Why Study Insects?
The study of insects is called entomology (en•to•mol•o•gy). The Teaming with Insects curriculum is written for youth who enjoy learning about science and nature by studying insects.
Insects are the perfect vehicle to capture the attention of youth who may be taken aback by insects or utterly fascinated by them. Insects are ubiquitous and can be observed and collected in nearly every habitat in nearly every part of the world. As a group, their tremendous success can be attributed, in part, to their diversity of form and ability to adapt to a wide-range of environments.
Nearly three-fourths of all animals are insects or their relatives. Because of their sheer numbers (nearly one million species) insects impact our lives daily. They compete with us for food, they can carry diseases, and they impact our renewable resources affecting our economy. But insects are major benefactors too, controlling other insect pests, pollinating a wide variety of crops, and recycling organic matter. Insects have been reviled in movies and extolled in art, music, and literature.
Insects are ideal organisms for study by urban and rural youth without regard to socio-economic background. They are free or can be obtained at minimal cost from pet stores or scientific supply houses. Because of their small size, insects can be easily reared in various containers and observed for all basic life processes.
Level 1 introduces youth to the world of insects. Activities focus on how insects look and move and provide background for studying important entomology topics.
Goals and Activities
- Begin to learn about insect form and function.
- Begin to learn about integrated pest management and forensic entomology.
- Develop an understanding of and an appreciation for entomology (the study of insects).
- Be an Entomologist – beginning collecting, learning insect body parts
- Biodiversity – exploring insect habitat and communication differences
- Invasive Species – youth learn some invasive insects and why they compete so successfully
- Integrated Pest Management – youth search for insect and insect relative pests
- Forensic Entomology – youth learn to observe carefully and to keep observation records
Level 2 shows youth how to make insect collection tools and expands on the basic concepts of biodiversity, invasive species, integrated pest management, and forensic entomology.
Goals and Activities
- Learn how to make insect collection tools.
- Learn more about insects and insect diversity.
- Develop a deeper understanding of and an appreciation for entomology.
- Be an Entomologist – youth make and use their own insect collection tools
- Biodiversity – youth collect insects in different habitats and observe diversity in form and function
- Invasive Species – youth conduct research to learn about invasive species (origin, damage, control)
- Integrated Pest Management – youth explore conditions that can provide insect habitat and collect insect pests
- Forensic Entomology – youth study insect tracks and exoskeletons and make a journal for keeping data
Level 3 delves even deeper into the basic concepts and encourages youth to take control of their learning by doing their own research using the scientific method and reference materials.
Goals and Activities
- Conduct research and use resources beyond the manual for in-depth study of entomology.
- Use the scientific method and keep accurate records.
- Expand understanding of and appreciation for entomology.
- Educate others about entomology.
- Be an Entomologist – youth explore entomology careers, insects as symbols, and the scientific method
- Biodiversity – youth study insect diversity in outdoor settings, make a dichotomous key, and study insect behavior
- Invasive Species – youth compare native and non-native insect species and learn about using insects for a biological control of an invasive plant species
- Integrated Pest Management (IPM) – youth explore human factors in IPM and the importance of education in IPM
- Forensic Entomology – youth conduce forensic entomology experiments
Welcome to the 4‑H Entomology project, Teaming with Insects! As a project facilitator you will work with youth interested in learning about insects. The Facilitator’s Guide provides helpful information on exploring insect study, the contribution of insects to biodiversity, how to manage pests, invasive species, and forensic entomology.
Your main role is provide a safe, supportive environment for youth to practice important life skills as they explore the world of entomology through many exciting, insect related activities. You can help youth get the most out of this project by being enthusiastic about their efforts and asking thoughtful questions. Team up with youth to help them select goals, identify resources, gain confidence, and evaluate their own progress. The activities are designed so youth have an opportunity to “learn by doing” with your help and guidance.