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Protectors of the Planet

Ahuva Sofer

Bugs?! Believe it or not, even humans can gain from the hair-raising six-legged creature that sometimes makes us shriek and run for cover

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

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Iadmit it; I used to wonder why creatures like the nasty cockroach and creepy spider exist. (Didn’t you ever?) But as Jews, we believe that nothing is an accident and there is a purpose to everything in Hashem’s world. Believe it or not, even humans can gain from the hair-raising six-legged creature that sometimes makes us shriek and run for cover.

A Giant Chain

When one link in your necklace breaks, the entire necklace is broken. The world is like that giant chain, where all the different parts are dependent on each other for survival. For example, even though animals eat plants, plants need the animals to help them grow. When animals exhale, they provide life-giving carbon dioxide for plants. When they collect food, and eat while on the go, they’re actually helping replant seeds in different parts of the earth.
These are just some of the ways animals contribute to a thriving planet.

The World’s Gardeners

Because soil is at the very bottom of the food chain, healthy soil is essential for all living things. Without healthy, fertile soil, we’d be in sorry shape. Here are some creatures we can thank for keeping the earth in shipshape:

Miniature Plows

Ever watched a farmer drive a giant plow through his field? Turning the ground is an important part of planting since it’s difficult for the top layer of the soil to absorb the nutrients and water important for seed growth.

 

Meet the ant and earthworm, the planet’s professional plows! Both the ant and earthworm spend much of their lives down-under, churning the ground like little miniature plows as they go about their daily lives. These creepy crawlers break the hard ground by digging tunnels, allowing air, water, and nutrients to penetrate the soil.

Walking Pollinators

Did you know that without animals, plants would probably become extinct? For new seeds to grow, the pistil, located at the bottom of the flower, and the stamen, the top part of the flower where the pollen is located, must join. Plants don’t have legs and can’t travel. Without the help of other living things to transport the pollen to the stamen, green life would not be able to reproduce. Creatures like bees, birds, and butterflies act as partners in the important process of pollination. As these creatures feed on nectar from flowers, pollen clings to their body and unwittingly comes in contact with to the stamen of other flowers. And voilà — flowers and plants can create new seeds.

Seed Dispersers

Plants and fruit trees also need our animal friends to disperse their seeds and fruit so that trees can take root in other parts of the world. Believe it or not, the strange food-hoarding habits of some animals help with seed and fruit dispersion. It may seem strange that ants tend to collect more food that they would eat in many lifetimes, but the leftover food is beneficial, since it can take root in the ground. The squirrel’s short-term memory loss also helps green life sprout. Squirrels hide mounds of nuts every year, but usually forget where they hid half of them. Thanks to these rodents’ poor memories, the nuts remain in the ground and sprout into full-fledged trees.

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