how do insects eat straw mouth

How do insects eat?



I bet that got your attention, didn’t it? Insects eat in a variety of different ways, and how do insect mouths work is a fascinating question to answer with your kids as a science lesson. We did this towards the end of studying flying creatures when we’d learned about many different insects.

How do insect mouths work science lesson

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How do insect mouths work?

Basically, insects have three different types of mouths: chewing (think ants, caterpillars, crickets); sponge (fly is the primary example I can think of); and sucking (butterfly, mosquito). We learned all of this in our Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day book.

Purpose of how do insect mouths work experiment:

To see how the different insects eat (inspired by this post from the Work Plan). [Future Ticia here, I must have been channeling my former teacher life when I first wrote this, because that’s what I had to write for every lesson plan.]

Supplies for how insect mouths work

food, shallow plate, cup, liquids to drink (I just used water), bendy straw, sponge

Let’s find out how do insect mouths work

how do insect mouths work sponge mouth

First, we tried eating with a sponge mouth.  We all agreed this was very hard to do and we wouldn’t get much food if we had to eat that way.

As a side note, I think it would have worked better if I had more thoroughly saturated the sponges beforehand.

how do insect mouths work straw and sponge
Next, we tried to use a proboscis like a butterfly has on the plate, and agreed that butterflies would not really be able to eat from this.

how do insects eat straw mouth


Then we tried it in a flower to suck up the nectar.  This worked so much better.  It was still a challenge to try and get them not to use their hands.  But, eventually, they mastered it.

I have no pictures of the chewing because obviously, that is how we normally eat, and figured pictures were rather unnecessary, and potentially gross depending on my kids’ manners at that moment.

Results:  The kids all agree that they like chewing food the best.  The straw was fun, but it was challenging to get in without using their hands.

Totally unrelated to how do insect mouths work

I found out why my tomato plant has produced NOTHING.  As soon as a leaf grows he eats it, and he was huge!  About 5 inches long, and when I found out what he was I was going to transplant him somewhere else, but he had already gone underground to form his cocoon.  But in the meantime, the kids had a lot of fun observing him.  Sigh, that’s going to be a rather useless plant.



But look what I did successfully grow!  And it actually tasted good, unlike say the bell peppers I grew last year, which tasted all weird from the horrid drought and heat.  Hurricane Alex did well for us in the rain department.  The entire time we were out of town Texas was getting rain.


Sigh, Superman just woke up and came downstairs with the announcement, “Nobody talk to me,” guess my blogging time is done for now.


Future Ticia back, I’m gonna add in some more preschool and kindergarten science


11 responses to “How do insects eat?”

  1. That looks like a fun experiment. 🙂

  2. Phyllis Avatar

    We did something similar to this once in a co-op class, with birds instead of insects. The kids loved it.

  3. Debbie Avatar

    Looks fun and also a great lesson on appreciating how we are made!

  4. Joyful Learner Avatar
    Joyful Learner

    I had a friend in college housemate who didn't like chewing. She drank soups most of the time. Perhaps, she was an insect in her previous life. It's good that your children like to chew. By the way, I learned that some people can't chew with their mouths closed because they can't breathe otherwise…allergies?

  5. Christy Avatar

    Joyful Learner's comment made me laugh.

    I love your experiment!

    That's too bad about your tomato plant. At least you were able to grow something though!

  6. An Almost Unschooling Mom Avatar
    An Almost Unschooling Mom

    So, did you take the kids out and show them the destruction an insect mouth can cause on tomato plants?

    Now I have to look up slug mouths, they leave perfect little holes in strawberries 🙁

  7. Discovering Montessori Avatar
    Discovering Montessori

    I like how you guys did these experiments!! This is why I like blogging, you can learn something new everyday. Thanks for the link up.

  8. This is pretty fun – the picture with a sponge cracked me up. I am yet to plant anything edible in my garden, let alone grow it to produce. Wait… I do have a new lemon tree, but I think it decided that it's too young to have children of its own.

  9. kewkew Avatar

    Ticia, I can't explain how I can do experiments such as these. I can NOT stand bugs. But I started doing a bug unit every summer when I was working at the Montessori and bugs really fascinate me. I was actually quite engrossed while watching them move around and each time something new had happened I was so thrilled and excited to share it with the girls.

  10. kewkew Avatar

    Our garden was a big flop this year again. One zucchini. A handful of beans. One pea pod. Not sure if the tomatoes are going to do anything or not. We got green tomatoes last year but they rotted before we got anything edible. Waiting to see.
    We have rabbits that have been eating at our garden. But I do have to say, that is quite the fascinating bug you have.
    Love the insect mouths experiment. Especially the comment about chewing food.

  11. Jolanthe Avatar

    that thing is HUGE!!! eww….

    the stuff you all did looks like MUCH fun. hoping to join back up with you this week again!


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