An Elementary Study Of Insects Informative Summary


“An Elementary Study of Insects” by Leonard Haseman, published in 1923, provides an engaging exploration of the world of insects, intended for grade school students. The book emphasizes the economic importance of insects, highlighting both their destructive potential and their beneficial contributions to agriculture. Haseman argues for a hands-on approach to learning about insects, encouraging students to observe them in their natural environment, collect specimens, and even rear them in captivity. Through this process, children can learn about the fascinating life cycles, habits, and adaptations of insects, understanding their crucial role in the ecosystem.

The book is structured around individual chapters dedicated to various insect species, each chapter offering a brief overview of the insect’s characteristics, habits, and economic importance. Students are encouraged to conduct field studies, observations, and breeding experiments to deepen their understanding. Throughout the text, Haseman incorporates anecdotes and poetic verses to further engage the reader and make the subject matter more relatable and enjoyable.

Key Findings:

  • Insects are economically important: They can be both beneficial and harmful to agriculture.
  • The house fly is a serious threat to human health: Due to its filthy habits, the house fly can carry and spread disease-causing germs.
  • The mosquito can transmit serious diseases: The malarial mosquito is responsible for spreading malaria, while the yellow fever mosquito is a threat in tropical regions.
  • Beneficial insects can help control pests: Lady-beetles are valuable predators of plant-lice, while dragonflies prey on mosquitos and other insects.
  • Understanding insect life cycles is key to pest control: By identifying the different stages of an insect’s life, it is possible to develop effective strategies to manage pests.


  • Insect anatomy: Learn the basic structure of an insect, including its head, thorax, abdomen, legs, wings, antennae, and mouthparts.
  • Insect metamorphosis: Understand the different ways insects develop, including complete metamorphosis (egg, larva, pupa, adult) and incomplete metamorphosis (egg, nymph, adult).
  • Insect habitats: Explore the diverse habitats insects occupy, from water to land, and from urban to rural environments.
  • Insect behaviour: Learn about the fascinating behaviors of insects, including foraging, mating, communication, and social structures.
  • Beneficial and harmful insects: Recognize the key differences between insects that are beneficial to humans and those that cause damage.
  • Insect control strategies: Discover effective methods for managing insect pests, including habitat modification, biological control, and chemical control.

Historical Context:

The book was written in 1923, a period when agriculture was a major economic force in the United States. The agricultural industry was facing significant challenges from insect pests, and there was a growing need for informed strategies for pest management. This book was written to educate children, particularly those living in rural areas, about the importance of understanding insects and their impact on agriculture.


  • Insects comprise the largest group of animals on Earth: There are about four times as many different kinds of insects as all other kinds of animals combined.
  • The house fly carries disease germs on its feet and body: It can transmit diseases like typhoid fever by contaminating food with filth.
  • Mosquitoes carry diseases inside their bodies: They transmit diseases like malaria and yellow fever by biting infected individuals and then biting healthy individuals.
  • Lady-beetles are valuable predators of plant-lice: They consume a significant number of plant-lice, helping to control populations of these pests.
  • Dragonflies prey on mosquitos and other insects: They are beneficial insects that help to control populations of other insects, including mosquitos.
  • The apple worm is a major pest of apple orchards: It can cause significant damage to apple crops, resulting in a loss of valuable fruit.
  • The Colorado potato beetle is a significant pest of potato crops: Both the beetles and the grubs feed on potato plants, potentially causing extensive damage.
  • Squash bugs feed on the sap of squash and pumpkins: Their bite can poison the plant, leading to significant damage.
  • Plant-lice reproduce rapidly: They can multiply quickly, potentially causing serious damage to crops.
  • The honey bee is essential for pollination: It plays a vital role in the pollination of crops, particularly fruit trees, ensuring healthy yields.
  • Ants are highly social insects: They live in colonies with specialized roles for workers, drones, and a queen.
  • Some ant species are beneficial, while others are pests: Some ants help to control pest insects, while others can damage crops or become a nuisance in homes.
  • Ancient dragonflies were much larger than those found today: Fossil records indicate that some ancient dragonflies had a wingspan of over three feet.
  • The squash bug produces a foul odor as a defense mechanism: It releases an oily substance with a strong odor to deter predators.
  • The firefly is a beetle that produces light: The light is generated in specialized cells in the insect’s abdomen.
  • The firefly’s light is highly efficient: It produces very little heat compared to other light sources.
  • The white grub is a major pest of lawns and gardens: It feeds on the roots of plants, potentially causing significant damage to turf and crops.
  • The tomato worm is a major pest of tomato plants: It can cause significant damage to tomato crops by consuming the foliage.
  • Some insects produce products of commercial value: Examples include silk from silkworms, honey from bees, and lac and shellac from various insects.


  • Insects destroy crops worth hundreds of millions of dollars each year in the United States.
  • The annual output of silk is worth millions of dollars.
  • The annual production of honey in the United States is worth several million dollars.
  • A strong colony of honey bees can produce between 25 and 30 dollars worth of honey in a single year.
  • A single lady-beetle larva can consume several times its own weight of plant-lice in a day.


  • Metamorphosis: The process of transformation that some insects undergo during their development.
  • Nymph: The immature stage of an insect that undergoes incomplete metamorphosis.
  • Larva: The immature stage of an insect that undergoes complete metamorphosis.
  • Pupa: The resting stage of an insect that undergoes complete metamorphosis.
  • Antennae: Sensory organs on the head of an insect that detect touch, taste, and smell.
  • Proboscis: A long, slender, sucking tube used by some insects to extract fluids.
  • Spiracles: Small holes on the side of an insect’s body that allow for breathing.
  • Honeydew: A sugary excretion produced by plant-lice.
  • Pollination: The transfer of pollen from the male part of a flower to the female part.
  • Caste: A specialized group of individuals within a social insect colony, such as workers, drones, or queens.


  • The house fly: This insect is a dangerous pest because it breeds in filth and carries germs onto food.
  • The mosquito: This insect is responsible for transmitting serious diseases like malaria and yellow fever.
  • The lady-beetle: This beneficial insect helps control plant-lice populations by devouring them.
  • The apple worm: This insect damages apple crops by boring into the fruit and consuming the flesh.
  • The Colorado potato beetle: This insect can cause significant damage to potato crops by consuming the foliage.
  • The squash bug: This insect feeds on the sap of squash and pumpkins, potentially poisoning the plant and causing damage.
  • The plant-louse: This insect can rapidly multiply and cause damage to crops by consuming the sap.
  • The honey bee: This insect is essential for pollination and produces honey for human consumption.
  • The ant: This insect lives in highly organized colonies and can be both beneficial and harmful to humans.
  • The dragon-fly: This insect is a beneficial predator of mosquitos and other insects.


“An Elementary Study of Insects” provides an engaging and informative introduction to the world of insects. It emphasizes the importance of understanding these creatures, both for their role in the ecosystem and their impact on agriculture. The book encourages students to become active learners by observing, collecting, and experimenting with insects. By understanding the different species of insects, their life cycles, and their habits, we can better appreciate their vital role in the natural world and develop effective strategies for managing those that are harmful to humans.

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