Where Are Insects on the Food Chain?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Mar 29, 2020 12:00:23 AM ET
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Insects appear on the highest levelof the food chain: they classify as primary or secondary decomposers, depending on the species, and help to break down organic material such as wood, leaves and plants. Insects consume dead and decaying matter, essentially recycling remains back into the Earth, and serve as food for many other animals on the food chain too. They follow consumers on the food chain, which in turn derive energy from producers such as plants and fungi.

Some insects feed on all foods available, consuming a variety of plants and organic matter, while others classify as specialized feeders. These insects rely exclusively on a few select items for food. In consuming decaying and decomposing matter, insects play a large role in keeping environments clean. They break down and decompose waste products, which would otherwise accumulate quickly.

In addition to consuming many types of earthen materials, insects serve as sustenance for many animal species. They provide amphibians, reptiles, birds and some mammals with a critical source of food. Some humans also consume insects, and use insect parts for economic and social activities.

Insects play critical roles in plant and flower life. They help pollinate fruits, vegetables and many types of plants, in turn helping those species survive. While many insects benefit plants and other animals, others exist as parasites, causing living organisms harm.