A Lawn Guide to Insect and Bug Identification

By HomeAdvisor

Updated March 9, 2018

Unusual insects sitting on a small plant

Bugs are interesting creatures that are a lot of fun to learn about. Although most people call them bugs, they are actually arthropods. Arthropods are creatures or animals that have pairs of jointed legs and bodies that are segmented. They also wear their skeleton on the outside of their bodies! This is a hard outer shell called an exoskeleton. Both spiders and insects are arthropods, and they can be found nearly everywhere. Some arthropods, including shrimp, lobsters, and crabs, live in the water. These are called crustaceans, and they aren’t usually thought of as bugs.

These little creatures are outside crawling on trees, under rocks, and in the dirt. They can even get into your house. Thankfully, you can easily get rid of unwanted bugs by finding an exterminator. Or, you may want to foster important, endangered or beautiful bugs in your backyard, like bees or butterflies, by planting their favorite flowers or hiring a gardener who can carefully protect their favorite spots.


There are a lot of different types of insects in the world and they all have a few things in common. A bug is an insect if:

  • It has a body with three parts or sections. These parts are the head, the thorax, and the abdomen. The thorax is its middle section, and its abdomen is at the rear.
  • It has an exoskeleton, which is made of a substance called chitin.
  • It has antennae. Butterflies use their antennae to sense the smell of nectar in the air!
  • It has six legs that are all attached to its middle, the thorax.
  • It has compound eyes.

Insects also have their differences, like their size. Some are as long as 7 inches, but most are pretty small. In fact, some are so small that they’re almost invisible! Flies, butterflies, and moths are all examples of insects that fly. In order to fly, they use wings that are attached to their thorax. Also, most, but not all, insects lay eggs. As insects grow, they go through a lot of changes. They do this by growing a new outer covering before shedding, or molting, their old one. That might sound a little gross, but each time they do this, they get a little bigger and look a little more different until they become adults. This is called the process of metamorphosis. A young insect is often called a nymph, and certain water insects are called naiads.

Many insects, like beetles and wasps, go through a complete metamorphosis. When these insects are young, they’re called larvae and pupae. Butterflies are also a type of insect that has a complete metamorphosis. When an egg hatches, a larva comes out. The larva is a caterpillar! The caterpillar goes through another stage and turns into a pupa before it becomes an adult butterfly. Other types of insects include cockroaches, silverfish, and grasshoppers. Some insects, like ants and bees, are social, which means they live and work together like a family or a team.

Fun Insect Facts:

  • The jungle has more insects in a square mile than there are people on Earth!
  • There are roughly 18,000 butterfly species.
  • If you compare the weight of all of the ants in the world to all of the humans in the world, ants are heavier!
  • Watch out for those mosquitoes: Children attract more mosquitoes than adults.
  • The tongue of a butterfly is like a straw. It’s a long tube that the butterfly uses to drink liquids such as nectar from flowers, tree sap, pollen, and fruit juice.
  • Anteaters love ants. They eat more than 30,000 a day. That’s a lot of ants!
  • Ants are as strong as superheroes: They can lift 50 times their weight!
  • Butterflies are super-fast for their size. Some can go 40 miles per hour!
  • Butterflies can see colors that people can’t.
  • A housefly can live for 14 days.
  • Don’t touch a butterfly’s wings! Touching the wing of a butterfly can damage it so badly that it can’t fly.


A spider can look pretty creepy and scary. Spiders, like ticks and scorpions, are a type of bug called an arachnid. There are more than 100,000 species of arachnids, which is the Greek word for spiders. But what makes a spider a spider?

  • It only has two body parts, a cephalothorax and an abdomen.
  • It has eight legs attached to the cephalothorax. There are four legs on each side of its body.
  • It does not have any wings or antennae.
  • Its eyes are called simple eyes. Most have eight eyes, but some spiders don’t have any eyes at all.
  • They won’t see you coming: A spider can’t clearly see things far away.

Further Reading

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