Sucking Bugs (Order Hemiptera)

Many people use the word 'bug' for any sort of insect, or for any strange creepy crawly for that matter. However in the insect world, the word bug applies to a particular group of insects, the Order Hemiptera, that have special mouthparts designed for sucking up liquids. To avoid this confusion with names, these insects are sometimes called sucking bugs or true bugs.

This is a very large group of insects, probably with more than 10000 Australian species. It includes some very different looking insects.

Many are important pests of crops, especially aphids, scale insects and mealybugs. Some like cicadas are conspicuous because of their ability to sing. Related to cicadas are leaf and planthoppers. Many of these also communicate with sound, but transmitted through the plants on which they live.

True bugs also include the familiar stink and shield bugs and the predatory assassin bugs. There are also several groups of sucking bugs that live in freshwater such as backswimmers, waterboatman and water scorpions.

True bugs are very diverse in form and habit, ranging from the plant sucking, tiny, rounded wingless aphids, stem hugging Lantana Treehoppers and Mallotus Harlequin Bug to the predatory, aquatic Water Scorpion (see images below).

AphidsAphids.

Lantana treehopper, Aconophora compressaLantana treehopper, Aconophora compressa.

Mallotus Harlequin Bug, Cantao parentumMallotus Harlequin Bug, Cantao parentum.

Water scorpion, Laccotrephes tristisWater scorpion, Laccotrephes tristis.

Eucalypt Planthopper, Platybrachys decemmaculaEucalypt Planthoppers, Platybrachys decemmacula (Eurybrachyidae), are common on eucalypt tree trunks in open forest and woodland. The nymph has a pair of long, upright filaments at the tip of their abdomen.

Peltocopta crassiventris (Tessaratomidae)A beautiful female Peltocopta crassiventris (Tessaratomidae).

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