of the


A wise person once said:
"All bugs are insects but not all insects are bugs "

Insects are among the oldest organisms to inhabit the earth. The first insects evolved during the Devonian period. Unlike many insects of today, the first insects were wingless and earthbound. They were joined during the Carboniferous period by the first winged insects over 300 million years ago. Some early dragonflies had wingspans of over 2 feet.

St. Clair wing
Pennsylvanian age insect wing
St. Clair, PA

The wet climate of the Carboniferous gave way to the drier climate of the Permian. Like many other organisms, most orders of these early insects did not survive the extinction of the Permian. Those survivors were later joined by the evolving orders of modern insects. The Cretaceous saw the rise of flowering plants and continued evolution of the modern orders of insects.

Hazelton wing
Pennsylvanian age insect wing
Hazelton, PA

The oldest insects found in amber come from the Cretaceous of Lebanon. These insects are over 120 million years old. Other Cretaceous ambers which have yielded insects come from Japan, Siberia, Canada, and New Jersey (USA). Significant deposits of Tertiary ambers with insects can found in Mexico and the Dominican Republic and in areas along the shores of the Baltic Sea.

Insects are classified in the phylum Arthropoda (Arthropoda: arthro, joint or segment; poda, foot or appendage). The arthropods include spiders, millipeds, and centipeds. All arthropods share these characteristics:
  • The body is segmented with the segments grouped into 2 or 3 distinct regions
  • Appendages are paired and segmented
  • The body is bilaterally symmetric
  • There is an exoskeleton which is shed and renewed as the organism grows

    What specifically seperates insects from the rest of the arthropods?
  • The head bears the eyes, mouth parts, and antennae
  • The thorax bears 3 pairs of legs and generally 2 pairs of wings
  • The abdomen has no locomotive appendages but may have an appendage at the tip

Here are ways to identify some insects of different orders
Order General identifying characteristics
Diptera (Flies) The second pair of wings are reduced
Coleoptera (Beetles) The front pair of wings are hardened
Hemiptera (Bugs) A beak arises from front of head with the front wings usually thickened at base and membranous at tip
Hymenoptera (Ants..Bees..Wasps) The abdomen is constricted at base
Lepidoptera (Moths, Butterflies) Wings covered with scales


Cretaceous insects from New Jersey, USA>
Scale Wasp
Scale insect Wasp

State Insects of the United States
  • Alabama - Monarch butterfly
  • Alaska - Four-spotted skimmer
  • Arizona - Two-tailed swallowtail (state butterfly)
  • Arkansas - Honey bee
  • California - California dogface butterfly
  • Colorado - Colorado hairstreak butterfly
  • Connecticut - Praying mantis
  • Delaware - Convergent ladybird beetle
  • Florida - Zebra longwing butterfly
  • Georgia - Honey bee (insect); Tiger swallowtail (butterfly)
  • Illinois - Monarch butterfly
  • Kansas - Honey bee
  • Kentucky - Viceroy butterfly
  • Louisiana - Honey bee
  • Maine - Honey bee
  • Maryland - Baltimore checkerspot butterfly
  • Massachusetts - Ladybug
  • Mississippi - Honey bee (insect); Spicebush swallowtail (butterfly)
  • Missouri - Honey bee
  • Nebraska - Honey bee
  • New Hampshire - Ladybug
  • New Jersey - Honey bee
  • New Mexico - Tarantula hawk wasp
  • New York - 9-spotted ladybird beetle
  • North Carolina - Honey bee
  • Ohio - Ladybug
  • Oklahoma - Black swallowtail
  • Oregon - Oregon swallowtail butterfly
  • Pennsylvania - Firefly
  • South Carolina - Carolina mantis
  • South Dakota - Honey bee
  • Tennessee - Ladybug and firefly
  • Texas - Monarch butterfly
  • Utah - Honey bee
  • Vermont - Monarch butterfly
  • Virginia - Tiger swallowtail butterfly
  • Washington - Common Green Darner
  • Wisconsin - Honey bee
  • Wyoming - Western swallowtail butterfly

Language Entomology
Language entomology is a humorous look of how insects have infested our everyday language.
  • Busy as a bee
  • Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee
  • Like a moth to a flame
  • Ants in your pants
  • As snug as a bug in a rug
  • A fly in the ointment
  • Butterflies in the stomach
  • Attracted like a bee to honey
  • Attracted like wasps to a barbecue
  • As predictable as ants at at picnic
  • A fly in your ear
  • Angry as a hornet
  • You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar
  • Like a duck on a junebug
  • Roaches check in but they don't check out
  • You're bugging me
  • You're ticking me off
  • Don't let the bedbugs bite
  • Come into my parlor said the spider to the fly
  • A fly on the wall
  • There's a fly in my soup
  • Your fly is down
  • Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana -- Groucho Marx
  • You sound like a bumblebee fartin' in a holler log
  • A bee in your bonnet
  • Cute as a bug's ear
  • It's the bee's knees
  • Ill as a hornet
  • Go to the ant, thou sluggard
  • To have "bee stung" lips
  • Sweet as honey to a bee
  • Wasp waist
  • Bugs in the system
  • Cute as a bug's ear
  • Don't bug me!
  • I'll be all over you like a duck on a june bug
  • I'll squash you like a bug on a windshield
  • Bug OFF!
  • Sometimes you're the windshield... Sometimes you're the bug
  • Y'all making me crazy as a bedbug!
Do you have any more expressions, send them to me

More Websites on ENTOMOLOGY
Do you know of a good Entomology website? Tell me about it.

Meander back to the
Swamee, tell me more about
Explore the fares at the

e-mail address of:
Yale Goldman