No Bugs About It (GMHDRNC)
Did you know that three of every four creatures on Earth are insects? Learn the ins and outs of the creepy crawlers we love to hate.
K - 12
Indoor or outdoor classroom
Governor Mike Huckabee Delta Rivers Nature Center, Pine Bluff
Education Program Coordinator, 870-534-0011
45 minutes - 1 hour
Suggested Number of Participants:
10 - 30
- Understand the basic biology of insects and their contributions to the ecosystem.
- Understand the anatomical structures in insects and how these help them survive.
*See glossary for definations
Inflatable insects (metamorphosis)
Butterflies taste with their feet, and the monarch butterfly travels to Mexico to breed. With around one million insects per human on the planet, it is worth the time to learn more about these creatures, whether it be their simple physical anatomy, features or defense mechanisms.
- Discuss the stages of insect metamorphosis and the physical anatomy of the final stage.
- Insects reproduce by laying eggs, and most go through several if not all stages of metamorphosis. The stages are egg, larva, pupa and adult.
- Insects are invertebrates, meaning they do not have a backbone. Instead, their bodies are covered by hard, shell-like membranes called exoskeletons. Their bodies are divided into three main sections: the head, the thorax and the abdomen. All insects also have six legs, which stands out as the big difference between insects and spiders. The head usually contains the antennae, eyes and mouth. Antennae can be camouflage and also be sensory organs much like fingers or noses. Most insects have compound eyes to see in all directions. Insects don’t have teeth; instead their mouths may have tubes for siphoning, tongues for sponging, or jaws for chewing or biting. The thorax houses the wings of flying insects. The abdomen is the final section and holds the insect’s digestive, reproductive and circulatory systems.
- There are many ways insects defend themselves. Illustrate some of these.
- Insects will often run, fly, crawl or hop away from predators, but some also sting, bite or spit when provoked. The roly-poly will curl up in a ball and play dead when frightened.
- One of the more common defenses is camouflage. Walking sticks and praying mantises blend with the habitat, but some bugs will mimic bigger animals or bugs that may be poisonous. The viceroy butterfly mimics the very poisonous monarch butterfly so other animals will not bother it. Similarly, bright reds and yellows such as those on ladybugs may not blend into the surroundings, but they ward off predators who fear those colors imply the poison.
- Answer any questions.
- What are the three sections of an insect’s body?
- How do bright colors protect an insect?
- What is metamorphosis, and what are the stages?
Abdomen (insect) – the posterior section of an arthropod’s body, behind the thorax or the cephalothorax
Entomology – study of insects; an arthropod class that comprises about 900,000 known species, representing three-fourths of all the classified animal species
Exoskeleton – an external skeleton that supports and protects an animal's body, in contrast to the internal skeleton in a human, for example
Insect – invertebrate animal of the class Insecta of the phylum Arthropoda with an exoskeleton, three sets of jointed legs, a segmented body made up of head, thorax, abdomen and typically one or two pairs of wings
Metamorphosis – a change in the form and often habits of an animal during normal development after the embryonic stage. Examples include a maggot changing into an adult fly and a caterpillar into a butterfly, and in amphibians, the changing of a tadpole into a frog.
Mimicry – in biology, when one species resembles another (often unrelated) species or a feature in its environment to deceive its prey and protect the mimic, as when the model is inedible or dangerous
Thorax – in insects, one of the three main divisions of the creature's body where the wings and legs attach