Insects and People  BIOL 11300:  Fall 2010

Tuesday and Thursdays 9:25-10:40am

CNS 112

Dr. Marina Caillaud Office Hours: 
  • Tuesday 4-5:15 p.m.
  • or by appointment (e-mail me!)


1. Fireflies, Honey and Silk. By Gilbert Waldbauer. (ISBN 978-0-520-25883-9). 2009.

  2.Insights from Insects. What bad bugs can teach us. By Gilbert Waldbauer (ISBN 1-59102-277-0).2005

 3. An insect field guide (Peterson guides are good)

  4.  A clicker handset

Visit this website EVERY WEEK for:  updates of the schedule, ppt notes, and links to potentially interesting websites.

Course description

There are somewhere between 10 million and 30 million species of insects, and insects account for roughly 5 out of every 6 species of land animal. If aliens from another planet landed on earth, they would conclude that insects were in charge, and probably ask to speak to a beetle rather than any human. The purpose of this course is to introduce you to the astounding diversity of insects, both in terms of morphology and anatomy as well as behavior, life history and ecology.


In this course, we will trace the major events in insect evolution, from the colonization of land, the origins of flight, and the evolution of metamorphosis. Throughout these lectures you will be introduced to the insect orders. We will investigate insect internal and external anatomy in order to identify the basic design features of insects. Then we will trace the basic life history features of insects, including mating behavior, development from egg to adult, and how insects perceive the world around them (sensory systems). We will examine the intimate relationship between Insects and Plants, as well as Social insects. In the last part of the semester, we will explore how insects have affected humans, both beneficially and detrimentally. We will discuss insects as food (they are an important source of protein in many societies) as well as the important products that insects produce, such as wax, honey, and certain dyes. We will also investigate insect vectors of disease and insect invaders (killer bees, etc.).

Learning Objectives

By the end of this course, you should be able to:
  1. Understand the basic biology of insects, their diversity, unique anatomy/physiology, behavior, complex societies, chemical defenses and environmental adaptations
  2. Recognize several ways in which insects have influenced Human History, how they still influence daily life at the level of the individual and in society, and how important they are for our planet’s ecology.
  3. Understand some of the basic tools used in entomological research and gain an appreciation for where our current understanding of Entomology comes from
  4. Demonstrate self-directed learning in Biology by identifying and utilizing credible resources available to the educated layperson
  5. Effectively communicate biological principles and issues in both written and oral forms

Lecture PowerPoint presentations


I will post the PowerPoint presentations presented in lecture 24 h before the actual lecture. Note that these lectures notes are not complete, and are not intended to serve as a substitute to coming to class! I encourage you to print them before class, using for instances the many computer classrooms available to you on campus. This will greatly facilitate taking notes for this class.




The following are designed to test and ensure consistent progress on all five of the stated learning goals.

1. Exams (60% total, 20% for each of the 3 in-class exams). Combination of multiple-choice and short answers. Assesses learning outcomes 1,3 and 5

2. Homework assignments (15%). Throughout the semester, written assignments (in-class or not) will be graded. Assesses learning outcomes 1,2, 4, 5

3. Final project (15%). Instead of an in-class final, you will be assigned a final paper and oral presentation on an "Insect topic". This will be a group project. INSTRUCTIONS HERE. Assesses learning outcomes 4,5

4. Class participation and attendance (10%).We will be using a clicker system on a daily basis (starting on September 7) which helps me to assess your understanding of the material, and to keep a record of attendance. Assesses learning outcomes 1,3


Grading scale         


A : 94-100 A-: 90-93
B+ : 87-89 B :  84-86 B- : 80-83
C+ : 77-79 C :74-76 C- :70-73
D+ :67-69 D : 64-66 D- :60-63

S: below 70%
F : below 60%

Attendance policy

Students at Ithaca College are expected to attend all classes, and they are responsible for work missed during any absence from class. Students should notify their instructors as soon as possible of any anticipated absences, especially for examinations. Written documentation that indicates the reason for being absent may be required.

In accordance with New York State law, students who miss class due to their religious beliefs shall be excused from class or examinations on that day. Such students must notify their course instructors before any anticipated absence so that proper arrangements may be made to make up any missed work or examination without penalty.

Any student who misses class due to a verifiable family or individual health emergency or to a required appearance in a court of law shall be excused. The student or a family member/legal guardian may report the absence to the Office of Student Affairs and Campus Life, which will notify the student's dean's office, as well as residential life if the student lives on campus. The dean's office will disseminate the information to the appropriate faculty. Follow-up by the student with his or her professors is imperative. Students may need to consider a leave of absence, medical leave of absence, selected course withdrawals, etc., if they have missed a significant portion of classwork.

A student may be excused for participation in College-authorized cocurricular and extracurricular activities such as athletic events, musical and theatrical performances, and professional conferences.

Academic honesty

All work that you submit must be your own. Please familiarize yourself with the definition of plagiarism.

Academic dishonesty can lead to a zero grade on that assignment, a failing grade in the course, academic code probation, or suspension/expulsion from the college depending on the gravity of the violation and the decision of the judicial board.

