What Do Insects Need to Survive?

Psychologist Abraham Maslow said that people have seven basic survival needs: food, clothing, water, air, shelter, sleep, and safety. You may be inclined to add or subtract things. That’s between you and him.

Whereas most people live between seventy and eighty years, most bugs only live three or four months. So, they do not have as many physical needs. Unfortunately for Missouri homeowners, they can find all of them at or near your front door.


Insects are cold-blooded. They are dormant during the winter and cannot tolerate extended hot sunlight. Therefore, they need shelter from both the cold and the heat. When outside, they often nest underground. When inside, they often nest in corners or in other hidden places.

Insects also need shelter to breed. Given their short lifespans, breeding is about the only activity they undertake, other than eating.


Most insects live in large colonies. Ant and termite colonies are highly organized into different social strata; other insects simply live together to share the workload. That workload usually involves gathering food.

Many insects, such as wasps and ants, feed on sugar. That could be natural sugar, like the nectar in flowers, or artificial sugar, like a spilled drink. When ants go after crumbs of food, they are attracted not to the protein or other nutrients, but to the sugar that most processed foods contain.

Other insects, most notably termites, feed on cellulose. These critters have high levels of Achaea bacteria in their bodies, so they can break down cellulose into key nutrients.  They normally prefer old, rotten wood. This substance is easier to break down and digest. But if they cannot find old wood, any wood or wood product, like paper, will do.

Mosquitoes, fleas, and a few other kinds of insects are parasites. They feed on human or animal blood. These pests often carry diseases as well. If they feed on an infected host, they spread the illness to all subsequent hosts.

Sometimes, there is some overlap. For example, some wasps feed on both sugar and cellulose.


Pets and people need moisture to survive, and so do insects. But most bugs only need the humidity in the air. That’s why summer is insect season, for the most part.

Moisture is also important in insect breeding. Tiny insects produce even tinier eggs and larvae which are not much larger than micro-organisms. Therefore, they dry out quickly. So, right before they lay eggs, most insects look for moisture. For example, mosquitoes often, but not always, lay their eggs in shallow pools of standing water.

A serious pest infestation requires a serious professional, like the ones you’ll find at All Solutions Pest Control.

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