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A Pollinating Honey Bee. [Picture Ref.1]
[Picture Ref.2]

Entomology, The Study of Insects

Entomology is the study of insects and their relationship to humans, the environment, and other organisms ([1] Entomology Department, WSU.) Entomologist provide a diverse range of services to many different occupations. For example, forensic entomologists, a specific branch of entomology, would work to better understand a criminal case, such contributing to solving a murder by figuring out the type of insects that are decomposing the remains. This may provide insight to how long a body has been decomposing or if the remains were moved.

Entomology is a part of the study of ecology and human geography, and it can also be used as indicators of environmental shifts or changes. Insects are important to a forests biodiversity and slight climate shifts can cause damages to an ecosystem. For example, an invasive species of insect can be introduced to an ecosystem due to a shift in climate and this can cause flora to disappear. Also, entomology can be used in studying specific types of flora to an ecosystem, which may help to better understand the type of insects within a region. An example of this would any pollinating insects.

Entomology is used in many fields and can be used to better understand areas of study such as terrestrial ecology and essential ecosystem services.

What Are Insects?

Insects have many benefits within terrestrial ecology. They work in providing essential ecosystem services. For example, honey bee's, moths, and butterfly's all work to pollinate. Essential ecosystem services like pollination, need these insects. Pollination is vital to an ecosystem because the process works in providing a source of food for other animals and for humans, providing coffee is dependent on pollinators. Without insects, there would be a missing link to an ecosystem's food chain and to ecosystem services that are vital to life.

Insect Brains Teach Humans and Train Robots

Insects, similarly to humans, have brains. The insect brain is very small compared to the human brain and works in a complex methods. The insect brain works in sections. For example, the insect body can walk, fly, scratch itself and all without a head. The nervous system works in sections, all coordinated by a collection of neurons, called ganglia. A human brain has billions of neurons while an insect brain has less than one million neurons and they are able to see, smell, mate, and coordinate behaviors. The brain of an insect acts similarity to that of a human, there a neurons that are active and non-active during specific reactions. The insect brain is also studied by engineers to create systems of control for various robotics such as self-flying airplanes or even for testing neuron networks in robotic vehicles using different colors and reactions to those colors.

Taxonomy of Insects

Insects fall under the phylum of Arthropoda or Arthropods, a class of invertebrates. Arthropods have jointed appendages, evidencing them to be unique from other animals and phylum. More specifically, Insects or Insecta belong to the sub-phylum of Hexapods and as Insecta, they are set apart from other Hexapods by the characterization of having wings. Insects can be identified through their segmented bodies and these segments can be referred to as tagmata. Insecta posses other particular characteristics that set them apart from other animals like paired segmented appendages, bilateral symmetry or their bodies are symmetrical, and an external skeleton that are molted during the process of new growth.

-Nick Lohret -Nick Lohret

The Difference Between Insects, Spiders, And Earthworms

Spiders and Earthworms often are mistaken for insects. To begin, spiders are arachnids and earthworms are annelids. The charts below illustrate that Insects, Arachnids and Annelids are categorized within different sub-phylum. Insects belong to Hexapoda, which belong to ''Arthropoda''. While spiders or arachnids, belong to Chelicerates and also belong to Arthropoda. Although Insects and Arachnids are both Arthropods, they are categorized within a different sub-phylum. Earthworms belong to the phylum Annelida or Annelids and unlike Arachnids or insects, are lophotrochozoa.

-Nick Lohret -Nick Lohret

Annelids and Arthropods can be distinctly recognized by a few characteristics that set them apart from each other. First, they are from different groups. The charts above show Annelids and Arthropods as apart from each other because Annelids are lophotrochozoa while Arthropods are Ecdysozoa. Second, Lophotrochozoa have a pore that is surrounded by cilia, this is used for feeding and can be referred to as a lophophore. While Ecdysozoa have an exoskeleton made of chitin, that they are able to shed for new growth. Animals with a lophophore are within a different phylum than Ecdysozoa. Lastly, Insects have three body segments, legs, and antennae. Also, most insects have wings. Annelids have no legs and no antennae. They posses many body segments and two sets of muscles that help them move, as a unique method of movement opposed to moving with legs. These major characteristics differentiate Annelids and Arthropods and evidences that, Earthworms are not insects. These characteristics illustrate there are more unique distinctions that make up differences in animals that the average person sees but is not aware of.

Arachnids and Insects are both classified as Arthropoda and have distinct characteristics that categorize them within different sub-phylum. One can categorize them through their morphology or form. Basic morphology from the University of Nebraska shows that Insects have a head, a thorax, and an abdomen. A spider has an abdomen and a Cephalothorax. A cephalothorax is a combination of both a head and a thorax. These distinctions are noticeable when aware of the difference, to the ordinary person, this may not be known. Another noteworthy distinction that can be seen with the naked eye is that arachnids will have eight legs while insects have six legs.

-Nick Lohret


[1] Washington State University, Entomology Department. "The What and Why of Entomology."

[2] Mason, Mathew. "Entomology 101: Study of Insects."

[3] Byrd, J. H. copyright 1998-2018. "Forensic Entomology."

[4] Harper, Douglas. Copyright 2001-2018 "Arthropoda (n.)"

[5] U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2018. March, 19. "Celebrate National Pollinator Week this June 18-24, 2018"

[6] Regier, Jerome C., et al. Nature, vol. 463, no. 7284, 2010, p. 1079+. Science In Context "Arthropod relationships revealed by phylogenomic analysis of nuclear protein-coding sequences."

[7] Hernandez, Ortega Javier. 2014. December, 21. "Making Sense of 'Lower' and 'Upper' Stem-Group Euarthropoda, With Comments on the Strict Use of the Name Arthropoda von Siebold, 1848."

[8] University at Nebraska. 2018 "Basic Insect Morphology."

[9] University at Nebraska. 2018 "What is an Insect."

[10] Stockl, Anna. 2016. April, 14. Ted ed. "Why the Insect Brain is so incredible."

[11] Science Scope. 2014 April-May."Robots With Insect Brains."

Picture/Video References

[1] Angel, Heather.(Photographer) Nuwer, Rachel.(Journalist). 2017. April, 24. "Watching Their Dust: Photographing Players in Pollination."

[2] Bryant, Mattie. 2012. August, 26. "Photo of the Day~08/26/2012"

[3] Osborne, Juliet. 2014. September, 12. "Juliet Osborne: Insects and the Environment."