Insect characteristics

What are insects like?

Characteristics of insects

mantis Empusa pennata
Photo of stick mantis (Empusa pennata). Mantis are insects that are very useful in the biological fight against pests due to their insectivorous diet

Insects are a type of arthropod, which means that they have the body protected by an external skeleton, also called exoskeleton and they have articulated legs and body.

Insects are the animal group with a greater number of species.

They constitute the food source for many animals: bats, insectivorous birds, hedgehogs, amphibians and reptiles.

These animals are used in the biological control against other insects, since there are many of these other insect-eating arthropods, such as prayer mantises, and others that are insect parasites such as ichneumon wasps.

These animals live in almost all habitats, including the marine one, although very few species are found here.

Main characteristics of insects

In addition to having an external skeleton, insects are mainly characterized by:

  • Body divided into 3 parts: head, thorax and abdomen. The head has mouthparts (chewing, sucking, piercing or licking type) and compound eyes formed by facets.
  • Animals with 3 pairs of legs.
  • Insect parts
    Parts of an insect (grasshopper). The grasshopper is an insect and as such it shares characteristics with this group of invertebrates, such as having 3 pairs of legs and having a pair of antennae.

    They are provided with 1 pair of antennae.

  • Animals equipped with 2 pairs of wings (there are insects that do not have wings and other insects only have a pair of wings, such as flies).
  • Nervous system formed by a encephalon or brain divided into 3 parts: the protobrain, the deutobrain and the tritobrain.
  • Development by simple metamorphosis (hemimetabolous insects) or by complete metamorphosis (holometabolous insects).
  • Presence of the molt in the development and passage through different phases: egg, larva, pupa (only in those with complete metamorphosis) and adult (imago).
  • Social behavior in some species.

* Related information: Iberian marbled white characteristics

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Vicenç Martínez
Written by Vicenç Martínez Editor of articles about animals and nature

17 May, 2023

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