A waterproof cuticle rubbing against another. One orange dot sits on my forearm. The oval is shimmying from hair to hair. Two antennae wobble back and forth to smell. As if someone is tickling me with a pistil. I spot six legs that rush forward in a rowing motion. With a sponge-like, fleshy mouth and eyes on their genitals. Carrying ears on the belly. Tasting the air with their long feelers. The world of insects is reprogramming organs every day. 450 million years ago, the first creatures moved from sea to land. Wearing external skeletons, arthropods started to explore stones, soil, and green. Sliced gills took the first flight before dinosaurs were up in the air. Arachnids became mites on jetty scaffolding. The entomologist Karl M. Kjer looks at insects differently: “Insects did just about everything first. They were the first to form social societies, farm, and sing – just about anything you can imagine.” There are estimated to be 4 million insects yet to be discovered. We need to study the sticky footprints if we want to understand how the planet works.
There are more ants than humans existing. The mass of ants outweighs the weight of humans. But still, humans believe to know what is beneficial for the planet. As a result of human activities, we are further heading into the “Anthropocene”. The new epoch with the ecosystems and climates altering. And the most diverse group of animals going extinct. We paused listening to the humming and buzzing, that the globe feeds on. Since 1980, the biomass of insects in Germany has declined by over 72%. The most populated areas haven´t been measured, but are estimated to display an even higher reduction. We fight the “poisonous by nature” or “pests”. But are we landing in the truth? Meanwhile, a saddleback caterpillar is shedding off its skin, revealing a new morph suit. Swaying and shifting to undergo a metamorphosis. On top of a branch, a golden beetle is changing its color using the liquid under its shell. Wherever you look, you find living jewels and translucent bodies. Why do insects need to have a function to be on Planet Earth?
Insect intelligence is comparable to any mammal. Their brains consist of lobes with clusters of neurons. Insects have the ability to build memories. Macquarie University professor Colin Klein states, that insects can feel pain and hunger. 10 million times more sensitive than our tongue – the taste receptors of houseflies on feet and legs can detect sugar. Walking with their little claws through their meal first before consuming. Wearing pads called “pulvilli”. Their shoes can march any ceiling thanks to the tiny hairs that produce glue made of oils and sugar. The superpowers of earth continue. Ant´s navigation cues are polarized light patterns, a gradient of odors, and ground texture. Like a pedometer, they use an internal system to count their steps. So they can find their way home even while spinning backward. Known records from Madagascar and Colombia show a moth slurping up the tears of a sleeping bird. And there are butterflies doing the same landing on crocodiles in order to gain nutrients.
Half of all known living organisms are insects. They are neither useful nor harmful. Providing the proteins that keep all our nutrients flowing. Insects in a group operate like a superorganism. Pollinating crops and flowers, which we rely on. While humans learned to produce tools to cross oceans or interact with pixels, other insects evolved to walk on water. Every life plays a part in the ecosystem. We can choose to preserve wildlife stopping the decline of biodiversity. We can protect and preserve their habitats and allow wildlife to thrive. Without interrupting native species with commercial breeds. For a future without pesticides. Whether we want it or not, humans and the planet need insects to exist. We have to coexist to keep the hive for the next generation.