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Try this: life of bugs.

See this activity with pictures:


* live mealworms (these can be found at pet shops)

* potato pieces

* plastic container with a lid

* nail

* oats or bran


1. Use the nail to poke some holes in the lid of the container.

2. Half fill the container with oats or bran and add one or two pieces of potato.

3. Add the mealworms to the container.

4. Put the lid on the container.

5. Check on the mealworms every day for 3 to 4 weeks. How do they change?


Many insects have a life cycle that consists of distinct stages. The mealworms you start with are the larval stage of this cycle, which hatch from eggs. As the larvae grow, they shed their hard exoskeleton when it no longer fits. Eventually, instead of just shedding their exoskeleton, the larvae turn into pupae.

Pupae are largely inactive--at this stage the insects don't feed or move around much. After a period ranging from days to weeks to months, the adult beetles emerge from the pupae. The adult beetles look very different from the larvae and the pupae.

This process, where the insect goes through four life stages is called holometabolous metamorphosis. The insect looks very different at different life stages, and in many species they also exhibit different behaviour, eat different foods and live in different habitats at different times. Many insects, including butterflies, flies and beetles undergo this type of metamorphosis.


Some insects, such as bees, are beneficial to agriculture as they pollinate a number of food crops. Others, such as fruit flies, are considered a pest as they cause damage to fruit and vegetables. By understanding the different stages of the insect life cycle, methods can be tailored to effectively eliminate and manage pests.

An example of this is Sterile Insect Technique (SIT). In SIT for fruit fly, pupae are typically treated with radiation. The radiation is not strong enough to kill the pupae, so they hatch as normal. However, the irradiated male fruit flies are infertile (sterile) and cannot produce offspring.

Female fruit flies only mate once during their lifetime. If a female fruit fly mates with a sterile male, her eggs will be unable to develop. By releasing large numbers of sterile males into areas infested with fruit flies, enough females are prevented from reproducing, thus controlling the infestation.

Try another Science by Email activity about insects


Life as a bug

Sterile Insect Technique


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Article Details
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Author:Mahony, Patrick
Publication:Teaching Science
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Jun 1, 2012
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