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  • Here are links to Science Learning Hub resources for primary teachers related to insects in the Living World strand of the New Zealand Curriculum.

    Investigate insects found in New Zealand to answer questions about life cycles, classification, conservation and biosecurity. Start by watching our webinar All about insects.

    Rights: The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato

    All about insects

    Insects offer stimulating content with which teachers can feed student curiosity and grow science knowledge and capabilities.

    The Super Insects article has all of Countdown’s Super Insect teacher resources available as free downloadables – including an overview poster, 10 activity cards and a cross-curricular activity bonus.

    Native insects

    The islands that make up this country are home to a vast number of species found nowhere else in the world. Learn about some of our native insects.

    What’s so special about insects? – article

    Rights: New Zealand insect cards project

    Last of the species?

    This poster gives some examples of just three of the thousands of invertebrates that are listed as threatened or at risk in New Zealand.

    Illustrations by Emma Scheltema

    Download the poster here.

    Insect taxonomy – article

    Aquatic insect life – article

    Insects – physical characteristics – article

    Label the insect – activity

    Label the wētā – interactive

    Label the cicada – interactive

    The five most diverse insect orders – interactive

    New Zealand aquatic insects – interactive

    New Zealand's unique ecosystems – introductory article with links to media, articles and activities.

    Glow-worms – article

    Cave wētā – article

    Wētā – article

    Rights: The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato


    An example of one of the drawers full of specimens found at Landcare Research. This shows the range of wētā found in New Zealand.

    Building homes for tree wētā – activity

    Redesigning wētā houses – article

    Vegetable caterpillar – article

    Fred the thread – article

    Science and literacy – using Fred the Thread – activity

    Discovering new species – collection of resources based on Fred the Thread

    Our elusive native butterflies – article

    Middle Earth wasps – article

    Insect antennae – article

    Honeydew ecosystem (scale insects) – article

    Insects and forest ecosystems – article

    Honeydew: The Food of the Ngahere – video

    Constructing food webs (scale insects) – activity

    Insect mihi – activity

    Moth collecting – activity

    Identifying bugs – activity

    Rearing insects – activity

    Make a wanted poster – activity

    City of bugsConnected article

    Life cycles

    Insect life cycles have many similarities and differences, making them an ideal way to learn about life processes.

    New Zealand native butterflies – article

    Monarch butterflies – article

    Monarch butterfly life cycle

    The life cycle of the monarch butterfly. Click on one of titles to find out more about each stage.

    White butterfly life cycle – activity

    Monarch butterfly life cycle – interactive

    Rearing moths to observe life cycles – activity

    Insect metamorphosis – image

    Glow-worm life cycle – image

    Vegetable caterpillar fungi – video

    Parasitoid wasp life cycle – article


    Honey bee are the most important pollinators of many cultivated food crops and other flowering plants. See our bees topic for more.

    Pollination – introductory article with links to media, articles and activities

    Rights: Neville Gardner

    Honey bee on flower

    This honey bee has pushed its head into a flower to search for nectar. Pollen from the stamens will rub off on its body and get carried to another flower.

    Pollination role-plays – activity

    Honey to heal – introductory article with links to media, articles and activities

    The Buzz of bees – article

    Bees – fun facts – article

    Bee-friendly insecticides – article

    Honey bee heroes – article

    Honeybees and Mānuka trees – article

    People are doing heaps for kauri, kiwi and kākāpō but nothing for endemic butterfly species, yet insects are crucial to the ecosystem.

    Jacqui Knight

    Butterflies and moths

    Almost all of the butterflies in New Zealand are native and most are endemic. Compared to big, colourful species from other countries, our native butterflies are small and secretive. See our butterflies and moths topic for more.

    Investigating butterflies – introductory article with links to media, articles and activities

    Rights: Jérôme Albre

    Rauparaha’s copper

    The Rauparaha’s copper (Lycaena rauparaha) is said to be named after the famous warrior as its more heavily populated habitats are found along the coastal strip from Taranaki to Wellington where Te Rauparaha was most active.

    Butterfly defense mechanisms – article

    New Zealand butterfly origins – article

    White butterflies – article

    Establishing butterfly transects – activity

    Tagging monarch butterflies for science – activity

    Butterflies (lower primary) – unit plan

    Butterflies (upper primary) – unit plan

    Helping the butterflies of Aotearoa New Zealand – article

    Ahi Pepe MothNet project – introductory article with links to media, articles and activities

    New Zealand moths – article

    Difference between butterflies and moths – article

    Making moth identification guides – article

    Our collection Kaitiakitanga and moths includes information and ideas about the pepe and pūrerehua of Aotearoa as well how children are learning about how to protect these amazing, secretive creatures.

    Innovative ideas

    Insects are used by science to inspire and solve a number of problems.

    Plant & Food Research and Etec Crop Solutions – Pheromone-based-Insecticide – video

    Where we’re controlling insects without the side effects that other control tactics seem to have is a very satisfying thing personally because it’s helping to green New Zealand even further.

    Dr Max Suckling

    Dung beetle mania – article

    Dung beetles released on farms – article

    Biosecurity and biocontrol

    Insects are both an issue and a solution when it comes to protecting New Zealand's natural and primary production environments. For more, browse the range of resources under the biosecurity and biocontrol topics.

    Introduced pests:

    Bees and varroa

    Watch varroa mites (white juveniles and brown adults) on honey bees and learn how they spread viruses that kill bee colonies. Dr Mark Goodwin shows hives being treated to control the mite.

    Biocontrol success stories:


    Find out what insects are in your local environment with these activities:

    Citizen science projects

    Participate in the New Zealand Mosquito Census and help scientists at Te Papa learn more about the various mosquitos in Aotearoa.

    Global Earth Challenge is an international citizen science project that has a section on monitoring insect population changes.

    More on insects

    Hi tech drones copy nature’s design – article

    New Zealand’s fish-eating spider – article

    Rights: © Nyffeler M, Pusey BJ (2014) Fish Predation by Semi-Aquatic Spiders: A Global Pattern. PLoS ONE 9(6): e99459. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0099459 Photo by This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

    A spider preying on a fish

    Dolomedes sp. preying on a mountain galaxias (Galaxias olidus) on the bank of North Branch Creek near Goomburra, Queensland, Australia.

    Poison comes in small packages – article

    Tree lobsters’ convergent evolution – article

    Deformed bee wing virus – image

    Gum leaf skeletoniser – image

    Wasp versus ant – image

    Useful links

    Visit our Wasps and We love bugs! Pinterest boards for links to more resources and community activities.

    The Entomological Society of New Zealand was formed to provide a common meeting ground for everyone interested in entomology in New Zealand. It aims to stimulate interest, encourage amateurs and promote the profession of entomology. They run the annual Bug of the Year contest.

      Published 2 July 2015, Updated 22 June 2023 Referencing Hub articles
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