The human diet is an interesting and ever-changing subject, with each person generally eating and drinking differently than those around them due to personal preferences and prohibitions.
No matter where you’re from, chances are your diet has changed drastically since you were a baby. The norm tends to be that as we age into adulthood our diet also matures and diversifies.
Most fully grown humans have a wide variety of plants, animals, and cookie jars to choose from when deciding their bites when compared to the meager meals and emulsions available to our younger forms.
In the insect world, there are some species that take the exact opposite route.
Because they have been living on our planet in relatively modern forms for hundreds of millions of years, insects are model examples of the sculpting powers of evolution and adaptation.
Most insects are incredibly streamlined machines, capable of performing powerful environmental services in a supremely efficient manner.
To accomplish these feats, most insects are forced to discard every ounce of dead weight or unnecessary behavior.
Like decathlon athletes ever-training for their next endeavor, the daily lives of insects have been honed over millions of years to the point that every action deemed by evolution to be a waste of time or resources has been removed from their schedule.
This can even impact the feeding habits of their adult forms. In fact, some of the most commonly seen adult insects have lost the ability to eat entirely, as such selfish pursuits only take their attention away from the other jobs (mostly mating) that they should otherwise be doing.
Spring and summer nights usually bring one of these fasting adults directly into our houses as they’re readily attracted to lights. The fact that they are shaped like giant mosquitoes also tends to catch the attention of most.
Although they look intimidating, crane flies do not drink blood or bite. There are hundreds of species native to North America alone, and most lack a feeding apparatus entirely, relying on internal energy stores to get them through their two-week adult lifespan.
The few that possess a “mouth” sip on nectar for sustenance and are also not to be feared. Their singular purpose as adults is to mate, and most of their lives are spent as small wormish larvae in or near waterlogged areas where they help break down detritus and in some cases eat other small organisms.
A good deal of moths also lack the ability to feed as adults, and instead cram all their eating into their young caterpillar forms.
Most bees and wasps can and do drink nectar as adults to regain their energy, however they enjoy a greater variety of foods as young tucked away in their nests. Growing bees require protein to mature properly, which is served to them as a variety of pollens, bacteria, and fungi which tends to differ between species. Studies have even found honey bees actively changing the diets of their young nestmates, altering their developments based on the needs of the hive.
Most wasps, on the other hand, require protein in the form of prey insects as they grow in their early larval forms. As they mature, wasps tend to turn sugartarian, and simplify their diets for more floral pursuits.
When it comes to wildlife preservation, it is important to keep these changing preferences and requirements in mind, especially when it comes to insects.
Although providing forage in the form of floral blooms is a great first step, even pollinators require adequate spaces to settle down and start a family once their bellies are full.
Keeping the soil, water and air in your area undisturbed and free from pesticides goes a long way towards creating suitable habitat for our local, imperiled species.
Brannen Basham and his wife, Jill Jacobs, operate Spriggly’s Beescaping, a business dedicated to the preservation of pollinators. He can be reached at email@example.com.