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National Standards

Grades K-4

* Characteristics of organisms
* Life cycles of organisms
* Organisms and environments

Grades 5-8

* Structure and function in living systems
* Reproduction and heredity
* Regulation and behavior
* Populations and ecosystems
* Diversity and adaptations of organisms

Grades 9-12

* The cell
* Molecular basis of heredity
* Biological evolution
* Interdependence of organisms
* Matter, energy, and organization in living systems
* Behavior of organisms


An Insect Recipe
(from Audubon Institute: Eating Insects)

CHOCOLATE CHIRPIE CHIP COOKIES
by Kathy Gee and Julie Stephens

2-1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1 12 oz bag chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup dry roasted crickets

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In large bowl, combine butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla; beat until creamy. Beat in eggs. Gradually add flour mixture and insects; mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded measuring teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes.


Where to Buy Insects

Carolina Biological Supply

Purchase ants, butterflies, crickets, and a variety of eggs.

Insect Lore

Live insect kits and other supplies are available.

Pests, workers, artists—the intrepid insects of the world fascinate, annoy, and benefit humankind. From butterflies to bees to the lowly cockroach, insects are an integral part of the natural environment, making their mark on culture through rhyme and lore. Who can resist Jiminy Cricket, a bug transformed into a wise intellectual who advises Pinocchio and encourages kids to get the en-cy-clo-pe-di-a to find information? Who hasn't chuckled at unsuspecting bugs planning an attack only to be foiled by RAID?

What causes fireflies to blink? Did you ever wonder about the origin of "Sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite?" Sleep tight is a reference to the tightening of ropes that supported mattresses on old beds and don't let the bed bugs bite refers to the critters that sometimes lived in the wooden frame. Regardless of the reactions by students, insect studies are a favorite in the classroom. Let's delve into the insect world and see what we can learn.

Insect Starting Points

Entomology for Beginners

Little ones will enjoy the colorful illustrations and the simple interactivity. By clicking on different parts of an insect, they will learn about its anatomy. Metamorphosis is demonstrated through an animation showing the stages of butterfly development. "Simple and elegant" is the best way to describe these pages that are sure to please the young entomologist.

Fun Facts About Fleas

How much do you know about fleas? Most people know very little. However, if you have pets it is important to understand how to prevent flea infestations in your home. The more you know about fleas and their life cycle, the better able you will be to protect yourself and your pets from these pesky little bugs. Read these 10 helpful facts about fleas to help understand and prevent these pesky little insects.

Insects on the Web

More than 90 stunning photographs and descriptions from 14 insect groups, including ants, grasshoppers, and walking sticks, greet the visitor to this site. Especially interesting is the section on butterfly wing patterns. Roll your mouse over the picture and the image changes from a circle to a wing shape. Click on the image and learn facts about the characteristics of the genus while viewing a poster view of the patterns.

Iowa State University Entomology Department

Photographs, notes about insect problems related to Iowa, and a chat room highlight the Iowa Sate University Entomology Department Web site. Although the gallery does not present an exhaustive list of insect images, the ones provided show spectacular close-ups of the different species. Suggestions for the treatment of insect infestations are contained in the notes section. Insect topics can be discussed in the interactive chat room. High school students would benefit most from this college entomology department.

Neat Facts About Immature Fleas

Before fleas become the tiny, jumping insects you see on your pet, the flea goes though several stages of flea “childhood.” Here are some fun facts about a flea's life before it reaches adulthood.

University of Kentucky Entomology Department

Looking for solutions to pest problems? Want to know how to raise crickets? Need some classroom activity and lesson ideas? Check out the Entomology Department at the University of Kentucky. Insect recipes, games, a bug calendar, and a bibliography for further reading can be found in the For Kids section of the site. In addition, there are several lessons and units from which to choose and use in the classroom, including flour beetles, termite trails, and choose an insect. Art teachers will appreciate directions for making paper mache insects and other craft items. This is a wonderful way to integrate science and art.

