The Wonder of Insects
On Texas prairies we are buggy for bugs! Insects are part of the animal kingdom and they represent 60% of all life on planet earth. If you get closer to insects and observe them carefully, you will appreciate them more and begin to understand their value. Insects are interesting and come in many beautiful colors. We could not live in a world without insects. Literally.
Check out the Wonder of Insects video created by Della Barbato, NPAT’s Director of Education and Texas Master Naturalist volunteer, Shannon Westveer.
Characteristics of Insects
- All insects have wings
- They have 6 legs and 3 body regions: head, thorax, and abdomen
- A pair of antennae
- Their exoskeleton is a suit of armor
- Did you know that insects found in the Houston area mostly feed on the nectar of plants that are native to this area? This is because they have evolved here for thousands of years with the native plants that were here. They can’t digest the nectar found in landscaping plants from other continents such as rose or crepe myrtle. That is why it is important to plant some natives in your yard.
- Insects are not found in salt water
So, what things do insects do that bug us?
- Some insects can bite, sting or suck our blood.
- They annoy us, like gnats and flies
- They can carry diseases such as malaria or West Nile virus
- They can eat crops or the plants in our yard
But the truth is, very, very few are bad! Only 5% of all of the insects on Earth are bad, but they give the rest a bad “rap.”
Some of the good things they do:
- They produce honey and silk
- They pollinate the plants that make the food that we eat. Approximately 80% of all flowering plant species are specialized for pollination by animals—mostly insects—and that affects 35% of the world’s crop production
- Insects are food for many animals, like birds, fish, skunks, and even people!
Spiders have 8 legs, no wings and are not insects. But they are just as interesting to study!
If you want to learn more and help document insects, check out this video. The 2020 City Nature Challenge is over, but you can still keep posting your observations to iNaturalist and help citizen science!