"Every single insect plays a role, even if it's only purpose is to get eaten by something," Haviland said. "Everything is important."
Haviland spent the day at the Kern County Fairgrounds teaching students about insect life cycles and their role in the ecosystem. He said populations of grasshoppers, cockroaches and ants ramp up in April and could become pests in their homes. He recommends using Integrated Pest Management for control, which focuses on the least-toxic approach to preventing and treating insect infestations.
"In most cases in your yard, for example, you don't really need to do anything. There are good bugs. There are bad bugs. The good ones eat the bad ones, and you're done," he said.
If insects become pests, the UC IPM website spells out safe, effective solutions. Ants, for example, can be kept out of the house by sealing cracks and crevices that allow them inside, cleaning up grease and spills in the kitchen, and removing sweet food sources next to the house. If they get inside, a sponge and soapy water can clean them up. Insecticide sprays are often unnecessary.
Eight-year-old Carver Williams got the message. He told the 23ABC reporter, "If you ever approach a bug that you've never seen before in your life, just respect it."