Granted it’s a bit of a far fetched premise, but suppose it could happen. Would their prey thrive? Would their predators starve? Perhaps an ecological niche might be filled by a more insidious form of pest?
On a more broad note, is there any form of “pest” type insect that could be eradicated with minimal ecological damage?
There are thousands of species of cockroaches occupying most of the planet and a huge variety of ecological niches from eusocial termite analogues with queens and workers through to hemi-parsites, den parasites, and cave dwellers. They range in size from a few millimetres to over 3 1/2 inches. In many environments cockroaches are the single most common animal species.
Needless to say if we exterminated such a diverse and populous group we would cause massive ecological damage, but it;s hard to rpedict how severe it might be. We could resonably expect a few keystone species to be cockraoches in whcih case total collapse of a few ecostsyetms woudl be a reasonable prediction.
As far as I know there are no predatory cockroaches. Most species will scavenge dying animals but none that I have ever heard of are predators. So in answer to your question: no.
In many cases yes.
That would be far preferable to the alternative, which is what would happen in the majority of cases.
Human lice. They have no significant effect on the human life cycle any more and they have absolutely no effect on any other species. Total ecological damgae from eradication: nil.
I would! I make a (admittedly small) potion of my income treating pets to make them tapeworm free. Also, tapeworm segments passing in the pet’s feces are a way for owners to monitor their pet’s flea status. (The flea acts as an intermediate host)
I can think of one animal species (silkworm) and a handful of plant species (corn, other plants we mutated to be better food crops) that would go extinct if humans died out, as well as a large number of phenotype variants (dog and cat breeds).
I’ve often wondered this same question about the common rat (as I have a severe fear of them and wish I could use a Cerebro-type device to find and kill them all instantly). Do any species actually feed upon rats to the extent that their lives would be impacted if they all disappeared?
Are you sayings cats and dogs would go extinct or just suffer a large drop in numbers?
Neither species is likely to go extinct. Cats are well adapted to continue on without humans, they can prey on almost anything smaller than themselves and scavenge. Dogs seem to do well in the wild. It would probably only take a few generations for Dogs to breed into a very successful predator that would cover a wide area of the globe.
If we are talking about a large drop in numbers, you should add the creatures that thrive on human civilization to the list like rats. Most domesticated species would probably suffer huge losses in numbers.
What Exit?: I knew I wasn’t quite clear enough, I just didn’t know how to clarify. What I meant was that most of the breeds we’ve produced (from Chihuahuas to Corgis to Mastiffs) would not be viable in the wild and would not last long in their pure (phenotypically (physical traits) or genotypically (genes)) form anyway. After a few generations, the dogs that lived long enough to reproduce will have produced a bunch of mutt puppies to carry on the non-pure-wolf Canid bloodline. The pure breeds would be lost forever, though that doesn’t qualify as extinction because the breeds are not distinct species.
I don’t think people are thinking about there responses here.
Firstly tapeworms aren’t insects, they’re, well they’re worms.
There are over 5, 00 species of tapeworm, many of them are significant of not primary controllers of animal populations. Extermination of tapeworms would potentially be the greatest ecological catastrophe in the history of humanity.
There are around 1, 00 species of rats, and yes there are numerous species that are primarily dependant on them for food. More importantly there are countless plant species which depend on them for survival, and millions more that are kept in check be seed predation by rats.
Total ecological catastrophe. Never mind the predator species, mosquitoes are major vectors of diseases that control animal and plant populations. No mosquitoes, no disease, massive population explosion.
Most human parasites and diseases aren’t exclusive to humans, so the ecological impact of extinction would be potentially massive.