My Issue 50 just came, titled A Work of Love. It is filled with beautiful articles, and so, I am struggling to choose just one to share here.
Perhaps since we are entering insect season, I will present this article by Edward O. Wilson, from In Search of Nature. That way we can be more appreciative of flies, mosquitoes, and ants.
"Ants have been present for about 100 million years, since the middle of the Cretaceous period of the Mesozoic era, and they proved to be true missing links. The specimens, which were found in New Jersey by amateur fossil collectors and which we named Sphecomyrma ("wasp ant"), combine in a remarkable manner traits of the presumed ancestral wasp and modern ants. Subsequently the Russians came up with a host of new fossils of roughly the same age.
How have ants managed to stay on top of things for a period fifty times longer than the entire history of human beings and their immediate ancestors?
The truth is that we need invertebrates, but they don't need us. If human beings were to disappear tomorrow, the world would go on with little change. Gaia, the totality of life on earth, would set about healing itself and return to the rich environmental states of 100,000 years ago. But if invertebrates were to disappear, it is unlikely that the human species could last more than a few months. Most of the fishes, amphibians, birds and mammals would crash to extinction about the same time. Next would go the bulk of the flowering plants and with them the physical structure of the majority of the forests and other terrestrial habitats of the world. The soil would rot. As dead vegetation piled up and dried out, narrowing and closing the channels of the nutrient cycles, other complex forms of vegetation would die off, and with them the last remnants of the vertebrates. The remaining fungi, after enjoying a population explosion of stupendous proportions, would also perish. Within a few decades the world would return to the state of a billion years ago, composed primarily of bacteria, algae, and few other very simple multicellular plants."
It is something to think about next time ants, bees, and ticks join your picnic lunch.