Harmful Insects: Lesson for Kids

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  • 0:05 Insects
  • 0:44 Biting Insects
  • 1:57 Defensive Insects
  • 2:45 Hungry Insects
  • 3:14 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Emily Lockhart

Emily has taught science and has a master's degree in education.

In this lesson, you'll learn about just a few of the many insects that can be harmful. Some are harmful to our food and homes, others cause harm due to bites or stings or by passing deadly parasites after they bite us.


You might have heard the phrase, ''sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite.'' Perhaps this phrase ''bugs you,'' or other things might be ''bugging you.'' These are just a few of the common expressions that reflect how much bugs, or insects, are disliked.

Generally, insects have three distinct body segments: antennae, six legs, and (usually) wings. Familiar examples of insects include mosquitos, butterflies, bees, and beetles, but these are just a few of the estimated five to ten million species of insects out there in the world. Luckily, you're only likely to encounter a few that can cause harm, which they do by spreading disease, eating our homes or our food, or hurting us with stings and bites.

Biting Insects

Some insects are dangerous to humans because they use you as a food source. Biting flies, for example, bite big chunks of our skin. Ouch! Other insects like the kissing bug, tsetse fly, mosquitoes, or ticks use us for snacks and pass diseases to us that can cause very serious health effects. Many of these bugs are not dangerous themselves, but the diseases they carry can create serious health problems around the world.

For example, kissing bugs may sound sweet, but the Chagas Disease that you can get from their 'kiss' is not. Mosquitoes are the vampires of the insect world because they suck our blood, but that's not the real reason they're dangerous. The bite of certain kinds of mosquitoes can carry many different diseases, including a very dangerous parasite that causes malaria. The mosquito is thus the most dangerous insect because it causes the highest number of people harm, and even death.

Ticks are another common example of a blood-loving insect. Hikers or outdoor enthusiasts pick up ticks, and these ticks bury themselves into their skin. Ticks themselves, like the other bugs we've mentioned, are harmless. But they carry a parasite that causes Lyme's disease, which can cause things like joint pain and sleepiness. Tsetse flies, found in Africa, also cause sleepiness. They carry another parasite responsible for the deadly sleeping sickness.

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