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[photo, Bumblebee on coneflower, Annapolis, Maryland] Insect as a general term most commonly refers to the arthropod subphylem Hexapoda. Over sixty percent of all known species on earth are classified within this subphylem, with beetles comprising more than a third of these. Cold-blooded, and possessing a consolidated thorax and six legs, this subphylem encompasses the classes Entognatha, and Insecta, as well as the subclassses Apterygota, and Pterygota.

In Maryland are found thousands of individual species. Commonly, they are grouped into families. A grouping of similar families is known as an order.

Bumblebee on coneflower, Annapolis, Maryland, June 2011. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.



All insects noted below are native to Maryland.

Ants (family Formicidae)
Ants form colonies consisting of drones, workers, soldiers, and a single queen. This specialized class system allows for cohesive social interaction to achieve colony goals. Sometimes confused with
termites due to their overall similar size and build, ants possess antennae that are wider at the tip than at the base near the head, and are bent at an angle.

Also members of the superfamily Vespoidea, wasps are close biological cousins to ants.

One member of the Formicidae family, the Red Imported Fire Ant (Solenopsis invica) from South America, is an invasive species in Maryland.

Bedbugs (family Cimicidae)
fleas, or ticks (class Arachnida, order Ixodida), bedbugs are parasites, and feed by attaching to a host. Unlike fleas or ticks, however, bedbugs are not known to transmit diseases. Their name derives from the habit of infesting beds and other common areas where host bodies sleep.

[photo, Bumblebee on azaleas, Glen Burnie, Maryland] Bees (family Apidae)
Part of the superfamily Apoidea, the family Apidae includes honey bees, bumblebees, carpenter bees, and other less known cousins. While some bees are helpful (honey bees), others are pests (carpenter bees). Allergic or hypersensitive reactions to bee stings generally only affect one or two people in a thousand.

Bumblebee on azaleas, Glen Burnie, Maryland, April 2011. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

Beetles (order Coleoptera)
Contains more described species than any other order (25% of all known life; 40% of known insects). Beetles can be found in almost any environment, and can be detrimental (horsenettle beetle [Leptinotarsa juncta]) or beneficial (ladybug [Coccinella septempunctata]). They easily are identified by their distinct shelled appearance, comprised of exoskeleton and plate-like forewings. Though all beetles possess wings, not all species can fly. Some are aquatic, either possessing gill-like organs, or surfacing to absorb oxygen.

Maryland is home to the rare Puritan Tiger Beetle (Cicindela puritana), which is classifed as endangered, and can be found in Southern Maryland along the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Convened in 2010 by the Department of Natural Resources, the Cliff Erosion Steering Committee examines ways by which to aid residents whose homes lie on eroding cliffs where the Puritan Tiger Beetle lives. The Committee particularly is concerned with the inhabited cliffs in Calvert, Cecil and Kent counties.

Butterflies & Moths (order Lepidoptera)
The common belief that moths are furry, while butterflies are not, is scientifically inaccurate. Although individual species may be called either butterfly or moth, the two are so closely related that division even at the family level is not considered sound. What distinguishes Lepidoptera are their comparatively large wings and antennae. While a small number of species possess crossvein wings, most have large membranous wings of various colors and patterns.

The Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly (Euphydryas phaeton) is the Maryland State insect.

Cicadas (family Cicadidae)
Most cicada species resemble each other, with black body, transparent wings, and an approx. length of 1.5 inches. They do not bite or sting, although pets may suffer gastric distress if allowed to eat too many during a swarm.

Swarms of cicadas (also known as periodical cicadas) appear in Maryland at verying intervals and last about six weeks. During this period, cicada youth, known as nymphs, mature, mate, and then die. Six individual species of cicadas are found in Maryland, falling into a 13- or 17-year hibernation cycle. Upon maturity, they emerge from the ground, and begin to swarm. Prior to emerging, cicadas largely feed on tree sap from the roots of deciduous tree.

