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How many legs do insects have? We answer such an interesting question.

When it comes to insects, obvious things, such as the number of legs, are often the subject of controversy. Far from everyone can immediately call the exact figure. And this is despite the fact that we all not once observed these creatures in everyday life, and sometimes directly contacted them. The collective image in our memory often has a vague outline. The reason for this is the errors in the description of the appearance of insects in fiction (and often in popular science), as well as their incorrect depiction by illustrators. In addition, many mistakenly refer to insects as small arthropods, such as millipedes (Myriapoda superclass), arachnids (Arachnida class), and sometimes some crustaceans (Crustacea subtype).


One of the distinguishing features of insects - three pairs of legs. All of them are located in the thoracic region, one pair on each of the three component segments. In ancient insects legs were present on the abdomen. The rudimentary appendages (extremely simplified remnants) of the abdominal legs, which are present in some modern species, still remind of this.

In the process of evolution, under the influence of an appropriate lifestyle, insects developed several types of limbs. The most common and least specialized ones are walking and running. In primitive insects, all three pairs of legs are just such, but there are representatives of the superclass, in which a change in external conditions and type of movement caused a modification of the front and / or rear pair of limbs. Thus, in front of the bear and individual beetles, the front legs are adapted for digging, and in the praying mantis, to capture prey. Locusts and grasshoppers have powerful hind legs to help jump, and most aquatic insects do the rowing function. The average pair of legs in the course of evolution was not subjected to specialization and is necessary for all insects to walk.

How many legs have centipedes?

Centipedes - a special group (class) of invertebrate animals that differ from insects and spiders by a highly elongated body, almost all segments of which are provided with limbs (legs). Despite the external similarity, the centipedes are very different from each other in body structure, and therefore scientists divide them into several groups (subclasses). The main ones are bipartite and foot-legged centipedes. In two-sided millipedes, each torso segment bears two pairs of legs. These centipedes resemble worms strongly, live, as a rule, in the soil and feed mainly on plant residues (rotting leaves, rotten wood, etc.). Although they are commonly called centipedes in common-legged centipedes, in fact, they can have much more legs. The most "multi-legged" centipedes have about 750 limbs (375 pairs), and most species - only about 200 legs (100 pairs). Despite the huge number of legs, these animals move rather slowly, and therefore often become prey of various predators.

The legs of a crawling centipede set in motion wavy muscle contractions extending from the front end of the body to the rear. As a result, most of the animal's legs touch the ground, but in three or four places along the length of the body, they are raised upwards. At this time, the centipede moves them forward.


Most insects, with all the variety of habits and sizes have the same characteristics. So, in this case, when asked about how many legs there are with insects, the answer is considered to be correct: “Six”. Three pairs of limbs are observed in ants and fleas, praying mantis and weevil, and even more than a billion species. True, the legs differ in structure, and in this connection, oddly enough, and purpose. “How is it,” you wonder, “are the legs really not meant only for moving the body along the surface?” It turns out that it is. Habitual concepts are undergoing significant changes, we need only pay attention to the small (in size) inhabitants of the planet. They, as scientists say, have mastered the earth long before mammals, have a serious organization that allows them to exist excellently and not pay attention to the "king of nature."

What are insect legs?

The purpose of the limbs determines their name. Therefore, when they ask you: “How many legs do insects have?”, Boldly answer the question: “What kind?” And they are adjectives, running, digging and others. Usually only one pair of limbs is special. This is due to the lifestyle of a particular creature. For example, a mantis front pair - prehensile. Locusts or grasshoppers stand out among their relatives with a pair of jumping limbs. They immediately catch the eye length and thickness. Cockroaches have running legs that are elongated. Digging limbs are observed in the bear. They are short and plump, strong. Usually dig the front paws. Water lovers - owners of swimming limbs. They are comfortable to row, due to the hairs and flattened legs. And how many walking legs do insects have in this case? The answer depends on the type. Non-specialized limbs are used for movement. They can be considered walking.

Limb structure

Despite the diversity of species, all the legs are created almost the same. They consist of five divisions. Pin to the chest attaches a basin. Then comes the wind, thigh, shin. Ends foot foot. Such a complex structure ensures the speed and maneuverability of the insect. Any limb ends with a claw. Specialized legs may be underdeveloped - then they lack some elements. Regardless of the degree of development, the number of legs in insects includes all the limbs. The structure of the legs is not limited to the elements described. Each of them is divided into subsections, has options. For example, the foot may consist of several (up to five) segments. Such difficulties lead to the fact that sometimes only scientists can reliably tell how many feet insects have. Below is an interesting example.

