Heteroptera is a group of about 40,000 species of insects (also called true bugs) in the order Hemiptera. The word "Heteroptera" is Greek for different wings: most species have forewings with both membranous and hardened portions (called hemelytra); members of the primitive infraorder Enicocephalomorpha have wings that are completely membranous. The name Heteroptera is used in two very different ways in modern classifications; it commonly appears as a suborder within Hemiptera, but also as a rankless (non-Linnaean) but monophyletic grouping of infraorders within the suborder Prosorrhyncha of the order Hemiptera. The use of the name may eventually be rejected due to some taxonomical problems.
Heteroptera includes both pest insects and beneficial (predatory) insects, some of which are sold in the trade as biocontrols. The order also includes a number of aquatic insects ("water bugs"), including the water striders.
True bugs have a "plate" called a scutellum behind the head, which is triangular. Most species have forewings with both membranous and hardened portions (called hemelytra), most are good fliers as adults. Like all Hemipterans, they have piercing-sucking mouthparts they use to extract plant juices.
Selected families of Heteroptera
- stink bugs or shield bugs (Pentatomidae and related families)
- leaf footed bugs and squash bugs (Coreidae)
- seed bugs (Lygaeidae)
- assassin bugs (Reduviidae)
- bedbugs and flower bugs (Cimicidae)
- leaf bugs or mirid bugs (Miridae; c.6,000 species)
Selected families of water bugs
- back swimmers (Notonectidae)
- giant water bugs (Belostomatidae)
- water scorpions (Nepidae)
- water boatmen (Corixidae)
- pond skaters (Gerridae)
- Smaller water strider (Veliidae)
Note: Any control for a pest bug will also kill the beneficial bugs.
Sorensen J.T., Campbell B.C., Gill R.J., Steffen-Campbell J.D., 1995. Non-monophyly of Auchenorrhyncha ("Homoptera"), based upon 18S rDNA phylogeny: eco-evolutionary and cladistic implications with pre-Heteropteroidea Hemiptera (s.l.) and a proposal for new monophyletic suborders. Pan-Pacific Entomologist, 71 (1): 31-60