Frog-legged Leaf Beetle

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Sevenspotted lady beetles (Coccinella septempunctata) are predatory
Courtesy of KenJonBro, via Flickr: EOL Images, CC-BY-NC


About Beetles (Order Coleoptera): Biodiversity

Beetles are the most diverse group of organisms on Earth. More than 350,000 species of beetle have been described, making one in every five species of organism a beetle. Beetles got an early start; the first beetles appeared during the Triassic (about 240 million years ago). Munching on plants, algae, and fungi, beetles were well-positioned to exploit the first flowering plants as they arrived on the scene. Beetles were among the first pollinators, visiting flowers to eat nectar and other plant products. Flowers became specialized for attracting (and feeding) beetles, such as magnolias whose appearance and smell continues to attract beetles. While bees certainly have the monopoly on pollination these days, the win-win relationship (mutualism) between beetles and flowering plants may have contributed to beetles becoming an exceptionally diverse group. Their sturdy body plan, with a hardened set of front wings (elytra) protecting the softer, hind wings underneath, may also have contributed to their success.

Head of an ant (Cephalotes maculatus)
Courtesy of April Nobile, AntWeb, CC-BY-BC-SA

About Insects (Class Insecta): Senses

An insect has a brain, connected to bundles of nerves (ganglia) in each of its three body segments. Like us, they have sensory nerves that receive information from their environment and send it to the brain. Information comes from many types of touch receptors. Touch-sensitive hairs all over an insect's body are sensitive enough to detect vibrations in the air, such as from an approaching predator. Insect hairs also do chemical detection (chemoreception). Pores at the end of chemoreceptors on mouthparts or other body parts allow odors to reach the nervous system. Insect antennae may have thousands of chemoreceptors, used to detect chemicals in the air (pheromones) emitted by members of the opposite sex. An insect, like us, has a pair of eyes on its head. But, insect eyes are compound, with hundreds or thousands of lenses, together making an image consisting of spots of light, like pixels. An insect's sound receptors are on its legs.