Insect Information And Lesson Plans
They’re buzzing through the air, sitting on your window sills, munching on your food and sometimes even taking a bite out of you. They’re bugs, and they’re everywhere around you, all of the time. So maybe it’s time to learn a little bit about our creepy crawly friends, and the ways that they help us to keep on living.
When people think about bugs, one of the first things to come to mind is usually spiders. But spiders actually aren’t insects at all—they’re arachnids. You can tell the difference based on what their body looks like. Spiders have two body segments—the head and the abdomen—and eight legs, but no antennae or wings. Insects, on the other hand, have three body segments—the head, the thorax, and the abdomen—and only six legs, and usually four wings and antennae to boot.
Spiders eat most bugs, including annoying ones that carry diseases like mosquitoes, so they’re usually a good thing to have around the house. Some spiders are venomous, though, so you should make sure you know what kind of a spider it is before you let it wander around your bedroom. The most poisonous spider in the world is the Brazilian wandering spider, which is 30 times more poisonous than a rattle snake. They like to hang out in banana trees, so they are sometimes called banana spiders.
Insects are the most diverse group of animal in the world, with over nine hundred thousand known species worldwide. That means that they make up about 80% of all the species in the world, and we are discovering new ones every day. While there are lots of different classifications for all of these bugs, there are three major categories.
“Apterygota” is just a fancy name for insects that don’t have any wings. These insects hatch from their parents’ eggs looking like miniature versions of their parents, and eventually grow to adult size without ever changing what they look like. One of the most common Apterygota is a bug from the UK called the sea bristletail, which sort of looks like a tiny shrimp, and likes to live on rocky beaches where there’s seawater.
Pterygota are the opposite of Apterygota: they are the insects that have wings, and go through metamorphosis: the changing of their body to look like an adult (like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly). Not all of them have visible wings, however. Exopterygota are bugs that grow wings outside of their bodies. They only go through incomplete metamorphosis, so they still sort of look the same when they’re adults. This category of bug includes cockroaches, grasshoppers, praying mantises, dragonflies, and lice.
Bugs whose wings grow on the inside are called Endopterygota, and they have complete metamorphosis, which means that they spend a lot of time inside of a cocoon. This category of bug includes ants, bees, beetles and flies.
There are a lot of other classifications for bugs, because they all have to be sorted all the way down to what species they are. If you’re interested, you can find out all about the different classes here.
A website dedicated to studying “the earth’s most diverse organisms.”
A number of 3D animations of insects, up-close and personal.
An article on what bugs you can eat, from the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture.
Animal Diversity Web
Information on a number of insects from the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology.
A bug-themed bi-monthly podcast from the Texas A&M entomology department.
Tasty Bug Recipes
Several yummy bug recipes from Iowa State University.
Insects and Pests
A guild to household insects from Ohio State University.
Information about bugs, including species diversity, from the Smithsonian.
A guide to identifying different insects from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Insects, Disease and History
A guide to insects throughout the ages from the University of Montana entomology department.
CalPhotos: Invertebrate-Insect Common Names
A photo resource for bugs.
A site where you can learn about and buy beneficial insects for your garden.
Just for Kids
Amateur Entomologist’s Society
A kid’s club for bugs, including lots of information and pictures.
Natural History Museum: Kids only
An entire page dedicated to teaching kids about animals.
Let’s Talk About Insects
A colorful flash animation guide to insects from the University of Illinois.
Sci4Kids: Insect Stories
Several illustrated online stories about bugs for kids, from the USDA.
A website dedicated to teaching kids about animals, including insects, from the University of Michigan.
Eek! Critter Corner
A resource on animals and insects for kids, from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Bug-themed educational games from primarygames.com.
The Franklin Institute Resources for Science Learning
A great resource for finding information about all aspects of bugs.
Using Insects in the Classroom
The University of Kentucky’s Entomology department’s guidelines for keeping a classroom pet bug.
Using Live Insects in Elementary Classrooms
A number of bug-related lesson plans from the University of Arizona, for K-3.
Insect adoption lesson plans from sciencespot.net.
Principles of Aeronautics
Using insects to introduce the principles of aeronautics in the classroom.
A number of simple print-outs for teaching the anatomy of an insect from enchantedlearning.com.
Insect Art and Ornaments
Bug-related art projects from the University of Kentucky entomology department.
Tons of bug-related lesson plans for K-12 teachers.
A number of bug-related games and activities from Scholastic.
Mini-Unit Topic: Insects
A lesson plan for teaching about insects in the elementary school classroom, from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaigne.
Image: Damselfly, by Michael Apel. Photo courtesy of wiki commons.