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Why do we need beetles?
Question Date: 2005-10-22
Answer 1:

Beetles play an important role in nature, and there are many aspects to consider. While the bigger animals grab all the attention, these little creatures quietly go about their business of tending to the world's ecosystems and play very important roles in the environment.

1. Beetles, like most other insects are a food source to many animals including: amphibians, reptiles, fish, birds and mammals.
2. They play a major role in pollinating plants. In fact, scientists theorize that beetles helped fuel the spectacular explosion of flowering plants during the dinosaur era (the Mesozoic).
3. It is also beetles that take care of nature's waste by decomposing dead vegetation and animal waste. The humble dung beetle, for instance, rolls dung into balls that are buried for the consumption of its larvae. Dung beetles feed on and reproduce in dung of herbivores, thereby removing millions of tons of dung that would accumulate and destroy valuable pastureland and natural areas.
4. Various beetles called nest-dwellers and fur ecto parasites help rid their hosts (birds, mammals) of parasitic insects, such as fleas, bed bugs and lice.
5. Other species make excellent pest controllers, what scientists call biocontrol agents. For instance, the descendants of a single ladybird beetle (Ladybug), can in a single summer, eat nearly 200,000 of the aphids that can destroy garden plants. Not a drop of chemical is needed!

Carabid beetles, such as the "caterpillar-hunters" are often helpful in reducing populations of harmful caterpillars, such as gypsy moth and budworm caterpillars. Fire fly larvae (glowworms) eat slugs and snails which do damage to garden plants and crops, mainly tomatoes and lettuce.

These are just a few examples of the beneficial aspects of beetles, not to mention the delight some people find in their beauty and remarkable diversity! For example, in Malaysia alone, there are 200,000 beetle species that have been described, but scientists presume that there are many many more out there.

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