Introductory Vocabulary

The term bugs is commonly used, both in our lab and by the general public, but it’s actually pretty vague. Are your bugs arachnids – with 8 legs, no antennae, and no wings – like spiders and scorpions? Are they insects – with 6 legs, 2 antennae, 3 major body parts, and compound eyes – like butterflies?  All bugs are invertebrates – meaning that they don’t have spines – but they come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. We talk about what kind of bug we are focusing on in every post, and identify the features that earn them their titles.

Taxonomy is a way to group different organisms based on how related they are to each other compared to other living things. For example, humans are more related to cats than they are to birds because they share characteristics like hair and feeding milk to their young. Both humans and cats are therefore mammals, while birds belong to a different group. We identify our bugs to the level of Order. Our posts contain basic descriptions for different orders of bugs, but there are further levels of identification that get even more specific and consider additional distinguishing characteristics. For example, the order Hymenoptera includes bees, wasps, and ants. You could further break that group down into smaller groups, but for our study we have chosen not to.

If you see a science vocabulary word in our posts that you don’t recognize and think should go on this page, please contact us!