What Are Some Beneficial Insects?

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There are many species of insects that are beneficial to humans and plants in a variety of ways. Some insects, such as bees, wasps, flies, butterflies, and moths, are valuable in their role as pollinators of plants. The reproduction of many plant species is dependent upon these insects, which transport pollen between plants.

In addition, insects are an important source of food for birds, fish, and many other animals. In some countries, insects such as termites, caterpillars, ants, and bees, even provide a food source for people.

Insects produce numerous substances that are useful to humans. Examples of these include honey and beeswax produced by bees and silk produced by silkworm larvae and the larvae of other insects (a larva is the wormlike form of a newly hatched organism; larvae is the plural form).

Some insects are beneficial for the role they play in controlling populations of harmful insects. Ladybird beetles and lacewings, for example, prey on aphids. Aphids are insects that slow the growth of plants and spread diseases among plants. And some species of wasps harm tomato-plant-eating caterpillars by laying their eggs in the caterpillars' bodies.

Sources: "Aphid." Encyclopaedia Britannica CD 97; "Lacewing." Encyclopaedia Britannica CD 97; Pleasant, Barbara. The Gardener's Bug Book, p. 15; World Book Encyclopedia, vol. 10, pp. 284.

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