Diane has taught all subjects at the elementary level, was the principal of a K-8 private school and has a master's degree in Measurement and Evaluation.
Name Those Parts
What if you woke up one morning able to smell with your ears and breathe through your skin? You'd have a lot in common with insects, like ants, flies and grasshoppers. Even though they can look and act very different from each other, every type of insect has the same three parts - a head, a thorax and an abdomen.
The head is the insect's control center and is found at the front of the body. It's where all the sensory information is processed - sight, smell, touch, and hearing. Just like your head, it's where the eyes are located. And just like you do, insects use their eyes to locate food, watch out for danger, and find their way around.
Near the top of their head are two antennae. These are sometimes called 'feelers' because they can sense touch. But insects also use their antennae to pick up smells and sounds because they don't have noses or ears. Imagine if your nose and ears were replaced with antennae - would you be able to smell your teacher talking?
Their mouthparts are also located on their head, and insects have different kinds, depending on what they eat. Some, like stinkbugs, have mouthparts for piercing and sucking juice out of fruits. Others have long tongues to eat nectar, like butterflies. No matter the style of mouthparts an insect has, they are always located toward the front of the head, making it easier to gobble down a snack.
The middle section of the insect's body is called the thorax. An insect's six legs are all attached to the underside of the thorax. If the insect has wings, like a bee does, they are also attached there, but at the top.
The thorax may be small, but it has strong muscles to control the wings and legs. In fact, dung beetles are strong enough to pull 1,141 times their own weight. If they were a 100 pound human, they would be able to pull about 114,000 pounds, or eight large elephants.
Now, remember - insects don't have noses. So if they need oxygen to live but don't have noses, how do they breathe? From little holes in the thorax. These holes are tiny and very hard to see.
The abdomen is found at the end of the insect's body and is rounded in shape. It holds organs and the digestive system. If an insect eats a big meal, its abdomen can expand to hold the food, just like your stomach gets bigger after eating a giant bowl of ice cream. It may also have more of the same little breathing holes found in the thorax, depending on the insect.
By the way, this is also where the stinger is located, if the insect has one, so watch out!
All insects, no matter where they live or how they look, share the same three parts. The head is located at the front of the body and is where the eyes, antennae and mouthparts are located. The thorax makes up the middle section of the body and is where breathing holes and all six legs are located, as well as wings if the insect has them. The abdomen is at the end of the insect's body and holds organs and the digestive system. It may also hold a stinger and more breathing holes.
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