Female Roseate Skimmer photographed by Michael SuttkusWhen you examine any insect up close, you find structures and designs unlike anything you've ever seen. Just pause a moment and dwell on the beautiful intricacy of the veins in the wings of the female Roseate Skimmer at the right. That photo, by the way, was taken by Michael Suttkus in his backyard in Florida.

head of Tiger Swallowtail, Pterourus glaucus

Part of the beauty of insect construction lies in its practicality. If an insect's behavior is machine-like, so is its form. There's something in insect design reminiscent of the spirit of the master engineers who built early steam engines. Some of us could spend hours admiring all the dials, knobs, levers, cogs, belts, whistles, and bells on a steam-engine's control panel. It's the same way with insect parts. Every insect part gives the impression of having been designed by a creative urge gleefully, artfully, and lustily making up its rules as it went along.

Here are the main parts of an insect:

4 insect heads
horsefly compound eye surface showing ommatidia
Black Field Cricket (Teleogryllus commodus), photo by Bea Laporte
Black Field Cricket, Teleogryllus commodus, photo & ID by Bea Laporte of Ontario