We’ve rounded up 10 fascinating facts about bugs.
1. Most bugs are not bugs
Flies, lobsters and even viruses are known as ‘bugs’. But none of these creatures are truly bugs.
2. True bugs are half-winged
True bugs belong to an order of insects called Hemiptera. Their name means ‘half-winged’.
Bugs sit with their forewings folded along their backs. Their forewings are half-hard and half-membranous. Because of this, you may notice the membranous tips look a little stripey or see-through.
3. Bugs are ‘half-winged’ but they have four wings
Like most insects, bugs have two pairs of wings. In fact, if you’re looking at an insect with two wings, it’s probably a fly.
There are exceptions to these rules about bugs, as a result of the great diversity of nature.
4. Ladybugs or ladybirds are neither bugs nor birds
Ladybugs are beetles, not bugs. Like other beetles, their outer wings form a hard shell which, when closed, conceals their flight wings.
We’ve published a book about 95 species that live in Australia, New Guinea and the Pacific. Some are white with black spots, some are orange with black stripes. Some are even hairy.
5. Mouthparts are one of the most distinctive things about bugs
Bugs often have quite obvious mouthparts. Firstly, they pierce their food. Then they secrete saliva to start digesting their meal. Then they feed by sucking.
6. There are about 80,000 known species of bugs
Beetles, flies and moths vastly outnumber bug species. But we are still naming new species of bugs in Australia.
7. Bugs are hemimetabolous
Imagine a caterpillar metamorphosing into a moth. Flies, bees, wasps, beetles, butterflies and moths all have larval stages that look very different from the adult stage. They are holometabolous insects.
In contrast, bugs are hemimetabolous insects. As a result, baby bugs look like mini adults. They shed their skin, called moulting, as they grow bigger.
8. Bugs can suck blood
While most bugs use their sucking mouthparts to feed on plants, some bugs like a blood meal. This is why bed bugs bite!
9. Some bugs can sing
Cicadas are a kind of bug. The double drummer cicada, found on Australia’s east coast, is the loudest insect on earth. It lives between four and six years, mostly underground feeding on roots. Adults live for only a few weeks, and feed on eucalypt sap with specialised tubular mouthparts.
10. Some bugs can bug off!
There are two priority species of bugs that are a threat to Australia’s biosecurity. They are Brown Marmorated Stink Bug and Cycad Aulacaspis Scale.
We’ve built an app to help people identify Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs at Australian borders. Bugs can also have bugs! Bugs that arrive in Australia can bring in pathogens that infect plants. They include Xylella, a group of bacteria that infect crops and cause symptoms like scorched leaves and reduced fruit size.