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Mi any butterflies that travel long distances conserve "their energy by gliding up and down, using invisible warm air bubbles, called thermals. When the sun shines on a dark parking lot surrounded by trees, the air over the parking lot gets much warmer than the air around the trees. Warm air is lighter than cooler air, so the warm air over the parking lot rises as a thermal. If a broad-winged butterfly flies by, it can stretch its wings and let the thermal carry it high into the sky, then glide down a long distance with just an occasional flap of its wings.


Sheet of thin writing paper Pencil with sharp point Scissors Tissue paper Index card

Trace the broad wing pattern onto the paper, making sure you

Journal Notes

I held the wing on the pencil point for one minute and this is what happened:

include the dashed line. Cut it out around the solid line edge. Fold the paper along the dashed line to make a crease, then open it back up. Grab the pencil about halfway down in one hand. Use your other hand to balance the paper on the pencil tip. Hold steady for at least one minute and

Journal Notes

I held the wing on the pencil point for one minute and this is what happened:

When I did this with a thicker wing, this happened:

When I did this with a thinner wing, this happened:

When I dropped a wing from up high, this happened:

watch what happens. Trace the pattern on tissue paper and on an index card. What happens when you try to balance them? What happens if you make the pattern larger? Smaller? Stand on a chair and drop the wing pattern, noting what happens as it falls.

What made the wing move? Your body makes heat. The heat from your hand created a mini-thermal that went up, hit the paper, and made it spin. When you dropped the paper, it likely twirled around as it fell, looking more like a maple seed or mini-helicopter than a gliding butterfly. One reason is because butterflies have four wings, not just two. The wings act together to control upward and downward motion, just like the flaps on a glider's wings.

Nervous Twitch t At

1/1 / hile some butterflies and 1/ 1/ moths flap slowly and gracefully as they float through the air, flies, bumblebees, and hummingbird moths flap faster than the eye can see. For years there has been a popular myth that bumblebees shouldn't be able to fly because they have a short, fat body shape and their nervous system can't send messages fast enough to make their wings flap the necessary 200 times a second.The truth behind the myth is that a bumblebee's shape and wings are more like a helicopter than a glider, and the muscles work a bit like a rubber band.


1 sheet of thin paper Pencil with dull tip Scissors

Foam tray or plate Crayons

Thin rubber band

Place the sheet of thin paper over the bee and wing pattern and trace them. Cut them out, place them on the foam tray, and trace around them. Cut them out of the foam and decorate them with crayons. Place the rubber band over the bee pattern with the sides hooked into the notches. Put the wing piece in the middle of the rubber band. Wind the wing piece around 20 times in one direction. Release the wings, and watch and listen to them as they spin.

The nerves and thorax muscles that control a bumblebee's wings work in a somewhat simi-

lar manner. The muscles are ready to move, similar to you winding up the wings. Ten to twenty times a second, the nerves send the message to the wing muscles to flap, or in your case, to release the wings. It only takes one message from the nerves to get the wing muscles started, then they keep vibrating, like the rubber band keeps unwinding, moving the wings 10 to 20 times until the nerves send the next message to flap.

All About Legs

Legs are attached to the lower side of the thorax. Insect legs have the same basic parts that yours do, but many insects also have extra adaptations for survival. A praying mantis's front legs have sharp spines along the edges to hold its prey. Flies have sticky pads at the end of their legs to help them walk on things, even the ceiling. Grasshoppers and crickets have large bent hind legs, just right for jumping.Water boatmen and backswimmers have legs like oars for paddling through the water. Ground beetles have long, strong legs for running.And crane flies have very long legs, helping them stand above the grass on the ground.

About Abdomens

Abdomens can be long and thin, short and round, or shapes in between. Some are striped, some are one color, and some have little hooks at the end called cerci (SIR-se). Bombardier beetles protect themselves by squirting boiling



Human Leg

Insect Leg



Human Leg

hot liquid out of their abdomens. Fireflies have abdomens they light up to help them find their mates. Female crickets and grasshoppers have a long, skinny spear at the end of their abdomens.This is called an ovipositor and is used to lay eggs. The ovipositor on female bees and wasps has changed over time to become a stinger.

