What Is An Insect – Basic Characteristics Of Insects

We tend to think of insects as pests, a nuisance or otherwise undesirable annoyances. However, understanding what an insect is can be interesting and fun. The formal definition of an insect is a small arthropod animal that has six legs and generally one or two pairs of wings. Basically any small invertebrate animal is an insect, especially one with several pairs of legs.

The animal kingdom

The animal kingdom is divided into special groups called phylum. These individual phyla are then divided further into classes, and then orders until the smallest division being the actual species. The fifteen phyla, or groups of animals are then divided further in the distinctions between species. Insects are in the group known as Arthopoda. Arthopoda are the ones that have segmented bodies and legs that are jointed. Various insects, from worms to flies can be classified under this group.


The phyla arthopoda is used to define animals with segmented bodies, jointed legs, and a tough outer covering that is the exoskeleton. The characteristics of these animals are thus known as phyla arthropoda. Millipedes, spiders, lobsters and crayfish are not insects for example. The insect class is more particular in defining what exactly differentiates insects from non-insects.

What is an insect?

Insecta, or insects have for the most part three pairs of legs, a body that is segmented, an antennae and usually wings. Other classes of insects have more than three pairs of legs but only a few body regions, and most never have wings. Insects can be both fun and interesting to examine, and their daily habits can further expand our knowledge of our own environment. Insects come in many forms, shapes, and sizes and understanding the basic definition of an insect is key to being aware of the insects that live all around us!

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