Insects, the most numerous, and arguably the most dominant, form of life on earth, attract interest wherever they are found.
Hardly a day passes when any single person does not meet up with at least one insect species. Bees, butterflies and dragonflies, three of the more popular types of insects, greet us daily in our gardens and parks. Insect pests as well as beneficial insects inhabit agricultural lands everywhere.
Formal insect identification gets a bit more complicated once past the point of knowing that a wasp is a wasp or a fly is a fly. The links in the box point to more detailed species information, arranged primarily by insect orders. When entomologists talk about different types of insects, they typically refer to the bugs in the Class Insecta, or the bugs defined as insects with three body parts (head, thorax and abdomen) and six legs.
The types of insects found in North America get organized into almost thirty different orders, some more familiar than others. Approximately one dozen of the more popular insect orders receive extended discussion in the insect section.
Practically speaking, most homeowners ask common questions such as "how do I deal with an ant infestation problem" or, "are the wasps building a nest on the porch roof dangerous?". Get some answers here with great picture and video materials.
Beetle interest also extends beyond the realm of agriculture research. Arguably, beetles as a group lack the aesthetic appeal of butterflies and dragonflies, although some beetle families, such as the scarab beetles (Scarabaeidae), enjoy a prominent place in some cultures.
With names such as Dung Beetles, June Beetles, May Beetles and Rhinocerous Beetles, native Scarab Beetles are often colorful and easy to identify like the Seven-spotted Lady Beetle pictured.
What's in a name?, they reason, a bug is a bug is a bug.
Approximately four thousand true bugs get listed in the order Hemiptera. Many of them, such as cicadas and water striders, occasionally call attention to themselves in residential neighbors. Insect enthusiasts not familiar with all the insect species in their neighborhood might do well to check out the order for the odd bug or two they could miss during their inventory.
One look at the advertising world shows their utility from selling cars to selling smaller consumer products. They provide additional color to a garden on a sunny day and with the exception of some larval dietary habits, they are considered beneficial insects. What's not to like?
The butterfly section provides video, pictures and information of representative species from all six butterfly families. Tips for creating a beautiful butterfly garden are also included.
While not as prominent a visitor to residential areas as butterflies, many dragonfly and damselfly species are present in residential areas adjacent to water sources.
It's hard not to like dragonflies. Many are large colorful insects that catch the eye as they dart around the yard. Despite their imposing appearance, they do not bite. Better still, they are known as beneficial insects that consumer large amounts of pest insects such as mosquitoes.
With over one hundred and fifty thousand Diptera species, divided into over one hundred families, a proper categorization of different types of flies would necessarily be an encyclopedic endeavor.
A less systemic approach to Diptera often begins by thinking about them in terms of their relationship to humans. Stories of mosquito born viruses or diseases consistently make news, partially explaining why so many people immediately apply the pest label when they think fly species. On the other hand, the picture shows a flower fly, or hover fly, a family of flies considered beneficial insects because of the pollination activities.
The presence of poisonous spiders in most areas of the world contribute to that negative spider view. Focusing on the negative aspects of the spider world tends to lessen the importance of spider virtues, such as the fact that most spiders are not aggressive and act as beneficial insects in the lawn and garden setting.
The spider guide provides multiple videos, pictures and information on common home and garden spiders along with many spider species found in the wild.
Five walkingstick families make up the order Order Phasmida in the United States.
Most of the dozen or so species have long, thin, brown or green bodies that help them blend into their environment, with the orange and yellow Two-striped Walkingstick (Anisomorpha buprestoides), going against the grain. Caution is advised in the presence of this native Southeast resident. As a defence mechanism that spray a caustic chemical that is known to cause sever pain if it hits the eyes.
The picture highlights the size disparity between genders, with females substantially larger than males.
Giant Walking Sticks (Megaphasma denticrus) ranks as North America's longest native insects, with females reaching seven inches in length.
Finally, there's always room for a bit of fantasy and storytelling when it comes to insects. For example, urban legend tells the story of Earwigs (order Dermaptera) crawling into the ears of sleeping humans in order to snack on their brains. It's a science fiction best seller. At best, entomologists suggest that earwigs can pose both garden and residential infestation problems across much of the United States.Most species average less than one inch in length and have prominent pincers on the bottom of the abdomen. They are nocturnal insects that prefer to hide in moist crevices during daylight hours.
As omnivores, large garden infestations can hurt plant production. The most popular, and least invasive control method involves rolling up slightly damp newspapers and placing them on the ground overnight. Collect and dispose of the newspaper in the morning.
Keeping a residence free of clutter and moisture from faulty plumbing are good preventative measures. Large home invasions mostly bring inconveniences. They can be dealt with some commercial non-toxic baits and traps.
Giant Earwings, the largest earwig species, can reach lengths exceeding three inches.
© 2008-2016 Patricia A. Michaels