Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

The Naturalist's Apprentice: Insect Survival Strategies

Insects are the most diverse group of animals in the world. There are more types of insects than all other animal species combined. They are also very important in the food web, being a source of high-quality protein and fat. Insect Survival Strategies highlights just a few of the methods that insects use to survive: cryptic coloration and shape (walking stick, leaf hopper); mimicry, which is resembling something distasteful, poisonous, or dangerous (giant swallowtail caterpillar, hover fly); or warning coloration (paper wasp, monarch butterfly caterpillar). Discuss these strategies with the students and ask them to name other insects that demonstrate these same strategies. Have students describe other strategies that insects use to guarantee survival of their species.

 

Answers to Naturalist's Apprentice

 

1)h, 2)j, 3)c, 4)e, 5)f, 6)i, 7)d, 8)b, 9)g, 10)a, 11)k, 12)l

 

Insects are an important food for many kinds of animals, including birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and even other insects. As prey, insects display many strategies to avoid being eaten by predators. Although these strategies do not totally protect them from predation, they do increase their chances of surviving and reproducing. Just a few of the many strategies are listed below. Try to match the drawings on the right with the insect and its strategy described on the left.

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