at biodiversity, we realize how true this is. It is known that 70% of crops are made possible by insects and pollination according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food . Incredible, isn't it? Yet our little invertebrate friends are increasingly threatened by global warming. What if we took a little more interest in this tiny world that moves under our feet to better respect it and understand its importance in our everyday lives? Let's go !
The importance of insects in biodiversity
Biodiversity is the diversity of life forms and environments on our planet. This diversity and the interactions of species create ecosystems that are based on a balance. Are you still following us? Each species has its importance in our ecosystems and the base of it are insects , these tiny little animals that bring us much more than what we humans bring to them. They allow the pollination of crops and supply us with food, they are also natural predators of insect pests of crops and digest organic matter. In short, insects are essential for the proper functioning of our ecosystems, so much so that we have found a term to qualify them and the help they provide us: they are culture auxiliaries.
Crop auxiliaries are animals, micro-organisms and insects useful to humans. In France, more than 5,500 species are considered as a direct aid to agriculture. And yes, insects have more than one string to their bow to support farmers. If we take the example of vines , some insects feast on weeds, others like beetles , lacewings, spiders and lady beetles are fond of aphids , whiteflies , spider mites and mites which are species that harm the condition of the vines. These same insects are also food for insectivorous birds and bats. They represent an important and essential part of the food chain or the cycle of life as Mufasa would say in The Lion King. It's all about balance.
In the soil, it is earthworms that recycle and decompose waste such as dead leaves left by trees to transform them into organic matter that can be assimilated by plants. They also facilitate the infiltration of water into the soil, which nourishes the crops. Some auxiliaries like flies and dung beetles (yes, yes, that's their real name!) help us fertilize and sanitize the soil and get rid of excrement left by other animals. Yes, it's not very good, the flies, on the other hand, love it. The main thing is that everyone is there. Young or old, in the world of insects , everyone has a role to play.
The biggest role that certain insects play is that of pollination. Pollinating insects like bumblebees, hoverflies and especially bees carry pollen from flowers to flowers and give us good vegetables and fruits and serve the entire planet. Bees can be domestic or wild (the latter do not produce honey) . There are 100,000 species in the world and 5,000 in France. And it takes no less to take care of all our plants and flowers. While some plants can manage themselves, the vast majority depend on pollination and the help of pollinators to flower. The relationship between plants and the pollinator is give-and-take, they feed him and him, help them reproduce and develop.
Bees reproduce more than 80% of plant species, 85% of plants and more than 90% of fruit trees. And for us humans, the benefits are even greater. 40% of agricultural economic value is directly linked to pollination. In the United States, insects save about $70 billion a year through pollination and waste disposal, says Akito Kawahara, an entomologist at the Florida Museum of Natural History . Incredible, isn't it?
The diversity of insects makes it possible to build an environment favorable to biodiversity and a perfect balance in agricultural plots . They are therefore a natural aid for farmers and winegrowers who can do without fertilizers and chemicals. Yes, insects work perfectly as natural insecticides and pesticides. No need to pollute our crops, all the answers can be found in nature, sometimes you just have to lower your head and take a look at what is happening below us.
The dangers faced by our insect friends
What would a world be without insects? Well without them, we would lose 30% of our food crops. Concretely, how does this translate? Well, there would be no more flowers, almost no more plants, no more honey, no more fruits, no more grapes and no more cocoa, for example. Rest assured, with one million species listed, insects are the most diverse and numerous animals in the world. There are a billion billion specimens on earth for a number of 200 million insects for one individual, which remains very impressive. Certain species of butterflies such as the Agraulis Vanillae are even seeing their population increase in California thanks to the cultivation of its host plants: the Passionflowers that you know better under the name of grenadillas.
The situation is therefore not catastrophic. We must still take into account the many dangers that await our friends the insects to ensure a bright future because each year, their population drops by 1 to 2% according to the result of a set of 12 studies published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and led by Professor David Wagner of the University of Connecticut.
The causes are well known, we can cite intensive agriculture, deforestation and the artificialization of the soil which destroys the habitats of insects. More and more farmers are intensifying their production methods to always produce more and this to the detriment of the neighboring fauna. The increasing use of phytosanitary products such as insecticides including neonicotinoids also harm the survival of bees and other insects. If I quote you imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam, what do you think of? No, these are not dinosaur names, they are very harmful products, a single milligram is enough to kill one of our precious allies. At Oé, these are products that we ban without hesitation. The transformation of natural land and urbanization also causes the loss of floral spaces and therefore nesting sites.
Global warming is no stranger to the dangers that insects encounter. They are very vulnerable to bad weather and droughts. Global warming that is directly linked to human action and industrial pollution. The clichés also have a hard tooth. Some insects have a bad image in the opinion of people, which pushes them to use insecticides against them, to the detriment of all the services they provide us. Sometimes the good news is in the bad. If we are the cause of the problem, we are also the solution and alternatives exist to reverse the trend and provide a better world for each species.
How can we help our allies, the insects?
The solutions are within our reach. When we encourage organic and eco-responsible agriculture , we also militate against the use of chemicals that harm the health of insects. Organic farming prohibits any use of chemicals.Our Oé wines are guaranteed pesticide-free, organic and vegan. We also need to fight against the prejudices associated with insects and raise public awareness of their importance and the benefits they bring us.
Sometimes their appearance baffles us it's true, sometimes they come without warning, at other times we fear that they bite us or sting us and at other times we fear that they bring us diseases. . However, parasites are only a tiny part of insects, the vast majority of which are essential to life on earth. You have to get to know them better to understand their usefulness and all the benefits that can be gained from working with them. It is well known, we are often afraid of what we do not understand. You just have to take an interest in these funny little creatures to realize all their beauty, know what they feed on and whether or not they represent a danger to our crops.
Farmers are working to encourage a return of biodiversity and insects to their plots. Just mow less , leave grass strips and create new habitats where they can find shelter and food. This can be stone walls , isolated trees or embankments. In the vineyards, the installation of hedges and agroforestry lines is ideal. They allow a diversity of plant species and living spaces for insects . Some plants favor the installation of insects such as bee plants which produce a lot of nectar and pollen. We can cite the daisy, the cornflower or shrubs such as the cherry tree. As a general rule, all plants will facilitate the arrival of insects. The more diverse the vegetation, the more wildlife will feel welcome, there are no secrets.
A solution that is also within everyone's reach is to build insect hotels. By installing small cozy nests to accommodate them in our plots or our garden, we encourage them to put down their luggage for the long term. They will be happy to help you with your tasks like making your flowers bloom and bringing you delicious fruits. No need to build a three-star hotel, large facilities lead to the arrival of their predators and will have the opposite effect than that intended. Sometimes the simplest is the most effective. You just have to consider the types of structures and materials to use and the preferred location because not all auxiliaries are looking for the same thing. Some like shady places, others sunny places, some love wood, others leaves or stones, all tastes are in nature.
And as we are nice, we give you some little tips , to help you develop your structure. The majority of insects prefer damp and cool places such as hedges , solitary bees will prefer places exposed to the sun. The ideal is to build a structure with one side exposed and the other in the shade. Beetles and spiders particularly like wood and bark and ladybugs are more fond of dry leaves. And like in any hotel, once the guests are on the move, it's time to clean the facilities. The best time to service your hotel is in late spring. We take advantage of this period to change the leaves, straw or twigs and replace them with fresh products before new residents arrive. Insects are our most precious allies on this earth, let's pamper them, they will give it back to us .