Class Insecta – Insects

Insects account for well over half of all of all multicellular species, and come in a multitude of different forms. Around 479 million years ago insects appeared on the planet, long before the dinosaurs, and long before us. They developed flight 400 million years ago, which means they had total air dominance for more than 150 million years. They have also survived five mass extinction events, where many other animals perished.There are almost 25,000 species of insect in Britain and Ireland, 72,000 in Europe, and over a million worldwide.

As important and essential pollinators, insects like bees not only help in keeping a healthy plant population globally as well as in the British Isles, but they also sustain cereal, fruit and vegetable crops to help feed the human population. Insects also help to break down waste matter, aid in keeping pest populations down, and are food for birds and animals. Without insects the world’s ecosystem would collapse. And of course many of them, like butterflies, are beautiful and interesting to observe.

Insects come in all shapes and sizes, and have adapted tremendously well to their varied environments, and are nature’s most versatile animals. In classification terms they belong to the subphylum Hexapoda, which is from Greek meaning ‘six feet’. All insects have six legs, three pairs which are attached to the thorax. Other distinguishing factors are that insects have three body parts, head, thorax and abdomen, a pair of compound eyes, a pair of antennae, and insects often have wings. Insects also go through stages of metamorphoses, beginning as an egg, and going through a larval or nymph stage, larvae go through pupation, and then transforming to become an adult.

Whether you call them bugs or creepy-crawlies, these tiny creatures have had a hard time of things of late, along with plants and other animals. Many insects across the planet, including Great Britain, have suffered a tremendous decline in their populations, and at an alarming rate, too. This may well be down to a combination of factors affecting the planet as a whole, and undoubtedly humans have played a role in this devastating decline. Insects are not only extraordinary, fascinating and beautiful in their own ways, but they play a key role in maintaining the health of the planet.

Elephant Hawkmoth Deilephila elpenor
Vestal Cuckoo Bumblebee Bombus vestalis
Myrmica ruginodis
Tachina fera
Broad-bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa) female
Dragonflies & Damselflies
7-spot Ladybird Coccinella septempunctata
Protonemura sp.
Caperer Caddis Fly Halesus radiatus
Barklice & Booklice
Mud Alderfly Sialis lutaria
Meadow Grasshopper (Chorthippus parallelus)
Grasshoppers & Crickets
Silverfish Lepisma saccharina
Peacock Aglais io
German Wasp Vespula germanica
Turnip Sawfly Athalia rosae
Sun Fly Helophilus pendulus
Rosemary Beetle Chrysolina americana
Gorse Shieldbug Piezodorus lituratus
Xanthostigma xanthostigma male
Panorpa sp female
Baetis sp male
Common Green Lacewing Chrysoperla carnea
Common Earwig Forficula auricularia

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