Types of Insects with Pictures and Names for Easy Identification

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There are so many types and species of insects that they are the largest group of animals to inhabit our planet. Insects are a diverse group of arthropods and include among others ants, butterflies, caterpillars, fleas, bees, and ladybugs. Although we think of some insects as pests, all kinds of insects have an important role in our ecosystem.

Insects belong to the kingdom Animalia and are classified and grouped by their phylum (Arthropoda), class (Insecta), order, and family. Then individual species of insects make up specific genera. This makes it easy to identify insects and know if they are dangerous or not.

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According to some estimates, scientists have identified over 900,000 different kinds of insects. These groups include an estimated 30 million different insect species. (1)

In this article, you will learn how to identify many of the different kinds of insects you may come across daily. These are some of the most common crawling and flying insects that you can find in your garden or at home.

Insect Identification

What makes an insect an insect? Insects are a type of animal identified by the fact that they have 3 pairs of legs. Insects also have 3 body parts – a head, thorax, and abdomen. One identifying feature of all insect species is that they have a compound eye, which means that their eye consists of a range of numerous small visual units.

Because all insects are invertebrates, they don’t have bones but an exoskeleton. This is a protective outer shell that protects the crawling or flying creature.

Another feature that identifies many insects is that adult insects have wings, though not all winged insects fly. Caterpillars are an interesting example of larval insects that completely change into winged insects such as butterflies or moths.

Many, but not all insects have antennae.

Are Insects Bugs?

Many people refer to insects as bugs and, while all bugs are insects, not all insects are classified as bugs. True bugs are identified by the fact that they have a mouth that pierces and sucks. This is generally to extract fluids from plants to feed on. True bugs belong to the order Hemiptera and include insects such as ants, aphids, and assassin bugs.

Therefore, insects such as beetles, bees, butterflies, or ladybugs are not defined as bugs in the true sense of the word.

It is also important to remember that spiders are not insects. All species of spiders have two body segments: cephalothorax (a head and thorax joined together) and abdomen. Unlike true insects, spiders have 8 legs rather than 6.

Types of Insects (with Name and Picture)

Let’s look in more detail at some common groups of insects on this list – species of crawling and flying insects.

Ants

ant

Ants are one of the most common insects and include many species, varying in size and color

Ants are classified as a true bug because they belong to the order named Hemiptera. There are an estimated 12,500 species of ants belonging to the order Hymenoptera. They are identified by their slender body and fat abdomen at the rear. The smallest ants can be as tiny as 0.03” (0.75 mm) and as large as 2” (52 mm). Some species of ants develop wings when mature and these belong to the list of flying insects.

Ants live in colonies and are an invasive insect. Ants are very important to the environment, but in large number they can become a common household pest. For many people, dealing with ants is a challenge as they can invade homes, devouring everything in their path, and can give you a nasty bite. If this is the case, you can find out how to use natural ingredients to get rid of them in this article.

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Fleas

flea

Fleas require blood from a host to survive, therefore any list of insects that are pests will include fleas

Fleas are flightless insects that crawl and suck blood from their hosts. These tiny insects belong to the order Siphonaptera and only grow to about 0.12” (3 mm) long. Looking at pictures of fleas up close, you will notice long hind legs that they use to jump large distances. Fleas are usually light to dark brown in color and have flat bodies.

Fleas become real pests if they are in your home. Their tiny size makes them difficult to find and catch, and their bite can cause itching, swelling, and skin irritation.

Find out how to eliminate fleas from your home, garden and pets.

Termites

termites

Termites have wings in the reproductive stage, however they don’t fly very well

One of the most destructive insects are termites because they chew through wood and can destroy house structures. There are over 3,000 termite species that belong to the same order as cockroaches and are in the epifamily named Termitoidae. Termites are invasive insects that feed on paper, decaying plant matter, cellulose, and dung. The name ‘termite’ comes from Latin meaning “woodworm, white ant.” This is a semi-accurate description as many types of termites are very light beige color but they don’t act like ants.

Termites are found in warmer climates in Europe, North America, Africa, and South America.

If you suspect you have termites in your home, learn how to get rid of them quickly.

Bed Bugs

bed bug

Bed bugs and their bites are a nuisance, however they are not known to spread diseases

Bed bugs are tiny insects that can cause a great deal of distress if they infest your home. Bed bug bites can result in raised red spots that itch and may even bleed. The most common species of biting bed bugs are Cimex lectalurius and Cimex hemipterus.

Getting rid of these house pests can be challenging as they can live for months without feeding. Because they can be as small as 1 or 2 mm, they are difficult to eliminate and usually require special treatment to get rid of these bed-infesting bugs.

