TRUE BUG Order Hemiptera, Suborder Heteroptera

• Common Body plan: True Bugs have different body shapes, sizes and colors. One thing they have in common is a long slender beak shaped mouth that looks like a straw, which they use to poke through plants and occasionally animal skin and suck out sap or blood. They also usually have a front pair of wings partially hardened with clear tips, making it look like a half wing. Two differnet types of True Bugs are -Heteropteran bugs- fore wings cut into two regions, a tough and leathery basal area and a membranous tip, and membranous hind wings; all four wings folded flat over their backs when not needed for flying, and -Homopteran bugs- either toughened or membraneous (but not both) fore wings and all four wings held tent-like over the body when the insect is at rest.

• Evolutionary History/Phylogeny: True bugs first appeared in the form of Arctiniscytina and Paraknightia. Historically the Order Hemiptera was split into two suborders: the Heteroptera (from the Greek, meaning 'different wings') and the Homoptera ('uniform wings') and the distinction was primarily based on the structure of the wings.

• Life cycle: Auchenorrhyncha and Sternorrhyncha have three life-stages: egg, nymph, and adult - and some have prepupal and pupal stages. Some groups are ovoviviparous (eggs hatch inside female, and young are born live). Heteroptera have gradual or incomplete metamorphosis (no pupa stage); juveniles (nymphs) resemble adults except they usually have reduced wings and are incapable of flight.

• Distribution and Niche: True Bugs range across the world and provide in many freshwater and terrestrial habitats.Almost all hemipterans are terrestrial, although some groups of Heteroptera such as the Gerromorpha and the Nepomorpha inhabit freshwater habitats, living on the surface tension of the water and beneath its surface respectively. Most plant feeding hemipterans are found on the leaves, stems or bark of plants, some species aggregating in enormous numbers, while others can be found living among the roots. Some form protective waxy secretions or hard galls on the leaves and stems of many Australian plants including Acacia and Eucalyptus species.

• Human Connections: Although many species of Hemiptera are significant pests of crops and garden plants, including many species of aphid and scale insects, other species are harmless. The damage done is often not so much the deprivation of the plant of its sap, but the fact that they transmit serious viral diseases between plants. They often produce copious amounts of honeydew which encourages the growth of sooty mold. Significant pests include the cottony cushion scale, a pest of citrus fruit trees, the green peach aphid and other aphids which attack crops worldwide and transmit diseases, and jumping plant lice which are often host plant-specific and transmit diseases.

Chagas disease is a modern-day tropical disease caused by Trypanosoma cruzi and transmitted by kissing bugs, so-called because they suck human blood from around the lips while a person sleeps.

The bed bug, Cimex lectularius, is an external parasite of humans. It lives in bedding and is mainly active at night, feeding on human blood, generally without being noticed. Bed bugs mate by traumatic insemination; the male pierces the female's abdomen and injects his sperm into a secondary genital structure, the spermalege. The sperm travel in the female's blood (haemolymph) to sperm storage structures (seminal conceptacles); they are released from there to fertilise her eggs inside her ovaries

Some larger hemipterans such as cicadas are used as food in Asian countries such as China and they are much esteemed in Malawi and other African countries. Insects have a high protein content and good food conversion ratios, but most hemipterans are too small to be a useful component of the human diet. At least nine species of Hemiptera are eaten worldwide.[



Created with images by arian.suresh - "Jewel bug (Mating pair)" • J. Coelho - "Graphosoma lineatum" • S. Rae - "Troilus luridus (Bronze Shieldbug) - 1st instar nymphs and eggs" • ~suchitra~ - "lady bug"

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