Abdomen: the back section of the insects, behind the point of attachment for the wings and legs.

Ametabolous: in insects, a type of metamorphosis in which all stages but the egg look the same apart from size

Boundary layer: the layer of low flow that occurs when fluids (water, air, etc) flow over the surface of objects in the stream.  See the Water Penny entry for a more detailed description of how a boundary layer works.

Bug: an insect that belongs to the order Hemiptera.  See the post about bugs for more information.

Complete metamorphosis: see holometabolous

Decomposer: an organism that helps break down a dead organism

Elytra: the hardened forewings of beetles.  Elytra means “sheath” in Greek.  See the post about bugs for more information.

Entomologist: a scientist who studies insects

Exoskeleton: the hard, tough outer covering of insects

Exothermic: organisms that are largely unable to produce their own body heat and regulate their temperature mostly through behavioral means

Flier: in odonates, the behavioral group which includes insects that rarely land and observe their territories on the wing.  Contrast with perchers.

Forewings: the front pair of wings in insects with wings.

Hemielytra: the specialized forewings of the true bugs (Order: Hemiptera) that are leathery on the upper half and membranous on the lower half.  Hemielytra means “half sheath” in Greek.  See the post about bugs for more information.

Hemimetabolous: insects that undergo incomplete metamorphosis and have a life cycle that consists of egg, nymph, and adult

Hemiptera: the order name for the group containing the true bugs.  All members of this group have hemielytra and piercing-sucking mouthparts.

Hindwings: the back pair of wings in insects with wings

Holometabolous: insects that undergo complete metamorphosis and have a life cycle that consists of egg, larva, pupa, and adult

Incomplete metatmorphosis: see hemimetabolous

Instar: the stage between molts in immature insects

Immature: an organism that is not fully developed and not reproductively capable

Insect: an animal that has 3 body segments (head, thorax, abdomen), six legs, two pairs of wings (may be missing in some insects), and one pair of antennae

Larva: the immature stage of holometabolous insects

Metamorphosis: in insects, a process by which an insect changes from one stage and/or form to another.  See also holometabolous, hemimetabolous, ametabolous, and the entry on metamorphosis in insects.

Molt: in insects, breaking out of an exoskeleton that has grown too small and expanding the new, larger exoskeleton beneath; the stages between molts are called instars

Nymph: the immature stage of hemimetabolous insects

Odonata: the order name for the group containing the dragonflies and damselflies.

Odonate: an insect belonging to the order Odonata

Parasite: an organism that lives off another organism to the detriment of the host organism and the benefit of the parasite

Percher: in odonates, the behavioral group where the insects sit on perches and observe their territories while resting rather than on the wing.  Contrast with flier.

Piercing-sucking mouthparts: the specialized mouthparts of true bugs that inject digestive chemicals into their food, then suck the food up into their mouths after the chemicals have liquefied it

Predator: an animal that eats another animal

Prey: an animal that is eaten by another animal

Pruinose: in dragonflies, individuals with a waxy and/or dusty looking coating on their bodies

Pupa: in insects, the developmental stage between larva and adult where a complete rearrangement of tissues occurs

Sclerotization: in insects, a process by which a soft, flexible exoskeleton is hardened into a hard and/or tough covering

Spore: the reproductive body of molds that allows molds to spread to new areas

Territory: an area containing necessary resources (food, access to mates, habitat, etc) that an animal is able to protect sufficiently to exclude other individuals at will

Thorax: the middle segment of insects, where the wings and legs are attached


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