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Crickets

cricket

Crickets are nocturnal insects that usually prefer cool, dark and damp places

Crickets are a type of insect with long antennae and are recognized by their chirping sound in warm evenings. Crickets are members of the family Gryllidae and there are about 900 species of crickets. Some kinds of crickets are wingless and just jump around the ground, and others have wings and fly. All species of crickets are nocturnal and they get around by jumping. Crickets are found in most regions of the world and are more common in tropical countries.

As with some other edible insects, crickets are a source of protein and are widely consumed in Asian cuisine.

Earwigs

earwig

Despite their intimidating pincers, earwigs don’t sting and are not dangerous

Earwigs are insects in the order Dermaptera and are easy to identify due to the pincers on the hind section of most species. Their scientific name literally means “skin wings” and this describes their wings that are rarely used and seem to form part of their body.

There are about 12,000 species of these small brown nocturnal insects. During warm weather, earwigs spend their time outdoors feeding on plants. They come into homes, garages, and other buildings to find shelter during cold weather.

Booklice

book lice

Booklice are a type of small insects and can be translucent/white or brown-gray

Booklice get their name because they are commonly found feeding on old books. These parasitic lice are an insect species in the order Psocoptera. Other common names for these tiny insects include barklice or barkflies. Although some species of booklice have wings, they don’t fly.

In some cases, booklice can become real pests, especially in libraries or if you have a large collection of old books.

Cockroaches

cockroach

Although many cockroach species have wings, not all of them are good flying insects, and most don’t fly at all

Cockroaches, or just called roaches for short, are a common invasive house pest that can quickly colonize homes. The first sign of a cockroach infestation may be small droppings or seeing one scurrying away when you turn lights on.

There are about 4,600 species of cockroaches belonging to the order Blattodea. The most common cockroach (Blattella germanica) is the type that is usually found in homes. Cockroaches are generally reddish-brown to black in color and come in many sizes. Some of the smallest cockroach species can measure just over 1 mm and the largest is 3.8” (10 cm) in length.

Some species have wings and can fly, and hardy roach species can survive arctic-cold temperatures.

If you are plagued by cockroaches at home, learn how to get rid of them naturally.

Grasshoppers

grasshopper

Grasshoppers can be colorful insects, but many of them have green, brown or gray colors for camouflage

Grasshoppers are a species of ground-dwelling insects that are known for their ability to jump. These plant-chewing insects belong to the suborder Caelifera. Because of their vivacious appetite, some grasshopper species can become invasive pests for farmers. It is when grasshoppers become swarming locusts in their millions that they can do the most damage to crops.

Grasshoppers can also be very colorful insects. Although the most common color is green, some species of grasshoppers can have bright blue, yellow, red, and orange markings. Some colorful grasshoppers can also have black, white, and yellow stripes.

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Caterpillars and Silkworms

worms

Caterpillars have 6 true legs like all insects, as well as false legs called prolegs

Caterpillars and silkworms are some of the most fascinating and largest crawling insects you will find. These colorful insects are caterpillars in their larval stage and become moths or butterflies. Both caterpillars and silkworms belong to the order Lepidoptera.

Some caterpillar species can also be some of the most colorful insects you will find in your garden. For example, pastel green, orange, black, and yellow are just some of the colors you will find in caterpillars. These long grubs can also be types of spiky or furry caterpillars.

Silkworms turn into the silkmoth and are the main source of silk in China.

Read more about the many types of caterpillars and how to identify species of stinging caterpillars.

Silverfish

silverfish

Silverfish like moist habitats and are found all over the world

The silverfish gets its name from its silvery appearance and its fish-like movements as it slithers across the floor. This small non-flying wingless insect is in the order Zygentomaand and its scientific name is Lepisma saccharina. These small insects with long antennae are usually active at night and move very vast. Usually, in residential buildings, you can find silverfish in bathrooms, under sinks, around bathtubs, or in old books.

Types of Flying Insects

Although we tend of think of insect as pests or bugs that invade homes, there are also many types of fascinating flying insects.

Let’s look in more detail as some of the most common winged insects that fly.

Butterflies

butterfly

Butterflies are colorful flying insects and are found worldwide except of Antarctica

Butterflies are in the order Lepidoptera which is the same as caterpillars and moths. There are more than 18,500 species of butterflies that emerge from pupas or cocoons after caterpillars have metamorphosized. These beautiful and graceful winged insects are known for their bright colors. Some types of butterflies can have black wings with striking fluorescent colors. Other can have intricate colorful patterns on their large wings.

Butterflies are also important insects as they help pollinate flowers.

