Order Hemiptera (meaning ‘half wing’)
Suborder Heteroptera (meaning ‘different wings’)
What is a Bug?
The first thing most people do to when they hear the word bug is to cringe and make a face. Bugs have a bad rap mainly because we think ‘creepy crawlies’ which is pretty much true. So which insects have a bad rap?
There are over 80,000 species belonging to the Order Hemiptera and they include cicadas, aphids, planthoppers, leafhoppers, shield bugs, just to name a few (not so bad). These Hemitera’s are often referred to as true bugs. However, under the suborder Heteroptera, where the real true bugs hang, there are about 40,000 species and they include stink bugs, squash bugs, assassin bugs and bed bugs (I feel a cringe coming on!).
But hang on, that is only one suborder in the Order Hemiptera there are actually two more, the Auchenorrhyncha (which includes leafhoppers, cicadas and spittlebugs) and the Sternorrhyncha (which includes aphids, jumping plant lice and mealybugs). Bugs are cold-blooded animals (like all insects) which means its body temperature remains similar to the temperature of its environment. The only real way for a bug to control its body temperature is to move, either into the sun or into the shade.
Characteristics of a Hemiptera
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of this order of insect. The most defining feature of the Hemipertans are their mouthparts. All Hemipertans possess specialized sucking and piercing mouthparts (rostrum). All the mouthparts including the mandibles (which have evolved into proboscis) are fused into a single sharply pointed tube which is used for piercing plants (or other insects) and then sucking out the liquid or body fluid.
The true bugs have forewings that are hard and shield-like at the base but become membranous at the tips but their hindwings are entirely membranous.
The antennae are quite short and divided on average into five segments but never greater than ten.