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What are True Bugs?

Updated on September 3, 2014

Shield Bug



To most of us, a bug that is not a concealed microphone or a flu germ is any sort of six-legged creature. In entomological terms, however, true bugs are only those insects belonging to the order Hemiptera. They range in size from tiny specks that can be seen only with the aid of a magnifying glass, to large ones almost as big as your thumb.

Big Eyed Bugs



Their fore wings are thickened and leathery at the base with membranous tips that overlap when the insect is at rest. The front of the thorax is usually very large and distinctly separate from the rest of the thorax, which forms a triangular area called the scutellum. All true bugs are marked with this triangle and can be recognized at a glance.

The only insects that are similarly marked are leafhoppers and cicadas (Homoptera), but their wings are usually entirely membranous and do not lie flat against the body.

Milkweed bugs -.nymph - adult


Incomplete Metamorphosis

Bugs have incomplete metamorphosis in which development occurs in three stages. Eggs hatch into small, wingless nymphs that, to varying degrees, resemble the adult form. Through a series of molts, these young gradually increase in size and, when almost mature, they develop wings. The life cycle may take several weeks or an entire year. Most of the garden species hibernate as adults, but some pass the winter in the egg or nymph stage.

Squash Bug


Bug Beaks

Mouthparts are enclosed in a beak that arises on the front part of the insect's head and curves beneath the body. In some bugs, the tip of the beak rests in a groove and the insect moves it back and forth to make a high-pitched squeaking sound. Most true bugs are plant-eaters with diets unacceptable to man. In feeding, they pierce the epidermis of the leaf with their beaks, inject salivary fluids into the tissue, and draw out the partly digested cell sap. This causes leaves to develop small, sunken spots and bleached areas. If enough bugs are present, leaves may wilt and die. Fruits, tender twigs, and flowers of most garden plants and orchard trees may also be injured by bugs. Some species, such as the squash bug, inject a toxic fluid into their hosts, causing them to wilt suddenly and die.

Assassin bug


Assassin Bugs

Garden sanitation and weed control are the best ways to prevent the growth of large populations of plant-eating bugs. There are many species of true bugs that eat other insects instead of plants. Small, brown, soft-bodied damsel bugs feed on aphids, leafhoppers, and small caterpillars. The oddly shaped ambush bugs catch insects with their toothed front legs. Various assassin bugs and predaceous stink bugs attack caterpillars, beetle grubs, and mites.

Ambush Bugs


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    • jeffryv profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeff Vance 

      4 years ago from Vancouver, BC Canada

      Yep certain types of wasps lay their eggs on Squash bug eggs.

      The best way I have found for Squash bug control is a Reemay Garden Blanket. ( Just search Amazon)

      The best tip is to keep your garden very clean and tidy

    • WritingInRichmond profile image


      4 years ago

      Fascinating article. I was especially interesting in the Bug Beaks. The squash bugs wreak havoc in our organic garden. We began to notice that when the squash bugs were plentiful, many wasps were also present. I read something about wasps kill or lay their eggs in squash bugs. Any insight on the wasp and squash bug connection? Thanks!


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