We don’t usually notice them, and when we do, we often think of them as annoying little pests. Insects began to diversify about 180 million years ago when flies, mosquitoes, moths, bees, ants, wasps, grasshoppers and aphids began to flourish. Within the next 50 million years, flowers and their fruits evolved, providing a food source for the mammals who would inherit the earth after the demise of the dinosaurs. Fruits and vegetables could not have thrived without a mutually beneficial relationship with insects.
Insects in general don’t rate high on our lists of Things We Love. But we as humans could not survive without them because they are essential to pollinating the fruit and vegetables on which we and the animals we eat survive.
So it is a very serious danger that 22 states in America are facing a catastrophe called “colony collapse disorder.” Whole colonies, millions of bees, are dying and nobody knows why. The reason this is a potential catastrophe not just for bees but for us is because they are responsible for pollinating 130 of the major crops produced by U.S. agriculture. Farmers and scientists think there may be just enough bees to pollinate crops this year. But if the colony collapses are not reversed, next year the shortage of worker bees will start causing serious problems for our farmers.
This might sound like a joke next to what we think of as the big problems that hit our headlines. But a lot of urgent effort is being generated to find a solution to the problem – fast.