Bug Eyes: Insect Eye Exam

fly compound eye

Insects have lots of different parts that make up their bodies.  Heads, legs, mouths, skeletons, and many, many more!  But even though people have many of the same things, they often work very differently.  In this activity you will learn about an insect's eye, make a model of a compound insect eye, and learn how it is different from your eye.

What You Will Learn

By the time you finish this activity, you will have an idea of what the world looks like through the eyes of an insect and will be able to understand the differences between an insect eye and a human eye.  

What You Need

  • Drinking straws (not the bendable kind)
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • See-through red plastic
    (red food wrap works well)

What To Do

  1. First, you need to gather all your supplies together.scissors, tape, straws
  2. Next, take about six straws and cut them in half.  Bundle the pieces together and wrap a piece of tape tightly around the straws.  You have just created a model of a compound insect eye!
  3. Take a look at the room around you through your "insect eye."  What do you see?   Do things look different?  They should!  Humans see the world in one big connected picture, but many insects can only see things divided into thousands of parts, depending upon the number of facets (or straws in your case!) that make up their eye.   Pretty neat, isn't it?
  4. Now take your piece of red plastic and look through it at the people or things around you.   Look at a red object or red writing.  Harder to see these things, isn't it?   This part of the activity is to show you that although insects can see many colors, most insects cannot see the color red.  So looking through the red plastic helps to make red objects almost invisible and your eyes even more like an insect's eyes!

Try This!

pencil and padNow that you know how the world looks different through an insect's eye, try drawing a picture of something nearby from two perspectives:  your's and an insect's!

Think About It

If insects cannot see the color red, how are red flowers pollinated?   Hmmmm . . .