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Word Definition
abdomen The third or last major division in the insect body. The abdomen consists of three parts and contains the heart and digestive and reproductive systems.
adaptation Any characteristic of an organism which helps it to survive or breed in a particular environment.
adult A fully-grown, sexually mature animal; the final stage of the insect life cycle.
aerate Expose to the circulation of air.
alate The winged reproductive form of a social insect.
allergy To have an unusually high sensitivity to a substance, such as bee venom, contact with which may cause unpleasant physical reactions.
antenna Paired, segmented appendages, one on each side of the head. Antennae function as sense organs.
antivenom Purified antibodies to venom that provide an antidote to its effect.
appendage A part or organ that attaches to the main body area.
aquatic Adapted to live in the water.
arachnid The group of bugs containing spiders, scorpions, ticks, mites, harvestmen and king crabs. Arachnids have two body parts and eight legs. They lack antennae and compound eyes.
arthropod Invertebrates (animals without backbones) that have an external skeleton (exoskeleton) and jointed limbs.
bacteria A broad grouping of single cell micro-organisms.
biocontrol The control, reduction or elimination of a pest species using other plants or animals, generally in place of herbicides or pesticides.
biodiversity The diversity of living things.
biomass The weight of organic material per unit area (used to measure or compare the abundance of organisms).
bug A term loosely used to describe arthropods. A 'True Bug', however, has sucking mouthparts and belongs to the order Hemiptera.
camouflage Colouration that blends in with the background.
carnivore An animal (or plant) that eats animals.
caste Various forms of adult individuals in a social insect colony, e.g. workers, soldiers, queens, alates. Each caste has a distinct appearance and behaviour.
cephalothorax The first segment (combined head and thorax) in arachnids and crustaceans.
cerci Paired appendages that extend from the end of the abdomen of some insects.
characteristics A distinguishing trait or feature.
chelipeds The pincer-like first pair of appendages (like those in a crab).
chemoreceptor A sense organ used for detecting chemicals. Bugs use chemoreceptors for smelling and tasting.
chitin Arthropod exoskeletons are made of chitin. Chitin is strong, flexible and water-resistant.
circulation The movement of blood throughout the body caused by the pumping of the heart and accessory organs.
classification The ordering of organisms into groups.
clone The offspring of a single asexually reproducing individual (the genetically identical replica of its mother)
club/clubbed The enlarged end of an antenna.
cocoon The protective covering of a pupa. A cocoon is usually, either entirely or partly, made of silk which is spun by a larva.
colony A group of closely related individuals that live together and work cooperatively for the benefit of the group.
complete metamorphosis Insect development that involves four stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult.
compound eye The main pair of eyes on an insect’s head made up of an aggregation of lenses (many small eyes packed together).
crustacean Crabs, crayfish, slaters and landhoppers are crustaceans. They have three body parts (head, thorax and abdomen), a variable number of legs, two-branched limbs and four antennae.
decomposer An animal that eats dead plant matter and in doing so breaks it down and releases nutrients back into the system.
detritivore An animal that feeds on detritus.
detritus Decomposing plant or animal matter.
digestion The breakdown of food into smaller particles (by the action of enzymes) that can be absorbed by the body.
diurnal Active during the day.
diversity Variation
drone A male social insect that develops from an unfertilised egg.
ecosystem An environment and its ecological community as an entity.
egg A simple cell that is capable of being fertilised and contains a food source (yolk). The first stage of an insect.
elytra The hard forewings of a beetle that serve as protective coverings for the fragile hind wings.
embryo An organism in an early stage of development before birth or hatching.
endemic An organism that is restricted/confined to a given geographic location/region, e.g. an island or a country.
entomologist A person who collects and studies insects.
entomology The study of insects.
epidemic A contagious disease that spreads widely and rapidly.
evolution Cumulative change in a population of organisms over successive generations.
excrement Waste matter expelled from the body.
excretion The act of getting rid of the waste products of digestion/metabolism by removing them from the body.
exoskeleton The hard external skeleton of arthropods. The exoskeleton supports the internal muscles and other soft parts.
fang A long sharp venom delivery system located near the mouth. Most spiders have fangs that grasp prey horizontally. Others have vertically orientated fangs that strike downwards.
fertilisation The penetration of the sperm into an egg and the combination of their cell contents.
filament A long, thin appendage (of equal diameter along its length).
fossil The remains or traces of animals or plants in rocks or amber.
gall An abnormal growth of plant tissue caused by the irritating activity (and often also the saliva) of insects.
