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Insect Orders

Last updated about 2 years ago

Entomologists have classified insects in 30 different orders, some of them, like beetles or flies, are familiar to everyone, but others are more obscure. Follow the links below to find out more about each order.

Also have a look at our Insect Orders Pinterest Board

Want a fun way to practice recognizing insect orders? Play the Insect Orders Memory Game

  • 04028_88_88 Animalia > Insecta


    Jumping Bristletails

    Bristletails (Archaeognatha) are wingless insects that hide under bark, in litter, and in rock crevices. They feed on algae, lichens, and plant debris.

    Sort value: Insecta

  • 83847_88_88 Animalia > Insecta



    Silverfish and firebrats (Thysanura or Zygentoma) often live in people's houses, but are also found in habitats such as caves and nests of other animals, including ant colonies.

    Sort value: Insecta

  • 00335_88_88 Animalia > Insecta



    Mayflies (Ephemeroptera) are an ancient lineage of winged insects. Adult mayflies live only for a few hours, but nymphs live under water in ponds and streams for a long time.

    Sort value: Insecta:Pterygota

  • 08370_88_88 Animalia > Insecta



    Dragonflies and damselflies (Odonata) are charismatic insects that have captured the imagination of naturalists and artists across cultures. Juveniles are voracious underwater predators, while the winged adults are fierce aerial hunters.

    Sort value: Insecta:Pterygota

  • 79758_88_88 Animalia > Insecta


    Ice Crawlers

    Rock crawlers (Grylloblattodea) are extremophilic insects that thrive in near-freezing temperatures. Some entomologists treat Grylloblattodea as a suborder of the order Notoptera, which also includes the Mantophasmatodea.

    Sort value: Insecta:Pterygota:Neoptera

  • 11075_88_88 Animalia > Insecta



    Earwigs (Dermaptera) have a pair of forceps-like cerci at the tip of their abdomen. They are used to open the wings, to capture prey, and for defense.

    Sort value: Insecta:Pterygota:Neoptera

  • 50962_88_88 Animalia > Insecta



    Zorapterans are minute insects that live in small colonies in the crevices or under dead bark of moist, decaying logs. Fungal hyphae and spores are their principal food, but they can also be general scavengers or predators, victimizing nematodes, mites, or other tiny arthropods.

    Sort value: Insecta:Pterygota:Neoptera

  • 96658_88_88 Animalia > Polyneoptera



    Gladiators (Mantophasmatodea) are an enigmatic group of insects that was only recently discovered in southwest Africa. Some entomologists treat Mantophasmatodea as a suborder of the order Notoptera, which also includes the Grylloblattodea.

    Sort value: Insecta:Pterygota:Neoptera

  • 11652_88_88 Animalia > Insecta



    Adult stoneflies (Plecoptera) are terrestrial, but the nymphs live in the benthic zone of well-oxygenated lakes and streams. All species of Plecoptera are intolerant of water pollution and their presence in a stream or still water is usually an indicator of good or excellent water quality.

    Sort value: Insecta:Pterygota:Neoptera

  • 10495_88_88 Animalia > Insecta



    Webspinners (Embioptera) use silk glands on their enlarged forelimbs to weave silk tunnels and chambers on rocks, the bark of trees, or in leaf litter.

    Sort value: Insecta:Pterygota:Neoptera

  • 76520_88_88 Animalia > Insecta



    Stick Insects (Phasmatodea) are large, slow-moving insects that resemble sticks or leaves.

    Sort value: Insecta:Pterygota:Neoptera

  • 74026_88_88 cellular organisms > Orthopteroidea


    Grasshoppers, Crickets, and Katydids

    The insect order Orthoptera includes familiar insects like grasshoppers, locusts, crickets, and katydids. The members of this group are readily identified by their strong hind legs which are modified for jumping.

    Sort value: Insecta:Pterygota:Neoptera

  • 33634_88_88 cellular organisms > Paraneoptera


    Booklice and Barklice

    Barklice, barkflies, or booklice (Psocoptera) are minute insects that live hidden away under bark, in leaf litter, or sometimes in your old books.

    Sort value: Insecta:Pterygota:Neoptera

  • 81955_88_88 Animalia > Insecta



    Lice (Phthiraptera) are small, wingless insects, permanently parasitic on mammals and birds.

    Sort value: Insecta:Pterygota:Neoptera

  • 89069_88_88 Animalia > Insecta



    Thrips (Thysanoptera) are tiny, slender insects with fringed wings. They feed on a variety of sources, both plant and animal, by puncturing them and sucking up the contents. A large number of thrips species are considered pests, because they feed on plants with commercial value.

    Sort value: Insecta:Pterygota:Neoptera

  • 19194_88_88 cellular organisms > Paraneoptera


    True Bugs, Cicadas, Leafhoppers, Aphids, Etc.

    Hemiptera is a diverse order of hemimetabolous insects. Members of this group are characterized by unique mouthparts modified to form an articulated beak (rostrum) for piercing and sucking liquid food.

