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.


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


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


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


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

  Comments (4)


I am in south Louisiana and having a terrible time with Stinkbugs.  How can I get rid f them.  They devastate my tomato plants.  Thanks for any suggestions.

Posted by Marilyn Leonard on Feb. 18, 2015 at 10:06:11 AM

We offer stink bug trap kits which contains sticky cards with a lure to attract the bugs. You can hang them in your tomato plants and catch them that way. Hang them low in the plants as the bugs like to hang out on the ground much of the time. Insecticidal soaps are listed for stink bugs but are more effective at killing the nymphs. Here is a link to a site with lots of good information, http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/r783300211.html.

Also during the winter (now) keep the weeds and other overwintering plants cut down. This will get rid of their overwintering habitat.

Hope this helps!

Posted by Suzanne at Peaceful Valley on Feb. 19, 2015 at 10:22:41 AM


I am having problems with “ear wigs”. They destroyed my lettuce and celery plants. How can I get rid of them?

Posted by Paul Hambrick on Jul. 23, 2016 at 10:40:52 AM


Paul, I cannot tell you what to use, I can tell you what we have that is labeled to control earwigs. The Safer Ant & Crawling Insect Killer, http://www.groworganic.com/safer-ant-and-crawling-insect-killer-7-oz.html, we have earwig traps, Safer Crawling Insect Killer http://www.groworganic.com/safer-crawling-insect-killer-4-lb.html and even just hanging sticky yellow traps by the plants will catch some earwigs.

Posted by Suzanne on Jul. 25, 2016 at 12:27:58 PM

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