Download This Lesson: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Focus Areas: Pest Identification; Science
Focus Skills: observing, comparing/contrasting, drawing conclusions
- To identify some of the important roles insects play on the Earth
- To identify insects that are harmful or helpful to the environment
- How are insects important to life on Earth?
- How are insects helpful to people?
- How are insects harmful to people?
- How do insects affect farmers?
- Insects help people in many ways.
- Insects pollinate flowers and trees, enabling plants to reproduce.
- Many insects are garbage eaters, changing natural wastes into fertilizers.
- Insects play a vital role in the food chain. They provide food for birds, fish, and many other animals.
- Many insects, like ladybugs, control populations of insect pests, like aphids, that destroy crops.
- The praying mantis, like many beneficial insects, eats insects that may harm food crops or spread diseases. These plant diseases cost farmers millions of dollars in lost crops each year.
Insects are the most successful creatures in the animal kingdom. They have been on the Earth for over 350 million years. They can survive in almost any habitat, from hot deserts to icy lakes, from muggy rainforests to the frozen landscapes of Antarctica. Three out of every four creatures on the Earth is an insect. Scientists have identified over 800,000 species. They hypothesize that there may be another nine or ten million species yet to be discovered. Many of these are in the rain forest and because these areas are being destroyed at such an alarming rate, many insect species will never be discovered.
Insects come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and textures. Although many insects are considered “pests,” less than one percent are harmful. Many species, such as ladybugs and butterflies, benefit the environment. Other insects, such as honeybees and silk moths, create useful products for humans.
While many insects are beneficial, some can cause great harm. Distinguishing between the two kinds is not always easy. Although bees sting, they are valuable pollinators of flowers. Many moths are beautiful, however, when in a larval stage, they destroy many crops.
Insects play a unique and important role in the Earth’s ecosystem. They aerate soil, recycle waste, pollinate plants, and provide food for birds and other animals. Understanding which insects are the pests and how to control them is essential to the health of the planet.
disease – something that makes a plant or animal sick
harmful – something that hurts the environment
helpful/beneficial – something that is useful to the environment
Time: 30 minutes
Group size: 5 to 30
Space: a classroom
- Pest or Guest Bingo Board Set *
- Pest or Guest Picture Cards – (same as those on bingo boards) *
- Izzy puppet *
- hula hoops
- playing pieces for bingo game
* single copy provided
Obtain a bulletin board to display the “Pest or Guest” pictures.
Create a Venn diagram using two hula hoops.
Make two labels for the Venn diagram: PEST and GUEST.
Obtain playing pieces for the bingo game.
Izzy tells the children:
1. The world has more insects than all other living things combined. Izzy illustrates this by dividing the group into teams of 4 and then having 3 members of each team step to the front of the room. These are the insects. The remaining children are all the other animals on earth!
2. We need insects for the work they do. 3. They visit flowers and spread pollen so that plants can produce fruits and vegetables.
4. Some insects eat other insects that damage plants. These insects are welcome “guests” in gardens and on farms.
5. Some insects harm plants, animals, and people.
6. Insects that hurt us, or bother us or our animals, are true “pests.”
1. Call the children’s attention to the Venn diagram and place the labels PEST and GUEST in the non-intersecting portions of the two hula hoops.
2. Introduce the “Pest or Guest” cards:
- PEST or GUEST Cards
- Fruit flies – tiny, flying insects that breed in fruits and vegetables
- Bees – they may sting, but they also make food that humans eat
- Aphids – they harm plants by sucking sap
- Carpenter ants – large black insects that nest in wood
- Spiders – eat aphids and insects; they have eight legs
- Cockroaches – eat almost anything; they like the dark and are hard to get rid of
- Butterflies – beautiful insects that drink nectar
- Moths – eat holes in wool and fur clothing; attracted to light
- House flies – spread germs with their feet
- Mosquitoes – give itchy bites; bats eat them
- Wasps – they sting but also kill harmful insects
3. Read each clue and have participants determine the proper placement of each card within the categories PEST or GUEST.
4. Have participants share personal experiences they have had with these pests and guests. (Example: Has anyone ever found a leaf that had a large hole eaten in it?)
5. Remind the participants:
a. There are many more beautiful and helpful insects than there are harmful ones.
b. Insects play a very important role in the food chain. Without them, many creatures would have no food.
c. Insects eat other insects that cause people, especially farmers, lots of problems.
Play Pest or Guest Bingo.
Give each participant a bingo card with the familiar “PEST” or “GUEST” pictures on it:
– Read the clues for each PEST or GUEST (see Involvement #2 above) and have the children cover the correct insect.
– Children call “Bingo!” when they cover a row across, down, or diagonally.
Correlations to State of Maine Learning Results: Parameters for Essential Instruction
ELA = English Language Arts, HE/PE = Health Education and Physical Education, MA = Mathematics, SCI = Science, SS = Social Studies, VPA = Visual and Performing Arts
** Alignment possible only if lesson extension is done
Maine Learning Results
Common Core Standards for English and Mathematics
ELA – B. Writing
**B3. Students write to inform an audience on a specific topic.
b. Record and share, in writing, information that has been gathered.
**Extension: Write/dictate about a pest or a guest that interests students or with which they have had experience.
E1. Students use early active listening skills.
a. Ask relevant questions at appropriate times.
c. Follow one-step and two-step oral instructions.
SCI – The Living Environment
E2. Students describe ways organisms depend upon, interact within, and change the living and non-living environment as well as ways the environment affects organisms.
a. Explain how changes in an organism’s habitat can influence its survival.
ELA – Speaking & Listening
2. Confirm understanding of a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media by asking and answering questions about key details and requesting clarification if something is not understood
4. Describe familiar people, places, things, and events and, with prompting and support provide additional detail.
2. Ask and answer questions about key details in a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.
4. . Describe people, places, things, and events with relevant details, expressing ideas and feelings clearly.
2. Recount or describe key ideas or details from a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media
**Kindergarten – Grade 1:
8. With guidance and support from adults, recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.
Recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.
** Extension: Write/dictate about a pest or guest that interests the student or with which they have had experience.
1. Ask and answer questions to demonstrate