What Is a True Bug? Definition, Traits, Examples (2023)

Insects in the Order Hemiptera

What Is a True Bug? Definition, Traits, Examples (1)


Debbie Hadley

Entomology Expert

  • B.A., Political Science, Rutgers University

Debbie Hadley is a science educator with 25 years of experience who has written on science topics for over a decade.

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Updated on January 02, 2020

(Video) True Bugs

(Video) True Bug

When is a bug really a bug? When it belongs to the order Hemiptera – the true bugs. Hemiptera comes from the Greek words hemi, meaning half, and pteron, meaning wing. The name refers to the true bug'sforewings, which are hardened near the base and membranous near the ends. This gives them the appearance of being a half wing.

This largegroup of insects includes a variety of seemingly unrelated insects, from aphids to cicadas, and from leafhoppers to water bugs. Remarkably, these insects share certain common traits that identify them as members of the Hemiptera.

What Are True Bugs?

Though members of this order may look quite different from one another, Hemipterans share common characteristics.

True bugs are best defined by their mouthparts, which are modified for piercing and sucking. Many members of Hemiptera feed on plant fluids like sapand require the ability to penetrate plant tissues. Some Hemipterans, like aphids, can do considerable damage to plants by feeding in this way.

While the forewings of Hemipterans are only half membranous, the hind wings are entirely so. When at rest, the insect folds all four wings over each other, usually flat. Some members of Hemiptera lack hind wings.

Hemipterans have compound eyesand may have as many as three ocelli (photoreceptor organs that receive light through a simple lens).

The order Hemiptera is usually subdivided into four suborders:

  1. Auchenorrhyncha – the hoppers
  2. Coleorrhyncha – a single family of insects that live among mosses and liverworts
  3. Heteroptera – the true bugs
  4. Sternorrhyncha – aphids, scale, and mealybugs

Major Groups Within the Order Hemiptera

The true bugs are a large and diverse order of insects. The order is divided into many suborders and superfamilies, including the following:

  • Aphidoidea – aphids
  • Pentatomoidea – shield bugs
  • Gerromorpha – water striders, water crickets
  • Cicadoidea – cicadas
  • Tingidae – lace bugs
  • Coccoidea –scale insects

Where Do True Bugs Live?

The order of true bugs is so diverse that their habitats vary greatly. They are in abundance worldwide. Hemiptera includes terrestrial and aquatic insects, and members of the order may also be found on plants and animals.

True Bugs of Interest

Many of the true bug species are interesting and have distinct behaviors that distinguish them from other bugs. While we could go into great length about all these intricacies, here are a few that are of special interest from this order.

(Video) Introduction to UK True Bugs

  • Marine skaters in the genus Halobates live their entire lives on the surface of the ocean. They lay eggs on floating objects.
  • The family Pentatomidae(better known as stink bugs) have glands in the thorax that emit a foul-smelling compound. This defense helps them repel potential predators.
  • Cicadas of the genus Magicicada are famous for their odd life cycles. Cicada nymphs stay underground for 13 or 17 years after which they emerge in large numbers and with a deafening song.
  • Females of the genus Belostoma (giant water bugs) lay their eggs on the back of a male. The male cares for the eggs, bringing them to the surface for proper aeration.




Your Citation

Hadley, Debbie. "Habits and Traits of True Bugs." ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, thoughtco.com/true-bugs-order-hemiptera-1968634.Hadley, Debbie. (2020, August 26). Habits and Traits of True Bugs. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/true-bugs-order-hemiptera-1968634Hadley, Debbie. "Habits and Traits of True Bugs." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/true-bugs-order-hemiptera-1968634 (accessed February 28, 2023).

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What are examples of true bugs? ›

True bugs

What defines a true bug? ›

True bugs have piercing-sucking mouthparts (Fig. ) and belong to the order Hemiptera and suborder Heteroptera. There are more than 38,000 species of true bugs, and are most closely related to aphids, cicadas, and leaf hoppers. Although some true bugs are considered pests, about one-third are predaceous.

What are 3 characteristics of true bugs? ›

Defining the Order

These wing covers are held over the back and often partly folded. True bugs have hypodermic-needle-like mouthparts that allow them to extract subsurface fluids from plants and animals. Bugs undergo incomplete metamorphosis, with their young looking much like adults, but without wings.

What are traits of bugs? ›

All insects belong to the phylum Arthropoda. But unlike other arthropods—like lobsters, spiders, or millipedes—insects have three pairs of jointed legs, segmented bodies, an exoskeleton, one pair of antennae, and (usually) one or two pairs of wings.

Is a ladybug a true bug? ›

Ladybugs are not actually true bugs (Hemiptera); they are beetles (Coleoptera) in the family, Coccinellidae.

