Insects - Small animals, big performance
They crawl, fly and amaze us every day again: Insects! Whether butterflies, ants or grasshoppers: There are countless species of insects all over the world, in different habitats, colors and forms. They could not be more different. Nevertheless, these animals have many common characteristics and that's why we want to tell you more about these creatures and what they have in common, what role they play in our nature and why they are often underestimated by humans.
What role do insects play on our earth?
Insects are not only beautiful to look at, but also play an important part in our ecosystem. Most wild and cultivated plants are pollinated by them, what ensures the reproduction and diversity of many plants. All human beings are also dependent on this pollination work. Without this process we would have to live absent of many types of fruits and vegetables.
What are the body parts of an insect?
The best-known characteristic of insects are the three pairs of legs, which fit with their wings to the segments of the chest. The body of an insect is divided into three rough parts: The head, the chest and the abdomen. At the head are the known mouth-parts, that are used for the food-acquisition and which clearly differ between the insect-types.
Furthermore, the sensors and the eyes, which consist of numerous small individual eyes, also called ommatidia, are located there. On the abdomen there are the sexual organs and the organs for digestion, too.
It is also important to know that these animals do not have a skeleton, but are protected by a thin protective cover, which is called chitin layer. This layer ensures that the insect body remains stable and flexible.
Additionally, insects have a simple nervous system, an open blood vessel system and breathe through a branched tracheal system that runs through the entire body.
An insects body can be divided into 3 parts: the head, the chest and the adomen
What habitats do insects live in?
Since there is an enormous variety of insect species worldwide, they can be found in almost all habitats. Some species prefer to live in water, while other species live entirely on land or in the air. Insects can also be found in almost all biotopes, which shows how many animals of this species are on our planet. They are extremely rare in the open sea and polar regions, where living conditions are not optimal to them.
How do insects reproduce?
As also with us humans, there are males and females with insects, that often differ in the size and optics. When growing up to a full-grown insect, there are different stages of development, which the animal has to go through. During the development process, a differentiation is made between imperfect and perfect transformation (metamorphosis).
Many insects undergo a complete metamorphosis, such as wasps, flies or butterflies. This means that their development goes through significant stages, so the larvae hardly resemble the adult animal, and they transform completely over time. In case of an imperfect metamorphosis, they hatch out of the egg and look very similar to the adult insect from the very beginning. Insects with such a transformation are for example dragonflies or grasshoppers.
What do insects eat?
The nutrition differs a lot between different insect species. Main sources of food are either plant or animal based, although there are insects who can feed on both. Based on their food sources, insects are classified as either herbivores or carnivores. Insects who can feed on both are called omnivores, but those are not very common in nature.
For food intake, the mouth parts of the insects are perfectly adapted to their food sources, which means that the animals have no problems whatsoever in grabbing or collecting their food.
Are insects endangered?
As mentioned above, insects are enormously important in our nature and we can hardly survive without them. Unfortunately, insect populations are declining worldwide and many species are becoming extinct. There are many reasons which influence the death of insects in a lot of different ways. But what exactly is the cause for this?
One important cause are the changed methods in agriculture, which we are currently practicing on a large area. Nowadays, pesticides are often used in the farming industry to counteract agricultural pests. Not only do they destroy important sources of food and wintering grounds for insects, they also kill insects directly or reduce their orientation and reproductive abilities.
In addition, the construction of new infrastructure or buildings by us humans destroys many insect habitats and thus these insects have little chance of survival.
But there are also positive developments that we would like to briefly touch on. As a countermeasure, for example, there are so-called flower strips made of seed mixtures that offer pollinators a wide range of flowers. These represent important food and reproduction biotopes and also contribute to the networking of biotopes.
Alternatively, we humans can also do something for insects. With the right choice of plants, nesting places and without using poison, we can try to do something good for them in our own gardens.
Insects are impressive and fascinating animals. On the one hand they have different abilities but on the other hand they have many similar characteristics. So even though you are often annoyed by these small creatures, they still fulfil very important tasks. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the fact that insects are necessary for all inhabitants of planet earth. There contribution to natures survival is crucial and insect extinction is an enormous problem nowadays, which can have far-reaching consequences. If you want to inform yourself further about this topic, you will find much more useful information on the website of the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation.
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Further Information at: https://www.nabu.de/