Types of Insects an Insect Identification Guide

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picture of a honey bee, part of the types of insects collection
Insects, the most numerous, and arguably the most dominant, form of life on earth, attract interest wherever they are found. The types of insects presented here with pictures and video document that fact.

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 enthusiasts and professionals always have a good story or two to tell about the favorite types of insects. Take the case of Pollen Wasps. They are related to the better known vespid wasps such as hornets and yellow jackets.

About one dozen species live in the West. They are vegetarian wasps and only one of a few wasps with clubbed antennae.

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.

Ants, Bees and Wasps

picture of a yellowjacket wasp, one of many types of insects covered in the series

Ants, bees and wasps belong to the order Hymenoptera.

Their importance in the day to day lives of people can not be overstated. Bees, for example, provide pollination for a large percentage of the annual garden and farm crops, as do some wasps. Many wasp and ant species often get labeled as pests. All three commonly inhabit residential neighborhoods, making knowledge of them and the potential benefits and costs of their presence important.

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 pictures and video materials.

Beetles

picture of a seven spotted lady beetle or ladybug, types of insects for green nature

The world of beetles attracts a good deal of attention. First and foremost, they are the largest order of insects.

The vast number of beetle species translates into their ability to cause extensive agricultural and forest damage. Even in the home, the Asian Lady Beetle has a reputation for causing problems.

Beetle population estimates vary, however, experts suggest that they represent anywhere from twenty to twenty five percent of all earth’s living creatures.

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.

Types of Insects: Bugs

picture of a millipede, it is part of the types of insects section

Is a bug one of many types of insects or is it just another name for different types of insects.

To put the question poetically, many people adopt a Shakespearean attitude toward bugs.

What’s in a name?, they reason, a bug is a bug is a bug.

A good formal answer is that bugs are one of many kinds of insects. For example, approximately four thousand true bugs get listed in the order Hemiptera. Because the order is listed under the more abstract inscta class true bugs are formally called bugs in the larger insect class.

Enough of the formalities. Many bugs, 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.

The picture shows an Ivory Millipede, not actually in the Hemiptera order. An entire class in and of themselves. Class Diplopoda. Anyway, they often get informally grouped as bugs by the average person. Click on the bugs link to learn more about a variety of less well known specimens.

Butterflies

picture of a Ruddy Daggerwing butterfly, a types of insects special coverage topic

It’s hard to argue with anyone who suggests that butterflies are the most popular types of insects.

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.

Please press the green butterflies button to start the adventure.

Dragonflies

picture of a Pacific Spiketail Dragonfly, dragonflies are one of the polular types of insects covered

Seven dragonfly families and three damselfly families fly the fields and forests of North America. That makes them one of the types of insects common
in residential neighborhoods, especially those near water sources such as slow moving creeks and ponds.

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.

Press the green dragonflies button to learn more about these fascinating insects.

Flies

picture of a flower fly or syphrid fly, part of the different types of insects collection

Definitely flies are not one of the common types of insects around the house that get reviews.

From your basic house fly to mosquitoes and gnats, they formally get categorized as insects in the order Diptera, and they are defined by having two wings.

With over one hundred and fifty thousand fly 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. Pressing the green flies button leads to all types of interesting fly stories.

Spiders

picture of an orchard spider, part of the types of insects series

Cross-cultural stories of spiders often bring out the fact that many people have a spider aversion.

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.

Walkingsticks

picture of a pair of two-striped walkingsticks mating, part of the different types of insects group
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.

The orange and yellow Two-striped Walkingstick (Anisomorpha buprestoides) in the picture goes against the grain. Caution is advised in the presence of this native Southeast resident. As a defense 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.

There’s still another reason to think walking sticks when thinking about different types of insects in the United States. Did you know that Giant Walking Sticks ranks as North America’s longest native insects? Females grow to seven inches in length.

They can be found in the lower Midwest states from Indiana and Illinois, south to Texas. They are herbivores and do not bite other insects or humans.

The grasshoppers button provides pictures and information on grasshoppers, katydids and crickets.