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Old 11-11-2011, 05:12 PM
 
Location: Victoria TX
42,661 posts, read 77,735,102 times
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Actually, the question I have in mind is the converse: Of the million-plus species of insects, why are there SO FEW that bite or sting human beings? Fewer than 0.01% of all know species of insects actually inflict a troublesome attack on us, and the rest just leave us alone, and are not even equipped to be a nuisance, even though most live in an environment where there is a human presence.

What evolutionary processes have yielded such a tiny number of insects that find survival value in biting humans or other mammals?
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Old 11-11-2011, 05:25 PM
 
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Diminishing returns. How many mosquitoes survive biting you?
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Old 11-11-2011, 05:59 PM
 
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^^^
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Old 11-11-2011, 07:01 PM
 
Location: Not.here
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post
Actually, the question I have in mind is the converse: Of the million-plus species of insects, why are there SO FEW that bite or sting human beings? Fewer than 0.01% of all know species of insects actually inflict a troublesome attack on us, and the rest just leave us alone, and are not even equipped to be a nuisance, even though most live in an environment where there is a human presence.

What evolutionary processes have yielded such a tiny number of insects that find survival value in biting humans or other mammals?
Interesting question. I've read that many (maybe even most) insects co-evolved with plants. Later on when larger animals appeared, a smaller group of insects co-evolved with them and made use of taking in a blood meal for development of eggs, etc. It seems to me like that small group just exploited an available niche. What do you think?
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Old 11-12-2011, 08:30 AM
 
Location: Victoria TX
42,661 posts, read 77,735,102 times
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Originally Posted by nezlie View Post
Interesting question. I've read that many (maybe even most) insects co-evolved with plants. Later on when larger animals appeared, a smaller group of insects co-evolved with them and made use of taking in a blood meal for development of eggs, etc. It seems to me like that small group just exploited an available niche. What do you think?
Insects first appeared over 400 million years ago, and reptiles not until about 300-million. But the major divisions of insects radiated between 300- and 150-million years ago, so most insect species assumed their current form well after the appearance of reptiles. So most insects evolved their present form long after their progenitors had begun to share the habitat with higher animal forms.
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Old 11-12-2011, 11:32 AM
 
Location: Austin, Texas
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I'm guessing it's because biting and otherwise bothering us humans is counter-productive to their survival rates and population propagation. Because, being good homo sapiens, what do we do if we're annoyed or even hurt by another species? Especially a lowly insect?
Excactly. We kill it.

I would hazard to wager that the percentage of insects that stung or bit homo erectus some 400,000 years ago was significantly higher than it is today.
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Old 11-12-2011, 11:59 AM
 
Location: Not.here
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Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post
Insects first appeared over 400 million years ago, and reptiles not until about 300-million. But the major divisions of insects radiated between 300- and 150-million years ago, so most insect species assumed their current form well after the appearance of reptiles. So most insects evolved their present form long after their progenitors had begun to share the habitat with higher animal forms.
In this book, Evolution of the Insects, they mention "two major routes that foster the evolution of feeding on vertebrates." It's on page 489 and the paragraph starts out: As Waage (1979) pointed out.......

Evolution of the insects - David A. Grimaldi, Michael S. Engel - Google Books
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