    Sort value: Insecta:Pterygota:Neoptera

  • 57665_88_88 Animalia > Insecta



    Cockroaches are mostly nocturnal insect, with biting mouthparts and legs that are adapted for swift running. The body is oval and dorsoventrally flattened, allowing the animals to hide in narrow spaces, for example under bark or in crevices of trees and rocks.

    Sort value: Insecta:Pterygota:Neoptera:Dictyoptera

  • 47589_88_88 Animalia > Insecta



    Termites are the only hemimetabolous insects that exhibit true social behavior. They build large nests housing an entire colony.

    Sort value: Insecta:Pterygota:Neoptera:Dictyoptera

  • 93860_88_88 Animalia > Insecta



    Mantids (Mantodea) are ferocious predators. Insects form their primary prey, but large mantids have been known to capture and consume small scorpions, lizards, frogs, birds, snakes, fish, and even rodents.

    Sort value: Insecta:Pterygota:Neoptera:Dictyoptera

  • 54492_88_88 Animalia > Insecta


    Alderflies, Fishflies and Dobsonflies

    Alderflies, fishflies and dobsonflies (Megaloptera) are associated with a variety of freshwater habitats. The winged, short-lived adults are terrestrial, while the larvae live as generalist predators in ponds, lakes, streams, and swamps.

    Sort value: Insecta:Pterygota:Neoptera:Endopterygota

  • 76444_88_88 Animalia > Insecta



    The larvae and adults of Snakeflies (Raphidioptera) are active, terrestrial predators. The short-lived adults have a long prothorax that gives them a snake-like appeareance. The larvae live for several years under the bark of trees and shrubs or in soil detritus.

    Sort value: Insecta:Pterygota:Neoptera:Endopterygota

  • 08049_88_88 Animalia > Insecta


    Lacewings and Relatives

    Adult Neuroptera are medium-sized to large, soft-bodied insects with four delicate membranous wings. Neuropteran larvae are active predators with large mandibles that are greatly modified for piercing and sucking. The larvae of some groups feed on agricultural and garden pests and are sold commercially as biological control agents.

    Sort value: Insecta:Pterygota:Neoptera:Endopterygota

  • 64125_88_88 Animalia > Holometabola



    The most unusual property of beetles is not some aspect of their structure or natural history, but their sheer number. There are more known species of Coleoptera than any other group of organisms, with over 350,000 described species.

    Sort value: Insecta:Pterygota:Neoptera:Endopterygota

  • 30864_88_88 cellular organisms > Endopterygota


    Twisted-winged Parasite

    The Strepsiptera (twisted-wing parasites) are obligate parasites of other insects. They have extreme sexual dimorphism. The short-lived males are free-living and winged, while females are wingless and resemble larvae.

    Sort value: Insecta:Pterygota:Neoptera:Endopterygota

  • 03847_88_88 Animalia > Insecta


    Scorpion Flies

    Mecopterans range from 3-30 mm in length and have caterpillar-like larvae. Adults are mostly carnivorous on smaller insects, but will also eat some plant parts. Males court females by attracting them with pheromones and offering a food gift.

    Sort value: Insecta:Pterygota:Neoptera:Endopterygota

  • 95497_88_88 Animalia > Insecta



    Fleas are obligate ectoparasites of mammals and birds. Both males and females use piercing-sucking mouthparts to feed on the blood of their host. Some species are vectors of human disease including plague (Yersinia pestis) and murine typhus (Rickettsia typhi).

    Sort value: Insecta:Pterygota:Neoptera:Endopterygota

  • 52295_88_88 Animalia > Insecta


    True Flies, Mosquitoes and Gnats

    Flies are minute to small, soft-bodied insects with sucking mouthparts and only one pair of functional wings. They are of great veterinary and medical importance as vectors of diseases and as pests of agriculture, forestry and husbandry. Some species are useful to man as parasitoids and predators of insect pests and as plant pollinators.

    Sort value: Insecta:Pterygota:Neoptera:Endopterygota

  • 98185_88_88 Animalia > Insecta



    Adult caddisflies (Trichoptera) are small, terrestrial, moth-like insects. The larvae, with very few exceptions, are aquatic and use silk to construct nets or tubes. Many build various types of portable cases, often incorporating sand and small pebbles, or bits of leaves and twigs.

    Sort value: Insecta:Pterygota:Neoptera:Endopterygota

  • 15823_88_88 Animalia > Insecta


    Butterflies and Moths

    The insect order Lepidoptera comprises the butterflies, moths, and skippers. For most Lepidoptera species, the vast majority of the life cycle is spent in the larval (caterpillar) stage. Most larvae feed on living plant tissue, while most adults feed on nectar, but many have atrophied mouthparts and do not feed at all.

    Sort value: Insecta:Pterygota:Neoptera:Endopterygota

  • 07210_88_88 cellular organisms > Endopterygota


    Ants, Bees, and Wasps

    Members of the Hymenoptera include familiar insects like wasps, bees, ants, bumblebees, and sawflies. Hymenoptera are of great economic significance as pollinators, agents of biological control of other insects, and household and forest pests.

    Sort value: Insecta:Pterygota:Neoptera:Endopterygota