Monday 11 April 2011

I is for Insects – that is what I is for ..

Collage of insects found across the world
 - Clockwise from top left: dancefly,
 long-nosed weevil, mole cricket, 
German wasp, emperor gum moth
 and assassin bug.

Insect – meaning ‘in sections’ funnily enough – the body being in three parts: head, thorax and abdomen.  The thorax has three pairs of jointed legs. 

Some insect relatives are confused with them, but are not true insects: the spiders, centipedes and woodlice ... they have similar jointed legs, but usually more than three pairs.

Insects have been around since time immemorial and make up more than 3/4 of the known living species of animals; in Britain we have more than 20,000 species. 

Our largest British insect is the privet hawk-moth has a wingspan of more than four inches.  The 2.5 inch long stag beetle is our longest ground-living insect.   (The largest Goliath Beetle lives in West Africa, and is nearly six inches long).

Their skins cannot stretch much and so growth occurs when an insect sheds or moults its old skin, to reveal the new skin underneath stretching while still soft.

Green Lace Wing (true)

Most insects have a complete four-stage life cycle:

-                -   Egg;
-                 -  Larva in which no wing buds are visible;
-                - A resting or pupa (chrysalis) stage;
-               -  Lastly the winged adult.

Chrysalis, from the Greek word for gold, were so named from the gold spots on their pupae – butterflies and moths and some other insect pupae are now known as Chrysalides.

Male Red-Veined Darter
(Dragonfly) (true)

Many other insects have three stages:

-       Egg;
-       Nymph which moults several times and has traces of wing buds;
-       And again lastly the adult.

But there are many variations ..  too many for this short post ...

Insects, true or not true ones, have been able to gradually metamorphose adapting to each change on earth as necessary ... and are still doing so today: aquatic nymphs; land-living young; pincers for attack and defence; bugs with mouth parts for sucking – blood or sap; thrips with feathery wings; or fleas and lice, which are parasites on birds and mammals.

So with our many insects – here are a few more of our true ones:

DragonFly;  Louse; Earwig; Stonefly; Bugs various – white fly, aphids, scale insect, water boatmen, water stick-insect etc; the ladybird is a beetle

Animals which resemble insects, but are not true ones:

Daddy LongLegs (not true)
Spider; millipede, tick, false scorpion, Daddy Longlegs (harvestman) ...

Evolution has produced this astonishing variety in insects ... enjoy and credit them with their adaptive skills ... they are probably the true owners of this earth .....

These are Insects - this is what I stands for ..    

Part of the ABC - April 2011 - A - Z Challenge - Aspects of the British Countryside

And another award .. this one is for Norwegian gibberish .. and comes from Siv Marie, who instigated a gremlin inspired sentence story line contributed by A – Zers who wished to join in the fun .. me did!  The wherefores are here .... the resulting gremlinstory is here "Bugs A - Z Adventure" ... enjoy!!

You can see why I had to put the Bug Award in this post .. couldn't wait!

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories


Unknown said...

Gotta love a good bug story :)

Bluestocking Mum said...

I'm not very good with bugs and creepy crawlies. Silly really as I know they're harmless!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Siv - you're so right .. put the wrong award up - but the mug is brilliant!! Loved the connection with today's "I".

@ Bluestocking Mum - love your blue legs! I know many people aren't too good with the creepy crawlies of life .. but they're doing us good in their own way - always surprises me!

Hope your week is happy and peaceful.

Thanks to you both - enjoy the week ahead .. Hilary

J.D. Meier said...

> enjoy and credit them with their adaptive skills
Well put.

It reminds me that many martial arts are modeled after nature. For example, there's a style of Kung-Fu called Praying Mantis.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I understand the world needs bugs, but yuck. I'm allergic to mosquitoes. Some will say there's no bugs outside, I'll go out, and you betcha. Thirty mosquitoes will suddenly appear.


Good contents of insects and a big congrats on the well deserved award.

Anonymous said...

Fun blog post. I remember having to collect insects for a class project in elementary school.

Checked out the Bug Adventure Story. Enjoyed reading it.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ JD .. thanks insects are certainly adaption ready.

