Scouting/BSA/Insect Study Merit Badge

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The requirements to this merit badge are copyrighted by the Boy Scouts of America. They are reproduced in part here under fair use as a resource for Scouts and Scouters to use in the earning and teaching of merit badges. The requirements published by the Boy Scouts of America should always be used over the list here. If in doubt about the accuracy of a requirement, consult your Merit Badge Counselor.
Reading this page does not satisfy any requirement for any merit badge. Per National regulations, the only person who may sign off on requirements is a Merit Badge Counselor, duly registered and authorized by the local Council. To obtain a list of registered Merit Badge Counselors, or to begin a Merit Badge, please contact your Scoutmaster or Council Service Center.

Requirement 1 edit

Do the following:
a. Explain to your counselor the most likely hazards associated with exposure to ants and bees and what you should do to anticipate, help prevent, mitigate, and respond to these hazards.
b. Discuss the prevention of and treatment for health concerns that could occur while working with ants and bees, including insect bites and anaphylactic shock.

Requirement 2 edit

Tell how insects are different from all other animals. Show the differences between insects, centipedes, and spiders.



  • 15-173 segments
  • Mostly nocturnal  


  • Eight-legged
  • Produce silk
  • No wings  
  • Two body segments (cephalothorax/abdomen)

Requirement 3 edit

Point out and name the main parts of an insect.

Requirement 4 edit

Describe the characteristics that distinguish the principal families and orders of insects.

Requirement 5 edit

a.Observe 20 different live species of insects in their habitat. In your observations, include at least four orders of insects.

b.Make a scrapbook of the 20 insects you observe in 5a. Include photographs, sketches, illustrations, and articles. Label each insect with its common and scientific names, where possible. Share your scrapbook with your merit badge counselor.

Orders (all)
Subclass Apterygota wingless
Symphypleona - globular springtails
Archaeognatha (jumping bristletails) long body that tapers at dorsal end, body covered in small scales, many-segmented antennae, three cerci (middle one largest) Symphypleona
Thysanura (common bristletails) long antennae, long body tapered in middle, three cerci of equal length, outer two extending away from body, small compound eyes or eyeless Symphypleona
Subclass Pterygota winged (or "secondarily wingless")
Ephemeroptera (mayflies) freshwater insects, brief adult life
Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) catch prey in flight, two pairs of independent wings, long tails, large round heads with large eyes
Blattodea (cockroaches) thorax covered by a plate (pronotum), chewing mouthparts, flat, oval shape
Mantodea (mantids) hardened forewings, long, slender body, triangular head with distinctive ocelli
Isoptera (termites) social insects that eat wood, antennae as long as head
Dermaptera (earwigs) large wings folded under short, leathery wings
Plecoptera (stoneflies)
Orthoptera (grasshoppers, crickets, katydids) incomplete metamorphosis
Phasmatodea (walking sticks, timemas) hardened forewings which cover hind wings, filiform antennae
Embioptera (webspinners) front tarsi large, contains silk glands, short legs, 2 short cerci, unequal in length in females
Mantophasmatodea (gladiators)
Psocoptera (booklice, barklice) soft bodies, large heads with protruding eyes
Phthiraptera (lice) wingless parasites
Hemiptera (true bugs) piercing and sucking mouthpieces present throughout life cycle
Thysanoptera (thrips) fringed wings
Megaloptera (alderflies, dobsonflies, etc.) 2 pairs of equal wings, held over the head when at rest, filiform antennae which taper to the end
Raphidioptera (snakeflies)
Neuroptera (net-veined insects) four membranous, veiny wings, chewing mouthparts, forewings and hindwings are the same size
Coleoptera (beetles) forewings are hard shells
Strepsiptera (twisted-winged parasites) insect parasites
Mecoptera (scorpionflies, etc.) long antennae, mandibulate mouthparts located at the end of a beak-like projection
Siphonaptera (fleas) parasites of mammal or bird blood, enlarged hind legs, strong tarsal claws
Diptera (true flies) hind wings are halteres, large compound eyes, short antennae
Trichoptera (caddisflies) two unequal pairs of wings, covered in fine hairs and held over the abdomen at rest, reduced mouthparts
Lepidoptera (butterflies, moths) four stage lifecycle, one ocelli above each eye
Hymenoptera (ants, bees, wasps, etc.) females have hardened ovipositor, mostly social insects
Families (not all)
Cicadidae Cicadas; eyes set far apart, well-veined wings
Cercopidae froghoppers; larvae produce a protective covering with plant sap
Psyllidae Jumping plant lice; mouthparts located at rear of head
Cupedidae Square pattern of "windows" on elytra
Anoplura Sucking lice
Rhyncophthirina Mouthparts adapted to pierce thick elephant and warthog skin
Ischnocera Avian parasites
Amblycera Do not permanently attach to hosts
Culicidae Mosquitoes; mouthparts adapted to pierce skin and suck blood
Heliomyzidae Sun flies
Syrphidae Hoover flies
Geometridae Loopers; forewings broad and triangular, hind wings almost equal, rest all day with wings outstretched and flat
Noctuidae Noctuids, cutworms, armyworms; eyes reflect orange light, nocturnal
Pyralidae Pyralid moths; long legs, proboscis covered in scales and beak-like
Lycaenidae Blues, coppers, hairstreaks; mostly with flattened antennal club
Nymphalidae Admirals, browns, fritillaries; small, hairy forelegs, long hind legs
Pieridae Whites, yellows;
Vespidae Social wasps and potter wasps; wings folded longitudinally over body when at rest
Formicidae Ants; wingless, with elbowed antennae and a long scape
Apidae Bees; have hairy legs and pollen baskets, mouthparts specialized into tongues
Ichneumonidae Ichneumon wasps; long, thin ovipositor
Pergidae Sawflies; do not have the wasp waist, ovipositor saw-like
Sphecidae Sand wasps and mud daubers; mostly solitary
Pompilidae Spider wasps; flick wings while hunting, move using short hops

Requirement 6 edit

Compare the life histories of a butterfly and a grasshopper. Tell how they are different.

Requirement 7 edit

Raise an insect through complete metamorphosis from its larval stage to its adult stage (eg, raise a butterfly or moth from a caterpillar).

Requirement 8 edit

Observe an ant colony or a beehive. Tell that you saw.

Requirement 9 edit

Tell the things that make social insects different from solitary insects.

Requirement 10 edit

Do ONE of the following:
a. Observe an ant colony in a formicarium (ant farm). Find the queen and worker ants. Explain to your counselor the different chambers found within an ant colony.
b. Study a hive of bees. Remove the combs and find the queen. Estimate the amount of brood and count the number of queen cells. Explain how to determine the amount of honey in the hive.

Requirement 11 edit

From your collection, identify four species of insects helpful to humans and six species of insects harmful to humans.
Describe some general methods of insect control.

Requirement 12 edit

Tell how insects fit in the food chains of other insects, fish, birds, and mammals.

External links edit

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