What are Insects?

Insects are animals that have lived on Earth even before the dinosaurs.  

With over a million species, insects make up more than 80% of the animal world. That is why we see insects everywhere.

Insects have lived so long due to body part adaptations that help them survive in their natural habitats. 

Let’s dive in and learn about the body parts of an insect!

Body Parts of an Insect 

Insects have an exoskeleton (outside skeleton) that supports and protects the body parts. 

The exoskeleton is made of chitin. It has joints that help the insect move and small holes for breathing in oxygen.

As the insect grows, the exoskeleton sheds, and a new one forms in a process called molting.

The body of an adult insect consists of three distinct regions: the head, thorax, and abdomen. Each region is further divided into segments.


The front part of an insect is called the head. It contains the sensory organs like the eyes, antennae, and mouthparts.

  • Most insects have compound eyes (made of many lenses).
  • The antennae help them to smell and feel objects.
  • The mouthparts differ from insect to insect to help them feed.
    • Biting – Chewing – Insects that eat solid food like grasshoppers and caterpillars
    • Piercing – Sucking – Insects that pierce and suck fluids like mosquitoes
    • Siphoning – Insects that use a long tube-like part to siphon nectar from flowers, like butterflies.


The thorax is the middle segmented part of the body to which the wings and legs are attached. It has three segments.

  • Insects have six legs. A pair of legs are attached to each of the three segments.
  • The legs are adapted to perform functions like hopping, jumping, grasping, and digging. 
  • Insects have one or two pairs of wings for flying.
  • The wings are made of veins and a thin wing membrane.


The abdomen is the largest region in the body of an insect. 

  • The abdomen contains the heart of the insect. 
  • Other essential organs in the abdomen region are the digestive and reproductive organs.
  • Aquatic insects have abdominal gills that help with breathing.

Fun Facts

Insects are the most fascinating species of all!

  • A ladybug can eat more than 5000 insects in its lifetime.
  • A dung beetle can drag more than 1000 times its weight.
  • Fruit flies were the first living creatures sent into space
  • Mosquitoes are attracted to smelly feet.


Let’s quickly recap what we learned about the body parts of an insect:

  • What are the three regions in the body of an insect? Head, Thorax, and Abdomen
  • What is the hard outer covering of an insect called? Exoskeleton
  • What body part does an insect use to smell and feel objects? Antennae
  • Which two body parts are attached to the Thorax? Legs and Wings
  • Which is the largest region in the body of an insect? Abdomen
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