• Sara Thompson

The Buzz on a Different Social Network

By Sara Thompson

Special to the Enterprise

Bees on a beehive
A Carniolan Queen Bee in the hive; Photo by Levi Asay

Insects are one of many classifications of animals. Likely one of the most diverse classification group, insects have their own special traits that help to define them in the group. All insects are invertebrates, meaning they have no backbones. Going further, all insects have all their hard parts on the outside of their body, called an exoskeleton. Insects also have three segments to their bodies: head, thorax, and abdomen. An insect’s head is where it’s eyes, mouth parts, and antennae are found. Their thorax is where all six of their legs attach, and wings if they have them. The abdomen is where all of their body systems are houses such as digestive, respiratory, and reproductive. There are several more traits that help to classify insects, but those are some of the main ones that are easily observed in all of them.

Even though insects have some of the same traits as part of their classification, they are one of the most diverse animals in the world, with new species still being discovered each year. How insects live and survive are also very different from one another depending on where they live. One aspect of insect life that interest scientists are the social species. How do they communicate and organize?

The most well-known social insects are bees, ants, and termites. All of these groups are led by a dominate female designated the queen. In the case of bees, ants, and some termite species all other workers in the swarms and colonies are females with male drones only being used for reproduction. Some other termite species can have both sexes present in the workers, with only specific males being allowed to mate. The life span of an individual in these groups depends on what their jobs are. Many gatherers and protectors that venture outside the hives and homes tend to live shorter lives than those that stay within the walls and tunnels, with the longest living individual being the queens. With almost every other animal species, the effort to reproduce usually shortens the life of the individual, but with these social insects it seems to help with their longevity. This is one of almost countless mysteries that scientists are trying to unravel about the insects that we share our world with.

Campers in this week’s Animal Adventures Summer Science Camp learned about different types of insects and what make them different than other animal classifications. Campers went on daily walks to observe and learn about the local flora and fauna and how they survive in the park. Campers also were able to meet and touch some of our resident insects and reptiles.

Explorit's coming events:

• Though Explorit's museum is currently closed, we are planning on opening a new exhibit with cleaning and safety protocols in place for October 2021.

• Like many small businesses the closures have had a significant impact on our income and sustainability. Now is a great time to donate and help Explorit continue to educate and inspire the scientists of tomorrow: https://www.explorit.org/donate.

• Continue to support Explorit during this uncertain time by becoming a member. An Exploit Membership not only support us but grants the recipient with free visits to Explorit’s regular public hours, discounts on events, summer and after-school camps, and workshops, and gives you ASTC benefits to visit other museums throughout the world. For more information visit https://www.explorit.org/membership or call Explorit at 530-756-0191.