Eggs laid during a swarm are classified as Broods and given a number. For example, all species of cicadas born in 1998 belong to Brood XIX, whereas those born in 2004 belong to Brood X. There are twelve recorded 17-year cicada broods and three 13-year broods. Of the broods found in Maryland, Brood X is the largest. Brood XIX is the only 13-year brood in Maryland, and in 2004 was only recorded in St. Mary's County. Each swarm can reach billions of insects in a given area, with numbers climbing even higher when multiple broods emerge in the same year. Specific 13- and 17-year broods only will swarm together once every 221 years. Brood X and XIX are expected to next swarm together in 2089. Though vunerable during a swarm to the usual insect predators, such as frogs and birds, the species greatest threat may be the Eastern Cicada Killer (Sphecius speciosus), a wasp that burrows underground to prey on the dormant creatures between swarms.

Cockroaches (order Blattaria)
Although there are approximately 4,500 individual species of cockroach, only
four species generally are encountered in Maryland. The most common of these is the American Cockroach (Periplaneta americana). Despite its name, it is not native to the Americas. Introduced from Africa to the colonies in the 1600s, this species is found throughout the world. Nocturnal, the American cockroach is one of the largest species of cockroach, capable of reaching more than two inches in length. It has also been classified as one of the fastest land insects in the world, reaching a speed of 3.4 mph, or 50 body lengths per second.

Crickets (superfamily Grylloidea)
Member of order Orthoptera, suborder Ensifera, crickets are close biological cousins to
grasshoppers, and often mistaken for them. Crickets possess long antennae compared to their body length. Unlike grasshoppers, crickets are primarily nocturnal. Eggs are laid in fall, with females using their abdomen to bury the eggs. Usually buried in loose soil, some species of crickets are known to cut niches into trees or other plants to lay their eggs. Once hatching from their egg in the spring, crickets experience a series of molts. Known for its distinctive call, only the males chirp. This is done by rubbing wings together, not their legs, as is the common belief.

A distinctly unique member of suborder Ensifera, Camel crickets (family Rhaphidophoridae) visably resemble spiders. Known for their distinct humped back, Camel crickets range in color from bronze to dark brown, with patterns of spots or stripes of similar color. They possess long legs as well as antennae (the legs comprising over half their total length). Although there are larger species, Camel crickets generally do not exceed two inches in Maryland. Unlike other members of order Orthoptera, Camel crickets do not make chirping noises or possess wings. Instead, they are a jumping insect that often leaps towards its attacker as its defense mechanism. Also known as Cave crickets, this family is drawn to dark, damp areas, and needs a moist environment to reproduce. Though found in any dark, damp location, Camel crickets frequently nest in basements, garages, or even inside walls. Though menacing in appearance, Camel crickets do not pose a threat to humans or pets.

[photo, Dragonfly, Glen Burnie, Maryland] Damselflies & Dragonflies (order Odonata)
more than 170 recorded species in MD)
Odonata are distinguished by their elongated bodies, large rounded heads, and two pairs of long, slender, transparent wings. They also possess long, dexterous legs that allow them to catch their prey while in flight. Species prefer wetlands, as their larval stage is aquatic. Odonata species are carnivorous, feeding mainly on other insects.

Dragonfly, Glen Burnie, Maryland, June 2011. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

Earwigs (order Dermaptera)
Possessing distinct pincers at the tip of their abdomens, earwigs are nocturnal insects capable of limited flight. Commonly found around humans, they prefer warm moist environments, hiding in basements or protected crevices during the day. Life expectancy is approximately one year from hatching.

Fleas (order Siphonaptera)
Wingless parasites, fleas travel by jumping from host to host. Tiny insects, they measure only 0.06 to 0.12 inches long, and can leap up to 13 inches, over sixty times their length. As with most parasites, fleas feed by attatching themselves to animals, such as dogs or birds, piercing the skin, and sucking the blood. It is through feeding that the flea acts as a vector for diseases.

