Types of Insects an Insect Identification Guide

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picture of a honey bee

Insects, the most numerous, and arguably the most dominant, form of life on earth, attract interest wherever they are found. The types of insects presented here with pictures and video document that fact.

Hardly a day passes when any single person does not meet up with at least one insect species. Bees, butterflies and dragonflies, three of the more popular types of insects, greet us daily in our gardens and parks. Insect pests as well as beneficial insects inhabit agricultural lands everywhere.

Formal insect identification gets a bit more complicated once past the point of knowing that a wasp is a wasp or a fly is a fly. The links in the box point to more detailed species information, arranged primarily by insect orders. When entomologists talk about different types of insects, they typically refer to the bugs in the Class Insecta, or the bugs defined as insects with three body parts (head, thorax and abdomen) and six legs.

The types of insects found in North America get organized into almost thirty different orders, some more familiar than others. Approximately one dozen of the more popular insect orders receive extended discussion in the insect section.

Ants, Bees and Wasps

picture of a yellowjacket wasp

Ants, bees and wasps belong to the order Hymenoptera.

Their importance in the day to day lives of people can not be overstated. Bees, for example, provide pollination for a large percentage of the annual garden and farm crops, as do some wasps. Many wasp and ant species often get labeled as pests. All three commonly inhabit residential neighborhoods, making knowledge of them and the potential benefits and costs of their presence important.

Practically speaking, most homeowners ask common questions such as “how do I deal with an ant infestation problem” or, “are the wasps building a nest on the porch roof dangerous?”. Get some answers here with great pictures and video materials.


picture of a seven spotted lady beetle or ladybug

The world of beetles attracts a good deal of attention. First and foremost, they are the largest order of insects.

The vast number of beetle species translates into their ability to cause extensive agricultural and forest damage. Even in the home, the Asian Lady Beetle has a reputation for causing problems.

Beetle population estimates vary, however, experts suggest that they represent anywhere from twenty to twenty five percent of all earth’s living creatures.

Beetle interest also extends beyond the realm of agriculture research. Arguably, beetles as a group lack the aesthetic appeal of butterflies and dragonflies, although some beetle families, such as the scarab beetles (Scarabaeidae), enjoy a prominent place in some cultures.

With names such as Dung Beetles, June Beetles, May Beetles and Rhinocerous Beetles, native Scarab Beetles are often colorful and easy to identify like the Seven-spotted Lady Beetle pictured.


picture of a millipede

Many people adopt a Shakespearean attitude toward bugs.

What’s in a name?, they reason, a bug is a bug is a bug.

Approximately four thousand true bugs get listed in the order Hemiptera. Many of them, such as cicadas and water striders, occasionally call attention to themselves in residential neighbors. Insect enthusiasts not familiar with all the insect species in their neighborhood might do well to check out the order for the odd bug or two they could miss during their inventory.


picture of a Ruddy Daggerwing butterfly

It’s hard to argue with anyone who suggests that butterflies are the most popular insects.

One look at the advertising world shows their utility from selling cars to selling smaller consumer products. They provide additional color to a garden on a sunny day and with the exception of some larval dietary habits, they are considered beneficial insects. What’s not to like?

The butterfly section provides video, pictures and information of representative species from all six butterfly families. Tips for creating a beautiful butterfly garden are also included.


picture of a Pacific Spiketail Dragonfly

Seven dragonfly families and three damselfly families fly the fields and forests of North America.

While not as prominent a visitor to residential areas as butterflies, many dragonfly and damselfly species are present in residential areas adjacent to water sources.

It’s hard not to like dragonflies. Many are large colorful insects that catch the eye as they dart around the yard. Despite their imposing appearance, they do not bite. Better still, they are known as beneficial insects that consumer large amounts of pest insects such as mosquitoes.


picture of a flower fly or syphrid fly hovering near some Oregon Grape flowers

Flies, insects in the order Diptera, from your basic house fly to mosquitoes and gnats, are defined by having two wings.

With over one hundred and fifty thousand Diptera species, divided into over one hundred families, a proper categorization of different types of flies would necessarily be an encyclopedic endeavor.

A less systemic approach to Diptera often begins by thinking about them in terms of their relationship to humans. Stories of mosquito born viruses or diseases consistently make news, partially explaining why so many people immediately apply the pest label when they think fly species. On the other hand, the picture shows a flower fly, or hover fly, a family of flies considered beneficial insects because of the pollination activities.


picture of an orchard spider

Cross-cultural stories of spiders often bring out the fact that many people have a spider aversion.

The presence of poisonous spiders in most areas of the world contribute to that negative spider view. Focusing on the negative aspects of the spider world tends to lessen the importance of spider virtues, such as the fact that most spiders are not aggressive and act as beneficial insects in the lawn and garden setting.

The spider guide provides multiple videos, pictures and information on common home and garden spiders along with many spider species found in the wild.


picture of a pair of two-striped walkingsticks mating

Five walkingstick families make up the order Order Phasmida in the United States.

Most of the dozen or so species have long, thin, brown or green bodies that help them blend into their environment.

The orange and yellow Two-striped Walkingstick (Anisomorpha buprestoides) in the picture goes against the grain. Caution is advised in the presence of this native Southeast resident. As a defence mechanism that spray a caustic chemical that is known to cause sever pain if it hits the eyes.

The picture highlights the size disparity between genders, with females substantially larger than males.

Giant Walking Sticks (Megaphasma denticrus) ranks as North America’s longest native insects, with females reaching seven inches in length.