Assassin Bug

Mighty Muscles

I I ave you heard of the amaz-I I ing feats that insects can A X do? Ants can lift 50 times their own body weight. Grasshoppers can jump 30 times their body length. If you were to compete against insects in

Bug Business

Fireflies, which are a family of beetles, can be found on every continent except Antarctica, but not every firefly flashes. In the United States, the fireflies that live east of the Rocky Mountains and away from the desert Southwest flash their abdominal lights on warm summer nights.

While most people catch fireflies for fun, some people do it for money. Since 1952, a company in Tennessee has sponsored a summer firefly drive. It pays people to catch and freeze fireflies. The company collects these fire-

Olympic events, how well would you do?

Since you are much larger than insects, of course you can lift more actual weight than an ant, and jump higher and farther than a flea.To make the contests flies, then sells them to researchers. The researchers remove the chemical that glows (luciferin) and use it in their studies. Some researchers mix the luciferin with small samples of ground beef or other foods. If the bacteria e. coli is in the food, the luciferin attaches to the bacteria, making it easy for researchers to see it.

How much do firefly catchers earn? The price can change, but a good estimate is about one penny per perfect insect.

fair, you need to relate how far and high you jump, how fast you run, and how much you can lift to your own body size.


Tape measure Pencil

Bathroom scale



Watch with a second hand Friends where you landed. Measure how far you jumped. Divide this number by your height to determine how many body lengths you jumped.

Tie a rope between two trees or solid posts, about eight inches (20 cm) above and parallel to the ground.Try to jump over the rope without taking a running start. If you make it over, raise the rope two inches (5 cm). Keep raising the height until you miss

Record your height in inches (or centimeters) and your weight in pounds (or kilograms) in your journal, then get ready to do your best!

Draw a line on the ground with the chalk. From a still position, jump as far as you can. Mark

This female rhinoceros beetle moved nearly 100 times its own mass during an experiment measuring how much energy it used while carrying extra weight.

Photograph courtesy of Rodger Kram, Ph.D., University of Colorado

This female rhinoceros beetle moved nearly 100 times its own mass during an experiment measuring how much energy it used while carrying extra weight.

Photograph courtesy of Rodger Kram, Ph.D., University of Colorado it three times in a row. Record the highest level you jumped in your journal. Divide this number by your height to determine how many body lengths high you jumped.

Begin from a still position at a starting line. Run as fast as you can for five seconds (have a friend use a watch to time your run). Measure how far you ran in inches (cm) and record this number in your journal. Divide this number by 5 to determine how far you ran per second. Divide how far you ran per second by your height to figure out how many body lengths that is.

Record Holders


Long jump

High jump





About 29.5 feet (almost Over 8 feet (2.4 m) (with About 20 miles (32 km) 17 x body weight in a

9 meters) = about 4.5 body lengths

A 2-inch (5 cm) grasshopper can jump 30 inches (76 cm) = 15 body lengths a running start) = about 1.25 x height

0.1 inch (.25 cm) cat flea has jumped 13 inches (33 cm) = 130 x its height per hour = between 5 and 6 body lengths per second Cockroaches run about 3.7 miles (6 km) per hour = 50 body lengths per second trestle lift

Rhinoceros beetle can support 850 times its own weight on its back

Gather some friends who weigh about the same amount as you. Put your hands and knees on the ground, keeping your back in the air.Ask your friends to straddle your back, adding one more friend at a time until you cannot hold any more without collapsing.

Journal Notes

Write these sentences into your journal and fill in the blanks with your results.


1. I jumped a distance of

B * A =_is the number of body lengths long that I jumped.

_(C) inches/cm is the number of body lengths high that I jumped.

inches/cm in 5 seconds.

is the number of body lengths per second I jumped.

friends on my back at the same time.

Who wins every contest? Don't feel bad that the insects always win. For one thing, many insects have more muscles than we do. Humans have about 800 muscles. Grasshoppers have about 900 and caterpillars have as many as 4,000!

Not only do insects have more muscles, but those muscles have to do less work.When muscles work, they have to move whatever is being lifted or pushed and the body parts as well. Since humans have more inside (volume) compared to their skin (surface area) than insects do, our muscles have a bigger job to do from the start.



2 pieces of paper (832 x 11 inches) Tape

2 pieces of stiff cardboard Dry cereal

Sketch a strong insect (an ant or beetle is a good choice) on one piece of paper, and a human on the other. Roll the insect paper along the long edge to form a tall tube, and tape the sides. Roll the human paper along the short edge to form a shorter tube, and again, and tape the sides. Place one of the tubes on a piece of stiff cardboard and fill it to the top with dry cereal.

