WHAT ARE BEES AND WHY ARE THEY IMPORTANT?

Bees are flying insects found in every continent of the earth (except Antarctica), and in every habitat where there are insect-pollinated flowering plants. There are over 16,000 species of bees! Bees like honeybees and bumblebees live in colonies, in hives or nests. Many fruits and vegetables that humans eat are pollinated by bees. Even food eaten by cattle and other farm animals needs bees for pollination. So, when we are eating plants directly or meat from an animal that has had a diet of plants, we depend on bees for our food.

Why are bees important?

Health products

Not all bees produce honey, but it is one of the main reasons people value them. The substance is a natural sweetener with many potential health qualities.

People have used bees and bee-related products for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. ResearchersTrusted Source have noted claims that it has antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer properties.

Pollination

In recent years, it has become clear that honey may not be the most important reason to protect bees. This is because bees play a crucial role in pollination, where they use the hairs on their bodies to carry large grains of pollen between plants.

Around 75% of crops produce better yields if animals help them pollinate. Of all animals, bees are the most dominant pollinators of wild and crop plants. They visit over 90% of the world’s top 107 crops.

Historical importance

People have been working with bees around the world for millennia. The significance comes from the direct harvesting of honey and beeswax and cultural beliefs.

For example, the Ancient Greeks thought of bees as a symbol of immortality. In the 19th century, beekeepers in New England would inform their bees of any major events in human society. Meanwhile, native northern Australians used beeswax when producing rock art.

Society and the environment

Bees are very intelligent, and people have applied knowledge of their mannerisms and social interactions when creating human initiatives.

For example, researchers have suggested that studying the actions of bees could help experts develop emergency plans to evacuate people from an overcrowded environment.

How does this affect humans?

Farming practices, global warming, and disease are just a few reasons why bee numbers are declining. Experts are concerned about the impact on world food supplies, especially fruits, nuts, and vegetables.

They say that without bees, there will be no more nuts, coffee, cocoa, tomatoes, apples, or almonds, to name a few crops. This could lead to nutritional deficiencies in the human diet, as these products are essential sources of vital nutrients.

Additionally, the emergingTrusted Source medicinal properties of bee venom and other bee products may never be accessible without bees to provide them.

Credit : Medical news today 

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WHAT ARE THE FUN FACTS ABOUT BUTTERFLIES AND MOTHS?

Butterflies and moths are both part of a big group of insects that have wings covered in tiny dust-like scales. Butterflies are usually brightly coloured and they fly during the day. They have a thin, hairless body and a pair of antennae each with a small bulb at the end. Moths tend to be duller in colour so they are camouflaged when they rest during the day on trees and leaves. They have antennae and plump, hairy bodies. Butterflies tend to fold their wings vertically up over their backs. Moths tend to hold their wings in a tent-like fashion that hides the abdomen. Butterflies are typically larger and have more colorful patterns on their wings. Moths are typically smaller with drab-colored wings.  Reason we dislike moths is that they normally come out at night, whereas butterflies are active in the day. While we sleep, dozens of species of moths fly around, attracted to light and looking for mates.

1. Butterflies and moths are part of the same group of insects, known as ‘Lepidoptera’. To tell them apart, butterflies fly in bright sunshine, while moths are most active at night.

2. The lifecycle of a butterfly is in four stages: egg, caterpillar, pupa and adult butterfly.

3. Most butterflies don’t live very long. The Priam’s birdwing butterfly only lives for 10 days!

4. Butterflies have four wings, not two as you may think.

5. The wings of butterflies and moths, with their vibrant colours and patterns, are actually made up of tiny scales.

6. The largest butterfly in the world is the female Queen Alexandra’s birdwingwith a wingspan of over 25cm!

7. The smallest butterfly is the Western Blue Pigmy, which is only 2cm across.

8. Butterflies need heat to be able to move. When you see them resting in the sunshine, they are warming up their wings so they can fly.