Everyone knows this workout. Flies, pollinates flowers, honey collects. And how many pairs of legs do an insect have, and are all the limbs such? It turns out that the bee on the front legs has special baskets in which it folds pollen. On the very last segment, the foot, there are dies, called brushes. They bee collects valuable product. If you look closely, it turns out that the front pair is almost a hand with a very complex structure. But scientists do not recognize this fact. These limbs belong to the legs and are called collective. Let's calculate the number of walking legs in insect bees. If two legs are devoted to collective operations, then the rest of the insect moves. So, her walking legs are two pairs. Basically, the calculation is done, but not at all.

And why gears?

Studying the number of legs in insects of different classes, their structure and functions, scientists stumbled upon an unexpected fact. Some of them have an interesting mechanism in their structure - gear. Schematically, it can be represented in the form of two serrated wheels, which are coupled to each other. Through protrusions, they interact and synchronize movement. Why is this? It turns out that such a mechanism allows insects to jump at tremendous speed. This miracle lives in America, called Jesus. It is not capable of flying, but it makes amazing jumps. Even a racing car will not be able to overtake it during takeoff. Interestingly, these legs are located not at the sides, but at the bottom of the insect. This makes his life problematic. If you do not synchronously repel, then the jump does not work. Insect just circling on one foot. Evolution has eliminated this effect by a mechanical device, the purpose of which is to make the shocks synchronous. The surprise of the scientists was no limit. This is the first recorded fact of the use of engineering thought in the structure of living beings.

Many are confused in the types of invertebrates, answering the question of how many pairs of legs are in insects. Spiders and millipedes of all kinds are mistakenly attributed to them, which is fundamentally wrong. Later we will say a few words about them, but for now let's turn our attention to the representatives of the Insect class.

In the world of insects there are their champions. Thus, the structure of the limbs of a cicada-pennica allows it to bounce to an incredible height, given its small size. If you draw an analogy with a person, you get two hundred and ten meters. It is clear that this insect has a pair of jumping limbs, very strong and fast. They act like a catapult, powerfully sending the body up. At the same time, the acceleration reaches four thousand meters per second. And in order not to slide off the plants that feed the insect, its front legs are equipped with sharp spikes.

Water beetles

Interest in terms of the structure of the limbs cause all aquatic insects. They demonstrate a completely different, but also a unique adaptation. Science wondered how they could be on the surface of the water and not sink? It turned out that the water beetle has a kind of oars on its hind legs. Special hairs have grown on them, with which the insect makes rowing movements. So it floats on water. Some species are supplied with thickened and dilated segments (this is the last leg section). Due to this structure, they can perfectly stay on the water. Although these insects prefer to dwell in calm waters. To deal with a strong current is difficult for them. The little creature lacks strength for it.

Dragonfly and others

Another amazing representative of the world of insects. This flyer uses her limbs in a special way. Her legs are provided with stiff bristles. When the dragonfly flies, it so disposes of the limbs, that a peculiar net is obtained. With this device she gets her own food! Small insects, hitting the interlacing of bristles, immediately become prey and are eaten by a dragonfly. The variety of ways and methods of using insect legs is truly enormous. They are not only for walking, like in mammals. They row, and cut, and grab. Still insects using their feet clean their antennas. To this end, the limbs are equipped with special grooves. But some species of butterflies use their front legs exclusively for rubbing their eyes. These limbs are atrophied and equipped with special hairs.

What about centipedes and spiders?

Contrary to popular belief, and the name, the feet of the centipede are not forty, but only thirty. By the way, they appear extremely interesting in invertebrates. At the beginning of its existence, he has only eight legs (almost a spider). Then the centipede begins to grow, the body lengthens, and additional limbs gradually grow. It turns out that the question of the number of centipede legs is closely related to the length of its life. Yes, and this creature is to his limbs very carelessly. Just sensed a threat, for example, the foot stuck to the web, without thinking twice, they simply get rid of it. We can say that this is a kind of protective mechanism. Very comfortable, is not it? Especially when you consider that the centipede is able to regenerate limbs.

Spider. Strange as it may sound, but this representative of the animal world is not an insect. It has eight legs, not six, like insects, and the body consists of only two parts (the head and abdomen). In most cases, all spiders are predators, while insects for the most part feed on vegetation.


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