Bugs or Insects?

by Skip Via
skip@westvalleynaturalists.org

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

All bugs are insects, but not all insects are bugs. Insects typically have a body segmented into three parts (head, thorax, and abdomen), a hard exoskeleton, six legs, and two antennae. Bees are insects. So are dragonflies, ants, butterflies, beetles, moths, and crickets among many others.

But there is one animal in this story that is not an insect. Spiders usually have only two body parts, basically a combined head and thorax (called the cephalothorax) and an abdomen. They don’t have antennae, they have mouths that are designed for piercing their prey, and they are related to ticks and scorpions.

Speaking of bees, Montana has the greatest variety of native bee species of any state–at least 28. There are also bumblebees, honeybees, carpenter bees, mason bees, leaf cutter bees, and several others.

Photos by Skip Via.

Yellow tigertail butterfly
Two-Form bumblebee on the highly invasive knapweed, which, sadly bees love and therefore play a role in its spread.
Two-Form bumblebees on goldenrod
American emerald dragonfly
Mason bee (?) on wood rose
Two-From bumblebee on sulphur buckwheat
Two-Form bumblebee on red clover
Longhorn beetle on spirea
Crab spider meets bumblebee. Judging from the absence of the bee’s head, it looks like the crab spider won this round. (Interesting fact–crab spiders walk sideways, like crabs.)
Mining bee on spirea
A gorgeous great spangled fritillary on thistle
A nice two’fer: great spangled fritillary aborts an attempted landing on a thistle occupied by a bumblebee.
Another two’fer–bumblebee and longhorn beetle on fleabane
Zerene fritillary
Two-Form bumblebee on fleabane
Bumblebee on arnica
Cabbage butterfly on forget-me-nots.
White-lined sphinx moth on phlox
Pollen-laden Hunt’s bumblebee on salvia
Alfalfa looper north on honeysuckle
Green comma butterfly
Two-Form bumblebee on thistle
Pollen-laden Two-Form bumblebee on St. John’s wort
Mason bee examining harebells
Fritillary on yarrow
Two-Form bumblebee on clematis

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