Claire Fraser, of Ilam Primary School, asks :-

Do insects have brains?

Anthony Savill, a zoologist at the Canterbury Museum, responded.

Yes. For example, a honey bee returns to its hive after a rewarding visit to the flowers in your front garden. Once within the maze of perfectly constructed wax honeycomb that make up its hive, it begins to perform a complicated dance to an audience of other excited workers who have gathered. The messages contained in this special dance are like the verbal instructions you might give friends when directing them to the nearest McDonalds. The bee 'dance' tells the other bees in the hive the direction, distance and even the smell and taste of the food it has just found.

This is just one example of the complex and intriguing behaviour of insects - behaviours that would be impossible without the control of a brain. Certainly an insect's brain is nowhere near as well developed as ours, or even the family cat's. While the human brain occupies the entire skull, that for an insect's occupies only a small portion of its head.

The brain of a bee, for example, is less than half the size of a pin head. To make up for this lack of size, insects have a number of smaller 'accessory brains', called ganglia, located along the length of their central nerve cord. These help control body activities such as walking and flying. So effective are these ganglia that scientists have even managed to `teach' insects which have had their head removed.