Wonderful World of Insects

Once you navigate beyond the distracting advertisements and locate the "Key to the Order of Insects" at the bottom of the page, you will discover a wealth of information. Begin exploring an insect's anatomy by clicking on Pete the grasshopper. You are transported to another area of the page where the specific anatomical part is described. Each description is accompanied by a black-and-white line drawing. Next, read an introduction to the various insect orders. Many of these pages have links to other Web sites. Finally, if you are contemplating keeping insects in the classroom, be sure to review the care sheets that cover housing, feeding, breeding, and other important facts.

Insect Cams

Animal Planet Ant Cam

Get up close and personal with a queen ant and her colony. Think about these questions like, "How long do ants live?," "How much weight can a worker carry?," and "Do ants ever get lost?"

Bee Cam USDA

Clusters of bees are busy working on the honeycomb at this Web site. Also included is information about bees and their impotance to pollination.

Insect Zoo

Maneuver this camera remotely. Hunt down the white-eyed assassin bugs identified by white spots on their wings. These insects can be found throughout the world. They stalk their prey, then pounce and inject a lethal dose of saliva through piercing mouthparts. The enzymes in the saliva break down the food and assist with digestion.

Insects as Food

Despite the unsavory thought of eating a bug, many cultures in the world do eat insects as part of their diet. In fact, insects can be thought of as survival food when nothing else is available. When my sister taught home economics one year, she introduced the nutritional value of insects and had her students prepare and sample chocolate-covered ants as well as other delicacies.

Insect Recipes

Did you know that many insects contain protein and calcium? Check out the nutritional value of various insects, and then try out some tasty recipes also featured on The Tonight Show. Choose from a variety of delectable offerings, including bug blox with dry-roasted leafhoppers, chocolate chirpies with dry-roasted crickets, and corn borer cornbread muffins.

Insect Sounds

Bug Bytes

Listen to wing vibrations, feeding sounds, and even a rice weevil larva in a wheat kernel. The Center for Medical, Agricultural, and Veterinary Entomology is developing methods for counting and monitoring insect populations through acoustic technology. These sound samples are a result of their work.

Nature Sounds: Insects

Crickets, cicadas, grasshoppers, and bees sing their songs in natural settings. A brief description of where the song was recorded and a personal anecdote make you feel right at home.

Lessons and Activities

Alien Empire

Experience insects through a multimedia presentation based on the PBS miniseries Nature. This companion site is loaded with photographs, animations, sounds, video, and interactive learning. Explore bee anatomy, the life cycle of a monarch butterfly, and the hatching of mayflies. Solve the insect scramble puzzle and create masks from the accompanying patterns. Don't miss the videoclip, "Insects as Food."

Enchanted Learning Printouts

Print all sorts of black-and-white insect drawings with labels and descriptions. This is a wonderful resource when studying insects.

Insect Scavenger Hunt

Create your own scavenger hunt by adapting some of the ideas from these resources.

University of Kentucky

Quick Hunts

Serc Bug Scavenger Hunt

Using Live Insects in the Classroom

Insects are an excellent resource for science education. Many insects are easily maintained in the classroom and can happily thrive despite being handled and kept in captivity. The remarkable diversity in form and function of commonly found insects promotes interest and enthusiasm in observing the natural world. Insects can also be used to model a variety of scientific principles. The objectives of this page are to give educators basic information about insects and ideas on how to use insects in the classroom.

Bug Hunting

It's time for a field trip. Grab those nets, jars, boxes, and magnifying glasses. Stop by the media center and pick up an insect field guide. Remember to take your digital camera or camcorder to document the sights and sounds of your adventure. Be sure to take a journal to record data and other findings. Dress appropriately for the weather and the area where you will be hiking. And please, don't forget the bug spray.

Originally Published Jan/Feb 2002

Updated March 14, 2015
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