All creatures deserve respect and protection in our world. Some may be small but they’re just as important to our world as any other integral part of our environment. This group of images includes mostly insects but also a few mammals, reptiles and amphibians.

Are all creatures in the Animal Kingdom sentient? The definition of sentient is ‘able to perceive or feel things.’ Most agree that animals in the vertebrate phylum are, but what about the insect and worm phylums? I tend to think they are. Maybe not like we are or a dog or cat is, but a different level or different kind of sentience. Why would insects be any different than vertebrates when they’re also part of the animal kingdom and their brain structures are similar to our own brains. If you’ve ever held a praying mantis in your hand, I think you would agree with me. You can feel their awareness. Their head will move and follow your movements just like a mammal would. If you try and touch it, it will raise up its body and legs to protect itself. They may be my favorite insect, although bees come in a close second. Some even believe plants are a form of sentient beings, and yes, I tend to believe this too. One fascinating book on this subject is The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohleben.

So many people despise insects and go out of their way to kill them, but why? They do so much for us. Here are just a few examples of their contributions to our world…..they break down and dispose of wastes, they’re the food source for many amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, but the most important to us humans is their role in food production. Our environment would not function without insects. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan of mosquitos or houseflies and it’s hard for me to see their purpose other than to annoy and bite me, but mother nature is pretty smart and I’m sure they’re here on planet earth for a reason. Fun Fact: Mosquitos LOVE me! I have O+ blood and apparently, mosquitos prefer that over all other blood types. I go through the spring, summer and fall, covered in mosquito bites. I’ll admit, I do spray to keep the mosquitoes away from me, but what I will not do is spray bug spray all over my yard or have a zapper attracting bugs to my yard, only to zap them. Of course the main culprit of insect decline is from spraying the fields for food and crop production, but we can all make a difference by not killing insects for no reason. If you’re old enough, remember when you were young and you’d take a drive at night and your windshield would be covered in smashed bugs? Notice anything different now? Barely any bug splats. That’s not a good thing, and it actually has a name, Windshield Phenomenon. This is happening because of a global decline of insect abundance.

I don’t expect everyone to suddenly be in love with insects after viewing these images, but lets at least do our part and try and keep them around even if we don’t like them. They’re here for a reason and they benefit the survival of humans. I hope you enjoy these photos….you have to agree that a few are kinda cute, right? Quick story….you’ll notice one image in this collection of a small mouse. I was working in the garden and moved a piece of wood, inadvertently destroying it’s nice little home built beneath it. The little mouse hung around for some time before leaving and that’s how I got its photo. I’m sure the poor thing was confused and distraught. Once I looked at its nest closer, I discovered that the mouse had collected bits of colored glass and small pieces of colored ceramics. It was like a children’s book come to life. There’s no other reason I can think of that a mouse would collect such things unless it liked them or thought they were pretty. We have so much more to learn about our world and the creatures that inhabit it.