Download What Good Are Bugs?: Insects in the Web of Life by Gilbert Waldbauer PDF

By Gilbert Waldbauer

We shriek approximately them, slap and spray them, and usually reflect on bugs (when we predict of them in any respect) as pests. but, if all bugs, or perhaps a serious few, have been to disappear--if there have been none to pollinate vegetation, function nutrition for different animals, do away with useless organisms, and practice different ecologically crucial tasks--virtually the entire ecosystems on the earth, the webs of lifestyles, could get to the bottom of. This booklet, the 1st to catalogue ecologically vital bugs by means of their roles, provides us an enlightening examine how bugs paintings in ecosystems--what they do, how they reside, and the way they make existence as we all know it possible.

In What stable Are Bugs? Gilbert Waldbauer combines anecdotes from entomological heritage with insights into the intimate workings of the wildlife, describing the exciting and infrequently extraordinary habit of those tiny creatures. He weaves a colourful, richly textured photograph of valuable insect lifestyles on the earth, from ants sowing their "hanging gardens" on Amazonian shrubs and timber to the sacred scarab of historical Egypt burying balls of farm animals dung jam-packed with undigested seeds, from the cactus-eating caterpillar (aptly referred to as Cactoblastis) controlling the unfold of the prickly pear to the prodigious honey bee and the "sanitary officials of the field"--the fly maggots, ants, beetles, and caterpillars that aid decompose and recycle dung, carrion, and lifeless vegetation. As pleasing because it is informative, this charmingly illustrated quantity captures the total sweep of bugs' necessary position within the internet of life.

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Extra info for What Good Are Bugs?: Insects in the Web of Life

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In the catasetine orchids, the male flowers of different species are so constructed that their pollinia adhere to different parts of a bee’s body. Robert Dressler found that in different species of Catasetum and related genera pollinia may be attached to the top of the bee’s thorax, the “elbow” of its foreleg, its head, or the tip of its abdomen. Female flowers are constructed so that they force bees to enter them in such a way that the stigma will contact only pollinia that were properly placed on the bees by male flowers of their own species.

Usually honey bees must visit many flowers to get a full load of pollen or nectar, a fact that enhances their usefulness as pollinators. Ronald Ribbands followed one nectar-gathering worker that visited 1,446 flowers of the same species during one 106-minute foraging flight. But the average number of visits is lower. Depending upon the species of flower and climatic conditions, a worker visits from 50 to 1,000 blossoms on each nectar-collecting trip. A full load of pollen can sometimes be gathered in far fewer visits.

A full load of pollen can sometimes be gathered in far fewer visits. According to Ribbands, a single flower, a poppy for instance, may contain more than enough pollen to constitute a load. But bees had to visit from 66 to 178 nasturtium flowers or 585 tiny white clover blossoms to accumulate a full load. Each year, an average colony of honey bees harvests, according to Thomas Seeley, about 44 pounds of pollen and 265 pounds of nectar. The pollen is used in raising about 150,000 larvae, and the nectar, most of it converted to honey, is eaten by both larvae and adults; it is the stored honey that tides the colony over the cold winter.

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