Insects & Bugs

Insects are the largest group of organisms in our world in terms of quantity of species. They represent approximately 40% of all known species of living things. We study insects because they are so biologically diverse, they are adaptive, and our ecosystem requires them in order to survive. There are a great many different variations of the insect life cycle, though they almost always start as eggs and go through various maturity stages to become adults. All insects undergo similar processes of change defined as metamorphosis.

Hays County is home to a wide array of insects, many oh which locals have deemed either “good” or “bad”. On the “good” side, many insects function as pollinators. Without these, the terrestrial portion of the biosphere (including humans) would be devastated.  Hundreds of species of native bees have been identified in Texas, and they are far more efficient pollinators than the non-native honeybees. Some insects eat other insect pests which cause agricultural or structural damage. The ladybug, for example, eats aphids, mites, and mealybugs, while some beetles, flies, wasps, and spiders eat termites. Many birds, frogs, fish, and other animals rely on insects for a large part of their diet, as they are high in protein. Some insects function as decomposers to help recycle dead organic matter. Scientists study that decomposition and, using forensic science, are able to solve crimes. See the link to the right under LINKS & RESOURCES to the Texas State University’s Forensic Anthropology Research Facility located in San Marcos to learn more.

On the other hand, insects that cause agricultural or habitat damage or destruction are thought of as “bad.” Some, like mosquitoes and flies, can transmit disease, and others, such as termites, damage structures. In Hays County, we have some insects that bite or sting to cause distress and bodily harm. The non-native fire ants attack humans and immature animals in swarms, inflicting painful bites that can sometimes cause death if delivered in large quantities. Scorpions are quite common and can deliver a nasty sting. The black widow, brown widow, and brown recluse are three very venomous spiders in the area. We often want to eliminate these “bad” insects.

If you do have harmful insect pests that you choose to eliminate, please do so responsibly. There are natural and organic methods and products that you can use so as not to harm the surrounding ecosystem. You can even spray with a solution of microscopic worms called beneficial nematodes to kill a wide range of insects. By being conscientious in your use of pesticides, you can help protect our precious waterways and millions of organisms that you might otherwise put at risk.