Do Bugs Have Hearts?
He sang that getting one would make him “kind of human,” but we’re not the only species who have what the Tin Man longed for the most -- a heart. Most animals (although, oddly enough, not all of them) have a heart, but they’re not quite the same as the ones that beat in human chests.
Chambers of Love
For the purpose of comparison, we’re going to consider a “heart” as any bodily organ responsible for circulating blood around an animal’s body. That’s because, although a human heart is defined by four chambers, that isn’t the only way for a heart to form in a living creature. And the conduits attached to our hearts -- all those veins and arteries extending out to our every limb -- not all animals have those either.
Generally speaking, insects have much simpler circulatory systems than we do. In fact, they have no veins or arteries. Neither are their hearts as complex as ours. Rather than four chambers, insect hearts generally only have one, located in their abdomen, which pumps blood all around their open circulatory system.
Armored on the Outside
Insects actually don’t need blood vessels, in part, because the exterior of their bodies is plated in a kind of armor. Unlike humans, whose skeletons are on the inside, insects have exoskeletons, meaning their bones, if you will, are on the outside. It’s because of their strong exoskeletons that insects can get away with pushing blood up, down and all around in order to both collect and distribute oxygen (that’s the basic purpose of blood no matter what creature you’re dealing with).
Want to know something else that insects are missing? Lungs.
An Open Design
Insects are structured in support of how they move around in the world. Not only that, their exoskeletons mean most insects retain a pretty consistent, ridgid shape all throughout their lives (with an exception, of course, for those that molt -- they end up living through multiple forms).
Fun Facts for You Are Essential For Us
For most people, learning about insects and their strange hearts is nothing more than fun, Valentine’s Day-themed fact collection. For those of us in the pest control business, these facts are essential knowledge. Many, many small details like how insects circulate blood or what kinds of organs they have (or don’t have) go into the decisions we make about how to best correct a pest issue.
That’s also why we go through such extensive training to learn all the nitty-gritty stuff before we’re certified to go out into the world and treat a home or business for pests. It’s why we have a comprehensive pest control training program for all our new hires, taught by our resident entomologist, Dr. Gary.
Interested in learning more fun pest facts? Check out our blog to learn more about all-things-pest.