Grazing Beef Cattle Promotes Insect Biodiversity

Bugs and cattle seem like they shouldn’t have much to do with each other, but beef cattle can help enhance insect biodiversity. The reason for this is beef cattle all start their lives on pasture, which often is populated by native grasses. These grasses in turn provide a natural environment for all sorts of species of native insects to thrive. When grazed correctly (which happens to also be the most economical way to graze), native plant life thrives and in turn the insects that live in and feed on these plants thrive as well.

So this weekend when I was back home fixing fence, I ran into all kinds of interesting insect life. Our ranch is in a unique environment that is has rolling hills filled with prairie, interrupted by patches of woodlands. The woodlands are mostly along water sources. Because of this transition, we have a wide variety of insect species that call our place home.

Unidentified bug on a log

For example, there was this bug on a tree that fell on the fence. I don’t know what it is, so I’d appreciate if an entomologist (professional or amature) would identify it for me.

As I walked along the fence line, replacing staples and taking branches off the wires, I heard cicadas buzzing around in the grass. Occasionally I’d run into a honey bee from one of the hives that our neighbor has on his pasture. Down by the creek bottom, dragonflies would buzz around while I stretched wires. And on the far east fenceline, Dad and I ran into this impressive insect structure.

Large ant colony next to my rifle

This nice sized ant hill was right in the fenceline. I used my .22 rifle for a size comparison, but then it got covered in ants.

The far east side of our pasture is dotted with these large ant hills. I remember when they were smaller back when I was growing up, but every year the ants added more and more on to their colony. Now, there are several of these large ant hills, with one in particular being a real monster.

Large ant colony

This one was 2 1/2 feet tall and over 12 feet long. It’s pretty much the Empire State Ant Hill.

I didn’t remember that one being quite so big, so it must have been added onto since the last time I checked that fence line. I was so impressed, I took a video of it and put it up on Youtube. That’s an impressive anthill!

The big key here is that interesting insect life such as these have a home to thrive because they can co-habitate the same environment as cattle. This means that the land owner can earn a living while preserving our planet’s biodiversity. That’s the win-win situation that we get from cattle ranching, and that’s one reason why it’s so “green” to eat red meat.

-Jake

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6 responses to “Grazing Beef Cattle Promotes Insect Biodiversity

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