Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas A&M University System
Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University
Glossary of Insect and Related Plant Terms and Order Characteristics
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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 

alates - winged forms of insects
anthocorids -
a true bug in the family Anthocoridae
aphid -
an insect in the family Aphidiidae which are sometimes called plant lice


bahiagrass -
a type of lawn grass
beneficial insect -
any insect that has a life style that is advantageous to man. Insects that preserve the balance of nature by feeding on others, pollinators, and recyclers are examples of beneficial insects.
Bermudagrass -
a common grass in Texas which is used for lawns and forage

caterpillar -
the immature stage of any Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)
centipedegrass - 
a type of lawn (turf) grass
cephalothorax -
head (ceph) and chest (thorax) area
cerci - 
paired appendages on the end of the abdomen of many insects which are used for sensing, defense or mating
chewing (mouth parts) -
any mouth part that literally bites to feed; other mouth part types are sucking and rasping.
chlorosis -
yellowing of a leaf
clavus -
the enlarged terminal antennal segments that form a club
collophore -
a tube-like structure on the underside of the first abdominal segment of Collembola (springtails)
compound eyes -
the large multi-faceted eyes of insects
coreids -
a member of the family Coreidae which are leaf footed bugs
corium -
the elongate, thickened basal portion of the fore wing of Hemiptera
cornicles -
tubular structure on each side of abdominal region from which pheromones or honeydew is expelled.
coxa (pl.=coxae)
- basal portion of the leg
crepuscular -  
having activity periods during low light levels at dawn and evening
crown (of plant) - 
the center of a growing plant usually referring to a plant with a rosette
cursorial - adapted for running

dactyl -
literally a finger or fingerlike projection on an insect body part
dealates -
winged forms that have shed their wings, like reproductive termites or ants
defoliate, defoliation - removal of foliage from plants, often by chewing insects
detritivore -
any organism that eats decaying organic matter
diapause -
an insect resting stage, usually induced by environmental signals or extreme conditions like winter or summer
dimorphic - 
having two distinct forms


endosperm -
a portion of a seed which contains most of the energy reserves for germination
estivation (aestivation) -
a resting stage (quiescence) resulting from continued high temperature or xeric conditions; diapause; hibernation.
exoskeleton - the outer portion of an insect body which may be relatively soft like a caterpillar or hardened like many beetles
Entomological Society of America; the largest organization in the world serving the professional and scientific needs of entomologists and people in related disciplines. Founded in 1889, ESA today has more than 6,000 members. This number includes educators, extension personnel, consultants, students, researchers, and scientists from agricultural departments, health agencies, private industries, colleges and universities, and state and federal governments.

femora -
a segment of an insect leg; usually the largest segment
filiform -
linear shaped as the antennae of ground beetles
forage grass - 
any grass used for hay or animal grazing
forbs - 
any broadleaf non-woody (herbaceous) plant
frass -
solid larval insect excrement; plant fragments made by wood-boring insects, usually mixed with excrement
(plural: furcula) - the elongate fork-like appendage on the end of the abdomen (folds under the body) of Collembola (e.g. springtails) which is used as a spring action for leaping

genera -
plural of genus; A genus is a group of plants or animals with similar characteristics.  Animals (insects) are classified by kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species, author's name.  For example, the honey bee is classified as Animal (kingdom), Arthropoda (phylum), Insecta or Hexapoda (class), Hymenoptera (order), Apidae (family), Apis (genus), mellifera (species), Linnaeus (author's name).  The genus and species are always italicized.
girdle, girdling -
damage of a plant that circles the stem or branch cutting off the connective plant tissue
gradual metamorphosis -
grigology - the study of crickets, grasshoppers and katydids


hackberry tree - 
a common native tree in Texas in the genus Celtis; occasionally used for landscape
hemelytron -
the first wing of a true bug (Hemiptera) which has the base more thickened than the membaneous outer portion
hopperburn -
leaf damage caused by leafhopper feeding which is a yellowing of the leaves

imago -
the adult stage of an insect
instar -
an insect stage between molts; molting is growth.
internode -
The part of a plant stem between the nodes.  Nodes mark the point of attachment of leaves, flowers, fruits, buds and other stems.

Johnsongrass - a wild grass throughout much of Texas. It is the same species as the commercially ground varieties of sorghum.  



larval stage (larva, larvae) -
an immature insect, sometimes used to include all immature stages, even eggs. Usually this term refers more specifically to the feeding stages of insects with complete metamorphosis like grubs, caterpillars, and maggots.
legume -
any plant which is a member of the pea family

maggot -
in most Diptera (flies), legless larva lacking a distinct head, with cephalic (head) end pointed and caudal (rear) end blunt.
mesophyll - 
fleshy plant tissue inside a leaf or stem
metamorphosis - change in form during an insect's growth and development. 
     gradual metamorphosis - incomplete metamorphosis in which there is no
        pupal stage and the immatures and adults look similar excluding the wings of the adults
        incomplete metamorphosis -
any metamorphosis type that does not include the
        pupal stage. Incomplete metamorphosis is present in Orthoptera (grasshoppers),
        Hemiptera (true bugs), and several other orders.
        simple metamorphosis -
any metamorphosis that occurs in insect groups that
        where they are not winged and have no pupal stage. Insect groups with simple
        metamorphosis include the Collembola (springtails) and Thysanura (silverfish).
metathorax -
the second section of the insect thorax which houses the second pair of legs and the first pair of wings
mite -
a member of the the order Acari (ticks and mites)
molt, molting process - in insects, as in snakes, the process of shedding the exoskeleton

naiad -
a term for immature insects that are aquatic from the orders Plecoptera, Odonata, and Ephemeroptera. This term is becoming archaic and is now replaced by the more general term "immature" insect.
necrosis - death of tissue in plants or animals
nymphs - an immature stage of hemimetabolous insects (those with incomplete metamorphosis).

