“If variety is indeed the spice of life, then insects are the spiciest creatures on earth.” That is the opening introduction to the Field Guide to Insects of North America by birder extraordinaire Kenn Kaufman. In the US, there are nearly 91,000 insects and 4,000 spider species that are described, and an additional 73,000 undescribed. That’s over 100 times more known bug species than birds and it is likely 170 times or more!
“Bug” is a generic word with many definitions. I’m using it to define the Arthropods, invertebrate animals that include insects, spiders, and crustaceans.
The sheer number of bug species, combined with their small size, diversity, and multiple life stages make it challenging to identify most bugs to species in the field or by photos. Identification to a family or genus is often a tremendous success and often requires experts (try BugGuide.net or iNaturalist). As a birder, I expected to put a name to every bug at first, but I’m over that. Bug observation is fascinating anyway, and it’s so easy to get new lifers!