9. Moths have a stronger sense of smell than butterflies.

10. Butterflies can see colours that humans can’t.

11. Moths navigate using the moon. This means they also are attracted to man-made lights, which cause them to get lost.

12. Butterflies taste with their feet!

Credit : Penguin.com 

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WHAT ARE THE FUN FACT ABOUT DRAGONFLIES?

Dragonflies are large, fast-flying insects that can dart at speeds up to 60 km per hour. Their four wings move independently of one another and make a rattling sound. Dragonflies can also fly backwards.

1. Dragonflies Are Ancient Insects

Long before the dinosaurs roamed the Earth, dragonflies took to the air. Griffenflies (Meganisoptera), the gigantic precursors to modern dragonflies had wingspans of over two feet and dotted the skies during the Carboniferous period over 300 million years ago.

2. Dragonfly Nymphs Live In the Water

There's a good reason why you see dragonflies and damselflies around ponds and lakes: They're aquatic! Female dragonflies deposit their eggs on the water's surface, or in some cases, insert them into aquatic plants or moss. Once hatched, the nymph dragonfly spends its time hunting other aquatic invertebrates. Larger species even dine on the occasional small fish or tadpole. After molting somewhere between six and 15 times, a dragonfly nymph is finally ready for adulthood and crawls out of the water to shed its final immature skin.

3. Nymphs Breath Through Their Anus

The damselfly nymph actually breathes through gills inside its rectum. Likewise, the dragonfly nymph pulls water into its anus to facilitate gas exchange. When the nymph expels water, it propels itself forward, providing the added benefit of locomotion to its breathing.

4. Most New Dragonfly Adults Are Eaten

When a nymph is finally ready for adulthood, it crawls out of the water onto a rock or plant stem and molts one final time. This process takes several hours or days as the dragonfly expands to its full body capacity. These newly emerged dragonflies, known at this stage as teneral adults, are soft-bodied, pale, and highly vulnerable to predators. Until their bodies fully harden they are weak flyers, making them ripe for the picking. Birds and other predators consume a significant number of young dragonflies in the first few days after their emergence.

5. Dragonflies Have Excellent Vision

Relative to other insects, dragonflies have extraordinarily keen vision that helps them detect the movement of other flying critters and avoid in-flight collisions. Thanks to two huge compound eyes, the dragonfly has nearly 360° vision and can see a wider spectrum of colors than humans. Each compound eye contains 28,000 lenses or ommatidia and a dragonfly uses about 80% of its brain to process all of the visual information it receives.

6. Dragonflies Are Masters of Flight

Dragonflies are able to move each of their four wings independently. They can flap each wing up and down, and rotate their wings forward and back on an axis. Dragonflies can move straight up or down, fly backward, stop and hover, and make hairpin turns—at full speed or in slow motion. A dragonfly can fly forward at a speed of 100 body lengths per second (up to 30 miles per hour).

7. Male Dragonflies Fight for Territory

Competition for females is fierce, leading male dragonflies to aggressively fend off other suitors. In some species, males claim and defend a territory against intrusion from other males. Skimmers, clubtails, and petaltails scout out prime egg-laying locations around ponds. Should a challenger fly into his chosen habitat, the defending male will do all he can to chase away the competition. Other kinds of dragonflies don't defend specific territories but still behave aggressively toward other males that cross their flight paths or dare to approach their perches.

8. Male Dragonflies Have Multiple Sex Organs

In nearly all insects, the male sex organs are located at the tip of the abdomen. Not so in male dragonflies. Their copulatory organs are on the underside of the abdomen, up around the second and third segments. Dragonfly sperm, however, is stored in an opening of the ninth abdominal segment. Before mating, the dragonfly has to fold his abdomen in order to transfer his sperm to his penis.

9. Some Dragonflies Migrate

A number of dragonfly species are known to migrate, either singly or en masse. As with other migratory species, dragonflies relocate to follow or find needed resources or in response to environmental changes such as impending cold weather. Green darners, for example, fly south each fall in sizeable swarms and then migrate north again in the spring. Forced to follow the rains that replenish their breeding sites, the globe skimmer—one of several species that's known to spawn in temporary freshwater pools—set a new insect world record when a biologist documented its 11,000 mile trip between India and Africa.

