What is the difference between a bug and an insect?

We tend to use the word bug loosely for any very small creature with legs. However, a true bug is defined as belonging to the order Hemiptera. These creatures characteristically have tough forewings and lack teeth, such as beetles. True bugs have a stylet (a mouth shaped like a straw) that they use to suck juices from plants. Insects belong to the class Insecta and they are characterized by three-part bodies, usually two pairs of wings, and three pairs of legs, (e.g., bees and mosquitoes). Arthropods (spiders, ticks, centipedes, etc.) is a separate phylum from bugs and insects. All of this does not mean that you are wrong to call various insects bugs; because of the common usage of this meaning, it is certainly acceptable.


  1. angry bee -  August 9, 2016 - 2:48 pm

    i can’t believe u stole my poetry

  2. Kiwi-ian -  April 19, 2016 - 9:04 pm

    There are errors in the definition. The insects are a class within the phylum Arthropoda, along with class Arachnida (spiders, mites, scorpions), class Crustacea (crabs, shrimps), class Myriapoda (millipedes) etc.. So insects and spiders belong to the same phylum (Arthropoda means jointed legs and includes most animals with a hard exoskeleton and jointed legs).

    True bugs belong to the order Hemiptera meaning half wing referring to some bugs looking like they have half a wing showing and half a wing hidden. All bugs have sucking mouthparts but they don’t all drink plant sap. Some are predators and suck body juices, some suck blood.

    The order is split into 2 suborders, Homoptera (same wing) where all the wings look the same such as cicadas and leafhoppers, and Heteroptera (different wings) where the forewings have the hard covers ending in a membrane wing while the hind wings are all membrane (includes stink bugs and assassin bugs).

    • Larry -  July 7, 2016 - 4:58 pm

      Good comment. I suppose this is the burden some of us carry. Having a degree in biology and taking many courses in entomology and associated fields of study – I cringe when people call any insect a “bug”.


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