Let’s begin with a definition.
An insect’s body is made up of three segments: head, thorax and abdomen, all encased in a hard exoskeleton. All insects also have a pair of antenna, compound eyes and three pairs of jointed legs.
Insects don’t breathe through their mouths and nor do they have lungs. They inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide through holes called spiracles in their exoskeletons. These holes are typically in lines along insects’ thoraxes and abdomens.
This basic body pattern has, over half a billion years, diversified into more than seven million insect species that inhabit almost every nook and cranny of Earth’s surface. There are insects that provide us with food and those that destroy it, insects that carry some of our deadliest diseases and some that are the source of the biochemistry we use to cure disease. Insects eat our houses and suck our blood but are absolutely essential to our survival and the survival of our environment.
So far we have identified 185 species of insects in the park but there must be many, many more. There are species that spend almost their whole lives burrowing through rotting oak, species that fly too fast to catch or are too small to see, larvae that spend years underground and emerge as an adult for a single day.
We are going to focus on insects for the whole week.