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Classification of Insects – Insect orders with table

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In order to classify insects, scientists have separated them into around 30 groups called orders. Representatives of the same order have kinship ties which are based on the shape of their body, their legs, their mouthparts and, in particular, their wings.

The scientific name given to each of these orders usually ends with the suffix “pteras”, a Greek word which means wings. The first part of the name often provides an indication of the size, shape, number or texture of the wings.

Five orders group together nearly 80% of insect species! These are Hemiptera, Coleoptera, Diptera, Hymenoptera and Lepidoptera.

This table presents the 30 orders of insects known to date. It also provides features associated with the type of metamorphosis, wings and mouth parts of adults.

Order Examples Wings Type of mouth parts Metamorphosis
Archaeognaths Petrobius maritimus Absent Crusher Absent
Cockroaches Cockroaches Four Crusher Incomplete
Beetles Ladybugs, beetles, fireflies Usually four, AA hard, without veins, AP folded, membranous Crusher Complete
Dermaptera Earwigs (earwigs) None or four, AA short and thick, AP fan-folded Crusher Incomplete
Diptera Flies and mosquitoes Two, very rarely none, AP modified in balances Nozzle-licker or pricker-nozzle Complete
Embioptera Anisembia texana Absent (females and some males), four (males), AA and AP alike Crusher Incomplete
Mayflies Ephemeral Four (sometimes two), membranous and triangular smaller AP Vestigial mouthparts Incomplete
Grylloblattoptera Grylloblatta barberi Absent Crusher Incomplete
Hemiptera Lethocera, cicada None or four, AA thick at the base or AA uniformly membranous Pricker-nozzle Incomplete
Hymenoptera Bees, bumblebees, wasps and ants Four, very rarely none, sparse veins; AA larger than AP Crusher or licker Complete
Cockroaches Termites Four, very rarely none, scanty veins; AA and AP alike Crusher Incomplete
Lepidoptera Butterflies Four, very rarely none, scaly Nozzle Complete
Mantophasmatoptera Mantophasma zephyra Absent Crusher Incomplete
Mantoptera Mantis Four Crusher Incomplete
Mecopters Panorpes or flies-scorpions None or four, similar and narrow Crusher Complete
Megaloptera Corydalis Four, AA and AP, similar, veins profuse Crusher Complete
Neuroptera Lacewing Four, AA and AP similar, veins profuse Crusher Complete
Odonates Dragonflies Four, similar, veins profuse Crusher Incomplete
Orthoptera Crickets, locusts and grasshoppers None or four sometimes small), AA narrow, thick AP fan-folded Crusher Incomplete
Phasmatoptera Stick insects None or four, narrow AA, fan-folded AP Crusher Incomplete
Phthiroptera Pou Absent Crusher or pricker-nozzle Incomplete
Plecoptera Pearls Four, narrow AA, wide AP Crusher Incomplete
Psocoptera Psoques None or four, veins scanty; AA larger than AP Crusher Incomplete
Raphidioptera Agulla sp. Four, AA and AP similar, veins profuse Crusher Complete
Siphonaptera Fleas Absent Nozzle Complete
Strepsiptera Stylops pacificus Absent (females), four (males), AA very small and AP triangular Vestigial mouthparts Complete
Thysanoptera Thrips None or four; long, narrow and fringed Nozzle Intermediate between incomplete and complete
Thysanoures Silverfish Absent Crusher Absent
Trichoptera Phryganes Four, hairy Grinder, very small mouthparts Complete
Zoroptera Zorotypus newi None or four, long, narrow and fringed, AA larger than AP Crusher Incomplete

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