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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|