Bees can’t see the color red! However, they can see ultraviolet light and this helps them find nectar on flowers

Many insects that go through complete metamorphosis do not always have compound eyes! Eyes on the sides of the larva’s head are what they rely on until they reach an adult stage, which is when they develop compound eyes

Cicadas have 5 eyes! They have 2 compound eyes and 3 simple eyes. The compound eyes aid in helping them see what is around them and the simple eyes help them distinguish light from darkness and vice versa!

Butterflies can see 314 degrees around itself! They also can see ultraviolet and polarized light, which means that they can detect patterns and colors that the human eye cannot see!

Have you ever wondered how other animals see the world?

At the Atlanta Science Festival Exploration Expo, our Environmental Education staff taught you all about it! We are highlighting insect vision in our project “A Bug’s Eye View”.

Humans have simple eyes, which means we only have one lens in each eye. Insects however, have multiple lenses in each eye, or compound eyes, made up of small hexagon shaped units called ommatidium. They also have 3 simple eyes known as ocelli and another elongated, hexagon shaped lens. Each type of lens in an insect eye is specialized:

TYPES OF LENS:

  • Ocelli

    Used to tell the difference between shade and sunlight. Type of simple eye, sometimes called “pigment pit”

  • Ommatidium

    This lens allows bugs to detect motion quickly

  • Elongated

    The shape of elongated lenses help bugs use the light spectrum

You can test out insect vision at home!

Try this fun, DIY activity to make a model of a compound eye, and see the world through a bug’s eye.

Materials

  • Recycled cardboard tube
  • Recycled straws (15 total)
  • Rubber bands
  • Scissors
  • Decorative materials
  • Ruler
  • Glue

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Carefully cut each straw into 3 sections (about 2 inches each).

2. Using the rubber bands, secure all of the straws so that they stay together.

3. Slide the bundled straws into the cardboard tube.

4. Decorate the outside of your cardboard tube with markers, paint, buttons or more.

5. Try and find moving objects to view through your new compound eye!

MORE TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How was seeing through the model of the compound eye different than what you normally see through your eyes?
  2. Some insects have the ability to see 360 degrees. What things would be challenging if you could see all around you? Would certain things be easier?
  3. Do you think that human (simple) eyes or insect (compound) eyes are better at capturing moving objects? Why or why not?
  4. How would your life be different if you couldn’t see as clearly but you could detect movement better?
  5. Think about an insect’s life. They fly, have to find food, must avoid predators and so much more! Why would they need compound eyes to help them survive?

Download the PDF of this activity to your computer here.