word "arthropod" means jointed leg or foot. It
includes the crustaceans - crabs and their relatives
- and the insects, and their relatives like spiders,
ticks, scorpions, centipedes, and millipedes. The
Class Insecta, or Hexapoda, includes the insects, and
their close relatives, while the Class Arachnida
includes the spiders, mites, ticks, scorpions, and
some other minor groups. There are well over 20 insect
Orders alone. The major insect groups that homeowners
will most often encounter are true
bugs (Hemiptera), aphids and scales (Homoptera),
beetles (Coleoptera), ants, bees, and wasps
(Hymenoptera), mosquitoes and other flies (Diptera),
and, moths and butterflies (Lepidoptera).
Make a collection
The best way to learn insect identification is
to make a reference, or synoptic, collection (see Related Articles
below). Start slowly with a few specimens you find in
your home or garden and use guidebooks, online
pictures and "keys" to identify these as best you can.
If you have access to a university you'll likely find
people there willing to help as well.
Get a field guide
The easiest way to start identifying insects
around the home is with a field guide (see our
to your local insects and related arthropods. Field
guides are usually specific to a particular region but
regions can be large such as "North America" or more
specific such as "Rocky Mountains". The smaller the
region the more specific will be the included species.
If you are really serious you'll also need a general
entomology textbook to learn the basics of anatomy,
classification and life histories of insects. Finally
you'll need a good hand
lens (see Purchasing
and Using a Hand Lens) for getting a
close-up view of small specimens.
General Entomology Textbooks
Collecting & Preserving Insects - Part
1, Part 2