Article | Updated 3 years ago

Caption: Build-a-Bug
Credit: Jade Foo

All insects have: three main body parts, three pairs of legs (six all together), skeletons on the outside of their body (exoskeletons), specialised eyes, mouths and legs for their way of life.

To communicate these fabulous facts in a fun way we developed a 'Build-a-Bug' activity. It is a fun activity where children and their famillies can mix up the elements of an insect to design their own crazy critter. This will be part of the programs available in the Life gallery.

To test and refine it, we trialled the program at the Perth Science Festival 18-19 August. It was a big hit with over 700 insects made by children (and a few grown ups!).

Mix and Match

Our insect experts (called entomologists) have chosen some features of insects that can be mixed up to create a ‘new species.'

Children and their families choose different body parts to create their own. They'll also find out about insect features like:

  • Large compound eyes (all the better for seeing you with) are good at detecting movement and are good for detecting prey or seeing in the dark;
  • Fuzzy, furry antennae are good for smelling chemicals in the air.  This is useful for finding food, prey or looking for a mate!;
  • Head shape and location of the mouth which indicates the way insects feed.  Insects with jaws that face outwards are predators that might fight and hunt, whereas those with downwards facing mouths feed on the ground (like leaves); and
  • Wings with ‘eye’ spots are used to tick prey into thinking they are with big or dangerous or poisonous.

Once the insects have been created the junior scientists name their new species and describe its habitat, what it eats and its special features.

Build-A-Bug at School or Home

You can download the templates below to 'Build-A-Bug' at school or home.

For best results print the Anatomy and Identity sheets on A3 paper. 

Information Sheets - A4 - 2 pages - 1MB

Identity Sheet - A3 - 1 page - 894KB

Anatomy Sheets - A3 - 5 pages - 2.4MB