Icipe is a tropical organisation with a tropical agenda. But why study insects? Because in the tropics, insects are a fact of life to be reckoned with. Insects pose a great risk to food production, often causing the loss of entire crops and destroying about half of all harvested food in storage. The 'old' tropical vector-borne diseases of malaria, dengue, kala-azar and the like are making a dramatic comeback, and frightening new ones are emerging. Livestock succumb in their millions to insect- and tick-borne diseases, resulting in loss of milk, meat and traction power. Underlying all of these issues is the fundamental poverty of most tropical countries and inability to harness their natural resources for themselves.