Earth is a home of all creatures but Insects inhabit the Earth more than any other animal species. Their bodies are divided into three parts – the head, thorax, and abdomen. So they are considered to be unique among all creatures. The head contains the mouth, the eyes and the antennae. Insects use antennas for smelling purpose. The thorax is similar to a human’s chest. The wings of the insects are attached to the thorax. Insects have an outer covering to support the body instead of bones. The outer layer of the covering is waxy and waterproof. All insects have six legs. Even the legs are attached to the thorax. Every insect has unique features which help them get along in the world. The pond skater has little cups on its feet so that it can walk on water. Dragonflies look like helicopters as they can hover and turn in the air. It may seem hard to believe, but in the countryside almost all the noises that can be heard at night are made by insects and frogs. They may even sound like birds or people. In some places people keep crickets or grasshoppers in cages to listen to their sounds.
Great Castle Builders
Ants live in protected places. Many live in undergrounds or under a rock. Some of the ants live in trees or inside wild plants. They build their nests on the ground, using tiny sticks, sand, mud, gravel, and even leaves. An ant hill is a mound of sand or dirt where thousands of ants live and work. There are separate rooms for baby ants inside the hill. The food is also kept there. Tunnels connect the rooms. Worker ants build the nest, make tunnels, and repair any damage to the ant hill. Soldier ants guard the ant hill day and night and protect it from enemies. An ant has long feelers, called antennae that stick out from its head. It can send messages to the other insects by tapping them with its antennas. Ants smell with their antennas. They use scents to tell whether another ant is a friend or an enemy. If an ant from another nest wanders into the ant hill, the soldiers will attack it. Deadly wars are fought between the ants of two nests. The whole nest is ruled by the queen ant, the mother of all the ants. The queen lays her eggs in a special room in the ant hill, while the other ants feed, clean and protect her. The ‘ant castle ‘doesn’t have a barn or a stable. But in one room certain kinds of ants keep aphids, which are tiny green insects. Aphids are called ‘ant cows’ because the ants ‘milk ‘those to get a sweet juice the aphids produce. Other ants are like farmers too. They grow fungus inside their nests, and the fungus is all they eat.
Ants travel as an army. Millions of army ants move in lines which appear like an ‘ant river’. These ant armies weigh so much that they can knock over trees and even bring down large animals, which they then eat.
Inside the hive
Bees are seen in a hive. One can see hundreds of small six-sided rooms, or ‘cells’. The bees build these cells with a wax which is secreted by them. The bees store many things in the wax cells, which include the honey, nectar, and a food called ‘bee bread’. Bee bread is made of flower pollen mixed with honey. The cells are used to hold the tiny eggs that will hatch into baby bees. The bees work during spring and summer season. The honey is secreted and stored during those seasons while the queen bee lays most of her eggs. The queen bee is the biggest bee in the hive. There are also drones and workers in the hive. Drones are larger than the workers and have no stingers. They don’t do any work, but one drone mates with the queen and will be the father of all the hive’s workers. Each of the worker bees has a special job. Some build the cells in the hive, while others keep the hive clean. Some workers are soldiers that guard the hive and chase away any other bees, wasps, and insects that might try to steal the hive’s honey. Other worker bees fly out to visit flowers and blossoms. They take pollen and nectar back to the hive to make bee bread and honey. Some bees even stay by the door of the hive and flap their wings quickly to blow the cool air through the hive.
Bees can tell if an intruder has entered the hive because the intruder smells different. But one kind of moth has found a way to sneak into hives. It fakes the smell of the hive just long enough to get in and steal some honey.
Fly by Day, Fly by Night
Butterflies and moths are found throughout the world, from deserts to hot jungles to high up in snowy mountains. One can see them in every continent except Antarctica. Butterflies and moths are insects, and they have three pairs of legs. Their bodies are divided into three sections. A pair of large special eyes is located on the either side of the head. These eyes are able to detect the smallest movement. But they cannot see faraway things clearly. The wings in front are usually larger. Dust-like scales cover the wings, body and legs. These scales will come off if we touch the wings with our hands. The most striking thing about butterfly is their color. Most are bright and beautiful. Butterflies hold their wings straight up over their backs when they rest. Moths rest with theirs spread out. Butterflies are active during the day. But moths usually fly around at night. Many butterflies and moths seem to like sweet things. Nectar from flowers is an important part of their diet. Some will eat mosses and ferns. Others like cones, fruits, and seeds, but some do not eat at all and live only for a short time.
