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Insects

InsideandOut

WheelBug

More than 100,000 species of insects are found almost


everywhere in North America, but very few are harmful. Insects
are important to the food chain, pollination, honey, wax, shellac,
silk, food, scavenging,
and decomposing.

Ladybeetleadultandlarva

goodorbad?
Let's examine which insects are "good" and which ones are
"bad". Are lady beetles good or bad? Well, they are good when
they eat aphids, but bad when hundreds collect inside your
house.

Honeybeesgoodorbad?

JimKalishDept.ofEntomology,UniversityofNebraska Lincoln

Are honey bees good or bad? They are good when


they pollinate and produce honey, but bad when they sting.

Termitesgoodorbad?

1998-2003 Troy Bartlett

They are bad when they eat the wood in your house, but good
when they break down dead and fallen trees.

Kingdom
Phylum
Class
Order
Family
Genus
species

In school we learned that


animals are divided into
smaller and smaller
groups. Let's look where
insects fit in the animal
kingdom. From top to
bottom, each category has
fewer species, and the
groups of animals within
each category are
increasingly similar.

Kingdomanimal
Phylumarthropod
Classinsect
Orderdiptera
Familymuscidae
GenusMusca
speciesdomestica

Usingthehouseflyas
anexample.Noticethe
genusandspeciesis
theofficialscientific
nameoftheanimal.
Thisnameisvalidin
anycountryofthe
worldandisan
importantwayto
avoidconfusion.This
twowordLatin
namingsystemwas
developedin1758and
hashardlychanged
sincethen.Thereare
someimportantthings
toknowaboutit.

HouseFly
Musca=fly
domestica=home
Scientificnamesarealwaystwowords.Thefirstpartofthename
(Genus)isalwayscapitalized.Thisletsusknowthatitisthegenus.
Thesecondnameisalwaysinlowercaseandisusuallydescriptiveof
theinsectinsomemanner.BecausethesewordsareinLatin,theyare
alwaysitalicized(orunderlinedwhichsubstitutesforitalics).

InterestingScientificNames
Eubetia bigaulae Brown (tortricid moth)

InterestingScientificNames
Eubetia bigaulae Brown (tortricid moth)
Heerz lukenatcha Marsh (braconid wasp)

InterestingScientificNames
Eubetia bigaulae Brown (tortricid moth)
Heerz lukenatcha Marsh (braconid wasp)
Pieza rhea Evenhuis (mythicomyiid fly)

InterestingScientificNames
Eubetia bigaulae Brown (tortricid moth)
Heerz lukenatcha Marsh (braconid wasp)
Pieza rhea Evenhuis (mythicomyiid fly)
Verae peculya Marsh (braconid wasp)

Insects also have common names.


One problem with common names is that there may be more
than one common name for the same insect. Common
names often differ between geographical regions. Do you
know what a skeeter hawk is? Or a cow killer? Did you
know a velvet ant really is not an ant, but a wingless
wasp? ...and locusts are really a type of grasshopper - not a
cicada.

SkeeterHawk

Cicada

Cow
Killer

Locust

Velvetant

Locust

Importantrulesgoverntheuseofcommonnames.Iftheinsecttruly
belongstothegroupthatthenamedenotes,thenthecommonnameshould
betwowords.Forexample,ahoneybeeisatruememberofthebees,so
honeybee(orbumblebee)isalwaysspelledastwowordsdespitewhat
yourcommondictionarymayprint.

honeybee
honeybee

bumblebee

Whichofthefollowingshouldbe
twowords?

butterfly
dragonfly
horsefly
housefly

whitefly
damselfly
fruitfly
mayfly

Onlytheseinsectsaretrueflies

butterfly
dragonfly
horsefly
housefly

whitefly
damselfly
fruitfly
mayfly

External
Anatomy

Adult insects are known for having three major body regions,
six legs, one pair of antennae and usually two pair of wings as
adults.

head

thorax

abdomen

Adultinsectsdevelopasacompositeoffusedsegments
withspecificbodypartassociations.

from the 1995 Physiology or Medicine Nobel Poster

antennae

compound
eyes

The first body


region is the head.
Insect heads can be
highly variable, but
most possess eyes,
antennae and
mouthparts.

HEAD

head

mouthparts

Antennae
beetle
ant
termite

butterfly

fly

Junebeetle

Antennae are used by insects as major sensory


devices, especially for smell, and can be adaptive for the
insect in many ways.

