Classic brainteasers by Martin Gardner

By Martin Gardner

A suite of brainteasers with illustrations via Jeff Sinclair

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Mostly jumpers. Some crickets have wings and can fly. Yet we usually see them hopping from place to place. Grasshoppers are jumpers, too. Some also have wings. But they seem to spring around more than they fly in the air. How did the cricket get its name? From the sound it makes—crick-et, crick-et, crick-et. It makes this cheerful noise by rubbing one rough wing over the other. It’s mostly the male crickets that chirp. Their songs seem to say, “Here I am. ” If the males stay in one spot, the females will soon find them.

All over the world—from steamy tropics to ice-cold polar regions. Mosquitoes are more widely scattered than any other insect. 41 Which insects are built like armored tanks? Beetles. Beetles have an exoskeleton, like other insects. But most also have a pair of hard front wings that cover their bodies. Beetles are the most common insects in the world. There are more beetles on Earth than any other living creature. Altogether, there are about 340,000 different kinds of beetles, including ladybugs and fireflies.

How fast can dragonflies walk? They can’t walk at all! Like all insects, a dragonfly has six legs. But the legs do not work in the usual way. A dragonfly bends its legs to form a basket to hold other insects captured in flight. They often eat their prey in flight. How do dragonflies hear? They don’t. As far as scientists can tell, dragonflies are deaf. 38 Dragonflies Mosquito on skin 40 Do mosquitoes bite? Not really. Mosquitoes don’t have jaws. But female mosquitoes do have sharp, pointed mouth parts that can stab the skin.

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