If you learn the joy of observing insects, you’ll probably never be bored! Did you know it’s estimated that at any time on Earth there are 10 quintillion (10,000,000,000,000,000,000) living insects By comparison, there are only about 500 films on Disney+, and nature requires no subscription. We’re not saying to skip out on Moana, but we are suggesting you skip outside and check out some interesting insects! If you want to get right to it, download our free Insect Trap Materials Lab, a 30-minute lesson incorporating ecology and engineering.
Read on below for some interesting facts and stories about how and why scientists capture and study insects, and how meteorologists might be watching insects by accident.
Did you know it’s estimated that at any time on Earth there are 10 quintillion (10,000,000,000,000,000,000) living insects?
Why Observe Insects?
An entomologist (a scientist who studies insects) will probably capture and observe innumerable bugs during their career so they can learn about their lives, bodies and environments. But why are other types of scientists interested in monitoring and learning from insects too?
We Wish We Could Fly Like Dragonflies
Skimming, hovering, gliding, swooping, and maneuvering over the surface of a pond or lakeside meadow, dragonflies are incredibly skilled flyers and put on quite the airshow. With strong, flexible wings and great precision (dragonflies score an A+ for catching their prey!), it’s no wonder human engineers want to know just how they do it! But you can’t watch that kind of airborne artistry in a mason jar, so researchers have built insect “arenas,” employed very fast cameras, and use computer software to study the aerodynamics of dragonfly flight. Read more and watch a 2-minute video about an engineer studying dragonflies at the University of Virginia.
The Art of Observing Insects
Science Artist Clair Gaston does not catch insects in a trap before drawing them, but she captures them in a different way — with photos! Clair loves studying insects because of their life cycles, colors, and ways of moving through the world. So she watches them in nature and gets up close as much as she can to see them from different angles. She notes, “They move around so much! So I take lots of photos. And I do look for deceased insects and often pick them up for my small collection… Insects are endlessly fascinating!” You can see some of Clair’s art on her webpage.
Cloudy With a Chance of Cicadas
Written by: Angel Horne