Interesting I didn't know that - or hadn't realised it .. Praying Mantis Kung-Fu ..

I'll have to keep my eyes open now ..

@ Joylene .. and you live by a lake?! There must be loads of mosquitoes there ... how tricky - you'd think this very cold winter we've just had would have put paid to many bugs .. but they're out there fluttering around - as are the mozzies!! At least you realise the world needs them .. ?!

@ Yvonne .. thanks re the insects - just had to photo a few and list some .. also the award is a wonderful surprise - thank you .

@ Susanne - we certainly did at home - not sure I can remember elementary school!

The Bug Adventure is fun .. isn't it .. a different take on commenting .. enjoyed it.

Cheers everyone good to see you - Hilary

Sara said...


I enjoyed this "I" post:~) I find some insects fascinating. I really like dragonflies.

You did a great job with this post. You must be getting a bit tired, but so far the ones I've read have been very interesting.

I liked the link to the "bug" gibberish story. That was a clever idea.

Drink some tea and keep those fingers busy:~)

Cheers, my friend!

Ellie Garratt said...

I don't mind insects but I draw the line at slugs. Yuck. Horrible slimey things!

Ellie Garratt

walk2write said...

One of my all-time favorite field trips was an Audubon Society excursion to an old farmstead that's used as an outdoor laboratory in Southern Illinois. There were at least a dozen different entomologists on hand to present what they know and answer questions. The best part of the event, though, was watching the kids' reactions to all of the creepy-crawlies.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Sara .. good to see you and delighted you enjoyed the post - dragonflies are so pretty aren't they - ours are usually turquoise here.

I'm actually fine now - been under the weather .. but finally come out of it.

Yes - Siv's idea was fun .. and just came in at the right time - so in it went.

I did have tea - now onto a glass of vino! and me fingers are busy!! Cheers to you too .. see you here or there .. and thanks so much for coming by!

@ Ellie .. slugs do appear to be pretty revolting don't they .. their only redeeming benefit I can see is that they eat carrion, fungi and fallen plant tissue, as well as living foliage much to our disgust! Glad you enjoyed the Insects .. you brought up slugs!!

@ W2W - taht must have been fascinating ..especially if you had little ones in tow; but the knowledge these 'guys' have is phenomenal .. would love to know more - but I taught myself quite a lot here! The kids must have been the best .. as you say their reactions to each and every creepy-crawlie ..

Thanks Sara, Ellie and W2W for visiting .. great seeing you .. cheers Hilary

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

I find insects long as they aren't crawling on me ;)

Karen Lange said...

I remember much of this from school years, but why is it more interesting here? :) Thanks, Hilary!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Lynda .. I think that's probably true of most of us - there's an amazing wealth of them and we know little about their lives, habits etc Good to see you.

@ Karen .. delighted you enjoyed it here a little more - are we older and wiser?! Great to see you - have a good week ..

Cheers everyone .. Hilary

Hold my hand: a social worker's blog said...

Another interesting--fascinating--post, Hilary.

It reminds me of one of my favorite books I read in my younger days: "The Metamorphosis" by Frank Kafka :-)


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Doris .. thank you .. and oh how we metamorphose over the years! I'd forgotten his work .. and am not sure I ever read it .. now I must look it out.

Cheers .. thanks for being here .. Hilary

Arlee Bird said...

Insects are so incredibly fascinating. Everywhere, but so often unnoticed and frequently unwelcome. Good word pick for 'I'.

Tossing It Out
Twitter hashtag: #atozchallenge

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Arlee .. thank you; they are fascinating little creatures and exactly as you say - so often unnoticed and frequently unwelcome, but essential to life.

Delighted to see you here .. cheers Hilary

Robin Easton said...

Dearest Hilary!! I just LOVE you. This post is soooo cool!!! I am fascinated by topics like this. You are amazing. There are many people who wouldn't do a post like this due to their inability to even look at pictures of insects let alone look at the real thing. You just so impress me. You are such a free thinker and very much your own person. You have a deeply curious nature which I adore, and relate to.

