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Insect Camouflage

Grade Level: 5-8 Lesson Overview This lesson will introduce students to insect camouflage and mimicry. Camouflage and mimicry are adaptations some animals use as protection from predators. An animal that uses camouflage matches the appearance of other objects in its environment. It might look like a leaf, twig, flower or rock. Animals that use mimicry use colors and markings to look like an animal or object that will be avoided by the predator. Correlation with National Standards National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) · LifeScience:NS.5-8:Structureandfunctioninlivingsystems Estimated Lesson Time · Preparation:15minutes · Lesson:45minutes

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Student Materials Needed · Scissors · Glue · Pencil · Coloringpencils,markers · Templates Lesson Set the Stage Oneofthemostprofoundsurvivalmechanismsusedbyinsectsinvolvesthefascinating deceptiveprocessesofcamouflageandmimicry.Thislessononcamouflageand mimicrywillbeassessedbyKWL(WhatdotheyKnow,WhatdotheyWanttoknow, WhathavetheyLearned).Theinstructorwillbeginthediscussionbyaskingtheclassto define"camouflage"and"mimicry."AKWLChartcanbegiventoeachstudent.The classcandiscussthefirsttwocolumnsontheKWLCharts. "Camouflage"istheFrenchwordfordisguiseandisdefinedasconcealmentby disguiseorprotectivecoloring. Mimicryisdefinedastheresemblanceofoneorganismtoanotherortoanobjectinits surroundingsforconcealmentandprotectionfrompredators. Mimicrydiffersfromcamouflageinthatcamouflagehidestheorganism,whereas mimicrybenefitstheorganismonlyiftheorganismisdetected. Studentsshouldbeaskedtoresearchexamplesofinsectsthatusecamouflageand insectsthatusemimicryandlisttheminthe"L"columnoftheKWLCharts.Teachers canusetheCamouflageandMimicryworksheetsasexamplesforthestudents.

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Discussion Insectsaremastersofcamouflage,andthemostsimpletypeofinsectcamouflage involveshavingbodycolorsandpatternsthathelptoconcealtheirbodiesagainst specificbackgroundsintheirenvironment.Differenttypesofinsectsimitateawide rangeofnaturalobjects.Someprayingmantidsarethecolorofshrubsandgrasses, whileotherprayingmantidsarethecolorandshapeoftropicalflowers.Thereare insectsthatlooklikeleaves,insectsthatlooklikesticks,andmothsthatblendinwith thebarkoftrees. Caterpillarsareparticularlyatriskfrompredatorsbecausetheycannotfly.Camouflage helpsmanytostaywellhidden.Caterpillarsalsousemimicrythatissomeofthemost cleverinalloftheanimalkingdom!Theswallowtailcaterpillarlookslikeasnake.The Easterntigerswallowtailcaterpillarlookslikebirdpoop. (Classdiscussioncanexplorethetypesofcamouflageusedbyhumans.) Mimicryhelpsinsectstricktheirpredatorsintothinkingtheyareadifferentanimalor insectinordertohelpthemsurvive.This"copycat"behaviorcanalsobeusedtoattract prey.Therearethreeformsofmimicry: 1.Batesianmimicryreferstotwoormorespeciesthataresimilarinappearance,but onlyoneofwhichisarmedwithspines,stingersortoxicchemistry.Thesecond specieshasnodefenseotherthanresemblingthefirstspecies. 2.Muellerianmimicryisaformofmimicrythatreferstotwounpalatablespeciesthat aremimicsofeachotherwithconspicuouswarningcoloration.Examplesofthisare themonarchandviceroybutterflies. 3.Self-mimicryisatermforinsectsthathaveonebodypartthatmimicsanotherto increasesurvivalduringanattack.Anexampleofthiswouldbethe"eye-spots"that manymothspecieshave.Theselargedarkmarkingsmaymomentarilystartlea predatorandallowthepreyextrasecondstoescape. "Eye-spots"alsohelppreyescapepredatorsbygivingpredatorsafalsetarget.A butterflyhasabetterchanceofsurvivinganattacktotheouterpartofitswing thananattacktothehead.

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Group Activity Camouflage Competition Dividetheclassintoteamsandgiveeachgroupanarea(outside,intheclassroom,inthe hallway,etc.)to"hide"theirinsects. Giveeachteam20copiesofaninsectfromthecoloringworksheets.Studentswillstudy theirareaandthencolortheirtemplatestocamouflagetheinsectstotheenvironmentin whichtheywill"live." Uponcompletionofcoloringandcuttingouttheinsects,studentswillplacetheminthe areaforwhichtheircamouflagewasdesigned.(Inplacingthem,atleast¼oftheinsect's bodyhastobevisible...i.e.,can'tputthemcompletelybehindorundersomething.) (A"predator"andassistantmustbechosenforeacharea.)Oncethecamouflagedinsects havebeenhidden,the"predator"isintroduced­innaturethiswouldbeasharp-eyed birdoralizard. Thepredatormuststandthreefeetfromtheareainwhichthecamouflagedinsectsare hidden.She/hehasthreeminutestopointouttheinsectsthatshe/heseesfromafar.As thepredatorpointsthemout,theassistantpredatorcollectsthemandplacestheminan envelope.Thepredatorthenhasanothertwominutestogoandcollectanyothersthat she/hesees. Theteamwiththemostinsectsstillhiddenafterthepredatorhashuntedtheirareawins. Asafollow-up,havestudentscomparethoseinsectsthatwerecapturedwiththosethat remainedunseen.Cantheyfindanypatternsinthedifferencesbetweenthosethatwere "pickedoff"first,thosethatwerefoundlaterandthosethatsurvivedthevisitfromthe predator?(AVenndiagramorgraphingcanbeusedtoshowdifferencesbetweenthe groups.)Studentsshouldalsoexaminedifferencesintheareasinwhichtheirinsectswere hiddentoseeifthosehadanyeffectontheoutcome.

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Assessment Studentswillbeassessedontheir: · AccuratecompletionofKWLCharts DownloadLessonPlanasPDF

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Name ________________________________

Date _______________________

KWL Chart

Before you begin your research, list details in the first two columns. Fill in the last column after completing your research.

Topic:__________________________________________________________ WhatIKnow WhatIWanttoKnow WhatILearned

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Camouflage

Orchid Mantis

Grasshopper

Lichen Moth

Leaf Bug

Walking Stick

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Mimicry

Flower Fly

Swallowtail Caterpillar

Jumping Spider

Viceroy Butterfly

Owl Moth

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Praying Mantis

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Grasshopper

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Walking Stick

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