Types of Bugs: Hemiptera
Types of Insects
Hemiptera, a large insect order, share the physical characteristic of having a proboscis used for feeding.
North American Hemiptera statistics usually begin by noting the existence of close to four thousand species.
Colloquially all insects, at one time or another, get referred to as bugs. Hemiptera, on the other hand, formally called, true bugs, consists of a wide array of familiar aquatic and land insects, including cicadas, aphids, water bugs and the like.
Water striders, the common name given to members of the family Gerridae, inhabit slow moving streams across North America.
Their long legs propel them across the water in the continuous search for insects.
Many, but not all Hemiptera get classified as insect pests that cause harm to agricultural interests and gardeners.
Consider the case of the insect in the top picture, Closterotomus norvegicus, one of a handful of species that shares the common name potato bug.
Oddly enough, it's a pest of fruit trees and weeds, along with some garden vegetables.
Native to Europe, they have subsequently spread to areas of North America and Asia. The two dark spots on the pronotum (behind the eyes) are helpful field ID clues.
Other species, such as those in the assassin bug family, Reduviidae, receive flashy names and tend to prey on other insects.
Stories of close to one hundred and fifty Reduviidae roaming the continent, while true, elicit less concern among the general population, than say if one hundred and fifty widow spider species were roaming the continent.
The video presents some common behaviors of an ambush bug, a member of a smaller subfamily, Phymatinae.
All assassin bugs are capable of inflicting a sharp sting when handled, so leaving them alone is sound advice.
Members of the Triatoma genus, common in the Southwest, go by the name kissing bug because of their tendency to bite people around the face.
Bites from Triatoma species are considered a public health problem because the species can transmit a parasite that causes Chagas' disease.
The Cimicidae family, in the larger subfamily Cimicoidea, go by the common name bed bugs, and stories of their increasing North American presence also raises public health concerns.
Anyone taking a cursory look at a bordered plant bug (family Largidae) could easily mistake it for a beetle.
Like leaf beetles, most species live on and around leaves. However, a close inspection of the wings shows no elytra.
Unlike beetles, and similar to other members of the Hemiptera order, they have a beak-like appendage that they use to pierce leaves to suck the juices.
Many, but not all, of the species have a clearly defined border around the body.
The links in the box on the right point to further information covering some of the more common of the fifty Hemiptera families.
© 2009-2011 Patricia A. Michaels