Insects as Pets? A Bizarre New Trend

 In Blog, Homeowner Tips, Pest Identification
Myrmecia brevinoda (Giant Bulldog Ant, Giant B...

Myrmecia brevinoda (Giant Bulldog Ant, Giant Bull Ant) (Photo credit: Arthur Chapman)

If insects don’t top your list of Cute & Adorable Living Things, you aren’t alone.  However, many people in Asia will disagree with you.  In fact, an increasing number of teenagers and young adults in China and other areas of Asia are beginning to keep exotic insects as pets. Technology is making the trend more accessible to many today, because these exotic insect pets can be ordered online and shipped from other parts of the world.

Giant ants may be the most interesting insect pet in China. Although the trend is quirky and unique, it may not be the safest or healthiest fad to hit modern Asian society.

The Lure of Insects as Pets

According to a number of news reports, Chinese authorities are finding an increase in exotic, foreign insects being shipped through the postal system. Many of these insects are being shipped to teenagers and young adults for use as pets. Because these insects require little care and do not need regular veterinary visits, they seem to be an appealing alternative to dogs, cats, and other domesticated animals.

The thought of keeping an insect instead of a dog, cat, or goldfish may also be psychological in nature. Many young people are growing increasingly independent, seeking to find their own unique place in the world. Keeping an exotic insect as a pet may make them feel that they are different from their peers, who often have traditional pets in their home.

Why Keeping Exotic Insects May Be Harmful

Some species of ants and other exotic insects are invasive pests, often making their way into the wild and leaving destruction in their path. When insects are smuggled into the country via online merchandisers, they can carry disease (harmful to human health or plant life) with them.  Some insects, especially those that aren’t plentiful in one area, have the ability to destroy plant life, thereby damaging the ecological landscape.

If foreign insect species are introduced into a region which lacks certain natural predators, it is likely that the foreign insects will reproduce quickly and easily. This reproduction can threaten both human and plant life, depending on the insect and area of the country.

It is easy to see why authorities are concerned about this increasing trend.  By smuggling living things across borders, officials are unable to prevent the concerning and potentially disastrous consequences.

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