Flies (family Muscidae)
In family Muscidae, the housefly (Musca domestica) is most well known. Drawn to decaying vegetation or carrion, flies may serve as vectors for numerous diseases, and can be found almost anywhere. Family Muscidae is part of order Diptera, and is cousin to mosquito and gnat.

Grasshoppers (suborder Caelifera)
Member of order Orthoptera, cousin to
crickets. Often mistaken for crickets, grasshoppers possess short antennae compared to their body length. Grasshoppers range between 0.75 and 1.5 inches in length. Eggs are laid in the Fall, with females using their abdomen to bury the eggs beneath the soil. In the Spring, after hatching from their eggs, grasshoppers experience a series of molts, and reach adulthood in 40 to 60 days. They live for approximately one year. Grasshoppers largely feed off field grains and, in cases of high population density, may damage crops. Mostly active during the day, they prefer areas with good exposure to sun and low-growing vegetation.

Hornets (Vespa crabro)
A member of the
wasp family (Vespidae), hornets are physically the largest genus of wasp, with some species reaching over an inch long. Only one species of true hornet lives in North America, though some species of wasps outside genus Vespa bear the same name. One such example is the Bald-Faced Hornet (Dolichovespula maculata) actually is more closely related to the yellow jacket. The European Hornet (Vespa crabro), though not native to the United States, first appeared here in the mid-1800s. Now, it is common throughout eastern and midwestern states. According to the National Institutes of Health, the allergic reation rate to Vespa crabro stings is three times that of honey bees or yellow jackets.

Lice (order Phthiraptera)
With four primary suborders, there are over three thousand known species of lice in the world. A small scavaging insect, lice nest on a host's body, feeding on dead skin cells and other digestable particles.

Mosquitos (family Culicidae)
A common nuisance during warmer months in Maryland, mosquitos feed on blood, and can carry infectious diseases. While both sexes consume nectar, females also feed on animal blood to further nourish their eggs. As their larval stage is aquatic, eggs are laid on water. Thus, eliminating standing water is a primary deterrent against mosquitos. Exceptionally short lived, mosquitos usually only reach two-weeks old in nature. The exception to this occurs in Winter. Mosquitos can place themselves into a suspended state, allowing them to live through colder months. Eggs also enter such a state, surviving ice and snow, hatching only when warm temperatures ensure their survival. Mosquitos are crepuscular, active primarily at dawn and dusk.
Dragonflies and Damselflies are the mosquitos primary predator, and the largest single factor in controlling population.

One major threat to native Maryland mosquitos is the Asian Tiger Mosquito (Aedes albopictus).

Moths (order Lepidoptera)
see: Butterflies & Moths

Stink Bugs (family Pentatomidae)
Members of Order Hemiptera, stink bugs (also known as shield bugs) are found throughout the world. They come in many forms, although all possess certain traits. Stink bugs bear five-segmented antennae from which their scientific name derives. They also have hardened wings that protect them on the ground. With most species, wings interlock with thorax plates forming an hourglass pattern on their backs. Glands located in the thorax produce a foul odor when they are startled or killed, thus their common name. In Maryland, native species as adults average a half inch in length. Feeding on crops and vegetation, stink bugs are generally harmless. However, this family is resistant to most pesticides, making them a much more destructive pest when they arrive in great numbers. For most species, the life span is one year, and they are most active between June and October.

Also found in Maryland, the brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) is an invasive species from Asia.

