Insect Adaptations: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Insects have developed many adaptations that help them survive and thrive despite their small size. Learn about the different features of insects that allow them to stay safe, hide, fly, jump, chew, slurp, and have huge families!

Insect Adaptations

Did you ever have a fly land on your nose, get stung by a bee, or feel the squishy feeling after accidentally stepping on a caterpillar? You've probably noticed that insects are everywhere, but did you ever wonder why there are so many insects in the world? The reason is that insects are masters of adaptations, meaning they have developed different features that help them survive.

Protective Coats

Exoskeleton

Unlike you, many insects wear their skeletons on the outside of their bodies. The exoskeleton, or outer skeleton, gives the bug its shape. For a bug, wearing an exoskeleton is like wearing a suit of armor because the hard cover protects the bug's body organs and adds a layer of protection against the bite of a predator. The adaptive covering also prevents the loss of water when a bug finds itself in a dry environment.

Camouflage

The life of an insect can be scary because many insects are looked at as dinner by birds, lizards and other animals. To hide from predators, some insects use camouflage, which is a clever way to blend into the world around them.

Some insects use camouflage to hide.
camo

For example, a walking stick is a type of insect that has a body shaped like a twig on a tree while other insects have markings that make them look like leaves.

Ability to Move

Wings

Do you think your life would be more fun if you could fly? Wings are an adaptation enjoyed by many insects. Wings help insects avoid predators, find food, and flee cold climates.

The wings of a bee help it reach food.
bee

For example, a honeybee's wings allow it to fly from one flower to the next as it gathers pollen and nectar while the wings of the delicate-looking butterfly have adapted to allow it to fly south thousands of miles to avoid the cold northern winters.

Legs

Insects by definition, are small animals that have six legs. The legs of many insects have adapted to help them hop, dig, run, or swim. For instance, a grasshopper's long legs help it hop away from predators in tall grass, and the shovel-like legs of the mole cricket help it dig under the ground where it can eat its favorite food, namely grass roots.

Mouthparts

Insects have different mouthparts depending on what they like to eat. Some insects chew their food, while others suck or slurp their dinner.

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