Bug Basics


Order Orthoptera: ("straight wings")

2 pairs of wings.
Thin, leathery forewings cover larger hind wings that fold like a fan when at rest.
Includes Grasshoppers, Crickets, Katydids

Large hind legs.
Green grasshoppers get their color from the chlorophyll in the plants they eat. Up to 64 mm.


Field crickets are mainly nocturnal.
They make a high pitch song by rubbing their wings together.
They are usually brown and mainly eat plants.
Up to 40 mm.


katydid.gif Katydids.
Katydids make a persistent "katydid" sound.
These plant eaters are green with thin, leaf-like wing covers, which aid in camouflage.
Up to 20 mm.


Order Homoptera: (same wings)

Wingless or winged.
Winged ones have 2 pairs of wings.
Piercing and sucking mouthparts.
Includes Cicadas, Leaf Hoppers, Aphids


Leafhoppers are slender insects that suck plant sap.
They are good jumpers.
Most are green but some are multicolored.
Up to 7 mm.


Large insect commonly heard buzzing in treetops in the heat of summer.
Emerges from nymph stage, leaving nymph skin stuck to trees.
Adult females lay eggs on twigs; eggs hatch; nymph drops to ground and burrows. In Texas, nymph lives underground for one to up to 13 years, depending on species before emerging, crawling up trees and repeating cycle.
Up to 50 mm.


Order Hemiptera:(true bugs)

Most have a triangular plate on the back.
2 pairs of wings: hind wings are membranous, while the basal half of the forewings is hardened.
Includes Stinkbug, Water boatman, Water strider


Their odor comes from glands on the thorax.
The smell does not bother birds, which often eat them.
Up to 20 mm.


Order Odonata: ("tooth")

2 pairs of long, narrow membranous wings that are roughly equal in size.
Large eyes.
Long, narrow abdomens.
Chewing mouthparts
Includes Dragonflies, Damselflies


Dragonfly adult

They live near wet areas and lay eggs in water.
At rest, their wings are held horizontally.
Both in the water and air, they are fierce predators of insects and are therefore nicknamed "mosquito hawks."
Up to 90 mm.


Often seen near ponds and wet areas.
They lay eggs in the water and the nymphs develop there for approximately two years.
They are delicate and rest with their wings held together above their bodies.
Up to 50 mm.


Order Diptera: ("two wings")

Only one pair of membranous wings.
Includes Flies, Mosquitoes, Gnats


Flies can be beneficial as pollinators, parasites of pests, an food for other animals. Some can be serious pests that transmit disease.
Up to 9 mm.



Adult mosquitoes feed on nectar and ripe fruit.
However, females also feed on the blood of animals.
(Some mosquitoes transmit diseases like Saint Louis encephalitis & malaria)
Up to 5 mm.


 Order Coleoptera: ("sheath wings")

Usually these have hard coverings over the wings that meet in a straight line down the back.
Includes Beetles, Weevils, Ladybird Beetle.
They are a valuable predator of aphids.
They are red with black spots.
Up to 5 mm.



Ladybird beetle.
Red with black spots.
Feeds on aphids and is helpful to gardeners.
Foul-taste helps protect it from predators.
Up to 7 mm.



Common in summer; flies to lights.
Grubs feed on roots of trees and shrubs.
Adults feed on leaves.
Up to 27 mm.


Order Hymenoptera:("membrane-winged")

2 pairs of thin, clear membranous wings.
In the female, the end of the abdomen has a well-developed egg laying organ and/or stinger.
They have chewing mouthparts.
Includes Ants, Wasps, Bees


Most ants are social animals that live and work together.
Some ants, like the fire ants, will sting to defend themselves.
The black carpenter ant is one of the largest ants in the world.
Up to 10 mm.


Order Lepidoptera: ("scaly wings")

They have scales on their wings.
Adults have sucking mouthparts.
Includes Butterflies, Moths



The front and hind wings overlap but are not hooked together.
Up to 100 mm.


Their front and hind wings are hooked together.
Up to 70 mm.



Order Arachnida (Spiders, mites, scorpions, pseudoscorpions)

Wolf spider. (up to 20 mm)
Wolf spiders have good vision and sense of touch.
Female wolf spiders will carry their young on their backs for a time.
They don't make a web but instead run down their prey.

Crab spider. (Up to 15 mm)
Crab spiders hold their legs out like crabs.
Some may have horns on their bodies.
They mimic things like bird droppings or match the color of flowers to ambush their prey.

Jumping spider. (Up to 7 mm)
These black and white spiders are active during the day.
They leap or jump on their prey from a distance many times their body length.