What is the importance of insects in the ecosystem?


insects are invertebrate animals from the edge of the arthropods which constitute the 70% of the animal population that we know on Earth. The word “insect” comes from the Latin “insectus”, which in turn comes from the word “insecāre”, which means “to cut, to make an incision”.

The insects represent one of the most important life forms on Earth. For an animal to be called an “insect”, it must have at least one pair of antennae and six legs. Its body is divided into three parts consisting of a head, a thorax and an abdomen. They may also have one pair or two pairs of wings. There are many types of insects in the world, even some that have not yet been discovered by science.


What roles do insects play in the ecosystem?

The insects are essential for the proper functioning of ecosystems. They perform very important functions for nature such as pollination, pest control, removal of dirt or dead organic matter, parasitism and serve as food for humans.

Antonio Rivera, an academic at UMCE’s Institute of Entomology, comments that insects are of vital importance because of the role they play in natural ecosystems:

They have pollinator tasks but also organic matter decomposers, seed dispersers and all these functions are important because they allow ecosystems to maintain themselves over time.Antonio Rivera

And, on the importance of analyzing its ecology, he adds this:

The insects affect in some way the forests that surround the waterways and which, in turn, protect from solar radiation and reduce evapotranspiration. Insects are also predators of water-inhabiting parasites, keeping the water that humans consume with a lower level of pathogens.Antonio Rivera


This is the most important function performed by insects for ecosystems. If there were no insects fulfilling this function, the majority of plant species that inhabit the planet could not reproduce and would therefore disappear.

The United Nations (UN) points out that 75% of food crops in the world depend, to some extent, on the work of pollinators. The pollinating insects that perform this function the most are bees, beetles and butterflies, as well as other insects.

Insects fly from plant to plant, spreading small amounts of pollen, helping to spread seeds so that the process we know as “pollination” can take place properly. They are very important for humans, because food crops depend on insects to fulfill their function, because if these invertebrate animals of the arthropod phylum did not exist, we would not have plants.


Insect control

Agricultural crop pests are any animals, plants or microorganisms that negatively affect agricultural production. The Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) defines it as follows:

A plague is a massive and sudden action of living beings of the same species that cause damage to animal or plant populations.RAE

Insects help control pests that damage food crops through predation and parasitism. Pests are very harmful to these crops as they can cause significant economic losses in many sectors of the production chain.

Insects remove dirt or dead organic matter

Cleaning is another of the important functions they perform. Many insects feed on dead organic matter, thus disposing of the remains of dead animals. Although people may find it unpleasant to see insects and worms in dead animals, they play a vital role in the ecosystem by removing waste.


A large number of species function as parasites of other organisms. Although this may sound negative, it is not a bad feature. Parasites help prevent overpopulation of some species, as well as the evolutionary adaptation and development of other species.

Insects serve as food for humans

They are part of the diet of many animals, including humans. The ingestion of insects is not very common in European culture, but it is in Asian culture, which is the society that consumes the most insects. It provides a good source of minerals, proteins and vitamins.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) recommends consuming insects, as they claim it is a good practice to fight climate change.

Sources: Editorial Ambientum, AGROTEC, Libertad Digital, STOP CLIMATE CHANGE, UMCE

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