How Insects are Classified

Insects are classified using the same hierarchical scientific classification system as is used for plants. Insects fall into the kingdom called Animalia (animals). The animal kingdom is further divided into various phyla. Insects are part of the phyla named Arthropoda, along with spiders, crayfish, and millipedes. The phylum Arthropoda is further divided into classes. The class containing insects is called Hexapoda, which is so named because every species in it has six legs. The class Hexapoda is further divided into orders of insects, which are organized primarily by various common anatomical characteristics.

Some of the common orders of insects include:

  • Coleoptera: beetles and weevils
  • Blattodea: cockroaches and termites
  • Diptera: flies, gnats, midges, and mosquitos
  • Ephermeroptera: mayflies
  • Hymenoptera: ants, bees, and wasps
  • Lepidoptera: butterflies and moths
  • Mantodea: mantises
  • Odonata: damselflies and dragonflies
  • Orthoptera: crickets, grasshoppers, katydids, and locusts
  • Siphonaptera: fleas

Each order is further subdivided into various families, genera, and species. Common names are often associated with orders, families, genera, and species. Often the same insect will have multiple names depending on where they are found or the type of plants they are damaging.

There are also many species of non-insect relatives found in gardens and landscaping. They are also classified in the phylum Arthropoda but are grouped into classes other than Hexapoda. These include mites, spiders, and ticks in the phyla Arachnida, pill bugs in the phyla Crustacea, centipedes in the phyla Chilopoda, and millipedes in the phyla Diplopoda.