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Insect Identification Key
Order Hemiptera: the true bugs

Based on your answers to the questions, you have identified your insect as being in the order Hemiptera!

Meadow spittlebug
This meadow spittlebug is one of the general group of insects known as leafhoppers or froghoppers. It has two pairs of wings, which it holds angled up to look like a little roof over its back. Photo by Kelly McKinne.
Click here to see examples of more hemipterans!

Members of this order include: cicadas, bed bugs, shield bugs, aphids, assassin bugs, leafhoppers and many more.

Etymology: Hemiptera comes from the Greek words hemi, which means half, and ptera, which means wings. This refers to a characteristic of insects in one of its suborders. These insects, which are in the suborder Heteroptera, have forewings that differ in structure: the front half of each wing is noticeably thicker and more opaque than the rear half.

General characteristics:
sucking mouthparts
• two pairs of wings

This is a diverse group of insects. For more characteristics about the different suborders within the order Hemiptera, click on one of the following:
Heteroptera, which includes such insects as the shield bugs, assassin bugs, water striders and stink bugs
Auchenorrhyncha, which includes such insects as the cicadas, spittle bugs, treehoppers and leafhoppers
Coleorrhynca, which includes such insects as the pelorids
Sternorrhyncha, which includes such insects as the aphids, scale insects and whiteflies
hemimetabolous metamorphosis (egg — nymph — adult)

Click here to see examples of more hemipterans!

Number of species worldwide: about 90,000


Kingdom Animalia
   Phylum Arthropoda
      Class Insecta
         Order Hemiptera (see Classification Note below)

For a list of all of the orders in this key, click here: List of Orders.

Classification note: The order Hemiptera was once divided in two: the order Hemiptera and the order Homoptera, and later, the Homoptera was redesignated a suborder of the order Hemiptera. Today, most authorities have discarded the name Homoptera altogether, and list four suborders within the order Hemiptera: Heteroptera, Auchenorrhyncha, Sternorrhyncha and Coleorrhynca.

Oops! If this doesn't appear to be the order for your insect, go back through the key and look more carefully at your insect while answering the questions again. Your perseverance will reward you!

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Photos at the top of this website are (from left to right): potato beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) — photo credit: Scott Bauer, U.S. Department of Agriculture; ebony jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata)— photo credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; sweat bee (Agapostemon splendens) — photo credit: Natalie Allen and Stephanie Kolski, U.S. Geological Survey; preying mantis, monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), hellgrammite (aka toe biter) larva and eyed click beetle (Alaus oculatus) — photo credit: Leslie Mertz; Halloween pennant (Celithemis eponina) — photo credit: Kay Meng, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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