True Bugs

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True Bugs, Pacific Northwest

Back Swimmer, True Bugs
Back Swimmer, Photo By Robert Logan

The word bug is used to describe any of the insects as well as many other creatures like spiders, ticks or mites, but the only true bugs are those belonging to the order hemiptera.

Hemiptera means half wing and refers to the characteristics of the fore wings of this order. The fore wings are thick and leathery near the base and membranous near the tip and they fold flat over the insects back, covering the hind wings which are used for flying.

A third feature that helps identify the hemipterans is their piecing and sucking mouth parts which are housed in beak shaped protuberance that starts far forward on the head and is folded underneath it, pointing back between the forelegs. The bug swings it out from its resting place when he prepares to eat. True bugs may be either carnivorous or herbivorous.

Giant Water Bug, True Bugs
Giant Water Bug, Photo By Bud Logan

For defense, most have a special stink gland that secretes a substance with a disagreeable smell to repulse its enemies. Among nymphs, these glands are located on the back of the abdomen while on the adults it is usually located under the thorax. many advertise this capability with bright colors and bold patterns. This is recognized by animals that have had a bad experience with the unpleasant taste before. Some true bugs like the boatman can deliver a nasty and painful bite when handled.

They are widely distributed in most habitats and although most are terrestrial, some are aquatic with legs that are either wide spread to distribute their weight over the water surface or with oar like legs used to propel them over the water. There are many types of true bugs on the coast of BC, just look around when outdoors.

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