Talk about insects with your child(ren) before you begin to use
the Let's Talk About Insects website.
Determine how much is known and ask the following:
- What is an insect?
- Where do insects come from?
- What good are insects to us?
- What makes a bug an insect?
- What does an insect need to live?
- What do insects eat?
- How many insects are there?
Take a Look at Let's Talk About Insects
This website is designed for students to explore the basic knowledge
needed to understand insects. As students go through the information,
they will be acquiring skills to better understand the role of
insects in our environment.
Anticipatory Guidance for the Study of Insects
Begin by talking with the students about insects. Take a walk
in the school yard, in a park, or on a sidewalk and look for insects.
Notice where they live. Make sure the students have a full sensory
experience. What do they see, feel, hear, and smell?
Insect Facts Children Should Know
1. All insects hatch from tiny eggs. Insects need food, water
and protection from the elements in order to grow successfully.
As an insect feeds and grows on the inside, there comes a time
when further growth is restricted by the hard external shell (exoskeleton)
which does not grow. To overcome this problem – they shed
their exoskeleton and replace it with a larger one.
When an insect molts, the old exoskeleton splits down the back
and the insect wiggles its way out of its covering. A new, larger
shell will form in a matter of hours. After the molt is complete,
the insect resumes feeding and begins to grow inside again. Soon,
another molt will be required. Insects may shed their exoskeletons
from 4-40 times in their lives. Once an insect becomes a full-grown
adult, however, it stops growing and molting.
2. What do insects eat? There are insects that eat live plants
(roots, stems, leaves and sap), paper, seeds, fruits, fabrics,
other small animals, the blood of larger animals, dead animals
3. The insects are amazing change artists. This process of changing
shape is known as metamorphosis. There are actually two ways that
insects can “change shapes” by incomplete metamorphosis
or by complete metamorphosis. During incomplete metamorphosis,
the insects change their shape gradually each time they shed their
exoskeleton. As the young insects grow, they look more and more
like their parents.
With metamorphosis, the insects go through a magnificent change
from young to adult. The young insects that develop this way look
very different from their parents. The best example is the caterpillar
that changes into a beautiful butterfly or moth. The actual change
from caterpillar to butterfly takes place within a protective
chrysalis. During incomplete metamorphosis the only noticeable
change is in size. The young insect, called a nymph, looks almost
identical to the adult. After shedding its exoskeleton a number
of times, it soon reaches the size of an adult.
The young (known as larvae) insects that go through complete
metamorphosis have special names because they look so different
from their parents. We call the larvae of butterflies and moths,
caterpillars; the larvae of flies, maggots; and the larvae of
beetles, grubs. Young insects never have wings, so this is one
way we can tell insect larvae from their parents.
4. Some insects can communicate with each other, but without
talking. Some use special chemical odors (called pheromones) to
“talk” to each other and help find one another. Others
communicate with visual signals – like the fireflies with
their flashing lights. Other insects communicate with sound –
they make noises, and in a few cases even sing to each other.
5. Some insects live alone, but some live in large groups or
colonies. Honeybees, ants, some wasps, and termites live in large
communities that function like tiny cities. Each insect in the
colony has a job – some gather food, some build nests, some
do the housecleaning, some care for the young, and others are
soldiers that protect the colony from intruders.
| Statewide Standards | Getting
Ready | Classroom Activities
Return to Let's Talk About Insects