ganglia (mini-brains) Nerve centres composed of a cell mass and fibres that lie just above the ventral surface of the body. The nervous system of insects contains many ganglia, connected by nerve cords.
gill The respiratory/breathing organ of many aquatic bugs. Bugs use their gills to extract dissolved oxygen from the water.
habitat The place where an organism (animal or plant) lives. The characteristic environment of a particular individual or species.
halteres Modified/reduced hind wings in Diptera (flies) that are used to maintain stability during flight.
head The first major division of a bug’s body. The eyes, antenna and mouthparts are all located on the head.
heart A long slender tube with several paired holes lying along the upper part of an insect’s abdomen.
hemimetabolous Hemimetabolous insects are insects that go through incomplete metamorphosis.
herbicide A chemical used to kill or control the growth of plants.
herbivore An animal that eats plants.
hermaphrodite An individual that has both male and female sex organs (both ovaries and testes).
holometabolous Holometabolous insects are insects that go through complete metamorphosis.
honey A sweet, sticky substance produced by bees, consisting of the thickened and partially digested nectar of flowers. Bees make honey to feed to their larvae.
honeycomb A structure of hexagonal (or six-sided) cells.
incomplete metamorphosis Insect development that contains only three stages: egg, nymph and adult.
individual A single distinct organism (or thing).
insect The group of arthropods that have three body parts, six legs and two antennae.
insecticide A toxic chemical substance that is used to kill and control insects. Spiders and other bug eating bugs are an environmentally friendly alternative to pesticides.
insectivore An animal (or plant) that eats insects.
instar The stage between each moult in a nymph or larvae. Instars are usually numbered; for example, the first instar is the stage between the egg and the first moult.
introduced species An organism (animal or plant) that is not native to the area in which it is currently living. European Wasps, for example, are introduced species in Australia, but they are native to Europe.
invertebrate An animal without a backbone.
larva The immature stage between egg and pupa of holometabolous insects. Larvae look very different from their parents and spend their time eating and growing.
life cycle The progressive series of changes that animals pass through from egg to adult.
malpighian tubules Long, thin tubes that arise from the gut and are involved in the processing of wastes.
mandibles The first pair of jaws in insects which are used to bite and crush food. Mandibles are jaw-like in chewing insects or needle-like in piercing insects.
mechanoreceptor A sense organ used for detecting movement and vibrations (sound). Bugs use mechanoreceptors for hearing and touch.
membrane A thin, flexible layer of tissue.
metamorphosis A dramatic change in form during development.
migration Movement that takes an organism (animal or plant) beyond the limits of its habitat, for the purposes of dispersal or exploiting distant food resources.
mimic A species which closely resembles the appearance (and sometimes the behaviour) of another species.
mimicry The habit of looking like something different, often to avoid being eaten.
moult The shedding of an old exoskeleton following the formation of a new exoskeleton underneath.
mound A nest at least partly constructed of soil or chewed plant material that projects above the surface of the ground. Often an elaborate structure which contributes to the microclimate of the nest.
mouthparts Any of the parts of the mouth of an insect or other arthropod, especially parts developed for a specific way of feeding.
myriapod Centipedes, millipedes, pauropods and symphylans are myriapods. They have two antennae and numerous body segments (many of which have legs).
native species An organism (animal or plant) that belongs/evolved in the area in which it is currently living. European Wasps, for example, are native to Europe, but they are an introduced species in Australia.
nectar A sweet liquid produced by the flowers of various plants.
nervous system The system that coordinates an animal’s movements and functions by sending messages around the body. Insects have a brain, and a chain of ventral ganglia with nerves running to their sense organs and muscle systems.
nocturnal Active by night.
nutrient A source of nourishment.
nymph The immature stage of hemimetabolous insects (between egg and adult). Nymphs mostly look like smaller versions of their parents and spend their time eating and growing.
ocelli A simple eye consisting of a single bead-like lens. Ocelli either occur singly or in small groups.
organism A living thing/an organic entity (either animal or plant).
ovipositor The egg-laying organ. Ovipositors are either an extension or a modification of the final segments of the abdomen.
palps The final (distal) parts of appendages around the mouth. They may carry mandibles, aid in locomotion or feeding, or have a sensory function.
paralyse To affect another animal with paralysis; the loss or impairment of movement or sensation due to disorder in the neuromuscular system.
parasite An organism that lives in or on another organism (the host), from which it obtains food and shelter.
parasitise To live at the expense of another organism; most parasitic insects food inside other insects or in their eggs.
parthenogenesis Egg development without fertilisation.
pest species A destructive, harmful or nuisance species.
