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Their Principal Characteristics




Face of grasshopper enlarged showing parts; ant., antenna; eye, compound eye; oc., ocellus or simple eye; cl., clypeus; lbr., labrum or upper lip; mx. p., maxillary palpus; lb. p., labial palpus; lab., labium or lower lip.

Mouth parts of grasshopper shown in relative position; lbr., labrum; md., mandibles; hyp., hypopharynx; max., maxillae; lab., labium.

Young insects as a rule are soft like caterpillars and maggots, while the old ones usually have a hard body wall, similar to the beetles and wasps. The wings are usually thin and transparent though in some cases they are leathery or hard as in case of beetles or covered with scales as in the butterflies. The three pairs of legs are jointed and used for running, climbing, jumping, swimming, digging or grasping. The feelers or antennae are usually threadlike, clubbed, or resemble a feather and extend forward or sidewise from the head. The large eyes are compound, being made up of many great small units which, when magnified, resemble honey-comb. In some cases two or three small bead-like eyes may be present besides the two large eyes. The mouth parts of insects may be formed for chewing, as in the grasshopper, or for sucking up liquids, as in the mosquito. The mouth of an insect is built on an entirely different plan from our own. Chewing insects have an upper and lower lip and between these there are two pairs of grinding jaws. These jaws are hinged at the side of the face and when chewing they come together from either side so as to meet in the middle of the mouth. They therefore work sidewise rather than up and down. The mouth parts of the sucking insects are drawn out to form a sucking tube or proboscis as in case of the butterfly or mosquito.


Leg of grasshopper showing segmentation. The basal segment c, is the coxa, the next t, the trochanter, the large segment f, the femur, the long slender one ti, the tibia, and the three jointed tarsus ta, with claws at the tip.

The internal organs of insects are similar to those of other animals. The digestive tube consists of oesophagus, gizzard, or stomach, and intestines. The nervous system is well developed as shown by the extreme sensitiveness of insects to touch. The brain is comparatively small except in the bees and ants. The circulatory system consists simply of a long tube heart, the blood vessels being absent. In this way the internal organs of the insect are simply bathed in the blood. The system of respiration is most complicated. The air is taken in through pores usually along the side of the body and is then carried through fine tracheal tubes to all parts of the body. You cannot drown an insect by putting its head under water, since it does not breathe through its mouth. The muscular system is similar to that of other animals which have the skeleton on the outside.


The internal organs of the honey bee. Note the strong wing muscles in the thorax. The tube-like heart begins in the head and extends back through the thorax and follows the curve of the abdomen. Below the heart is the digestive tube consisting of the slender oesophagus which extends back to the expanded honey stomach, in which the bee carries the nectar it collects from flowers, then the curled true stomach, the small intestine and expanded large intestine. Below this is the nervous system consisting of the brain and a chain of connected enlargements or ganglia extending back into the abdomen in the lower part of the body. The respiratory system in part appears just above the honey stomach, and the black circular or oval spots are cross sections of connecting air tubes, which run all through the body. Also note the sting with the poison gland and sack which are pulled out with the sting; also the sucking tube for getting honey from flowers, and the structures on the legs for gathering and carrying pollen; the pollen basket is on the back side of the hind leg.






Next: Their Methods Of Developing

Previous: What They Are



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