What’s Bugging You? The True Bugs of the Insect World

By on August 05, 2014

Two Spotted Stink Bug, photo by Kevin D. Arvin, Bugwood.org

You might already know that spiders and millipedes are not insects. But did you know that not all insects are bugs?

True bugs belong to the order of insects called Hemiptera, and they are distinguished by having specialized mouthparts that are modified for piercing and sucking. They are also unique in the insect world because they go through incomplete metamorphosis, which means they hatch as nymphs (that’s a “teenage” insect) from their egg, and have no larval or grub stage of growth. They are entirely different from the 30 other orders, which include such insects as beetles, dragonflies, wasps, butterflies and ants.

Of the millions of insects on this planet, about 80,000 are true bugs. Let’s meet a few real bugs.

Aphids

photo of aphids and ants
Aphids are perhaps the most common of garden pests. They are often found in the presence of ants, who ranch them for the honeydew they produce and defend the aphids against predators.
Photo by Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

Leafhoppers

photo of leafhopper
Leafhoppers come in a variety of colors, and tend to be well camouflaged - at least until they hop from leaf to leaf!
Photo by Susan Ellis, Bugwood.org

Largus

photo of largus adult
Some bugs look entirely different when they are nymphs. This adult Largus bug has matured from a nymph that was round and iridescent black.
Photo by Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

Cicadas

photo of cicada
Cicadas males are best known for their summer time music. One species of cicadas, Magicicada septendecim, only emerge every 17 years!
Photo by Susan Ellis, Bugwood.org

Andrallus spinidens

photo of andrallus spinidens
While many true bugs are considered pests, not all true bugs eat plants! Some, like this Andrallus spinidens, use their specialized piercing and sucking mouthparts to eat garden pests such as caterpillars.
Photo by Merle Shepard, Gerald R.Carner, and P.A.C Ooi, Insects and their Natural Enemies Associated with Vegetables and Soybean in Southeast Asia, Bugwood.org

Leave a Comment

3