pesticide A chemical used to kill pests.
phylum A major group or category of animals. Phyla are divided further into classes.
pincers Claspers that can be used for grasping prey, handling food, self-defence or digging burrows. Male insects may use their pincers to grasp the female during mating.
poison A substance that must be eaten, inhaled or touch your skin to cause effect. A poisonous animal is one that makes you sick when you eat, inhale or touch it.
poisonous An animal (or plant) that contains poison. A poisonous animal (or plant) would make you sick if you ate it. Some poisonous animals release poisons that can cause skin rashes.
pollination The process by which plants are pollinated. The transfer of pollen from the anther of one plant to the stigma of another.
pollinator An animal (or other factor, such as wind or water) that transfers pollen from flower to flower.
predator An organism that obtains energy by killing and eating other organisms. Spiders, for example, are predators of flies.
prey Organisms that are the food source of other organisms. Flies, for example, are the prey of spiders.
proboscis An extended mouth structure. In butterflies, the proboscis is a long coiled tube that is used like a straw to suck up nectar.
pronotum The first upper plate on the back of the thorax.
pupa The inactive stage in holometabolous insects. It is during this stage that insects undergo the dramatic change from larva to adult.
pupate To become a pupa.
quarantine A period of isolation (and observation) imposed on animals (or plants/people/vessels) that may be carrying infectious disease, bacteria, etc.
queen The female reproductive member of a social insect colony. Queens spend all of their time laying eggs. They are fed and tended to by the rest of the colony, none of whom reproduce themselves.
rectum The final part of the hindgut, used for storing faecal matter and reabsorbing water and nutrients into the body. The rectum is also used for breathing and jet propulsion in some aquatic insects.
reproduction Most insects and other bugs reproduce sexually to perpetuate the species: the sperm of males fertilises the eggs of the females. Some insect species can reproduce parthenogenetically, the young hatching from unfertilised eggs as clones of the mother.
respiration Breathing; the taking in of oxygen from the environment and expelling carbon dioxide.
saliva A watery liquid secreted from glands in the mouth.
scientific name A name of a taxon that confirms to the scientific naming system as proposed by Linnaeus. A scientific name consists of two parts: a genus name and a specific species name. Humans, for example, are Homo sapiens.
senses Any of the faculties by which stimuli from outside or inside the body are received and felt.
sensilla Small sensory hairs (setae).
silk A continuous, hardened protein produced by spiders and the larvae of moths, butterflies and caddisflies.
simple eye Eye with one lens.
slough To shed, or cast off a skin (or exoskeleton).
social insects Insects living in organised communities of closely related individuals, such as ants, termites and some wasps and bees.
soldier A member of a social insect species that is specialised for colony defence. Soldiers usually have enlarged heads and mandibles that are modified for biting.
solitary Living alone.
species A group of individuals that are alike in appearance, and produce young that will also produce young.
spider A member of the class Arachnid and the order Araneae. Spiders have two body divisions and eight legs. They are without antennae or wings.
spiderlings Spider hatchlings or young, baby spiders.
spinnerets Small tubular appendages on the base of the abdomens of spiders, from which silk threads are produced.
spiracles The pairs of holes on each side of an insect’s body through which they breathe.
sterile Unable to reproduce.
sting A sharp, piercing organ or part that is also capable of injecting venom.
stylet A needle-like structure on the mouthparts of biting insects, e.g. mosquitoes. Used for piercing, sucking or injecting.
tarsus The final (end) segment of the leg (plural = tarsi).
technology The application of scientific methods and materials, particularly for industry or commerce.
terrestrial Of the land; living or growing on the land.
thorax The middle part of an insect’s body, between the head and the abdomen. The thorax consists of three segments, each of which bears a pair of legs and often one or two pairs of wings.
toxin A substance produced by living cells or organisms that can have a harmful effect on body tissues.
trophallaxis The exchange of liquid between members of a social insect colony ('ant kiss'). The liquid contains chemical information.
tympanum A hearing organ, like an eardrum, that is sensitive to vibrations.
urticating hairs Irritating hairs that are either barbed or connect to venom glands in the skin.
venom A toxic substance that must be injected to take effect. Venomous bugs make you sick by injecting venom through their fangs, a sting, or by way of urticating hairs or spines. Venom can cause pain, paralysis or death.
vertebrate An animal with a backbone or spinal column.
web A silk structure made by spiders to trap insects.
wingspan The distance between the wingtips when the wings are stretched out.
worker A member of a social insect colony that does not breed, but performs tasks for the benefit of the entire colony.

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