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Sites to See: Bugs and Insects

"I love bugs, yes I truly do, great big pink ones, little green stink ones, yellow bugs and blue."
--From "Bugs!Bugs!" by Jack Prelutsky

Kids love bugs. And what better time than spring to help your students learn more about those fun, fascinating, creepy, crawly, soaring creatures? Included: Three dozen links to insect info and activities.

Insects, without question, make up the largest group of creatures in the animal kingdom. Scientists have identified about 1 million different species of insects, and some experts believe that as many as 10 million insect species actually might inhabit Earth.

Those insect species -- part of the Arthropod phylum -- are categorized into 27 to 32 orders (depending on the taxonomic system used); the largest order is the beetles, containing about 500,000 different species.

All insects have a hard exoskeleton and a soft interior. Their segmented bodies are divided into three main parts -- the head, thorax, and abdomen. Insects have three pairs of legs; most have antenna, and many have wings.

Despite their similarities, however, insects are an extremely diverse group. They walk; they run; they fly; they jump. Some have one pair of wings; others have two. Some bugs have wings that are fixed permanently in place; others sport flexible wings that fold closed when not in use. Some insects sting; others bite or pierce or chew or suck. Insects exist in a seemingly endless variety of shapes and sizes and colors and disguises. Is it any wonder that the appearance of these unpredictable creatures inspire such a variety of reactions as well?

Why not add a little excitement -- and a lot of learning -- to your spring activities with a few lessons about the wonderful world of insects?

Amazing Insects
Did you know that 95 percent of all animal species are insects? that 25 percent of all animals are beetles, 10 percent are ants, and 10 percent are termites? that insects eat more plants than all the other animals on Earth? You'll discover those facts and many more at Amazing Insects. The site includes many fascinating facts about insects, as well as information about insect anatomy, metamorphosis, and characteristics. The site's individual insect pages provide specific information and beautiful photographs of 50 different insects. This site is very informative and student friendly.

Bug ID
The Amateur Entomologists' Society, the junior division of the Amateur Entomologists' Society based in London, England, provides this easy-to-use interactive tool for determining the order of unknown (or known!) insects. Students click a series of insect characteristics (Does it have wings? How many? Does it have antenna? Long or short?) and are guided through the order-identification process. The Bug Club also offers a section on choosing and keeping pet bugs, and a list of bug related books and links. Additional site features include a newsletter, discussion forum, and membership options.

Insect Theme Page
Enchanted Learning, as usual, provides some of the most practical resources for teachers at the elementary level. This site includes insect rebus rhymes, math games, sequencing cards, diagrams (in several languages), life cycle books, quizzes, and much, much more. Also provided are directions and templates for a number of bug-related arts and crafts activities, including an insect coloring book, a 2004 butterfly and moth calendar to color and print, an egg carton lady bug, and an origami butterfly.

Iowa State University Department of Entomology
The department of entomology at Iowa State University of Science and Technology provides a number of interesting and informative insect resources appropriate for K-12 teachers. They include Iowa Insect Information Notes on insects from Acrobat Ants to Wooly Bear Caterpillars, K-12 Educators Recommended Sites, with links to both general information and lesson plans, an excellent Entomology Image Gallery, and a fascinating collection of Tasty Insect Recipes.

Entomology for Kids and Teachers
This site, maintained by the University of Kentucky Entomology Department offers a number of fascinating features sure to spark students' interest. The site offers a calendar explaining the activities of Insects All Year (April's section discusses how to keep insect visitors alive and well in the classroom), as well as a number of insect related activities, arts and crafts, and games and jokes. Those include a mystery bug activity; a bookmark to print, color, and use; Bugfood to make and eat; and more. The site also provides links to Teacher/Parent Resource Materials in the form of articles from the entomology department's biannual newsletter.


For more great Science sites, visit the Reference area of Education World's Site Reviews Archives.
Updated 5/07/2012