If All Bugs Are Insects, Are All Insects Bugs?

picture of cicada on leaf

Answer: Nope. All bugs are insects, but not all insects are bugs.

This may seem a little confusing, especially considering many people use bug to describe anything creepy and crawly, but there actually are some very interesting differences.

The Mouth

The mouth is the key to determining the difference between insects and bugs. Bugs suck, literally. True bugs have a stylet or a mouth shaped like a straw called a proboscis. A true bug’s mouth parts allow it to pierce and suck fluids from plants and animals. Insects that are not bugs do not have this particular mouth feature. Another unique distinction centers around metamorphosis. Bugs go through what is called an incomplete metamorphosis, with egg, nymph and adult stages. The nymph hatches from the egg and then a miniature version of the adult bug appears. This process is different from the butterfly’s metamorphosis process. The butterfly is an insect and undergoes a complete four-stage metamorphosis: egg, larva (caterpillar), pupa and adult.


The next difference centers around classification. True bugs have a unique order consisting of Hemiptera (from the Greek hemi, or “half,” and ptera,“wings”). In the scientific classification system of taxonomy, insects are in the phylum of arthropods. There are two classes of arthropods  – arachnids and insects. Arthropods like spiders, ticks, and centipedes  are in a separate phylum from bugs and insects. Spiders are not even insects. Spiders, along with scorpions, ticks and mites, are arachnids and have two main body parts, four pairs of legs and no antennae. Under the class of insects, there are more than 30 orders.  Insects belong to the class Insecta and they are characterized by three-part bodies, usually two pairs of wings, and three pairs of legs. Insects have many different orders such as Lepidoptera, where butterflies and moths belong, and Hymenoptera, the order for bees and ants.

Examples of Insects:

Beetles, dragonflies, aphids, butterflies, army worm, root maggots, moths, bees, wireworm, wasps, flies, mosquitos, grasshoppers, crickets, ants, and cockroaches.

Examples of bugs:

Spittle bug, lace bug, assassin bug, Maori bug, stink bug, water bug, water skater, water boatman, water scorpion, kissing bug, bed bug, leaf hopper, mealy bug, chinch, cicada, frog hopper, and harlequin bug.


If a bug is an insect, and many insects are also bugs….they all can certainly be pests. At Terminix, we understand bugs, insects, arachnids and we can take care of mosquitoes, cockroaches, termites, bed bugs and more. If you need pest control, call Terminix today at  504-826-3755, and we will take care of the pests whether they are bugs or insects.

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