10. Dragonflies Thermoregulate Their Bodies

Like all insects, dragonflies are technically ectotherms ("cold-blooded"), but that doesn't mean they're at the mercy of Mother Nature to keep them warm or cool. Dragonflies that patrol (those that habitually fly back and forth) employ a rapid whirring movement of their wings to raise their body temperatures. Perching dragonflies, on the other hand, who rely on solar energy for warmth, skillfully position their bodies to maximize the surface area exposed to sunlight. Some species even use their wings as reflectors, tilting them to direct the solar radiation toward their bodies. Conversely, during hot spells, some dragonflies strategically position themselves to minimize sun exposure, using their wings to deflect sunlight.

Credit : Thought co ?

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WHAT ARE INSECTS?

Insects are small animals with no bones. An insect's body is protected by a hard outer covering called an exoskeleton. The body has three segments: head, thorax and abdomen. The head has eyes - which can have six to 30,000 lenses - and a pair of antennae to feel, taste and smell things. The thorax has wings and legs. The abdomen includes systems for digesting food.

The insects have proved to be the most successful arthropods. There are far more species in the class Insecta than in any other group of animals. These amazingly diverse animals have conquered all the environments on earth except for the frozen polar environments at the highest altitudes and in the immediate vicinity of active volcanoes.

Insects are the only invertebrates (animals without backbones) with wings. Much of their success results from their ability to fly and colonise new habitats. The study of insects is called entomology and entomologists are scientists who study insects.

Insects play a very important role in the web of life, in every environment. Some of their jobs include pollinating flowering plants, being a source of food for insectivorous animals and assisting in the decomposition of plants and animals.

Insect classification

Modern insect classification divides the Insecta into 29 orders, many of which have common names. Some of the more common orders are:

Mantodea - praying mantids
Blattodea - cockroaches
Isoptera - termites
Siphonaptera - fleas
Odonata - dragonflies and damselflies
Dermaptera - earwigs
Diptera - flies
Lepidoptera - butterflies and moths
Orthoptera - grasshoppers, katydids, crickets
Coleoptera - beetles
Hymenoptera - wasps, bees, ants, sawflies

Insect features

The insect body is divided into three main parts, the head, thorax and abdomen.
Insects have no internal skeleton, instead they are covered in an external shell (exoskeleton) that protects their soft internal organs.
No insect has more than three pairs of legs, except for some immature forms such as caterpillars that have prolegs. These are appendages that serve the purpose of legs.
The typical insect mouth has a pair of lower jaws (maxillae) and upper jaws (mandibles) which are designed to bite. There are many variations to this structure, as many moths and butterflies have tubular sucking mouthparts, many bugs and other blood-sucking insects have sucking stabbing mouthparts and some adult insects simply don't have functional mouthparts.
Insects have one pair of antennae located on the head
Most insects have one or two pairs of wings although some insects such as lice, fleas, bristletails and silverfish are completely wingless.

Credit : Australian.museum

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ARE INSECTS RICH IN PROTEIN?

A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that “insects contain values of between 9.96 and 35.2 grams of protein per 100 grams, compared with 16.8-20.6 grams for meat”. However, protein density does vary widely depending on which kinds of bugs are being consumed. With over 2,100 types of edible insects to choose from, the options are endless. Crickets, certain ant species, and mealworms are the rising stars of the bug protein movement, due mostly to their calorie and protein density.

Eating insects is a great alternative for those who are concerned with decreasing their environmental footprint. On average, the resources it takes to raise and produce bugs is significantly less than animal-based meat. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, “crickets need six times less feed than cattle, four times less than sheep, and twice less than pigs and broiler chickens to produce the same amount of protein”. They also produce significantly less greenhouse gasses than animals and it takes less land to raise them.

As the human population increases and as we continue to observe the impacts of climate change, swapping your beef burger for a cricket-based burger might be one more way individuals can contribute to a more sustainable planet. 

Credit : Runtastic 

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