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Differences Between Insects and Spiders: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Mark Boster
Have you ever looked at a cookie and thought you saw chocolate chips, but they were really raisins? Well, sometimes animals look alike, but they are really different. This includes insects and spiders. Do you know the difference?

MOM!

''Mom, Mom,'' bellowed Ted, ''Eugenia threw a nasty insect on me!''

''I did not,'' said Eugenia. ''It was a spider.''

Is a spider classified as an insect or not? How can you tell?

Arthropods

All bugs are not the same. There is a group of animals called arthropods. Arthropods are invertebrate animals that have a segmented body, jointed limbs, and an outer body that the animals occasionally shed.

Here are a few key points:

  • All insects are arthropods, but not all arthropods are insects.
  • Also, all arachnids are arthropods, but not all arthropods are arachnids.

If this confuses you, let's try to un-confuse you with the first diagram. See, insects and arachnids are both arthropods, but not all of the arthropods are arachnids or insects.

Arthropods include insects and arachnids.
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Insects

Insects are the largest group of arthropods there is, and in fact, the largest group of any animal on Earth. There are over one million different types of insects on Earth. But how can you tell if a bug is an insect?

  1. All insects must have three pairs of legs. That means they have a total of six legs.
  2. Insects can live almost anywhere on Earth.
  3. At some time in their life, an insect must have wings. Maybe not when they are young, but they may have wings when they are adults.
  4. All insects have three parts, or segments, to their bodies.

Parts of an Insect
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The head for eating, seeing, smelling, hearing, and any other senses they may have. All the heads of insects have two antennas and two compound eyes. That means they have two eyes that each see many of the same images, which makes it easier to see motion.

The thorax helps insects get around. Their legs are attached to the thorax.

The abdomen is what insects use to reproduce.

Some examples of insects are ants, butterflies, flies, grasshoppers, and lightning bugs.

Arachnids

So, then what is a spider? A spider is in a group of arthropods called arachnids. Arachnids are a group of animals with the following traits:

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