Are Bugs And Insects The Same Thing?
In Romeo and Juliet William Shakespeare wrote “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Shakespeare also made over 100 references to insects including bees, wasps, flies, maggots, fleas, ants, lice, and locusts. But Shakespeare did not answer the question of whether an insect by any other name would be just as buggy.
In fact, all bugs are insects but not all insects are bugs. The difference lies in the way the creature’s mouth is formed. Bugs have a straw-like mouth called a stylet. This mouthpart is used to pierce plants and suck out the sap. Some, like the dreaded bed bug, use stylets to suck blood from hosts. Other bugs, like aphids and the citrus-eating cottony cushion scale, cause major damage to crops and gardens.
Bugs are also distinguished by their wings. On “true bugs,” the front wings are thicker and deeper in color where they are attached to the body. They become clearer and thinner as they taper towards the tip. The hind wings of bugs are usually small, clear and tucked under the front wings.
In technical terms, true bugs are among the 50- to 80-thousand species of the Hemiptera order. These critters are among some of the most common insects in the world including cicadas, leafhoppers, sweet potato bugs, and water bugs. Hemipterans do not undergo complete metamorphosis, which transforms insects from larvae to adults. Instead they are born as nymphs, which resemble adult bugs but without functional wings and sex organs.
Bugs have been stalking the earth for nearly 300 million years nearly as long as insects. And while insects are often confused for bugs, they are not the same. Or as Willie the Shake might put it, “Wherefore art thou, Hemiptera?”