What Are the Characteristics of Insects?

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Insects are cold blooded and have six legs, three main body parts and an exoskeleton. Insects also lay eggs and many have four wings.

Insects have a hard protective covering called an exoskeleton. Because they lack backbones, they are invertebrates. An insect's body has three major body parts, including a head, thorax and abdomen. Insects can live on land, in the water or both and are cold-blooded creatures that require the sun to warm them. Most insects have antennae that allow them to touch, taste, hear and smell. These antennae help them locate food and sense danger from predators.

Some insects go through a complete metamorphosis, meaning they grow into completely different creatures than they were in their larval stage. Insects that go through this change include butterflies, true flies and beetles. Insects that go through an incomplete metamorphosis look very similar to adults of the same species, only smaller. Cockroaches and grasshoppers go through an incomplete metamorphosis.

There are more than one million insect species in the world today and they are the most diverse group of creatures in the world. Each insect is important and each has a different function, ranging from predator to prey to host. There are currently more insects in the world than all the land animals combined.