Sunday, April 27, 2008

Insect Behavior

Insect behavior, for the most part, is hereditary, and responses to stimuli are mostly automatic or instinctive. Direct responses (moving toward or away from the stimuli) may be made in reaction to light, temperature, water, contact, gravity, or currents of air or water. Often a response to a stimulus can be modified by other stimuli, as well as by the insect's physiology, food, and state of development. Some behavior involves a series of different acts. Such complex behavior includes nest building and mating. While this behavior may appear intelligent, it is usually found to be instinctive. Because insects can be taught to modify their behavior, however, it is believed that they have a limited capacity to learn. Examples include the ant that can learn a maze and the honeybee that finds its way home be recognizing landmarks.


Social behavior


Many insects occur in groups, each group differing in the factors that bring the individuals together. Often the aggregation result from a mutual attraction to the same stimulus, such as food supply. Ants, terminates, and some bees live in more integrated groups, called societies. The insect society works as a unit despite the large number of individuals. One distinct feature is the division of labor.


Auditory behavior


Sound plays an important role in insect behavior. Only a few sounds produced by insects are heard by human, because these sounds are either too low or too high pitched. Sound produced in several ways. Rubbing one body part against another, called stridulation, any involve almost any part of the body, in various species. Some insects vibrate special membranes called tymbols, as in the leafhoppers. A few insects will strike a part of their body on the substrate, for example, some grasshoppers use their feet. The principle role played by sound is in mating.


Defenses


Most insects try to escape when threatened and some insects "play dead." For example, some beetle fall to the ground after folding up their legs, giving the appearance of a clump of dirt. Many insects use shelters ranging from burrows in the ground to elaborate shelters constructed of various materials. Insects also employ camouflage. Many are so colored that they blend into their background. Chemical defenses often involve distasteful body secretion, repellent secretions, or poisonous injection into an attacker. The use of sting is probably the most effective and often a severe method.

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