In a collaborative project, all students in a group may be held responsible for academic misconduct if they engage in plagiarism or are aware of plagiarism by others in their group and fail to report it. Students who participate in a collaborative project in which plagiarism has occurred will not be held accountable if they were not knowledgeable of the plagiarism.

Course evaluations

Student input is highly valued and is important to maintain high quality instruction. Course evaluations are mandatory and must be completed by the indicated date (TBA). An incomplete will appear on your transcript if it is not submitted by that time. The evaluation will be submitted by the department Assistant. She will verify that you have submitted the form. Once that has been checked, your identification will be removed and will not be printed with the comments.

Students with disabilities

In compliance with section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, reasonable accommodation will be provided to students with documented disabilities on a case by case basis. Students must register with the Office of Academic Support Services (607-274-1005, TDD 607-274-7319, and schedule an appointment with their instructors as soon as possible to discuss their needs.

Extra help and Support

Ithaca College provides a Counseling Center to support the academic success of students. The Counseling center provides cost-free services to help you manage personal challenges that threaten your well-being. The Health Center is also a resource on campus for students who experience a personal struggle.

Tentative schedule (may be subject to change)

(by week)


Web links

Reading Assignment

Aug 23


Introduction (ppt notes)


Origin and diversity (ppt notes)


handout (doc notes)

Minuscule: Ladybugs and hungry flies

Minuscule: Ladybug and Dragonfly

Minuscule: Ladybug against Spider


Firefly: Chap 1: Insects people like


Firefly: Chap VII : Butterflies in your tummy


Insights: Chap 3: What Darwin wished he knew


Aug 30


 Anatomy and Physiology (ppt notes).

handout (doc notes)


Minuscule Flies and Spaghetti

Minuscule: Fly and Lollipop

Minuscule:Hyperactive ladybugs


Ladybug expanding wings

Bee taking flight

Dragonfly flying

Fluorescent sperm in the fruitfly-NSF news update

NYtimes on bed bugs-Aug 31st news update

Insights: Chap 2: Evolution in action


Insights: Chap 16: The demise of DDT

Sept 6


Development (ppt notes)

handout development (doc notes)



Minuscule:Mosquito and Ventilator

Minuscule:Fly laughing at Spider

Minuscule:Mosquito in Honey

Minuscule:Christmas, spider and fly

Minuscule: Race between insects

Minuscule:PowerRocket Mosquito


Insights: Chap 8: Surviving winter as a sleeping



Insights: Chap 20: Extermination by subverting the sex act

Sept 13

Parasites (ppt notes)

No handout!

Minuscule :The bee prisonner

Minuscule:Grasshopper having hiccups

Minuscule:The Bee convoy with honey

Minuscule:Beetles can not get enough

Minuscule:Grasshopper catapult

Minuscule:Dragonflies play bullies

Butterflies, ants and wasps: an intimate relationship

Other examples of intimate relationships betw insects

Sept 20

Review (handout)

and Exam 1 (key for exam 1)

Review is on Sept 21st

Exam 1 is on Sept 23rd. 


Sept 27

Sensory systems and Communication

 (ppt notes)


Mating Behavior

(ppt notes)

no handout

Minuscule:The latin Cicada

Minuscule:Bee having to stay out in the dark night


  Insights: Chap 7: Guaranteeing descendants

Firefly: Chap II: the silk we wear


Firefly: Chap V: Candles, Shellac and wax


Oct 4 

Insect defenses: morphological, behavioral and chemical

 (ppt notes)


  Insect  societies I (ppt notes)

handout (doc)


Minuscule:Flying ants

Minuscule:The two caterpillars

Minuscule:Love stories

Minuscule:Ants and the walnut

Minuscule:Beetle and the mirror

Queen ants and their king!

PBS movie:Lord of the Ants

Wasp being kicked out of bee hive

Ants in Australian mangroves

Firefly: Chap VIII: Satisfying the sweet tooth

Insights: Chap 9: Escaping predators by deception

Oct 11


Insect Societies II

No class on Oct 14 –Fall break



Bees building a wax nest

How can we study the bee’s flight behavior



Oct 18


Review (Essay questions) and Exam 2


MidTerm Grades

INstructions for Final Project


Review is on Oct 19

Exam 2 is on Oct 21.


    Oct 25

Learning  (ppt notes)

handout (doc)



Insects and Plants

 (ppt notes)

 no handout


Minuscule:Ladybugs getting an education Minuscule:Paranoia Halloween


Firefly: Chap VI: paper and ink


Insights: Chap 10: Why insects are such picky



Insights: Chap 13: An American saves the French

Wine industry


Insights: Chap 15: From low-to-high tech controls


Nov 1


Insects as vectors of disease

  (ppt notes)



Insights: Chap 1: The most dangerous insects


Firefly: Chap IX: Cures and Nostrums

     Nov 8


Insect Invasions

 (ppt notes)




Insights: Chap 12: Invaders from abroad

Nov 15


Review and Exam 3


Review is on Nov 16th

Exam 3 is on Nov 18th . 


Nov 22




Nov 29


Oral presentations by students

Instructions HERE!!!




Dec 6


Oral presentations by students



Dec 13


Exam week


Oral presentations Dec 13 1:30-4 pm


Page maintained by Marina Caillaud.
Last updated 11/8/2010.