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MICHIGAN FORESTS FOREVER TEACHERS GUIDE

 


WHAT IS AN INSECT?     1TreeSign.jpg (14729 bytes)

     

  All ADULT insects have the following characteristics:

  Immature insects are segmented and often worm-like (maggots, larvae, caterpillars, etc.). 

InsectCycle.jpg (32564 bytes)
Complete metamorphosis of a beetle.
Image from ForestryImages.org

The basic life cycle of an insect goes from an egg, to a larval stage, the formation of a pupa or cocoon, and lastly an adult.  The transition from immature to adult, inside the pupa or cocoon, is called metamorphosis.   There are four kinds of metamorphosis, complete (butterflies), gradual (grasshoppers), incomplete (dragonflies), none (lice).  We are usually most familiar with complete metamorphosis, made well-known through monarch butterfly studies.    

Insects have more species that all other taxa combined.   Their variety of structure and function in the ecosystem make them fascinating targets for study.  A few interesting notes about insects . . . some . . .

In the forests, insects have a full range of roles, or niches, to play.  There are species both harmful and helpful to trees, and many that don't affect trees in one way or another.  Harmful insects attack trees in one or more places.  Helpful insects might parasitize harmful species, or serve to fertilized flowers, or perform other direct or indirect helpful functions.

 

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MSUElogo.tif (16254 bytes) This website was developed and created by Michigan State University Extension for the teachers of the State of Michigan.  The website is maintained by the Delta-Schoolcraft Independent School District in support of the Michigan Forests Forever CD-ROM from the Michigan Forest Resource Alliance.

Page Name:   Environment/WhatInsect.htm
Contact Bill Cook:  cookwi@msu.edu or 786-1575