What is the difference between a true bug and an insect? ›

True bugs belong to the order of Hemiptera, and the primary difference between true bugs and other insects is their mouthparts. In particular, true bugs can suck with their mouthparts, according to Arizona State University(Opens in a new window).

How can a person identify a true bug? ›

True bugs are distinguished from other insects by the structure of their mouthparts and the way they feed. True bugs are unable to chew; their mouthparts are designed for sucking up their meals. Their mouthparts include a tube called a rostrum, often called a beak.

What is bug explain with example? ›

What is a Bug? A malfunction in the software/system is an error that may cause components or the system to fail to perform its required functions. In other words, if an error is encountered during the test it can cause malfunction. For example, incorrect data description, statements, input data, design, etc.

What is not a true bug? ›

Beetles, ants, moths, cockroaches, bees, flies, and mosquitoes are not considered true bugs since they are not found in order Hemiptera. Instead, these creepy crawlies are found in order Hymenoptera. Members of this order have different characteristics than their true bug counterparts.

What are 5 facts characteristics of insects? ›

Top 10 facts
  • All insects have bodies split into three segments, which are protected by a hard shell (called an exoskeleton).
  • The segments of an insect's body are called the head, the thorax and the abdomen.
  • Most insects have two pairs of wings on their thorax. ...
  • To grow, an insect has to 'moult' and shed its hard shell.

What are the 7 main characteristics of insects? ›

Characteristics of Insects

Insects have jointed appendages as arthropods (arthropod means "jointed foot"), an exoskeleton (hard, external cover), segmented body, ventral nervous system, digestive system, open circulatory system, and advanced sensory receptors.

What are 3 facts about insects? ›

Insects are the only arthropods that have wings, and the wings are always attached to the thorax, like the legs. insects that have incomplete metamorphosis. The number of insect species is believed to be between six and ten million. Insect bodies have three parts, the thorax, abdomen and head.

What are good things about bugs? ›

Insects pollinate many of our fruits, flowers, and vegetables. We would not have much of the produce that we enjoy and rely on without the pollinating services of insects, not to mention honey, beeswax, silk, and other useful products that insects provide. Insects feed on a seemingly endless array of foods.

Are millipedes true bugs? ›

Millipedes and centipedes are not insects. They are actually more closely related to lobsters, crayfish and shrimp. However, unlike their marine cousins, millipedes and centipedes are land dwellers. They are typically found in moist habitats or areas with high humidity and are most active at night.

Do ladybugs have teeth? ›

The better question here is, "Can they bite?" not just "Do they bite?" Ladybugs feed on soft bodied insects because they don't have teeth (which would make them very frightening). However, like other beetles they do have mandibles or chewing mouth parts.

Is Spider an insect? ›

Final answer: Spiders are not insects.

How big is a true bug? ›

True bugs are a diverse order, comprised mostly of species that are terrestrial as both larvae and adults. Aquatic true bugs comprise only 400 of the 3600 species of true bugs in North America , but they come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from 3-65 mm in adult length.

Are spiders true bugs? ›


How can you tell the difference between a beetle and a true bug? ›

Beetles: Beetles have hardened forewings (the front wings), so they may look as if they have a straight line down their back. Beetles also have chewing mouthparts with mandibles. bugs have piercing-sucking mouthparts (sort of an elongated beak) that fit on the underside of the body between the legs.

What are true bugs attracted to? ›

They usually live in packrat dens, but are attracted to lights and can enter homes through small openings. Some people have an allergic reaction to their bite.

How many wings does a true bug have? ›

Wings: One or two pairs, if present. Forewing has a partially see-through membranous tip with a few visible veins. The remaining portion of the wing is hardened and shield-like.

What is the life cycle of a true bug? ›

True bugs exhibit simple metamorphosis, growing from egg through several juvenile stages to winged adult. The immature stages, called nymphs, look like adults with shortened wing pads instead of fully developed wings. All true bugs have piercing-sucking mouthparts that are formed into a straw-like beak.

What is a bug answer? ›

A bug is an insect or similar small creature.

How do you describe a bug? ›

Tips for Describing a Bug Effectively
  1. Be specific writing the description of the Bug. ...
  2. Description should be in the present tense.
  3. Description should not have unnecessary words.
  4. Description should not have exclamation points.
  5. Always finish the sentences with a period.

Where are true bugs found? ›

True bugs are found in nearly all land and freshwater habitats, except very coldest. The only group of insects that have evolved to live on the ocean are true bugs. True bug groups are most diverse and abundant in habitats on land that are moist and have a lot of plant life.

Are butterflies true bugs? ›

Aphids, cicadas, stink bugs, bed bugs, and water bugs are part of Hemiptera and are actually bugs. However, beetles, butterflies, bees, and flies are all just insects. There are also non-insect pests like millipedes, pillbugs, and spiders that are in completely different categories.

