Insects are invertebrates

About ninety percent of animals are invertebrates, meaning they don't have a backbone. Animals with backbones are called vertebrates. 

Among the invertebrates are snails, squid, spiders, jellyfish, and insects.  Instead of a skeleton inside the body like vertebrates have, invertebrates have an exo-skeleton, which is a hard outside and a soft inside.

  • Insects are part of a very large group of animals called arthropods, which means 'jointed legs'.  Arthropods include spiders, crayfish, centipedes and most insects.

  • Insects are found in almost every environment. There are probably about six to ten million species, or kinds, of insect.

  • Most insects hatch from eggs. Many insects spend at least part of their time in water when they are larvae, and emerge as adults.  Because they have a hard exo-skeleton, as young insects grow, they have to molt, or shed their outside skin to reveal a new, bigger one.

  • Insects walk, fly and sometimes swim.

  • Insects can help clean up dead or rotting things, but then they can pass on diseases. Insects pollinate plants, including those we depend on for food.  Silkworms and bees also provide benefits for humans.

There are many different groups of insects, but they do have some things in common:

  • Their bodies have 3 sections: head, thorax and abdomen.
  • They have 6 legs, 3 on each side of the thorax.
  • They have antennae.
  • They have jaws (mandibles) to help them eat.

The insect groups are:

Read more about insects.