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INSECT IDENTIFICATION (ORDERS)

Insects are divided into a large number of orders. The insect orders that we are concerned with are the ones that can become a pest problem inside structures. These orders can further be grouped as insects that commonly infest a structure and insects that occasionally infest a structure.
One of the characteristics that will be discussed about different insects is the type of life cycles; no metamorphosis, gradual metamorphosis, incomplete metamorphosis, and complete metamorphosis. To learn more about these, see Pestdude's LIFE CYCLES site.
Another characteristic that is used in identification is the type of mouthparts. Check out Pestdude's MOUTHPARTS site for more information.

INSECTS THAT COMMONLY INFEST A STRUCTURE

Dictyoptera

These insects:
  • Medium to large in size
  • Have chewing mouthparts
  • Usually have four wings or wing pads
  • For wings are thicker and the hind wings are membranous
  • The hind legs are not designed for jumping, like crickets, but for walking instead
  • Gradual metamorphosis
The members of this order are cockroaches. To find out more about these pests, go to Pestdude's COCKROACH site.

Isoptera

These insects:
  • Small to medium in size
  • Live in social groups with highly developed caste system
  • Workers and soldiers are wingless and are dirty white (usually)
  • Swarmers are dark bodied and have four, same length whitish wings
  • Abdomen is broadly joined to the thorax without the "waist" appearance
  • Have chewing mouthparts
  • Have gradual metamorphosis
The members of this order are termites. For more information, go to Pestdude's WOOD DESTROYING ORGANISM site.

Coleoptera

These insects:
  • Have a hard, shell-like front wings which meet, when resting, in a straight line down the middle of the back
  • Hind wings fold under the front wings
  • Have chewing mouthparts
  • Have complete metamorphosis
The members of this order are beetles. There are many species of this insect. Some cause destruction to wood, while some feed on grain products, while others cause damage to woolen goods. Still others on occasionally enter a structure. You will find good descriptions of beetles at the following sites:
  1. WOOD BORING BEETLES
  2. STORED PRODUCT PESTS
  3. FABRIC PESTS
  4. MISCELLANEOUS PESTS

Lepidoptera

These insects:
  • Have four wings which are membranous and covered with overlapping scales
  • Mouthparts are formed into a long, coiled, tongue-like organ called halters or balancers
  • Have complete metamorphosis
The members of this order are butterflies and moths. Although butterflies are not considered a pest, certain moths can. They have been known to destroy foods and destroy woolen goods (actually it is the larval stage that does these things). You can go to the following sites for further information:
  1. STORED PRODUCT PESTS
  2. FABRIC PESTS

Siphonaptera

These insects:
  • Are small
  • Wingless
  • External parasites of warm-blooded animals
  • Body is compresses laterally
    (thin from side to side)
  • Adults have piercing mouthparts
  • Have Complete Metamorphosis
The members of this order are fleas. To find out more about these insects, go to Pestdude's FLEA site.

Hymenoptera

These insects:
  • Most have four wings, but some are wingless
  • Those with wings, they are membranous
  • The hind pair is usually smaller than the front pair
  • Mouthparts are adapted for chewing or for chewing and lapping
  • Many species have a thin "waist" between the abdomen and the thorax
  • Have complete metamorphosis
The members of this order are bees, wasps, and ants. These insects can be major pests in structures. For more identification help, go the following Pestdude sites:
  1. ANTS
  2. BEES

INSECTS THAT OCCASIONALY INFEST A STRUCTURE

Thysanura

These insects:
  • Wingless
  • Fish-shaped
  • Not more than 1/2 inch long
  • Have long antennae
  • Two or three antennae-like appendages at the end of the abdomen
  • Have chewing mouthparts
  • No metamorphosis
The members of this order are bristletails, firebrats, and silverfish. Although bristletails and firebrats will occasionally enter a home accidentally, the silverfish is the one we are mainly concerned with. To see more about silverfish, go to Pestdude's MISCELLANEOUS PESTS site.

Orthoptera

These insects:
  • Medium to large in size
  • Have chewing mouthparts
  • Usually four wings
  • Front pair of wings are thick
  • Hind pair of wings are membranous
  • Hind legs adapted for jumping
  • Have gradual metamorphosis
The members of this order are grasshoppers and crickets. Although grasshoppers do usually enter a structure, occasionally crickets will. To see more about what to do about crickets, go to Pestdude's MISCELLANEOUS PESTS site.

Hemiptera

These insects:
  • Some have four wings, some are wingless
  • Front pair of wings thick at base and thin and membranous at the tips
  • Hind pair of wings membranous and folded under front
  • Mouthparts form a noticeable beak for piercing and sucking
  • Have gradual metamorphosis
The members of this order are true bugs and bedbugs. The management of bedbugs, which are the key member here of this order, can be found by going to Pestdude's MISCELLANEOUS PESTS site.

Dermaptera

These insects:
  • Small to medium size
  • Some have four wings, some are wingless
  • Mouthparts are adapted for chewing
  • Rear of abdomen has distinctive forceps-like appendages
  • Have gradual metamorphosis
The members of this order are earwigs. The management of these insects can be found by going to Pestdude's MISCELLANEOUS PESTS site.

Diptera

These insects:
  • Winged members only have two wings
  • Second pair of wings replaced by pair of knobbed, thread-like organs called halters or balancers
  • Mouthparts are adapted for piercing and sucking or for sponging
  • Have complete metamorphosis
The members of this order are flies, mosquitoes, gnats, and midges. Although mosquitoes, gnats, and midges can be a bothersome problem, they are not considered a pest management problem for inside structures. Flies, however, can be. Go to Pestdude's FLIES site for information concerning flies.

Psocoptera

These insects:
  • Tiny
  • Soft bodied
  • Some have four wings, some are wingless
  • Have chewing mouthparts
  • Have gradual metamorphosis
The members of this order are booklice, also known as psocids. You can find out more about this pest by going to Pestdude's MISCELLANEOUS PESTS site.
If you have any questions, please ask Pestdude!