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  • 0:05 Insects
  • 0:44 Biting Insects
  • 1:57 Defensive Insects
  • 2:45 Hungry Insects
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Harmful Insects: Lesson for Kids

Lesson Transcript
Emily Lockhart

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

Expert Contributor
Christianlly Cena

Christianlly has taught college physics and facilitated laboratory courses. He has a master's degree in Physics and is pursuing his doctorate study.

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. Updated: 11/06/2020


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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Additional Activities

Harmful Insects: Identification Exercise

In this activity, you'll check your knowledge regarding the characteristics of a harmful insect.


For this activity, identify whether the highlighted insect in each of the given scenario is a harmful insect. To do this, you must right-click and print this page. With a pencil and an eraser, neatly write harmful or not harmful in the blank space provided.

_______________ 1. The red-legged grasshopper can decimate food crops and transfer parasites to birds when eaten as prey.

_______________ 2. The larvae of lady beetles have an appetite for aphids and mites.

_______________ 3. Mantises are proficient predators that can instantly snag and kill insect pests.

_______________ 4. Braconid wasps lay their eggs inside a caterpillar, making it the food source of its larvae later on.

_______________ 5. The hornworm moth caterpillar commonly feeds on eggplant, pepper, tobacco, and tomato.

_______________ 6. Homes infested with termites can cause allergic reactions or even asthma to humans.

_______________ 7. The sting of a bullet ant is off-the-charts with pain that lasts up to 24 hours.

_______________ 8. A pill bug's diet includes decaying or decomposed plant matter, such as leaves.

_______________ 9. Tachinid flies are used by farmers to control plant pest species.

_______________ 10. Kissing bugs have a habit of biting the lip of sleeping humans.

Answer Key

  1. Harmful
  2. Not harmful
  3. Not harmful
  4. Not harmful
  5. Harmful
  6. Harmful
  7. Harmful
  8. Not harmful
  9. Not harmful
  10. Harmful

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