Place the other tube on the other piece of cardboard. Pour the cereal from the first tube into the second one.

along the short edge to form a shorter tube, and again, and tape the sides. Place one of the tubes on a piece of stiff cardboard and fill it to the top with dry cereal.

Journal Notes

The tube held the greater amount (volume) of dry cereal.

You started with the same size paper, so each tube has the same surface area. But because of the way you rolled the paper, one tube holds a greater volume than the other. This is true when you compare insect and human bodies as well. Because of the way they are made, insects have less volume compared to their surface area than humans do.

Even though you have a greater volume compared to your surface area than an insect does, and an insect has more muscles than you do, if you found an insect the same size as you, you would likely have about equal strength.

What's Bugging You?

Entomologists use everything from an insect's antennae to its toes to help identify each kind. Insects that look and act a lot alike are put in big groups called orders. All the butterflies and moths are grouped together in one order, beetles are another order, and cockroaches are a third order.There are about 30 major orders of insects.You will most likely be able to find insects from around ten of these orders.These ten common orders and their characteristics are listed at the

Real Entomologists

Not all entomologists agree how insects should be grouped. Some entomologists recognize 30 orders, while other entomologists recognize more or fewer.

end of the book in the table titled "Ten Common Insect Orders" (see page 117).


Around 1735, Carolus Linnaeus introduced a new system of classification—a way to identify, name, and group living things in an organized way.Although his first system concentrated on plants, he later worked to organize animals into a formal system as well.There are seven major levels of information used to classify all living things.

The system works like making a seven-level name and address for each living thing. Each level of information gets more specific. Imagine you were space-traveling in a distant galaxy and met another creature who asked where you were from. If the creature wanted your exact address, you might answer something like: Milky Way Galaxy, Planet Earth, North American continent, United States of America, State of Iowa, City of

Des Moines, 1234 Main Street.

The first level of information in the name address for a living organism is called the Kingdom. There is a Plant Kingdom, an Algae Kingdom, a Fungi Kingdom, and, of course, an Animal Kingdom. All animals are part of the Animal Kingdom, so it is a very big group.

As scientists look at all the different kinds of animals, they sort them into smaller, more exclusive groups called Phyla. Furry, warm-blooded animals with backbones who give birth to live babies and feed them milk are put in the Mammals phylum, while those animals with exoskeletons, at least two body segments, and pairs ofjointed legs are in the Arthropod (ARE-thro-pod) phylum.

Insects are members of the Arthropod phylum, as are spiders, centipedes, and lobsters. So scientists take all the animals in the Arthropod phylum and sort them into even smaller groups, called classes. All six-legged arthropods are put in the insect class, while the other arthropods are put into different classes like the arachnid (spider) class or the crustacea (lobster, crabs) class.

Scientists keep sorting each level into smaller and smaller groups. All the animals in each class are put into orders. Bugs, beetles, and flies are all in different orders. Each order is sorted into smaller groups called families. Stinkbugs, assassin bugs, and bedbugs are all in different families. Each family is sorted into a small group called a genus (JîN-us). Stinkbugs could belong to the rough stinkbug genus, the green stinkbug genus, or one of several others, with each group having only a few members. Finally, at the very end, each animal gets its very own name; that is, its species. The species name for the spined soldier stinkbug is Podisus maculiventris. If you put together all the classification information about the spined soldier stinkbug, this is what it would look like:

All animals

Only those animals with jointed legs, two or more body segments, exoskeleton Only those arthropods with six legs, two antennae

Only those insects with front wings longer than hind wings, and a piercing-sucking mouth that forms a beak

Only those bugs with a shield-shaped back and strong, defensive odor Only those stinkbugs considered soldier stinkbugs The spined soldier stinkbug

Classification Level Animals Included

Kingdom Animalia Phylum Arthropoda Class Insecta Order Hemiptera

Family Pentatomidae Genus Podisus Species maculiventris

What tools can you use to figure out which order an insect belongs to? There are two basic types of books to help you: field guides and keys. Field guides include pictures of the insects, common names, and a short description.You can find a field guide that includes all different kinds of the most common insects, or one for just one type of insect, such as butterflies. To identify an insect, you look through the field guide to find the picture that looks the most like what you have found.

A key is a list that gives you two choices. After picking the choice that best describes your insect, you follow the instructions to the next set of choices.

