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Insecta

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Fireflies

English

Fireflies are 5 to 25 mm long. The head is hidden beneath a flattened pronotum, which is part of the thorax.

The soft elytra are normally brown or black, frequently with yellow or orange markings. There is a second pair of wings beneath the elytra. The females of many species are wingless or have very short wings.

The final two or three segments at the tip of the abdomen are generally luminous. They are a lighter shade. Depending on the species, both males and females or just one of the two sexes emits light.

Females are usually slightly larger than males.

Long-horned beetles

English

These insects have long, cylindrical bodies, and antennae at least half as long as their bodies. This characteristic earned them their common name. The base of the antennae is often partly surrounded by the insect’s eyes. Many species are brightly coloured.

Worldwide, they vary in length from 0.2 to 15 cm. In North America, the largest specimens measure 6 cm.

House crickets

English
Acheta domesticus

House crickets are yellowish-brown, with dark lines on the head, long antennae, two compound eyes and grinding mouthparts. They have two pairs of many-veined wings on the thorax. The forewings are fairly tough. They protect the membranous hindwings, which are folded in a fan shape when at rest. Of the three sets of legs, the hindmost legs are the most noticeable, since they are adapted for jumping. Their femurs are particularly strong. Crickets have two sensory appendages called cerci at the tip of the abdomen.

Females have an ovipositor, a long cylindrical egg-laying organ, between the cerci.

Aphids

English

Aphids are tiny, pear-shaped, soft-bodied insects and come in a wide variety of colours.

The great majority of adult aphids are wingless. Males may occasionally have wings, as well as females that need to migrate to new host plants.

Aphids have a tail-like protrusion, or cauda, at the tip of the abdomen. This directs the secretions of a sweet substance called honeydew from their rectal apertures. Many species also have two cornicles – tubes resembling tailpipes – extending from the abdomen.

Mantids

English

Mantids are among the most recognizable insects. Their characteristic prayer-like posture, with folded forelimbs close to its thorax, is what earned them the common name of praying mantis. They have a very mobile triangular head and large compound eyes. Their broad, spiny forelegs are used to capture living prey.

In many species, the females are wingless or short-winged. Males have two pairs of wings and use them to fly to their partners.

The mantid species found in Canada and the United States belong to the Mantidae family. They are brown, green or grey, and blend in with the colour of the surrounding vegetation and bark.

Asian lady beetle

English
Harmonia axyridis

Asian lady beetles are between 4.8 and 7.5 mm long. Their elytra, covering a pair of membranous wings, occur in different shades ranging from yellow, orange and red to black and have anywhere from 0 to 20 spots. In Canada, the most common form is orange with 19 black spots.

The pronotum, which covers the front of the thorax just behind the head, has two football-shaped pale eye spots.

Lady beetles

English

Members of this beetle family are recognized for their characteristic dome shape. Brightly coloured for the most part, lady beetles have black spots when their wing covers are yellow, orange or red, and yellow or orange spots when their wings are black. The short antennae have little knobs on the end.

Lady beetle larvae are usually elongate and have brightly coloured spots or bands as well as spines and tubercles. Some larvae have been described as resembling tiny alligators.

Leaf beetles

English

Most leaf beetles are small – less than 1.2 cm long – but a few species can reach 2 cm. Their elytra (hardened wings) are often smooth and shiny, but occasionally have distinctive shapes or may be either ridged or pitted. They come in a variety of colours.

The legs are a distinguishing characteristic of these insects: the final heart-shaped segment, just before the claw, is bilobed. This segment is covered with special hairs that allow the beetles to walk along waxy stems and leaves.

Jewel beetles

English

The elytra (hardened wings) of these beetles often have a smooth glossy surface with a metallic sheen. The brilliant colours range from green to red, blue and yellow, with some species displaying combinations of colours.

Members of this family are recognizable by their torpedo-shaped bodies and heads that partially retract into the prothorax, making it look as though they are wearing a turtleneck.

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