Cockroaches have been in existence for millions of years. They are very tough insects indeed. One type, the Oriental Cockroach, can live for a month without food. Cockroaches are found everywhere. Some of them live outside, but others live indoors along with humans. They are referred as pests. They like warm dark areas in homes, offices, ships, trains, and even airplanes. Their broad flat bodies can squeeze through the narrowest of cracks. Although cockroaches may look like beetles, they are similar to crickets. Cockroaches usually hide during the day and come out at night to feed. They eat all sorts of plant and animal products, including paper, clothing, books, and other insects. Some may eat other cockroaches too. Their feeding causes a lot of damage and they have a nasty smell too. They cause allergies and are thought to spread diseases to humans. Henceforth they are considered as the worst of household pests. Spiders, frogs, toads, lizards, and birds feed on cockroaches. Humans get rid of cockroaches with common poisons and traps. There are more than 3,500 types of cockroach. Some are small, while others may reach the length of seven centimeters. Many are colorful. Most of them have two pairs of wings. Some, such as the American cockroach, can fly long distances. The Oriental cockroach cannot fly at all. But all the cockroaches have long powerful legs and can run very fast.
Many scientists believe that the cockroach is one of the few animals that could survive a nuclear bomb blast.
The Wing Singers
A cricket never opens its mouth to chirp. Instead, it raises its stiff leathery front wings and rubs one over the other to make its high creaking sound. It’s a loud noise for such a tiny insect. Some crickets are as small as your thumbnail. Only male crickets have music - making wings. The chirping lets female crickets know where to find them, and it also keeps other male crickets away. The smooth wings of female crickets make no sound. Some kinds of male and female crickets use their back wings for flying. But most crickets travel by hopping and jumping. Some crickets eat only tiny insects. Others will eat almost anything. Crickets have such strong jaws that they can bite through clothes and even leather. Cricket has six legs like any other insect. There are tiny claws on its feet which help them to dig or run along on a tree limb or ceiling. The ears are located near the joints of its front legs. There are many different kinds of cricket. Crickets are black, green-brown, whitish, and straw colored. These are field crickets and brown house crickets. Both chirp during the day and night. A special kind of cricket in North America is called a ‘thermometer cricket’. Try counting how many times it chirps in 15 seconds and add 40 to it. Now you know the temperature in Fahrenheit degrees! The crickets chirp faster as the weather gets warmer.
There are a number of myths about crickets. Some people believe that harming a cricket will lead to bad luck.
Grasshoppers are insects that are found all over the world. They live in all kinds of places but are most common in grasslands and tropical forests. One type spends most of its life on floating plants while others live in people’s gardens. Their brown or green coloring helps them to blend in with the plants and soil around them. They are vegetarians hence they are fond of gardens. In some parts of the world, grasshoppers called locusts travel in huge swarms that can destroy a whole season’s worth of crops. Many birds, frogs, and snakes eat grasshoppers. In certain parts of the world, even people eat grasshoppers. They are sometimes dried, fried, jellied, roasted, dipped in honey, or ground into meal, they can be a good source of nutrients. But grasshoppers have their ways of avoiding danger. They can smell and hear an enemy, and, of course they can hop. It can hop well because of its long hind legs. Even grasshoppers can fly. Male grasshoppers are the ones that chirp or sing. They rub their wings together, or they rub their hind legs against their front wings.
An Itchy Situation
The humming sound that can be heard when a mosquito comes closer is from the fast beat of the mosquito’s wings. It is actually the hum of the female mosquito. It is only the female mosquito that bites and leaves those itchy lumps on the legs and arms. The male mosquito satisfies itself with a meal of nectar and other plant juices. Mosquitoes are insects that are usually found wherever the weather is damp or where there are rivers, lakes, or swamps. They lay eggs in water or else the eggs won’t hatch. Mosquitoes sometimes lay their eggs in ponds and other times they lay them in ditches. They will even lay them in tins partly filled with rain water. When the eggs hatch, the young mosquitoes look like little worms. Sometimes mosquitoes fly so high up in the air that they even get in through the open windows of tall apartment buildings in big cities. In the far north, near the North Pole, there are so many mosquitoes in summer that when they fly they look like black clouds. Getting rid of mosquitoes is difficult. One way is to drain all the water out of ditches, swamps, and ponds where they lay their eggs. To destroy full- grown mosquitoes, different kinds of insecticides are used. Unfortunately, it can be dangerous for animals and people too. Diseases such as malaria, which kills thousands of people each year, are spread to humans by mosquito bites. This is the main reason that people are so eager to kill mosquitoes any many steps are being taken to control their growth.
Termites play a major role in ensuring the amount of nitrogen in the world. Termites are a source of atmospheric methane. Methane makes up a considerable part of the atmosphere; it plays a role in the atmospheric absorption and chemical interactions occurring in both the stratosphere and the troposphere. God has created insects also for a purpose as they play an important role in maintaining the ecological balance.