Related topics: species · genes · plants · animals · brain

Insect apocalypse: German bug watchers sound alarm

For almost 30 years they passed as quirky eccentrics, diligently setting up their insect traps in the Rhine countryside to collect tens of millions of bugs and creepy crawlers.

Studying butterfly flight to help build bug-size flying robots

To improve the next generation of insect-size flying machines, Johns Hopkins engineers have been aiming high-speed video cameras at some of the prettiest bugs on the planet. By figuring out how butterflies flutter among flowers ...

Pesticides threaten birds and bees alike, study says

Neurotoxic pesticides blamed for the world's bee collapse are also harming butterflies, worms, fish and birds, said a scientific review that called Tuesday for tighter regulation to curb their use.

Lazy ants make themselves useful in unexpected ways

If the first thing that comes to mind when you think about ants is "industrious," you might be in for a surprise. In 2015, biologists at the University of Arizona reported that a sizable chunk of the "workers" that make up ...

Stick insects expand territory after being eaten by birds

It's commonly assumed that when insects are eaten by birds, they and their unborn young have no chance of survival. However, a team of Japanese researchers hypothesized that the eggs within insect bodies can pass through ...

A new estimate of biodiversity on Earth

Anyone who has studied biology, watched a nature documentary, or, for that matter, simply enjoyed time in the outdoors, has likely been amazed by the variety of plant and animal life on our planet.

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Insect

Insects (Class Insecta) are arthropods, having a hard exoskeleton, a three-part body (head, thorax, and abdomen), three pairs of jointed legs, compound eyes, and two antennae. They are the most diverse group of animals on the planet and include approximately 30 gladiator and icebug, 35 Zoraptera, 150 snakefly, 200 silverfish, 300 alderfly, 300 webspinner, 350 jumping bristletail, 550 scorpionfly, 600 Strepsiptera, 1,200 caddisfly, 1,700 stonefly, 1,800 earwig, 2,000 flea, 2,200 mantis, 2,500 mayfly, 3,000 louse, 3,000 walking stick, 4,000 cockroach, 4,000 lacewing, 4,000 termite, 5,000 dragonfly, 5,000 thrips, 5,500 booklouse, 20,000 cricket, grasshopper, and locust, 82,000 true bug, 110,000 ant, bee, sawfly, and wasp, 120,000 true fly, 170,000 butterfly and moth, and 360,000 beetle species described to date. The number of extant species is estimated at between six and ten million, with over a million species already described. Insects represent more than half of all known living organisms and potentially represent over 90% of the differing life forms on Earth. Insects may be found in nearly all environments, although only a small number of species occur in the oceans, a habitat dominated by another arthropod group, the crustaceans.

Adult modern insects range in size from a 0.139 mm (0.00547 in) fairyfly (Dicopomorpha echmepterygis) to a 56.7-centimetre (22.3 in) long stick insect (Phobaeticus chani). The heaviest documented present-day insect was 70 g (2½ oz) Giant Weta, though the Goliath beetles Goliathus goliatus, Goliathus regius and Cerambycid beetles such as Titanus giganteus hold the title for some of the largest species in general.

The largest known extinct insect is a kind of dragonfly, Meganeura.

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