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Open AccessPerspective

Insect Cultural Services: How Insects Have Changed Our Lives and How Can We Do Better for Them

School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Zoology Building, Tillydrone Ave, Aberdeen AB24 2TZ, UK
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Academic Editor: Joseph R. Coelho
Insects 2021, 12(5), 377; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12050377
Received: 15 March 2021 / Revised: 19 April 2021 / Accepted: 20 April 2021 / Published: 22 April 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cultural Entomology: Our Love-hate Relationship with Insects)
Insects—as many other organisms—provide services for our societies, which are essential for our sustainable future. A classic example of an insect service is pollination, without which food production collapses. To date, though, there has often been a generalised misconception about the benefits of insects to our societies, and misunderstandings on how insects have revolutionised our cultures and thus our lives. This misunderstanding likely underpins the general avoidance, disregard for, or even deliberate attempts to exterminate insects from our daily lives. In this Perspective, we provide a different viewpoint, and highlight the key areas in which insects have changed our cultures, from culinary traditions to architecture to fashion and beyond. We then propose a general framework to help portray insects—and their benefits to our societies—under a positive light, and argue that this can help with long-term changes in people’s attitude towards insects. This change will in turn contribute to more appropriate conservation efforts aimed to protect insect biodiversity and the services it provides. Therefore, our ultimate goal in the paper is to raise awareness of the intricate and wonderful cultural relationships between people and insects that are fundamental to our long-term survival in our changing world.
Societies have benefited directly and indirectly from ecosystem services provided by insects for centuries (e.g., pollination by bees and waste recycling by beetles). The relationship between people and insect ecosystem services has evolved and influenced how societies perceive and relate to nature and with each other, for example, by shaping cultural values (‘cultural ecosystem services’). Thus, better understanding the significance of insect cultural services can change societies’ motivations underpinning conservation efforts. To date, however, we still overlook the significance of many insect cultural services in shaping our societies, which in turn likely contributes to the generalised misconceptions and misrepresentations of insects in the media such as television and the internet. To address this gap, we have reviewed an identified list of insect cultural services that influence our societies on a daily basis, including cultural services related to art, recreation, and the development of traditional belief systems. This list allowed us to formulate a multi-level framework which aims to serve as a compass to guide societies to better appreciate and potentially change the perception of insect cultural services from individual to global levels. This framework can become an important tool for gaining public support for conservation interventions targeting insects and the services that they provide. More broadly, this framework highlights the importance of considering cultural ecosystems services—for which values can be difficult to quantify in traditional terms—in shaping the relationship between people and nature. View Full-Text
Keywords: sustainability; Sustainable Development Goals; biodiversity; policy; ecosystem services; societies sustainability; Sustainable Development Goals; biodiversity; policy; ecosystem services; societies
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MDPI and ACS Style

Duffus, N.E.; Christie, C.R.; Morimoto, J. Insect Cultural Services: How Insects Have Changed Our Lives and How Can We Do Better for Them. Insects 2021, 12, 377. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12050377

AMA Style

Duffus NE, Christie CR, Morimoto J. Insect Cultural Services: How Insects Have Changed Our Lives and How Can We Do Better for Them. Insects. 2021; 12(5):377. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12050377

Chicago/Turabian Style

Duffus, Natalie E.; Christie, Craig R.; Morimoto, Juliano. 2021. "Insect Cultural Services: How Insects Have Changed Our Lives and How Can We Do Better for Them" Insects 12, no. 5: 377. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12050377

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