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Insect or Arachnid?

Aug 17, 2007
Many people think of bugs as insects, but the fact of the matter is that just about any small, creepy and crawly thing can be a bug. Centipedes, spiders, and all sorts of insects are considered bugs. So, while an insect is always a bug, a bug is not always an insect. While the difference is not usually a matter of life and death, it is still nice to know the difference between different types of bugs. For the most part, people tend to thing that arachnids (spiders fall into this category) are insects because they are also considered bugs. This is not true, however. There are some very real differences between insects and arachnids.

Insects have three different body regions. They have a head (self explanatory), a thorax, which is the middle section, and an abdomen. If you look carefully at an insect, you will find that the legs of an insect (insects have six legs, and six legs only -- no more and no less) are attached to the thorax. When one looks at an insect, it is apparent that there are three distinct sections. Also, some insects (though not all) have wings. No arachnids have wings.

Arachnids, on the other hand, have eight legs and only two body sections: the head and the abdomen. Arachnids get their name from an ancient Greek legend. It was said that Athena found a woman called Arachne boasting that her weaving was better than anyone, even the goddess's weaving. Greek gods and goddesses did not take well to upstart mortals, so Arachne was turned into a spider. She could weave only her webs, and all spiders now carry her name.

Even though these differences between insects and arachnids exist, there are also similarities. First of all, both types of bugs have an exoskeleton. This means that the skeleton is on the outside of the body, rather than on the inside. Even though we as humans have a skeleton that protects some organs, it is still located beneath the skin. And in areas like the legs and arms, the skeleton is protected by muscles and skin. With bugs, the skeleton is on the outside and protects everything inside. Some have very hard exoskeletons, like black widows and cockroaches. Another similarity is regarding the eyes. Both insects and arachnids have multi-faceted eyes that can see in many directions at once.

Additionally, both insects and arachnids can have more than just one pair of eyes. Some have up to six eyes or more! Additionally, poison is not limited to just arachnids. Some insects are poisonous (like scorpions). With all bugs, though, the potency of the poison varies from species to species.

And, finally, the biggest similarity is that many people do not like them. Insect or arachnid, there are many people who are scared of bugs. They find them alien looking and distasteful. And they have a way of popping out unexpectedly to startle and alarm. But, for the most part, if we leave bugs alone, they will not harm us.
About the Author
To learn more about insects and arachnids, as well as other types of bugs, visit us at
Insects and Bugs
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