Termites (order Isoptera)
Termites feed primarily on dead plant material: wood, fallen leaves, soil, and other organic detritus. This diet makes termites a pest insect that can seriously damage crops, as well as homes and property. Members of a caste system led by the queen, termites produce overlapping generations with workers to care for the young. Unlike many other caste system hives, termite nests may hold more than one egg-laying queen at a time. Lastly, the soldier class is primarily responsible for keeping intruders out of the hive. The largest threat to the hive is ants, although other insects may enter if openings are large enough. Sometimes called white ants due to physical similarities, termites are members of the infraclass Neoptera, and are more closely related to grasshoppers and earwigs. Besides color, one of the most differentiating traits is their antennae, which resemble a string of beads, and are slightly curved. Termites are tiny, generally some 0.25 to 0.37 inches in length, although a queen’s abdomen may distend before laying eggs. During this time, a queen’s total size may increase by over ten times.

Wasps (family Vespidae)
Only female wasps possess stingers, and may sting repeatedly, unlike bees. Both hornets and yellow jackets are classified in the wasp family. Another distinction is that wasp nests die out each year, with a single queen hibernating elsewhere over the winter to start a new colony the following Spring. Each year, a new queen is born to start the next colony. Although painful, allergic or hypersensitive reactions to wasp stings generally affect only one to two people in a thousand.

Also members of the superfamily Vespoidea, ants are close biological cousins of wasps.

Yellow Jackets (genus vespula, Dolichovespula)
Two genus within the
wasp family (Vespidae) are collectively known as yellow jackets. Though each possesses differing traits and habits, both bear similar abdomen coloration and patterns. In Maryland, the most common species is the Eastern Yellow Jacket (Vespula maculifrons). Approximately half an inch in length, these yellow jackets prefer nesting in the ground, but also may be found inside attics, basements, garages, or any other protected area where they can gain acces.

Another species native to Maryland, the Bald-Faced Hornet (Dolichovespula maculata), despite its name, actually is a yellow jacket. This species differs from most yellow jackets in that its patterns are very light yellow, bordering on white, and are only found on its face and at the tip of its abdomen. This distinction led to its name.



No insects noted below are native to Maryland.

Asian Longhorned Beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis)
(no recorded cases in Maryland; classified as potential threat)
First discovered in the United States in 1996, the Asian Longhorned Beetle has been found in Illinois, New Jersey, and New York. This species is considered a serious threat due to its voracious appetite for hardwood trees, its high reproductive rate, and the lack of any natural predators.

Ranging from 0.75 to 1.25 inches in length, the Asian Longhorned Beetle is a very noticable insect. Also known as the Starry Sky Beetle, this insect is primarily black in color, with white patches along the edge of its shell. Its long antennae, which give the beetle its name, are covered with interspersed black and white bands over the entire length. The Asian Longhorned Beetle is sometimes mistaken for a member of the Sawyer (family Monochamus) family of beetles, which is similar in size and pattern.

Upon discovery of any beetle suspected of being the Asian Longhorned, the insect should be captured and reported to the Maryland Department of Agriculture.

Asian Tiger Mosquito (Aedes albopictus)
In Maryland, the Asian Tiger Mosquito was first discovered in Baltimore City in 1987, and has since spread to all Maryland counties except Allegany and Garrett.

A tiny creature, the Asian Tiger Mosquito ranges from 0.06 to 0.38 inches in length, and is black in color with white striping along its legs and body. Unlike other species of mosquitos, it is much more prolific in urban areas. This is due in part to its ability to lay and hatch eggs with much less water than domestic species. Whereas most indigenous species are common to wetlands and require larger bodies of standing water, this species can thrive on the standing water found in childrens toys, lawn furniture, or even something as small as a disposable plastic cup. Combined, a lack of natural predators, and its ability to "crowd out" feeding areas, have made it the primary pest insect in many areas of the State.

The total life cycle of the Asian Tiger Mosquito is approximately a year, with eggs being laid regularly during warmer months. Laid just above water level, eggs can remain viable over the Winter even though exposed to the elements. Upon hatching, larvae go through a series of molts, and can mature as early as May. Upon reaching maturity, females may lay eggs weekly depending on environmental factors. Over the course of her life, a female may lay as many as 300 eggs.

