9 Insects Characteristics: 13 Facts You Should Know!

Insects are the invertebrates belonging to the class Insecta. Biologically, they lie in the phylum of Arthropods. Let’s see, what are the characteristics of insects.

Arthro-pods means jointed legs or appendages. They are hexapods, and the body is divided into three regions- Head, Thorax and Abdomen. They contribute a large amount to the overall population of invertebrates.

Some characteristics of insects are listed below:

  1. Some insects are colourful with soft body structure like butterflies, moths, ladybird, dragon flies etc. While others have an hard covering, exoskeleton composed of chitin.
  2. Insects have a pair of compound eye composed of oomatids.
  3. Insects have also paired antennae and wings to fly some metres away. But all insects cannot fly.
  4. They mostly belongs to the group Lepidoptera.
  5. Insects have digestive, excretory and reproductive organs.
  6. Few of them a balancing organ acts as gravity receptor known as “Statocysts”.
  7. They mostly reproduce sexually but honeybees are the exception as they shows “parthenocarpy”
  8. Few insects have tendency to emit light, shows bioluminescence. Example: Fireflies.
  9. Some insects are very useful as per the research purposes like Drosophila melanogester– also known as “Cindrella of Genetics”

Let us discuss the number of features shown by insects and other characteristics like the type of adaptability regarding the surrounding, the type of nutrition they feed upon and many more facts in this article.

Are insects warm-blooded

Animals are divided into two categories on the basis of the regulation of body temperature. And it can be warm-blooded or cold-blooded. Let us have a look at the insect’s theroregulation.

Insects are not warm-blooded. All the members of Insecta are cold-blooded. They can adjust their body temperature to the surroundings. Some vertebrates are also cold-blooded while few are warm-blooded.

Are insects considered animals?

Living organisms can be of different types like plants, animals or micro-organisms. Let us see, in which category insects lie.

Yes, they are considered as animals because they cannot make their food. One of the major requisites of being an animal is the preparation of food by itself as in plants via photosynthesis. They are not able to convert inorganic substances into organic compounds by utilising molecules of ATP in addition to photons.

Are insects herbivores

Herbivores are organisms which can survive over herbs and plants. Flesh-eating animals are referred to as carnivores. Let’s see about the nutrition of insects.

Some of them are herbivores. They feed upon the small plants to get their nutrition as grasshoppers, they eat the grasses and gain a sufficient amount of energy which is utilised in their body functions plus respiration.

Are insects cold-blooded

Animals are divided into two categories on the basis of managing body temperature according to the outer surroundings. Let us see, whether they can adjust to it or not. 

Insects are cold-blooded. Because they are adaptive to their environment. In summers, they can raise their body temperature higher than the outer region and can beat the heat and sunlight by this adaptation.

insects characteristics
Image credit: Wikimedia commons

Are insects vertebrates

Animals are divided into two types based on the vertebral column and notochord. Let us see, whether insects are vertebrates or not.

Insects are not vertebrates because they lack vertebral columns. They have only a chitinous exoskeleton which provides stiffness and helps in support and movement. It designs the framework and gives rigidity to the body. It is like a protection shield from many predators.

Are insects sentient

Sentients and emotions are the features of human beings and most vertebrates. Let us see do insects flying around us have it or not.

Insects have not sentient. Sentient and feelings in insects are not observed in insects. They may respond to acute pain by harmful stimuli. About the presence of consciousness in insects also remains unclear.

As per recent studies, emotions and the power to react over something like teasing, to laugh, smile and be happy. Insects cannot have these characteristics.

Are insects attracted to light?

Light is an external stimulus to which an organism can respond. Let us see if insects respond against it or not.

Few insects can respond and attracted to light. Like grasshoppers, moths, and butterflies are interested in buzzing near the light bulbs. As light is the source of navigation for most organisms.

insects characteristics
Winged moth
Image credit: Wikimedia commons

In the rainy season, during Diwali nights, small insects are roaming around the bulbs and the light annoyed us but get disappears the next morning. They feel protected near heat during cold nights. Scientifically, this action of responding with light is known as “phototaxis.” While cockroaches and some other arthropods are nocturnal, are negatively phototactic.

Are insects blind

The presence of a compound eye is a peculiar feature of arthropods. This is the visual organ of the insects. Let us see whether insects are blind or not.

Insects are not completely blind. Insects have; paired eyes for vision. But this forms the mosaic-like structure of an object.  The image of the objects is not so clear, fine, colourful and perfect. A few examples are butterflies, mosquitoes, moths etc.

