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. Their blood is not totally contained in vessels; some circulates in an open cavity known as the haemocoel. 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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CSIRO ScienceImage 2478 Dinosaur or Fossil Ants Nothomyrmecia macrops.jpg
N. macrops workers

Nothomyrmecia, also known as the dinosaur ant or dawn ant, is an extremely rare genus of ants consisting of a single species, Nothomyrmecia macrops. These ants live in South Australia, nesting in old-growth mallee woodland and Eucalyptus woodland. The full distribution of Nothomyrmecia has never been assessed, and it is unknown how widespread the species truly is; its potential range may be wider if it does favour old-growth mallee woodland. Possible threats to its survival include habitat destruction and climate change. Nothomyrmecia is most active when it is cold because workers encounter fewer competitors and predators such as Camponotus and Iridomyrmex, and it also increases hunting success. Thus, the increase of temperature may prevent them from foraging and very few areas would be suitable for the ant to live in. As a result, the IUCN lists the ant as Critically Endangered.

As a medium-sized ant, Nothomyrmecia measures 9.7–11 mm (0.38–0.43 in). Workers are monomorphic, showing little morphological differentiation among one another. Mature colonies are very small, with only 50 to 100 individuals in each nest. Workers are strictly nocturnal and are solitary foragers, collecting arthropod prey and sweet substances such as honeydew from scale insects and other Hemiptera. They rely on their vision to navigate and there is no evidence to suggest that the species use chemicals to communicate when foraging, but they do use chemical alarm signals. A queen ant will mate with one or more males and, during colony foundation, she will hunt for food until the brood have fully developed. Queens are univoltine (they produce just one generation of ants each year). Two queens may establish a colony together, but only one will remain once the first generation of workers has been reared. (Full article...)
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Cscr-featured.svg Credit: Richard Bartz

Mayflies (subimago of Rhithrogena germanica pictured) comprise around 2,500 species of insects which belong to the Order Ephemeroptera. They are aquatic insects whose immature stage usually lasts one year in fresh water, while the adults are short-lived, surviving from a few minutes to a few days.



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