Skip to content

What’s the Difference Between Bugs and Insects?

Serving Suffolk County | Nassau County | Long Island | Brooklyn

Even though the words “bug” and “insect” are often used interchangeably in conversation, the truth is there are distinct scientific differences between the two. It’s not a big deal to us whether you say “bug” or “insect” when you’re describing your pest issue (our team knows what you mean!) but if you’re interested in learning the specific distinctions between the two terms, read on! 

What’s a Bug? 

Remember learning domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species in school? This is known as taxonomy, and will help in the understanding of the differences between bugs and insects. 

taxonomic rank

While “bug” is sometimes the catch-all term used to describe creepy-crawly pests with any number of legs, bugs belong to a specific order of insects called Hemiptera. This order is comprised of somewhere between 50,000 and 80,000 speciesmany of which Long Island homeowners deal with each year stink bug

Here are some bugs you might see on Long Island: 

Most hemipterans share a few common characteristics, including: 

  • An appetite for plants 
  • Suckingpiercing mouthparts that resemble straws which are used to suck juices from plants 
  • No teeth 
  • Wings which are thickened and colored where they attach to the body and taper toward the back end of the wing; back wings which are usually clear and tucked under their front wings 
  • Six legs 
  • Exoskeletons 
  • Segmented bodies 
  • Young nymphs that look somewhat like their adult forms 

What’s an Insect? 

Thinking back to biology class again, both insects and bugs belong to the class Insecta, meaning while all bugs are a type of insect, not all insects are bugs. Interestingly enough, it’s estimated that over 90% of the animal life forms on Earth are insects.  

So, what traits do insects have? ant insect

  • Three-part bodies 
  • Three pairs of jointed legs 
  • Compound eyes 
  • One set of antennae 
  • Chitinous exoskeletons 
  • Most often hatched from eggs 
  • Development through molting 

Insects commonly seen on Long Island: 

  • Ants 
  • Termites 
  • Earwigs 
  • Bees 
  • Wasps 
  • Yellow jackets 
  • Beetles  
  • Ladybugs 
  • Butterflies 

Are Spiders Insects or Bugs? wolf spider

Trick question—neither! Spiders, along with ticks and centipedes, belong to a class called Arachnida. 

Characteristics of Arachnids: 

  • Eight legs 
  • Two-part bodies  
  • Simple eyes 
  • Inject digestive fluid into their prey before sucking up their remains 

So, to summarize, all bugs are insects, not all insects are bugs, and arachnids are in their own category!

Stay Safe from All Bugs, Insects, and Arachnids Year-Round 

Regardless of a pest’s order or class, dealing with them in your Long Island home can be nerve-wracking. Stay safe from pests year-round with an annual pest protection plan from Suburban Exterminating. With several different plans to choose from, a team of highly trained technicians and certified entomologists on staff, you can rest assured you’ll find the right option to protect your home, family, and budget. 

suburban exterminating pest control plans

For protection against bugs, insects, and arachnids, contact us today! 

What’s the Difference Between Bugs and Insects? Serving Long Island and surrounding areas

Richmond | Kings County | Nassau County | Suffolk County