Are insects decomposers

Decomposes or detrivores are micro-organisms that help in the breakdown of dead and decaying substances into simple compounds. Let us see about their capability.

Some insects are decomposers while few are detrivores. They can decompose dead organisms and litter. They act as scavengers of the biological world. They also act upon the waste materials eliminated by higher animals like vertebrates.

Decomposers are the balancing system of the ecosystem and facilitate nutrient cycling. Insects, fungi and some other Invertebrates play a vital role in decomposing and composting soil (soil-dwelling) and forming humus. Example: Worms like centipede, millipede; Insects like flies, dung-beetles, maggots, woodlice, termites etc.

Are insects deaf

Ears play a major role as hearing aid for both vertebrates and invertebrates. Let us see whether insects can hear or not. 

Insects are not deaf. They are more conscious of sound and vibrations. They can hear high-pitched sound waves which cannot be easily recognisable by normal human beings. They do not have ears or external pinna but they possess sense organs to regulate the nerve impulses that arise against the action of hearing.

Are insects dumb

Stop laughing! Oh, Human. Dumbness is a lack of smartness and consciousness. Let’s see whether insects are dumb or not.

Some insects are dumb but few others shows smartness. Mosquitoes, bumblebees and bugs are stupid and annoying. They were humming and buzzing here and there near you. They are devoid of consciousness. Butterflies and honeybees are quite smarter than other insects.

Honeybees dancing steps are so popular (without even making reels). As they start dancing in front of their community to resemble the presence of food nearby/farther from their locations. This can be studied by the concept of animal behaviour.

Are insects ectothermic

Ectothermic and endothermic are used to describe thermoregulation. Just have a look at whether insects are ectotherms or endotherms.

Few insects are ectothermic i.e., they absorb the heat primarily from their surroundings to warm their body.  While many of them are endothermic, they can evolve heat from their body through metabolism. They can maintain the temperature of their body concerning the outer environment, physiologically.

Do insects have an exoskeleton?

Endoskeleton is made up mainly of polysaccharides, Chitin is a hard, tough and complex polymer that provides protection against predators and also from environmental stress.

Yes, Insects have a chitinous exoskeleton. They not only provide stiffness and rigidity to the muscular system but also helps in locomotion and also play a crucial role in the prevention of water loss from the body. It is also known as procuticle divided into three layers-Epicuticle, exocuticle and endocuticle.

These cuticle layers are full of waxy compounds and are thick, stiff and inextensible while the inner one is soft and flexible. The outermost layer is the epicuticle followed by procuticle (Exocuticle and endocuticle) composed of tanned proteins. They are just non-cellular cuticular integuments.

Are insects heterotrophs

Nutrition is the process of getting food and it can be of two types- Autotrophic and heterotrophic. Let us see whether insects are autotrophs or heterotrophs.

Insects are heterotrophs. Because they cannot synthesise their food. They are dependent on autotrophs or the primary consumers of the ecosystem. Examples: Cricket, moles, ticks, scorpions, spiders and crustaceans etc.

They are mostly dependent upon another organism for their nutrition and occupy 2nd or 3rd place value in an ecosystem. Heterotrophs are also grouped into photoheterotrophs and chemoheterotrophs. But insects are chemoheterotrophs. i.e., they complete their carbon demands from the other organism.

Are insects multicellular

Multicellular and unicellular are the two categories under which living organisms are categorised. Let us see whether insects are unicellular or multicellular.

Insects are multicellular. They have organ level of body organizations. They perform most of the cellular functions via the general body surface but also possess a few organs like Malpighian tubules for excretion.

Animals are multicellular, having a cluster of cells forming tissues and further developing into organs. Examples: Crabs, prawns, cockroaches, Tarantula, Butterflies, moths, termites, hair lice etc.


In my conclusion, we have discussed the unique features of insects. Insects belong to one of the classes of phylum Arthropoda. They contribute a major role to the animal population and have great diversity over the Earth.

Anushree Verma

Hi....I am Anushree Verma, I have completed my Master's in Biotechnology. I am a very confident, dedicated and enthusiastic author from the biotechnology field. I have a good understanding of life sciences and great command over communication skills. I thrive to learn new things every day. I would like to thank this esteemed organization for giving me such a great opportunity. Let's connect through LinkedIn- https://www.linkedin.com/in/anushree-verma-066ba7153

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