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Bugging out!


We all know that bugs come in different shapes and sizes; some fly, some crawl, some wiggle—but what makes an insect, an insect?

Well, insects are arthropods (this word is from ancient Greek, meaning, “jointed foot”) with:     
  • 6 jointed legs
  • 2 antennae 
  •  Bodies divided into 3 parts (head, thorax, and abdomen) 
  • Compound eyes (eyes with several thousand lens) 
  • 1 or 2 pairs of wings
  • Mouthparts (different varieties allow bugs to eat in a variety of ways: chewing, piercing-sucking, sponging, siphoning, and cutting) 
  • Spiracles: the insects breathing system; air enters through these holes in the abdomen, and then travels on to the tracheae
  • Exoskeletons
Did you know that an insect’s exoskeleton does not grow with the insect like the endoskeletons in humans? The exoskeletons’ main function is to give the bugs support and protection; as an insect grows it sheds the exoskeleton and creates a new one underneath--this process is called molting. Can you imagine shedding your skin and replacing it with new skin several times during your life?!

Did you Know?


  • Honeybees (pictured above) have to make about ten million trips to collect enough nectar for production of one pound of honey 
  • Houseflies find sugar with their feet, which are 10 million times more sensitive than human tongues
  • For every person on the earth, there are two hundred million insects
  • Approximately 2,000 silkworm cocoons are needed to produce one pound of silk
  • Ants can lift and carry more than fifty times their own weight
  • Mexican Jumping Beans actually have a caterpillar of a bean moth inside
  • It takes about one hundred Monarch Butterflies to weigh one ounce
  • When the droppings of millions of cattle started ruining the land in Australia, dung beetles (pictured right) were imported to reduce the problem
  • To survive the cold of winter months, many insects replace their body water with a chemical called glycerol, which acts as an "antifreeze" against the temperatures
  • Male mosquitoes do not bite humans, but rather live on plant juices and other natural liquids from plants and decomposing organic material

Check These Out!

Bug Shots
Siy, Alexandra
"Bugs bite, drink blood, and rob food from gardens and fields. They can even kill plants, animals, and, occasionally, people. Is bugging a crime? Alexandra Siy compiles 'rap sheets' on several of the major categories of bugs and takes a very close look at some of the types of insects in an engaging text. The fascinating photo micrographs magnify insect parts from 10 to 300,000 times their actual sizes."
Bugs That Help
Weir, Kirsten
Learn all about helpful insects.
Honey in A Hive
Rockwell, Anne F.
An introduction to the behavior and life cycle of honeybees, with particular emphasis on the production of honey.
Scurrying Cockroaches
Field, Jon Eben
One of the most hated and feared insect species, cockroaches love to live with humans and have done so for centuries. Cockroaches is a lively historical and biological biography of this loathed creepy crawly.
Zoom in on a world of creatures that are industrious, sociable, and environmentally useful, but that are nevertheless avoided and ignored. Safely examine the wonders of the insect through macrophotography and startling 3-D graphics that reveal the true importance of these amazing life forms.
The Jeff Corwin Experience
How do spiders and other arachnids differ from insects? Travel around the world with Jeff to learn the answer. You'll visit Spain for a look at the dung beetle, Morocco to view scorpions, and Africa to observe termites.

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