Quick Class 10: Insects and their huge numbers – A2/B1

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Discuss the following:

  • What is an ecosystem?
  • What are some important insects’ roles in their ecosystem?

 

Listen to the audio and summarize the main points shared by the speaker.

 

Match the words and definitions*

 

a)     Landmass1)       An inconvenience or annoyance
b)      Pollination2)      Required to do something
c)      Living beings3)      Repulsive, revolting, nauseating
d)      Nuisance4)      Not desired, unwelcome
e)      Crop5)      The fertilization of plants, often                with the help of insects
f)      Disgusting6)      Areas such as continents
g)      Fault7)      Organisms considered to be forms            of life.
h)      Unwanted8)      Responsibility for some                              misfortune
i)       Be supposed to8)      Cultivated plant that is grown as              food

 

Listen to the audio and answer the following questions. Write all numbers in words.

 

  • How many insect species are estimated to exist?
  • How many individual insects are estimated to exist?
  • How many insect species are there in the US and in Brazil?
  • What is the estimated weight ratio between insects and humans?

 

Read the transcript below and check your answers.

 

Insects and their huge numbers

 

They occupy nearly all the planet’s landmass. They are the most diverse group of animals out there, with over 900.000 known species. They are responsible for pollinating, cleaning and fertilizing the territories where they live. They also serve as food for larger animals, among many other things that they do. We are talking about insects!

Because insects are small, you may think that they are not so numerous or even so important. But insects are not only many, they are also completely vital for the survival of the ecosystems where they live. For instance, they form close relationships with other living beings, such as plants. Some types of flowers can only be pollinated by one particular species of insect. That is, a different species of insect for each plant. And their numbers are just huge. At any time, it is estimated that there are about 10 quintillion (10,000,000,000,000,000,000) individual insects alive. Also, there are about 300 hundred pounds, or 136 kilos, of insects for each pound, or about 450 kilograms, of humans. That’s a lot of insects!

In the United States, there are about 91,000 species! And in tropical Brazil, scholars believe that about 10% of all insect species call this South-American country their home. But some sources say there are some 400,000 species yet to be documented in the country!

Of course, some species can become a nuisance, causing diseases or even attacking crops. And some of them just look disgusting to some people. But that’s not the insects’ fault. After all that traveling between different regions of the planet in the course of history, humans ended up transporting foreign insects to new lands. And there, without their natural predators, they became very successful. Other times, it is the destruction of their environment which brings unwanted insects into our homes. I guess we can all agree that a good insect is the one that lives exactly where it is supposed to live.

 

 

 

*Answers to exercise 2: a-6, b-5, c7-, d-1, e-9, f-3, g-8, h-4, i-2

**Answers to exercise 3: a) Nine hundred thousand species, b) Ten quintillion, c) Ninety-one thousand in the US and 10% in Brazil, but there are an estimated four hundred thousand species yet to be documented, d) 300 hundred pounds, or 136 kilos, of insects for each pound, or about 450 kilograms, of humans.

 

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