True Bugs Suck

To an entomologist, “true bugs” are insects that suck. No insult intended – they really do suck.

August 25, 2016 | | Environment

Plant Hopper

Plant Hopper

For most of us “bug” is a catch-all term for any small creature with multiple legs that flies, crawls, squirms or hops.

But to an entomologist – an insect scientist – a bug is a particular category of insect. To an entomologist, “true bugs” are insects that suck. No insult intended – they really do suck. Instead of chewing their food, they insert sharp beaks into plants or animals and suck up fluids.

The diversity of true bugs is awe-inspiring. Among the vast array of plant-sucking species are aphids, cicadas, leaf-hoppers and milkweed bugs.

And then there are the predators that include aptly named killers like ambush bugs and assassin bugs. Imagined as larger creatures, these sinister looking bugs could serve as inspiration for malevolent alien characters in sci-fi flicks.

They hide in flowers or prowl foliage, seeking the juicy bodies of unsuspecting caterpillars, bees and moths. Holding them in a death grip, they stab their prey with their beaks and then suck them dry. A most unpleasant death.

Some of the true bugs (thankfully not many!) suck human blood. Bed bugs are a notorious example. Take heart then that bed-bug hunters exist. These too are in the “true bug” family and as their name suggests they suck the bodily fluids of bed bugs.

Bed-bug hunters prowl our homes – yes, even yours, whether you have bed bugs or not! If you see an animated lump of dust in your house, you’ve probably found one. These cryptic creatures dress themselves with dirt missed by the vacuum. Then, suitably disguised, they sneak up, not only on bed bugs, but also on other small critters that inhabit your house.

So there you have it. There are all manner of true bugs out there sipping and slurping. I find them fascinating, but truth be told, they all suck!

ambushBug assasinbug assasinbug1 bedbug cicada leafhopper stinkbug stinkbugimmature
Immature Stink Bug

About the Author More by Don Scallen

Don Scallen enjoys sharing his love of nature through his writing and presentations. Check out his blog "Notes from the Wild".



  1. Hi Tom,
    Good to hear from you. Ticks are indeed topical. I will try to heed your advice and find out more about them and the peril they present.
    I don’t want to downplay the danger, but a few thoughts occur to me. I have spent hundreds of hours in the meadows and woodlands of this area in recent years. Never have I encountered a tick. I certainly have in Carolinian Canada, specifically at Long Point and Rondeau Provincial Park, but as yet, none at all in this area. That doesn’t mean they aren’t here in low numbers and we do need to be conscious of that possibility. Let’s be prudent, but not unduly fearful. On a hike with children earlier this year, every small thing that moved became a “tick”. They were unable to enjoy the walk because their parents had instilled such fear in them.

    Don Scallen on Oct 5, 2016 at 7:21 pm | Reply

  2. Hi Don:

    Great read on Bugs.

    Would love for you to research and write on another type of bug that has been in the news more and more lately and has alot of people I know concerned about going out into grassed and forested areas. Ticks, Ticks and more Ticks

    Ticks = Lyme disease = What to do.

    Tom Wenzel on Oct 3, 2016 at 1:39 pm | Reply

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