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Anthidium February 2008-1.jpg

Insects (from Latin insectum, a calque of Greek ἔντομον [éntomon], “cut into sections”) are a class within the arthropods that have a chitinous exoskeleton, a three-part body (head, thorax, and abdomen), three pairs of jointed legs, compound eyes, and two antennae. They are among the most diverse group of animals on the planet and include more than a million described species and represent more than half of all known living organisms. The number of extant species is estimated at between six and ten million, and potentially represent over 90% of the differing metazoan life forms on Earth. Insects may be found in nearly all environments, although only a small number of species occur in the oceans, a habitat dominated by another arthropod group, the crustaceans.

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Mating pair of Sphecius grandis
Sphecius grandis, also called the western cicada killer, is a colony-forming species of wasp in the genus Sphecius (cicada killer wasps). It shares the same nesting biology as its congener the eastern cicada killer, S. speciosus. S. grandis, like all other species in the genus, mainly provides cicadas for their offspring. It is colonial, mating brooding once a year, in July and early August. Adults are typically 3–5 cm (1.2–2.0 in) long, and amber-yellow with yellow rings on the abdomen.

Members of the genus Sphecius are not habitually aggressive and save their venom for cicadas which they paralyse and take back to their nests. The female catches around four or more cicadas for provisioning, places them in her brood cells and then proceeds to lay eggs in her cells. The species is endemic to Central America and the Western United States, and is found at a higher mean altitude than other species of Sphecius. The males emerge earlier than females, but generally die after only a couple of days.

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Simosyrphus grandicornis is an Australasian species of hoverfly (Diptera: Syrphidae), and is one of the two most common hoverflies in Australia, alongside Melangyna viridiceps. Pictured above is a pair of S. grandicornis mating in flight.


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