Eating like insects

An adapation is a change in body structure, behaviour or physiology that helps an organism survive in a particular environment.

In the Friday class we started out with an adaptation game where the children had to say what adaptations a particular animal might develop to survive in a different environment to usual. We had a swamp cow, a desert hamster, a rainforest duck and an ocean centipede. I think the children had fun!

Desert hamster

This was based on an activity in an astrobiology handout I found. The full activity has children creating animals to live on a gas planet, or an icy planet, in addition to the biomes from Earth.  I have lost the website information for the handout I used but NASA has plenty of astrobiology resources such as this  and plenty of information here .

In both classes we then did an activity on insect mouthparts. We used straws to be like a butterfly, sharpened straws to pierce through cling flim and be like a mosquito, pliers to pick up raisins and seeds like beetles or grasshoppers, and scissors to cut lettuce leaves like leaf-cutter ants.

“Butterfly tongue”. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons –

More information

Why most animals are insects

Insects that look like leaves – mostly pictures with only a few words

Stick insect eggs look like seeds (Includes other information about adaptations – anatomical, behavioural and physiological.)

There is a simpler explanation of adaptations here on a site called Nature Works, with more information about North American animals and how they have adapted to the environment. If you go to Nature Files in the top menu you will find several pages which explain various concepts in biology and ecology quite simply.

The different insect mouthparts are explained quite well on the Backyard Nature site which also has a general page on insect body parts.

I watched this YouTube clip on silent, so I can’t comment on the voiceover, but I liked seeing all the different kinds of insects using their varied mouthparts.