What are insects?

Invertebrates, or minibeasts, are split into different groups.  One of these groups is insects.


There are over 800,000 different types of insect on planet Earth.


An insect's body is made up of a head, thorax and abdomen.  The thorax is the middle section and the abdomen is the lower section of the insect's body.


Insects have six legs attached to their thorax.  These legs are made up of jointed segments.  Many insects have wings and these are also attached to the thorax.


The abdomen contains all the important organs like the heart, respiratory system, digestive system and reproductive system.


An insect has a pair of antennae on its head and a pair of compound eyes.  Compound eyes are covered with lots of tiny lenses.  Humans do not have compound eyes, they only have one lens in each eye.  A fly has about 4,000 lenses in one eye!  This means insects have very good eyesight.

Insects have their skeleton on the outside!  This is called an exoskeleton and it protects the insect's organs inside.  Lots of young insects, like the dragonfly nymph, must shed their exoskeleton in order to grow into an adult.

Document icon Learning article provided by: Yorkshire Museum and Gardens |  Leeds Museum Discovery Centre | 
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