What is an insect?

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What is an insect? What are its features and what do they help it do? Did you know that insects have been around for 4 millions years!! Crazy right! You might think that their structure is quite complex when actually it is pretty straight forward…

Insects’ bodies are divided in three segments:

  • A head with eyes, mouth, and antennae
  • A thorax with legs and/or wings
  • An abdomen that contains their organs

“Insects have no internal skeleton, instead they are covered in an external shell (exoskeleton) that protects their soft internal organs. No insect has more than three pairs of legs, except for some immature forms such as caterpillars that have prolegs. These are appendages that serve the purpose of legs.”

To learn more about each of those segments have a look at the Science Learning Hub following article. Science Learning Hub – Insects – physical characteristics

Four out of every five animals are insects! That means the majority of animals on earth are insects. They are the most diverse animal group on the planet! Why are there so many insects?

Insects can adapt to different environments so well thanks to the several characteristics they have. Watch the following video to help you understand those characteristics and inspire your InsectBot design. What is an insect?

Morgane is an insect aficionado and part of Entomological Society of New Zealand. We have reached out to her to ask her some questions about insects and why she loves them so much!

Kia ora Morgane!

Where does your passion for insects come from?

“I’ve always been very curious, even as a kid, and I spent most of my time outdoors exploring my garden and the local bush, and going to the beach. I think being privileged enough to live in such amazing places helped foster a love of the natural world, and this was certainly supported by my parents. During the last of my Bachelor’s, I did a paper on Entomology and fell completely in love with insects. Ever since, I haven’t looked back! Insects are just so cool, they are such an important part of our ecosystems and without them, our planet would look vastly different. Not only that, but our knowledge of insects and other ‘mini-beasts’ is far from complete so there is still so much to discover which is incredibly exciting. They also have the coolest behaviours and adaptations, making them endlessly fascinating to learn about!”

What is your favourite insect and why?

“My favourite are the stick insects (insect family Phasmatodea)! I love them because of how beautiful and diverse they are. Various species can look very different, and have a range of interesting behaviours! I especially love the little dance they do, when they rock back and forth. They truly look like a stick swaying in the wind! Stick insects have many incredible adaptations to survive! They can hide from predators by using their camouflage, blending into the leaves and bark of trees. They can also intentionally detach and grow back their legs if they ever get stuck while moulting or caught by a predator like a bird (called autotomy). They can also pretend to be dead to fool their predators (called thanatosis). And lastly, they can also climb onto any surfaces, even upside down!”

Which video or website would you recommend for rangatahi to learn about insects?

“Here is a few resources, both in website and videos which are a great start:

What is so special about insects?

Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research has created this really interactive tool which will give you a fact sheet on more than 400 insects. What is this bug?

And here is a good introductory video on what insects are: All about insects

Go to: > InsectBot Home > Learn About Insects