Moths

moth

Moths belong to the order Lepidoptera like butterflies, and most of them are nocturnal insects

Closely related to butterflies, there are over 160,000 species of moth. Although many moths are plain brown colors, there are many examples of beautifully-colored moths. Some moth species have the largest wingspan of any insect with some wingspans measuring up to 12” (30 cm). Some moths can have blue, pink, stripes, or intricately patterned wings.

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Mosquitoes

mosquito

Mosquitoes are common insects found all over the world

Just as with all flying insects, mosquitoes have wings, 3 pairs of legs and a segmented body. Mosquitoes belong to the family Culicidae in the order Diptera and are renowned for their ability to pierce the skin, suck blood, and transmit diseases. From the 3,500 species of mosquitoes, it is only the females that feed on blood. A bite from a mosquito can cause an itchy swollen bump and rash.

Mosquitoes are also a type of fly and are in the same order as those winged insects because they only have one pair of wings.

Learn how to repel mosquitos naturally and what to do if you suffer a nasty mosquito bite.

Flies

fly

The housefly (Musca domestica) is one of the most common insects in many parts of the world

Flies are also in the class Insecta in the order Diptera, which is identified by insects containing only two wings. This order contains an estimated 1 million species. Some types of flies include horse flies, mosquitoes, crane flies, and the common housefly. Flies tend to be viewed as common house pests as they are annoying and can transmit diseases and infections such as diarrhea and conjunctivitis.

Read about natural remedies to get rid of flies and protect your family from diseases that flies carry.

Bees

bee

Bees are a type of pollinating insects and have a very important role in nature

Bees may be one of the most useful insects to humans because, not only do they pollinate flowers, many species produce honey. Bees are in the superfamily Apoidea which makes them closely related to wasps. Similar to ants, these flying insects live in colonies with a queen bee ruling over all the other bees.

Bees are easily recognized by their black body, 2 pairs of wings, and yellow bands across their abdomen. Bees also sting which can cause needle-like pain, swelling, and sometimes allergic reactions.

Wasps

wasp

Wasps are commonly seen as pests because they attack beehives and prey on native insects

Unlike bees, wasps are viewed as a common pest rather than a useful insect. Even though wasps are related to bees and ants, they are solitary insects. However, some common species of wasps such as hornets and yellow jackets live in nests ruled over by a queen wasp.

Wasps are usually smaller than bees with a slender body, 2 pairs of wings, and a pair of antennae on their head. They usually have similar markings to bees with bands of yellow and black across their abdomen. Another difference between wasps and bees is that wasps tend to be more aggressive and act as predators.

Find about some natural ways to keep wasps away for good.

Beetles

beetle

There are many species of iridescent green beetles such as the Green June Beetle

Beetles are one of the most fascinating type of insects and they make up about 40% of all insects in the world. All species of beetle belong to the order Coleoptera. Beetles can also be very colorful insects and their exoskeleton can be black, orange, red, and iridescent greens.

One of the identifying features of beetles is their hardened front pair of wings. Although beetles are winged insects, not all of them can fly.

Although beetles are an important part of the ecosystem, some beetle species such as the Colorado potato beetle are viewed as outdoor pests.

In some cultures, beetles and beetle larvae are used as a food source as they are rich in protein.

Ladybugs

ladybug

The most common types of ladybugs have red body with black spots

Ladybugs (ladybirds) are not true bugs but actually a type of winged, flying beetle. These flying insects belong to the family Coccinellidae and can be red, yellow, or orange colors. There are over 6,000 species of ladybugs and they are usually identified by the black marking on their protective shell. Ladybugs are also a small, but useful flying insect as they feed on aphids and other common garden pests.

Further readings: fascinating information on the various species of ladybugs.

Dragonflies

dragonfly

Dragonflies are agile flying insects and most of them live in tropical areas

When it comes to different kinds of winged insects, dragonflies are some of the most interesting. Dragonflies belong to the order Odonata and are characterized by an elongated body and large transparent wings. Dragonflies are also well-known for their bright and attractive iridescent colors which can range from green to metallic blue.

Although dragonflies are found on most continents, they are classed as a tropical insect. They are also prolific fliers with some species reaching speeds of up to 60 mph (97 km/h)!

Firefly

firefly

Fireflies are nocturnal insects that glow in the dark

Fireflies are related to beetles because they belong to the order Coleoptera. The scientific name for these small glowing insects is Lampyridae, and the family contains around 2,100 species.

The name ‘fireflies’ or ‘lightning bugs’ comes from their ability to glow in the dark. These flying insects inhabit tropical and temperate countries and produce yellow, green, or pinkish lights in the abdomens at twilight.

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