Insects are the most diverse group of animals on the planet, with the amount of species available today estimated to be up to 10 million! These six-legged creatures come in all sorts of amazing forms and sizes which never fail at awing people. The sheer amount and diversity also means that insects play a huge role in the ecosystem- keeping food-chains in balance, pollinating plants and spreading diversity; apart from producing a wide range of products that are useful to mankind. It is safe to save that should insects perish from Earth, we humans will never be able to continue surviving!
Here at Wildlife Malaysia, we believe that knowledge is the key to understanding and appreciation. So now, just how much do you know about your insects?
Anatomy (Body Structure)
Insects are arthropods- Invertebrates (animals without a backbone) with a protective, external skeleton (exoskeleton), segmented body and jointed appendages.
Although insects may come in an extensive range of form and appearances, they all share some characters unique to them, as follows:
chitinous exoskeleton, three body segments (head, thorax and abdomen), six jointed legs, compound eyes and a pair of antennae, as follows:
1. Chitinous exoskeleton covering the entire body.
2. Three body segments- head, thorax and abdomen. In some insects these parts may not be that obvious.
3. Three pairs of jointed legs, usuually used for locomotion.
4. Compound eyes which are made up of thousands of smaller eye units.
5. A pair of antennae which helps the insect “smell” humidit, odour and pheromones (sex hormones).
Most insects have specialized, perceptive organs for vision, smell and sound.
This allows them to communicate, avoid predators, hunt down preys, search for food etc.
A huge majority of insects rely on fertilization to reproduce, though some minorities can give birth on their own.
The development and growth of insects varies tremendously from one group of insects to another. But since all insects have a chitinous exoskeleton which restricts further growth in size, insects have to undergo special biological development processes called metamorphosis to growth further.
There are two types of metamorphosis, namely complete and incomplete metamorphosis.
Having six legs can really come in handy, and this has allowed insects to travel to virtually all corners of the world via walking, flying and even swimming!
Defence and Predation
Most insects rely on camouflage and mimicry to deter predators.
Some develop hard shells for protection.
Some may even resort to using chemicals to protect themselves.
On the other hand, predatory insects usually have well developed appendages for immobilizing and killing prey.
Relationship with Humans
Most insects are indirectly beneficial to humans as they keep the ecosystem in check.
Serving as very efficient pollinators, many insects facilitates the fertilization and spread of flowering plants. Insects also act as a main food source for many larger organisms in the food chain, including humans.
However, there are many insects that have a more direct bond with humans, some of them bringing huge benefits to mankind, whereas others are outright nasty pests.
Humans rely heavily on some insects for the products they produce, for example honey from honey bees, and silk from the larvae of silkmoth (Bombyx mori) etc..
On the other hand, some of the most notorious insect pests include mosquitoes that spread many dreadful diseases, fruitfly infestations that ruin entire plantations and common houseflies that causes food poisoning etc.
That’s it for our brief introduction on insects! To be frank, there are countless more to write about as there are different and unique stories to tell for each species of insects!
However, here at Wildlife Malaysia we believe that it is more interesting to learn through pictures rather than words, so without further ado, we would like to welcome you to visit our Insect Pages!
*For more info and guides on taking these type of Macro shots, please visit PixelsDimension.
* The authors attempted to make this article as simple as possible. Advanced topics will be included in the future.