Bug vs Insect: What’s The Difference? Are They The Same?

Bug vs Insect - What's The Difference Are They The Same

Discover how to Identify a bug vs insect

The words “bug” and “insect” are often used interchangeably, leading many to wonder if we use these words accurately.

Are all bugs insects, or is there a difference between the creatures called bugs and those referred to as insects?

This question can be bugging, but fortunately, we have the answer.

There’s a slight difference between bugs and insects, and this extends to more than just word differences.

The terms refer to two animal groups that overlap but are yet distinct, at least going by strict terms.

Here’s more on the subject.

Are Bugs Insects?

On an informal level, all insects and many creepy creatures are termed bugs.

However, they are different groups. Insects are creatures that make up the class Insecta.

This class falls under the phylum Arthropoda, a phylum that also contains arachnids, crustaceans, and myriapods. 

Creatures that are strictly called bugs are also under the class Insecta, but they are specifically categorized in the order Hemiptera.

This means while all bugs are insects, not all insects are true bugs. 

Examples of insects that aren’t bugs (though often referred to as one) include ants, grasshoppers, bees, and flies.

Examples of true bugs are ladybugs, assassin bugs, leafhoppers, and June bugs.

Bug vs Insect: What are the Differences Between Bugs and Insects?

There are physical characteristics that differentiate a true bug from an insect.

Insects generally have bodies divided into three sections: Head, thorax, and abdomen.

The outer layer of the body is called an exoskeleton, and completing this are six legs and two antennae.

This structure differentiates them from other classes in the Arthropoda phylum. 

Bugs share similar physical traits with other insects, but they have some peculiar characteristics.

Their mouths are like straws, unlike that of other insects, which don’t protrude. In total, there are over 80,000 species of true bugs.

Related: Blood-Sucking Bugs You Should Beware Of!

So, How Should We Use The Terms?

Having established that not all insects are bugs and that there is a particular order of insects called bugs, do we need to revisit the way we casually term all insects as bugs?

Maybe not.

The true bugs were termed as true for a reason, and the average onlooker may be unable to see the unique mouth that characterizes bugs.

Even more, there are some creatures termed bugs that aren’t insects. An example is the pillbug, also known as the rolly polly.

This creature is more of a crustacean than an insect. Even millipedes and spiders are also called bugs. 

Final Thoughts 

Under the animal groups, all true bugs are under the class Insecta, but not all insects are part of the true bug order.

So we can state with certainty that there is a difference between an insect and a bug.

However, the term “bug” has been expanded to cover many crawling creatures, and that isn’t set to change anytime soon.