What’s the difference between an insect and a bug?

Let’s start with the easy part- defining what an insect is. An insect is a type of organism in a larger group called arthropods, which are cold-blooded creatures with an exoskeleton and no backbone. An insect ( like the roach below) is an arthropod with some specific characteristics – six legs, a three-segmented body, segmented legs, compound eyes and two antennae.


Many of the small creatures you see outdoors in Florida are insects — beetles, butterflies, ants, bees, roaches (above) and dragonflies among them. Some of the small creatures you see outdoors are arthropods but they’re not insects – examples include spiders, scorpions and centipedes.

Technically, a bug is a member of a specific order of insects, known as Hemiptera. This order includes the insects commonly called leafhoppers and stink bugs.

However, in common language, people often use the term “bug” to mean any insect, as well as small arthropods that are not insects. So, as part of our effort to make BugWeek accessible we’ve adopted this definition as well. So when we say “bugs” we mean “insects and other small, land-dwelling arthropods.” We’re just sacrificing some scientific accuracy for the sake of fun.

Learn more:

General insect overview

Scientific classificationBugWeekLogoRectangle

Stinging or venomous insects and related pests


For more BugWeek information and activities, visit the website.

If you have questions that weren’t answered by the FAQ, contact us or contact your local Extension office.


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Posted: May 6, 2014

Category: Agriculture, Crops, Florida-Friendly Landscaping, Home Landscapes, Horticulture, Lawn, Pests & Disease, Pests & Disease, UF/IFAS, UF/IFAS Extension
Tags: Bug, BugWeek, Entomology, FAQ, Insects

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