Most of us use the words “bug” and “insect” interchangeably, to mean a little creepy-crawly critter. But to scientists, these words mean different things. Insects are a group of animals without backbones that have six legs, an exoskeleton, a three-part body, and a pair of antennae. Ants, bees, beetles, and butterflies are all insects. There are more than a million species, making up 90% of life on Earth.

Bugs are one group of insects. Bugs have sucking mouth parts, which they often use to drink plant sap. Examples of true bugs include aphids, planthoppers, and some big bugs that you might be able to hear in late summer: cicadas!

Photo by Bruce Marlin

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