Entomology/Common insects

Table of ContentsEdit


There are about 27 orders of insects. With new genetic and other information, the arrangement and number of the orders has been changing and may continue to do so. In this brief guide, we're only going to cover a few of those more commonly important to humans.

In descending order of number of species, the orders of insects we will cover are:

  1. Coleoptera (Beetles, about 400,000 species)
  2. Lepidoptera (Butterflies and moths, about 150,000 species)
  3. Hymenoptera (Wasps, bees, and ants, about 130,000 species)
  4. Diptera (Flies, about 120,000 species)
  5. Hemiptera (true bugs, about 82,000 species)
  6. Orthoptera (Grasshopers, crickets, and mantids, about 20,500 species)
  7. Odonata (Dragonflies and damselflies, about 5,500 species)


Coccinella septempunctataEdit

An adult C septempunctata

The seven-spotted ladybird (or ladybug) is a very common beetle found in both North America and Europe, and is an important predator of aphids.

Larval stage

Harmonia axyridisEdit

An adult Asian lady beetle

The Asian lady beetle (or harlequin ladybird) is a species that is similar to C septempunctata. This species is also an important predator of aphids, however is causes more problems to humans, because they freqently overwinter in homes. The species is originally from East Asia, but was introduced to North America and Europe.

The life-cycle of H axyridis.



The genus Papilio includes many species that are well-known around the world. Such species are charchterised by their "swallowtails" for which they are named.

Danaus plexippusEdit

The Monarch butterfly is common in North America, as well as New Zealand and Australia. It is one of the few milkweed butterflies in North America. As larva, the monarch feeds on milkweed, which is poisonous. This poison persists in the monarch as an adult, which provides it protection from many predators. This is so successful, that Limenitis archippus (in the same family, but in a different subfamily) mimics the monarch so that it is not eaten by predators.



Yellowjackets are wasps that can be found in both Europe and North America. There are two particular species: Vespula germanica and Vespula vulgaris. These are known as the German wasp and the common wasp, respectively. Yellowjackets are social insects— a queen builds a nest, usually of wood, and then lays eggs. When the eggs hatch, the larvae are carnivorous, and feed on other insects. Adult wasps feed on nectar. Though, often considered pests or harmful to humans, wasps are important predators of many other pests such as flies.


Honeybees are important plant pollinators.


Musca domesticaEdit

Female Musca domestica

The housefly is very common, and frequently lives with humans. Flies like butterflies undergo complete metamorphosis. In their larval stage they are called maggots, in which they will feed on organic matter. After three instars, they become pupae, then emerge as adults. Like other insects, the purpose of the adult form is for mating— flies live only about one month after maturation. Flies have sponging mouth-parts. They can only consume liquids, but can also apply digestive fluids to solids, and then ingest them as fluids.


Mosquitos are known particullarly for spreading disease. Mosquitos, like other flies, undergo compete metamorphosis. Eggs, larvae, and pupae develop in water, but the adult is terrestrial. The larvae also develop in three instars. The pupae then float to the surface of the body of water, so that the adults can emerge into the air.


True bugs.


Grasshopers, crickets, and mantids


Dragonflies and Damselflies