I found this whole post intriguing. I knew some of the facts you listed here, but not all. Such cool things to learn. :)

I really LOVED this line: "Evolution has produced this astonishing variety in insects ... enjoy and credit them with their adaptive skills ... they are probably the true owners of this earth."

THAT is wonderful insight on your part. Yes! I often thought that in the rainforest, an area that is full of all kinds of insects. We also have quite a variety of them in the southwest USA (I'm in New Mexico).

One day last summer I was barefoot hiking across the high desert and a HUGE tarantula slowly wandered across my path. He was magnificent and covered with thick black and reddish-brown, fur. Just stunning, and so detailed in the way he was "made" that I took many photos of he. He was a very gentle guy, and didn't seem to mind that I photographed him. I was able to get within an inch of him and he just calmly let me. I "talked" with and told him I wouldn't harm him. I think he was as intrigued by me as I was by him. He had the tiniest of eyes for such a HUGE creature. He was as big as my palm. A real beauty.

You are quite a special gal Hilary. I can't remember if you were ever a teacher, but if you weren't you would have made an excellent teacher. And whether you teach in an "institution" or not, you are most definitely a superb teacher.

I am grateful for your highly unique character and both your keen mind and beautiful spirit. I am so glad you are in the world.

I think of you often and hope you are holding up with all your care giving. Know that you ARE thought of by me. You really are. I have the deepest respect for you. You enrich the lives of all those you touch, including me. :) I send you much love, dear friend. Robin

PS I also often think of your mom. Bless you for your deeply kind heart. You are so beautiful, and you are seen.

Anonymous said...

Insects are very cool. We love watching Monster Bug Wars on TV. Fascinating little creatures.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hiya dearest Robin .. how lovely to see you here - always popping up wonderfully unexpectedly and giving such a glowing comment - I'm so chuffed!!!!!!!

All my own work!! "Evolution has produced this astonishing variety in insects ... enjoy and credit them with their adaptive skills ... they are probably the true owners of this earth." Just came to me ..

I'd wanted to do more with the K for Kite post, and J for Jellyfish post - but am trying to keep these A - Z posts short!!

I really do not know how you do your barefoot hiking - except I know that you do .. and give the earth your all .... your tarantula encounter sounds a glorious few moments in life .. just to be able to look and see, then talk to him face to face - superb.

I was going to do a post on Tarantulas, the dance and where the name came from - planned it, but it hasn't yet come out of the recesses of ideas!

Robin - I hate to say it .. I hardly got through school! Scraped through .. then went secretarial .. I was hopeless at exams .. yet obviously something went in as many have said .. you're so intelligent - my backstory totally belies that!!

Thank you so much for these wonderful complementary remarks .. something seems to have clicked with this medium .. and I do love what I do here .. blog, and write letters, and talk to my Mum about ..

Your video is superb .. love everyone's contribution - a good fun laughing time .. and I have to get to your post - it's in my Reader.

I too think of you .. and know that you are in soul with me quite often .. it's funny these connections across the earth.

Care giving is so important, and so important to do it right. Fortunately I seem to do what is required for my mother and nurture as much as I can. Others at the Nursing Centre seem to enjoy our company .. and that is wonderful to know too.

One day we shall meet - soul sisters with the earth .. though I do like my creature comforts!

I can't quite believe your comment - you are so incredibly generous in thought, feeling and emotion .. my mother would be so touched too ..

With much love to you Robin, from a highly appreciative soul here in little old England. Big hugs and love Hilary xoxoxox

Trulyana said...

Insects are truly beautiful, for they provide us with many lessons and they have a purpose in nature as any other creature. I admire each insect for when one is near, for it's character and energy that they bring in their own way.
Love from Ana, and a very happy Spring to you. :)
The mosquitoes are starting to come out.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Ana .. how right you are .. and it's good to see what insects are doing and learn from them! Love what you say ..

Cheers and it's so good to see you around again .. I know Spring is wonderful isn't it .. and yes - our mosquitoes are already out and no doubt increasing!

Enjoy your Spring days .. Hilary