One of the living things that most likely can be seen outdoors or indoors at any time of the year are bugs and other pests. They often invade picnics with flies landing on the food, ants gathering on top of dropped pieces of watermelon, and spiders or bees causing people to run away.
Bugs are found everywhere in the world. Scientifically, most bugs are part of the arthropod family of animals, which includes insects and spiders. Spiders though are part of a group called arachnids. Arthropods also include crabs, lobster, and shrimp, and are not usually referred to as bugs. Arachnids include scorpions, mites, and ticks. When people see spiders, ticks, flies, bees, moths, grasshoppers, and other similar pesky creatures, they will usually think of bugs.
At any one time, there are about 10 quintillion insects alive in the world. That is a 10 followed by 18 zeros. There are 91,000 different species of insects. There are about 100,000 species of arachnids. If every person in the world could own a bug as a pet, each person would have over 2,000 pets.
Both spiders and insects can be bothersome, however, they are not the same. There are more insects on Earth than any other animal. Many insects can be seen very easily. Some might be over 7 inches long and others can only be seen if placed under a microscope. The study of insects is called entomology.
The categories of insects include butterflies, moths, beetles, centipedes, flies, and grasshoppers. Social insects include ants, termites, bees, and wasps. All insects have several things in common. Their bodies are made up of three sections: head, thorax, and abdomen. They have a pair of antennae on their head, and 6 legs attached to the thorax. Insects have a hard, outside covering made of chitin, a tough substance which helps protect the insect. Insects have specialized eyes called compound eyes. Finally, some insects have wings and can fly. The wings are also connected to the thorax.
Social insects live in a colony and include the queen, females living for several years laying hundreds of eggs every day; workers or soldiers, living for just a few months constructing and defending nests, searching for food, and more; and males, who mate with the queen and then die a few months later.
Another type of bug is a spider, belonging to the family of arachnids, which includes scorpions, mites, and a pest called a tick. The one thing arachnids and insects have in common is that they can both be pests, but arachnids can be beneficial for the environment too. Arachnids, though, also include ticks, which are bloodsucking pests that attach themselves to warm-blooded vertebrates (animals with backbones) to feed, causing the animal harm.
Arachnids have only two main body sections called the cephalothorax and the abdomen and 8 legs, two more than an insect. They have simple eyes and do not include antenna or wings. Like insects, arachnids also have outer skeletons and lay eggs. Arachnids have fangs and a spinneret, used by spiders to make a web.
Most spiders use the silk to make webs to catch their prey. A spider uses its fangs and injects venom into its prey. The poison causes the prey to become paralyzed and the spider then eats it. Female spiders make cocoons out of their silk to hold and protect their eggs. A young spider is called a spiderling.
Unlike ticks and mites, spiders are quite beneficial to the environment and generally do not cause harm to humans or animals. Of course, there are spiders which can be poisonous if you are bitten, but most spiders are harmless.
In summary, insects and arachnids can be pests and include many different species but are often called bugs. However, these many, many bugs can also be beneficial to the environment.
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