First Field Guides

Field guides come in many different shapes and sizes. Some use photographs of insects; some use detailed black and white drawings; others use colored illustrations. Look at several different types of field guides to find the one that is right for you. The field guides listed here are first guides. To keep them light and easy-to-use, they only include the insects you are most likely to find.

Bugs and Slugs: An Introduction to Familiar Invertebrates. Pocket Naturalist by James Kavanagh (Waterford Press, Inc., 2002).

Insects: A Concise Field Guide to 200 Common Insects of North America. Peterson's First Guides by Christopher Leahy (Houghton Mifflin, 1987).

Insects: A Guide to Familiar American Insects. A Golden Guide by Herbert S. Zim, Ph.D. and Clarence Cottam, Ph.D. (Golden Press, 1987).

Insects and Spiders: National Audubon Society's Pocket Guide (Chanticleer Press Inc., 1988).

Insects: Spiders and Other Terrestrial Arthropods. Dorling Kindersley Handbooks by George C. McGavin (Dorling Kindersley Inc., 2000).

For example, a key to put an insect in the right order might start out like this:

1. Does the adult have well-developed wings?

2. Are the wings clear?

3. Are there two sets of clear wings?

After going through a list and picking the best descriptions, your final choice tells you to which order your insect belongs. If you want to find out which family, genus, and species your insect belongs to, you use another key that is made for each order. Keys are usually found in entomology textbooks and other scientific resources.

While most amateur entomologists start by using field guides, it doesn't matter which type of book you use. After some prac tice, you will be able to automat' ically put most insects into the right order.

Don't get discouraged if you have trouble identifying some insects you find. Sometimes it takes professional entomologists days or weeks to identify an insect all the way to its species name. After comparing an unknown insect to similar ones in their collections, entomologists use a microscope to look at its antennae, mouth-parts, how the wings are veined, and other very specific details. Even then, they are sometimes fooled. Everyone agreed that a certain insect in Borneo looked and acted like a tiger beetle. It was only when one entomologist started to raise the insect from an egg to adult that he became suspicious. Beetles undergo complete metamorphosis, but this insect did not. He finally determined that the insect was actually a grasshopper, acting like a beetle.Very tricky!

Make a Connection

Go to Extension/ or look in the phone book for your area Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (look for Extension Service in the county government section). Many of them have active entomology departments that will identify insects found in your state.

What's in a Name?

People often call the same insect by different names. For example, do you call it a lightning bug or a firefly? To make sure they are all talking about the same insect, entomologists use the official two-part name for each insect. The first part of the name is the genus, which puts each insect into a small group of very similar insects.The second part is the species name, which tells you exactly which insect you have. It works a lot like your name when it is listed in a phone book.Your last name (surname) groups you with the other members of your family.Your first name shows exactly which family member you are.

If you use a key to identify the insects you catch, you will see the official names.The official names are usually in Latin, and some are hard to pronounce, like Drosophila melangaster (fruit fly). Of course, some entomologists have fun, even with Latin names. G.W Kirkaldy named one bug Ochisme (o-kiss-me), another one Poly-chisme (Polly-kiss-me), and a third one Marichisme (Mary-kiss-me). A fly was named Pieza kake (piece of cake), and one entomologist named a moth Dyaria (which sounds the same as diarrhea).

Insect Imposters

Insects, spiders, centipedes, millipedes, ticks, scorpions, mites, and lobsters all belong to the Arthro pod phylum, a very large group of animals. Many arthropods live close to each other, sometimes under the same rock or in the same rotting log. Its no wonder people often get confused by the different types of small, many-legged creatures and just call them all "bugs." Turn the page to find some clues to help you separate real insects from their close cousins, the insect imposters.

Common Names

Many insects have a common name in addition to their scientific name. The common name is like a nickname and often describes the insect. Honeybee, walking stick, grasshopper, fire ant, stinkbug, and swallowtail butterfly are examples of common names. How many other ones can you think of?

Centipedes: long, flat bodies with 15 to 181 segments. The one pair of legs on each body segment stretches out to the side.

Millipedes: cylinder-like body with 9 to 100+ segments. Each segment has two pairs of legs, which are directly under the body.



Sowbugs And Pillbugs Baby

Isopods (pill bugs or roly-polies):

two body parts, hard shell, one pair of antennae, and usually five or more pairs of legs.


Arachnids: spiders, mites, ticks, and scorpions. Eight legs, two body segments, and no antennae.


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