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Bugs and Money

You probably had no idea that pests could be so valuable.

spider on paper bill

Photo: Kevin Collins

If the predator insects disappeared, farmers could be looking at costs of around 4.5 billion dollars in crop damage.

Bugs and insects, in general, are really valuable.

Both ecologically and in terms of cold, hard cash. Cornell professor of entomology John Losey and Mace Vaughn of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation did a study to determine the economic value of bugs and insects in the United States. For example, people spend about 50 billion dollars every year on hunting, fishing, and bird watching. Many of the animals they hunt, fish and watch eat insects. Without insects, there would be a lot fewer animals feeding that industry.

Then there are farmers that depend on insects that eat other insects. If the predator insects disappeared, farmers could be looking at costs of around 4.5 billion dollars in crop damage.

Even a single type of insect can play an important financial role. Dung beetles, for example, help get rid of manure and return nutrients to the soil. Without them, farmers would have to spend around 380 million dollars dealing with all the flies and other insects attracted by the excess dung.

You probably had no idea that pests could be so valuable.

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