Lecture by entomologist Lorenz Mammen

“Insects are really just crabs.” With this sentence, Lorenz Mammen opened his lecture on the diversity and usefulness of insects. The Halle-born entomologist moved to the U.S. after studying biology and mathematics and is currently conducting research on the neurobiology of insects. 

Insects are descended from crustaceans. This is one reason why early evolved insect species in particular need moisture and feed on algae. Other evolutionary developments included the formation of wings and complete metamorphosis. Folding wings or proboscises of insects that bore into hard material serve as inspiration for biomechanical developments. Plants and insects have often adapted to protect each other. For example, ants can swim in a liquid from a carnivorous plant that normally digests insects. In return, the ants protect the plant. Scale insects are one of the few insect species that are sedentary in their habitat, and once they attach themselves to a plant, they protect themselves from predators with a resin. This resin has a reddish color that has always been used by humans as a dye. Animals serve as models for biomechanical constructions, symbioses between animals and plants, or raw material producers. We can therefore learn a lot from these creatures. Insects have the greatest biodiversity in the animal kingdom, and several species are still documented every year. However, we are also facing a sharp decline in the insect world. Due to intensive land use, climate change, and the use of pesticides, these animals are threatened. The decline in insects also entails a decline in birds, which has further consequences. Lorenz concludes that we currently have enough insects, but we should not forget how much we need them and must do more for them in the future.

thanks to:Lorenz Mammen (Cornell University)
part of:

The Insect Project
– Resilience Part I
text by:Lena Muri