Is a grasshopper a true bug? ›

Insects comprise a lot of the creatures you tend to think of as bugs. Ants, grasshoppers, bees, and flies are all insects. All bugs are insects, but under the technical definition, not all insects are bugs. True bugs belong to an order of insects called Hemiptera.

What is an insect definition for kids? ›

Insects are characterized by three-part bodies, usually two pairs of wings, and three pairs of legs, and two antennae (e.g., bees and mosquitoes). Insects are members of a group animal called the arthropods. This group also includes spiders and lobsters. Insects do not have a skeleton inside their body.

What are the 5 main types of insects? ›

Insects come in all shapes and sizes—there are millions of different species found all across the globe. Most of them come from one of seven main groups: beetles, bees and their relatives, bugs, flies, butterflies, crickets, and dragonflies. Beetles make up around 50 percent of all insect species.

What are two common characteristics of all insects? ›

Explain what characteristics are and begin to list and explain the characteristics of insects: Insects have 3 main body parts, they have 6 legs, they have antennae, and they have an exoskeleton. Explain that some, but not all insects have wings.

What are 4 facts about bugs? ›

Houseflies find sugar with their feet, which are 10 million times more sensitive than human tongues. Ticks can grow from the size of a grain of rice to the size of a marble. Approximately 2,000 silkworm cocoons are needed to produce one pound of silk. While gathering food, a bee may fly up to 60 miles in one day.

Do bugs have 5 senses? ›

All insects have sense organs that allow them to see, smell, taste, hear, and touch their environment. Since these are the same five senses we humans experience, it is tempting to conclude that insects see what we see, hear what we hear, smell what we smell, etc.

What do all bugs have in common? ›

Awesome, now you know that all insects have three body parts: a head, a thorax, an abdomen, they have six legs, they have a pair of antennae, and they have zero or two pairs of wings.

What is the most important bug? ›

Topping our list of helpful insects are bees. Bees in particular are quite helpful to humans. In fact, they are essential to human survival. Honeybees are important because they are responsible for a great deal of pollination.

What do bugs need to survive? ›

Just like humans, bugs need three things to survive: Food, water and shelter.

Why are bugs special? ›

Insects play many critical roles in the environment as pollinators, nutrient mixers in the soil and food sources. They have inspired stories and invention (biomimicry) and can even help us to solve crimes (forensic entomology).

How many species of true bugs are there? ›

Hemiptera (/hɛˈmɪptərə/; from Ancient Greek hemipterus 'half-winged') is an order of insects, commonly called true bugs, comprising over 80,000 species within groups such as the cicadas, aphids, planthoppers, leafhoppers, assassin bugs, bed bugs, and shield bugs.

What is the largest true bug? ›

Among the largest insects on earth, the Goliath beetle can measure up to 11cm and weigh 100 grams in the larval stage (although adults are around half this weight). There are five species of Goliath beetle. They're found in tropical rainforests in Africa, where they mainly eat tree sap and fruit.

Is a fly a true bug? ›

Beetles, ants, moths, cockroaches, bees, flies, and mosquitoes are not considered true bugs since they are not found in order Hemiptera. Instead, these creepy crawlies are found in order Hymenoptera. Members of this order have different characteristics than their true bug counterparts.

Where do true bugs live? ›

True bugs are found in nearly all land and freshwater habitats, except very coldest. The only group of insects that have evolved to live on the ocean are true bugs. True bug groups are most diverse and abundant in habitats on land that are moist and have a lot of plant life.

Do bugs have teeth? ›

They are usually lined with teeth and move sideways. Large pieces of leaves can therefore be cut and then pulverized near the mouth opening. The specific derived morphology of the teeth on the mandible varies depending on whether the insect eats broad-leafed herbs or grasses.

Is A worm is a bug? ›

Are worms insects? No, worms are not insects. Unlike worms, insects have exoskeletons that act like a skeletal support structure and protects the insects' soft internal organs.

Is A Scorpion a bug? ›

Even though they are related, they belong to very distinctly different groups. Scorpions are animals in the order Scorpiones, under the class Arachnida, which makes them a distant cousin of spiders. Scorpions have eight legs, while insects have six. Scorpions have two body segments while insects have three.

Do bugs know fear? ›

Insects and other animals might be able to feel fear similar to the way humans do, say scientists, after a study that could one day teach us about our own emotions.

What is bug examples in testing? ›

For example: Suppose if we take the Gmail application where we click on the "Inbox" link, and it navigates to the "Draft" page, this is happening because of the wrong coding which is done by the developer, that's why it is a bug.

What are different types of bugs? ›


What is functional bug examples? ›

Functional Bugs

For example, a Login button doesn't allow users to login, an Add to cart button that doesn't update the cart, a search box not responding to a user's query, etc. In simple terms, any component in an app or website that doesn't function as intended is a functional bug.


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