Insects eat up more urban trash than rats do—and they’re dying out

I rarely re-blog, but this is a topic about which I feel very strongly. We may not like the look or “feel” of insects surrounding us, but they are vital to our ecological well being. At our house, we encourage outdoor insects like ants (excellent for cleaning away detritus and aerating soil), earthworms, spiders, bees, butterflies, praying mantis, ladybugs, dragonflies and related species. We need to stop the indiscriminate use of pesticides. We use Neem oil, diluted with water and aerosolized for serious problems like aphids and powdery mildew, and a simple mild organic soap, water and vinegar solution for everything else. Read this article to understand why this is so urgent.

15 Comments on “Insects eat up more urban trash than rats do—and they’re dying out”

  1. Ohhh dear, this is a tough one with my intense fear of insects, but I do understand it. We try to do our best to co-exist with them, and truly only a few bring me great fear. The huge wood roaches we get out here that are over two inches long are a particular challenge for me. But spiders, ants, other smaller ones I do not fear or feel the need to eliminate.


    • In fact, I thought about you when I saw this. :-). I LOATHE roaches, especially the ones that fly. I will have to post about my insect experiences in South America. I distinctly remember my reaction when I saw a giant roach on the wall and then it flew across the room. We never had roaches when I was growing up and the only time I saw them was when I was in poor homes when I worked with emotionally disturbed kids. They were small and light brown and disgusting enough. But when they fly, I am sorry, that is a bridge too far. We just have to put up with some of this or we will all be eating plastic.


        • Oh, believe me, I know these are the kinds of roaches that live everywhere. In South America they are all over the outdoor walls and indoor spaces in every type of building and neighborhood.

          And, I must say, there are some fancy buildings in LA where I have seen the other kind. They thrive in hot climates and once they take hold, they cannot be eliminated, in my opinion.

          Geoff’s mother had a 7000 square foot luxury place at the beach and it was loaded with large cockroaches. I thought it was horrible. They also had fleas and roof rats in a multi million dollar place.

          I simply have to write a post on my insect plagues.


  2. Since nurturing a large garden over the past years I’ve come to appreciate certain insects and only do mass killings when my crop is threatened. Last weekend picking beans I was happy to see little bugs all over the ground busy with their insect lives but I draw the line inside my house. While in the Marines I spent a lot time in nature and living among creatures of all kinds, in fact I had 6 tarantulas tied to the six legs of my cot just for laughs, but I was much younger then and now I prefer to live “alone” in my home.


  3. Tarantulas are gentle and harmless. Quite misunderstood, sadly. I have a tarantula story from Brazil that I will have to include in an upcoming post dedicated to insects and my crazy experiences with them. We keep squirrels, rabbits and birds off our fruits and vegetables in the yard just by spraying Neem oil on them. I agree — insects have to be kept outside the house. I encourage spiders in the outdoor eaves to capture moths, as I have a lot of wool rugs and clothing. One way to avoid insects outdoors is to sleep in a proper, oversized, soft cloth hammock. I slept in one for two years and loved it.


  4. Very informative. Let me take it one step further. If all of the birds of our planet stopped eating insects for a 24 hour period, all of humanity would die… from suffocation. Now that’s a lot of bugs.


  5. I will try to remember this, when I was in Italy I drew back the bed covers and the bed was full of ants, I swept them away and tucked the sheets in tight so they didn’t have a walkway but I dreamt all night they were crawling all over me he he


    • Oh, yes! That can be a huge problem. I once slept in a hammock to avoid them. They couldn’t crawl down the ropes. Otherwise, the room was crawling with them at night because it was in a sort of tropical area and they were just used to coming in at night. Yikes!


  6. I liked this idea of being careful about our bugs and insect worlds, Beth. I think “The Bee Movie,” was an eye opener for me and my grandkids. We did not realize how much importance to the world, these little bees contribute! I am always appreciative to people who use natural ways to eliminate weeds, like bleach water or vinegar, since most bugs are able to survive these. Anthills are rare in some areas, but my friend and I laugh at my coworker’s story about how awful her golden retriever SMELLS (I never imagined this!) after rolling in ant hills!


    • Oh goodness, so far our Labrador has not gotten into ant hills. We don’t seem to have hills, just nests of very small black ants. Good for the soil outside, not so good when they come in the house. We kill aphids by spraying the plant with soapy water to kill them, then we spray off the soap and dead aphids with clean water, so butterflies, ladybugs and praying mantis are not harmed by the soap. So many insects to protect! 🙂 Thanks for reading this one too, Robin ❤


  7. I just read this and as much as we all hate bugs they are the little industrial workers of our world. They stop being, we stop being.
    …but I will admit flying cockroaches..yep those I dread as much a the brown recluse spiders here.

    Good repost Beth.


    • Thank you! I loathe flying cockroaches. I have experienced them in tropical places and they are “a bridge too far”. I am sure poisonous spiders are a hassle too. We have Black Widows here. I just relocate them when they are in the house. 🙂


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