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Insect Reproduction Strategy
Large Numbers, Raised by Mother Nature

Can you imagine a robin laying an egg in your yard and then flying away? Not a chance! Most bird and mammal parents spend a lot of time taking care of their young. In general, the more time it takes an animal to raise its young, the fewer children that animal has at one time.

Insect parents follow the opposite strategy. In contrast, most insects*:

  • Have large numbers of offspring at one time, and they
  • Provide no parental care at all.

Insect parents lay many, many eggs, and then they leave! They rely on Mother Nature to raise their offspring. This means that a young insect's habitat--and its adaptations--must provide everything the insect needs to survive.

Journaling Questions

  • Monarch butterfly parents do not take care of their young after they are born. List all of the things monarch young need from their habitat. Explain how good habitat is like a good parent.
  • A baby robin flies from the nest when it’s only 13 days old, a hummingbird at 21 days, and a bald eagle at 70-84 days. (See "Eagles Are Big Babies.") Beginning with the egg, list the similarities and differences between bird and butterfly parents.
  • How long do other animal parents care for their young? Chose two or three species, do some research and find out. Can you find a correlation between the number of young an animal produces and the amount of time it spends taking care of its young?
eagle_nest001
Robin
13 Days
Hummingbird
21 Days
Eagle
70-84 Days


* Some social insects, like ants, termites and some bees, have complex societies that provide extended care for the young.


National Science Education Standards

Life Science
Plants and animals have life cycles that include being born, developing into adults, reproducing, and eventually dying. The details of this life cycle are different for different organisms. (K-4)

Every organism requires a set of instructions for specifying its traits. Heredity is the passage of these instructions from one generation to another. (5-8)

Behavior is one kind of response an organism can make to an internal or environmental stimulus. Behavioral response is determined in part by heredity and in part from experience. (5-8)

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