Another threat posed by the Asian Tiger Mosquito is its role as a vector for numerous diseses to both people and pets. Among other diseases, it is a known carrier of the West Nile Virus.

Black Vine Weevil (Otiorhynchus sulcatus)
The Black Vine Weevil is classified as an Invasive Species of Concern in Maryland. Reproducing asexually, the weevil lays eggs at the base of herbaceous perennials, such as yews, rhododendrons, and hostas. Upon hatching, the larva feed on the trunk of the bush, often feeding until the base is chewed clear through.

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (Halyomorpha halys)
First recorded in the United States in 1998, the brown marmorated stink bug established a presence in Maryland by 2009. Nearly identical in appearance to the native stink bug, the brown marmorated stink bug is difficult to differentiate from its local cousin. Distinguishing this invasive species are the white bands on its antennae, which indigenous stink bugs lack. Also, the female brown marmorated stink bug may lay two or more batches of eggs each year, while the native female stink bug produces just one.

Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis)
(only two recorded Maryland cases, both in Prince George's County)
Although only a limited presence in Maryland at this time, the Emerald Ash Borer poses a great danger to the State’s wildlands. Responsible for the destruction of millions of trees throughout the country, the borer potentially could destroy millions of acres of woodland throughout the State.

First recorded in Maryland in 2003, the Department of Agriculture issued a quarantine on planting and transporting ash trees within or through Prince George’s County after borers were again discovered in 2006. In 2008, the quarantine was expanded to include Charles County in an effort to restrict the spread of the known infestation along the County line. The Department also is hanging traps in other threatened areas of the State to determine possible borer infestation.

Fire Ant (red imported) (Solenopsis invica)
(isolated colonies recorded, none established)
Imported from South America in the 1930s, the Imported Red Fire Ant is classified as an Invasive Species of Concern in Maryland. While this species has been found in Maryland, no established colonies have been recorded in the State.

Gypsy Moth (Lymantria dispar)
Introduced to the United States from Europe in the 1890s, the Gypsy Moth did not establish a presence in Maryland until the late 1970s and early 1980s. Although great pains are undertaken by federal, State and local agencies to reduce and slow the spread of the species, studies predict that stopping the spread of Gypsy Moths altogether is impossible. Further complicating efforts, an Asian cousin, the Japanese Gypsy Moth (Lymantria japonica), was introduced to the West Coast in 1991. At this time, none of these have been found in Maryland.

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (Adelges tsugae)
Although established from Tennessee to Maine, and found throughout most of the State, as of 2009, no established colonies have been reported in Southern Maryland (Charles & St. Mary's counties) or the lower Eastern Shore (Dorchester, Somerset, Wicomico, & Worcester counties). Known for creating a distinct white "wooly" wax along infected branches, the Adelgid itself is often unnoticed, due to its nearly microscopic size. As an adult, the Adelgid is no bigger than a period on a printed page.

Japanese Beetle (Popillia japonica)
First recorded in United States in 1916, the Japanese Bettle now is found in most states east of the Mississippi River, with scattered infestation along the West Coast.

Possessing distinct copper-colored forewings that serve as a shell when not in flight, the Japanese beetle ranges from 0.4 to 0.6 inches in length. Destructive to foliage, this beetle feeds off leaf matter between the veins.

Although Japanese beetle traps are readily available and effective, recent studies show that these traps may draw more beetles than they trap. This, in turn, leads to more foliage destruction along flight paths, as well as at the trap's location, than would have occurred without the trap.

Pine Shoot Beetle (Tomicus pniperda)
Native to Europe and Asia, the Pine Shoot Beetle first was discovered in the United States in 1992. By 2005, this beetle had been located in five Maryland counties. In an effort to stop its spread, the Department of Agriculture issued quarantine restrictions on sale and transportation of pine trees in and through Maryland. In June 2010, the beetle was found in four more counties, and a second Quarantine Order was issued, covering some nine counties.

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August 9, 2011   
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