General Information and References
There are over 1 million separate known species of insects; this is more than all other species combined. The US has about 100,000 species and there may be up to a 1000 varieties in your back yard.
Most of the insects are harmless or are predators, keeping the bad insects under control. They serve an essential function for us, in that about 80% of the food world-wide is dependent on insect pollination. It is estimated that only about 3% of all the insects are “pests” for mankind. This small fraction of insects, however, causes many millions of dollars of damage to agricultural crops, fruit and shade trees, ornamental plants, buildings and other materials valued by man.
It would be impossible to identify and deal with this number of species without a classification system. In this system insects are but one of the divisions of the group (phyla) called arthropoda.
The arthropoda group has separate classes for insects, spiders, slugs, sowbugs, mites, ticks, centipedes and others. This difference is important to mention, in that organisms in different classes have different behaviors and have different susceptibilities to pesticides. For instance, chemicals labeled as insecticides are often not effective on spider mites, which are in the arachnid or spider class.
When dealing with an insect problem, the first step is usually identification. There are a number of useful websites to help with this. Start by looking at our Insect Gallery page, then consult one of the references listed below. The OSU Master Gardeners can help with insect identification and recommendations for control.
Bug Guide (Identification of Insects and Spiders for the US and Canada)
Field Guide for Insects (Texas A&M)
Gallery Page, this site
General Information and Control
OSU Pest E-alerts
Home and Garden Insects (OSU PODS search)
EPP-7306: Ornamental and Lawn Pest Control (for Homeowners)
Epp-7312: Household Pest Control
Colorado State Insect Information
Insecticides, this site
F-6431: Earth-Kind Gardening Series: Cultural Control Practices
F-6434: Earth-Kind Gardening Series: Biological Pest Controls
F-6433: Earth-Kind Gardening Series: Botanical Pest Controls
F-6432: Earth-Kind Gardening Series: Mechanical Pest Controls
Human and Pet Related Pests:
Fleas: Florida Extension
VTMD-9121: Flea Control
EPP-7001: Common Ticks of Oklahoma and Tick-Born Diseases
EPP-7301 Spiders: Brown Recluse, Black Widow, and Other Common Spiders
Bed Bugs: OSU Entomology
EPP-7305 Paper Wasps, Yellowjackets, and Other Stinging Wasps
Termite and Ant Identification
Features of Ants and Termites
Epp-7307: Beneficial Insects
E-1023: Conserving Beneficial Arthropods in Residential Landscapes
Oak Leaf Itch Mites