TwoExamplesofMouthparts

chewing

piercing/sucking

Insect mouthparts are also highly modified for the


insect. Chewing, biting, or sucking, are a few examples.
Mouthparts of an immature insect may differ from those of
in its adult stage.

the same insect

Pictureofbodyparts

The middle body region is


called the thorax and is
composed of three fused
segments. All legs and
wings are located on the
thorax.

Thorax

swimming

digging

suction

Legs

grasping

Like the mouthparts and


antennae, insect legs are quite
variable in form and function
and reflect the insect's lifestyle.

The last body region is


called the abdomen. It is
composed of many segments
connected by flexible
sections allowing it great
movement.

Abdomen

Insects possess an exterior covering called the


exoskeleton. They do not have internal bones. This
segmented "shell" is what gives insects shape and can
be very hard in some insects. It is often covered with a
waxy layer and may have "hairs" called setae.

waxylayer

cuticle

seta(
seta hair)
hair

Exoskeletonxsec

Internal
Anatomy
Inside the insect we find the systems for respiration,
circulation, nerves, and digestion, but there is little
resemblance to the same systems found in man or other
mammals.

DigestiveSystem
foregut

hindgut

Digestivesys
midgut
The digestive system is a tube that opens at the mouth and empties at
the tail end of the insect. It is divided into three parts called the
foregut, midgut, and hind gut. In some insects such as the honey bee,
the foregut acts as a crop to carry or hold liquids which can be
regurgitated later.

CirculatorySystem
heart aorticpumps

Circsystem
The circulatory system is not composed of a central heart, veins and
arteries which circulate blood cells and transport oxygen. The insect
circulatory system is a simple tube down the back which is open at both
ends and slowly pulses body fluids and nutrients from the rear of the
insect to the head.

Insects have a less centralized nervous system than humans. The nerve
chord runs along the ventral or bottom aspect of an insect. The brain is
divided into two main parts. The largest lobes control important areas
such as the eyes, antennae, and mouthparts. Other major concentrations
of nerve bundles called ganglia occur along the nerve chord and usually
control those body functions closest to it.

twolobedbrain
Nervoussystem

nervebundles (ganglia)

NervousSystem

The respiratory system is composed of air sacs and tubes


called tracheae. Air enters the tubes through a series of
openings called spiracles found along the sides of the body.
The largest spiracles are usually found on the thorax where
greater musculature from wings and legs require more
oxygen. There are no spiracles on the head.

tracheal
tubes

spiracles

Respiratory
System

Life
Cycles
The many diverse orders of insects have four different types of life cycles.
These life cycles are called "metamorphosis" because of the changes of
shape that the insects undergo during development.

egg

WithoutMetamorphosis
nymphs

adult

Withoutmeta

The first type is "without" metamorphosis which the


wingless primitive orders such as silverfish (Thysanura)
and springtails (Collembola) possess. The young resemble
adults except for size.

IncompleteMetamorphosis
egg

naiads

adult

Incompletemeta

The second type is "incomplete" metamorphosis


which is found among the aquatic insect orders such as
mayflies (Ephemeroptera) and dragonflies (Odonata).

GradualMetamorphosis

The third type is "gradual" metamorphosis seen in such orders as the


grasshoppers (Orthoptera), termites (Isoptera), thrips (Thysanoptera),
and true bugs (Hemiptera). This life cycle starts as an egg, but each
growth, or nymphal stage looks similar, except it lacks wings and the
reproductive capacity that the adult possesses.

Gradualmeta

egg

nymphs

adult

CompleteMetamorphosis
The fourth type is "complete" metamorphosis found in butterflies
(Lepidoptera), beetles (Coleoptera), flies (Diptera), and bees, wasps, and
ants (Hymenoptera). This life cycle has the four stages of egg, larva,
pupa, and adult. Each stage is quite distinct.

egg

larvae

pupa

adult

It should be noted that because insects are hard-bodied,


they cannot grow larger gradually. Instead they grow
larger in steps by shedding the hard exoskeleton for a
brief period of expansion. The brief periods between or
within stages are called molts. Insects are soft-bodied
and vulnerable during this time.

recentlymoltedroach

Today we've discussed what makes an animal an


insect and the main characteristics of an insect.
Hopefully you will have a better understanding
of how insects fit into our environment andJackKellyClark
why

they do some of the things they do.

Preparedby

StephenB.Bambara
ExtensionEntomologist
NCSTATE UNIVERSITY
Copyright2001