The insects Portal

A western honey bee on a honeycomb created inside of a wooden beehive
A bull ant showing the powerful mandibles and the relatively large compound eyes that provide excellent vision

Insects (from Latin insectum) are pancrustacean hexapod invertebrates of the class Insecta. They are the largest group within the arthropod phylum. Insects have a chitinous exoskeleton, a three-part body (head, thorax and abdomen), three pairs of jointed legs, compound eyes and one pair of antennae. Insects are the most diverse group of animals; they include more than a million described species and represent more than half of all known living organisms. The total number of extant species is estimated at between six and ten million; potentially over 90% of the animal life forms on Earth are insects. Insects may be found in nearly all environments, although only a small number of species reside in the oceans, which are dominated by another arthropod group, crustaceans, which recent research has indicated insects are nested within. (Full article...)

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Flea, the common name for the order Siphonaptera, includes 2,500 species of small flightless insects that survive as external parasites of mammals and birds. Fleas live by consuming blood, or hematophagy, from their hosts. Adult fleas grow to about 3 millimetres (18 inch) long, are usually brown, and have bodies that are "flattened" sideways or narrow, enabling them to move through their host's fur or feathers. They lack wings, but have strong claws preventing them from being dislodged, mouthparts adapted for piercing skin and sucking blood, and hind legs extremely well adapted for jumping. They are able to leap a distance of some 50 times their body length, a feat second only to jumps made by another group of insects, the superfamily of froghoppers. Flea larvae are worm-like with no limbs; they have chewing mouthparts and feed on organic debris left on their host's skin.

Genetic evidence indicates that fleas are a specialised lineage of parasitic scorpionflies sensu lato, most closely related to Nannochoristidae. The earliest known fleas are known from the Middle Jurassic, though modern looking forms do not appear until the Cenozoic. Fleas likely originated on mammals before later parasitising birds. Each species of flea is more or less a specialist with respect to its host animal species: many species never breed on any other host, though some are less selective. Some families of fleas are exclusive to a single host group; for example, the Malacopsyllidae are found only on armadillos, the Ischnopsyllidae only on bats, and the Chimaeropsyllidae only on elephant shrews. (Full article...)
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The following are images from various insect-related articles on Wikipedia.

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Panorpa alpina 2 Luc Viatour.jpg
Cscr-featured.svg Credit: Luc Viatour

Panorpa communis, the common scorpionfly (Mecoptera: Panorpidae), is a species of scorpionfly native to Western Europe.



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