A simple way to tell insects apart

Taxonomy is the science of naming, describing and classifying organisms (including all plants, animals and microorganisms of the world) into groups; namely, kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species. Insects or Insecta are pancrustacean hexapod invertebrates and the largest group within the arthropod phylum. Insects have a chitinous exoskeleton, a three-part body (head, thorax and abdomen), three pairs of jointed legs, compound eyes and one pair of antennae. Insects represent more than half of all known living organisms with an estimated population between 6 to 10 million. On earth 90% of animal species are insects. Insects are also the most diverse group of animals.

So how do we actually distinguish insects in a simple way?

The answer to this is the different ways insects eat their food. Now, we are all aware some of the basic ways insects that insects use to gain nutrition. For example- mosquitoes bite, honeybees suck the nectar from flowers or a few of them eat the leaf of a plant. Scientists often use the common mouthparts insects to distinguish insects into their order.

To know the exact way to tell insects apart we must dig in deeper into this.

  1. Hymenoptera, Orthoptera, Odonata, Coleoptera Orders

These have mandibles (pair of jaws with toothed inner edges) which help in cutting and crushing the solid foods, including leaves and other tiny insects.

Example: Ants, Grasshoppers, Dragon flies, Beatles.

  1. Hemiptera Order

These have long beaks that help them in piercing plant and animal tissue for sucking liquids and secretion of saliva with digestive enzymes for liquefying food.

Example: Bed bugs, cicadas, aphids, leafhoppers.

  1. Lepidoptera Order

These have proboscis (long tubes) which work like straw for helping them in sucking the nectar from the flowers.

Example: Butterflies and moths

  1. Diptrea Order

These are non- biting insects which have sponging mouthpart along with pseudotracheae which also secrete saliva filled with enzymes and soak up fluids and dissolved foods by Capillary action.

Example: House flies, Fruit flies.

The biting insects in Diptrea order have sucking mouthparts

Example: Mosquitoes, horse flies, deer flies

  1. Hymenoptera Order

These have a mouthpart which is a combination of mandibles and proboscis, that helps in lapping nectar. They are pollen collectors and do not use mandibles for eating or biting.

Example: Bees, Wasps.

Although the way the insects have their food does change with the change in their physical form.

Example: When caterpillar evolves into a butterfly.

So the next you see an insect eating a leaf, sucking blood or nectar you know which type it is!

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