oothecae -
a bean-like hardened egg capsule produced by female cockroaches
osmeterium (pl.=osmeteria) -
scent-producing area behind the tibia
overwinter - 
time spent during the winter months. Insects are often in hibernation or at least rather immobile in the colder temperatures.
ovipositor -
the egg laying apparatus of an insect. The stinger of a bee is actually a modified ovipositor.

parthenogenesis -
egg development without fertilization
pedipalps -  second pair of appendages of the cephalothorax corresponding to the mandibles of insects.
petiole - 
attachment of a leaf to stem
phloem and xylem -
vascular tubes that allow fluid transport in plants.  It is the way plants receive and distribute nutrients, hormones and water.
photosynthesis - the chemical process that plants use to convert carbon dioxide and water to sugars and ultimately to energy
phyto- (prefix) - plant
phytophagous -
plant eating; an insect using plants as a food source
phytotoxemia -
a toxic reaction in plants
Pierce's disease (of grapes) -
a bacterial disease of grapes transmitted by leafhoppers
poikilotherm -
a cold-blooded organism
proboscis -
a nose, or in the case of butterflies the coiled sucking mouthpart
pronotum -
the plate on top of the prothorax
prothorax - the front part of an insect thorax which includes the attachment points for the front legs
protozoan -  a microorganism in the kingdom Protozoa
pseudergates -
caste found in the lower termites (Isoptera), comprised of individuals having regressed from nymphal stages by molts eliminating the wing buds, or being derived from larvae having undergone nondifferentiating molts, serving as the principle elements of the worker caste, but remaining capable of developing into other castes by further molting.
psocids - 
any insect in the order Psocoptera, which includes booklice and barklice
psyllid yellows -  a virus disease of potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. See purple top. 
pupal stage (pupa) -
the stage in complete metamorphosis between larva and adult like the cocoon in moths
purple top - 
a purple discoloration of foliage tips caused by insect transmitted virus
pustulate - pus-forming, as in spider bites


Rhopalid - an insect in the family Rhopalidae in the order Hemiptera (true bugs).
rosetting - malformation of a plant resulting in a bunched irregular growth of the leaves

St. Augustinegrass - a warm weather turfgrass, common in Texas; medium water requirements, low shade tolerance (requires full sun), coarse leaf texture, mowing frequency every 5-7 days, high disease potential
scutellum - a triangular shaped section on the back of Hemiptera and some Coleoptera.  It is often the identifying characteristic of Hemipterans or "true bugs".
secondary reproductive
- a caste of subterranean termite; also called supplemental reproductives; If these termites develop from nymphs, they are called secondary reproductives (primary reproductives are the king and queen).  If they develop from pseudergates, they are called tertiary reproductives.  Supplementals may be responsible for most of the egg productionin the colony.
soldier termite -
See termite.
spinneret -
a small tubular appendage from which silk threads by spiders and many larval insects
stippling (leaf) -
a speckled appearance of a leaf, usually yellowish spots on a green leaf.
stolon - 
an underground portion of a plant that grows horizontally, like a grass root.
subgroup -
a subset of a group with related characters. The term group is a general and non-specific collection of similar organisms regardless of taxonomic hierarchy.
subimago - 
the first winged stage of a mayfly. This is the only group to have a winged stage that molts. The final stage is the imago, or adult.

tarsi - a foot. Insect feet are made of several segments and may have pads, hairs, or hooks.
tegmina -
plural of tegmen, a hardened covering like the forewing of many Orthoptera and Hemiptera
tenaculum -  a minute two-pronged structure on the underside of the third abdominal segment of Collembola (springtails) which holds the furcula (appendage used for jumping) before it is released to jump
termite - any wood-eating insect in the order Isoptera
        soldier termite - a caste of termites with specific structures to defend the colony,
        such as large mandibles or nasute mouths that produce sticky defensive substances.
        worker termite -
a caste of termites that do most of the work in the colony. Worker
        termites can be all immature termites and forms that do not develop into reproductive
        forms or soldiers.
tertiary reproductive termite -
see secondary reproductive.
tettigoniid -
a family of Orthoptera often called long-horned grasshoppers which includes katydids
thorax -
the second body segment of an insect. The thorax has all of the wings and legs attached to it.
tip burn - 
a yellow or dried tip on a branch or leaf caused by insect feeding or a plant physiology disorder
true bugs -
insects in the order Hemiptera.  They are usually characterized by a scutellum, a triangular shaped section on the back.

understory -
low growing trees and shrubs under a forest canopy.  Any plant growing under a taller tree.

venation -
the pattern of veins in the insect wing

wing pads -
incomplete wing structures like those formed on immature grasshoppers
Winter Garden -
a region of Texas centered around Uvalde that has substantial vegetable production


Yaupon (holly) -
an understory tree in central and East Texas, Ilex vomitoria; can be in the form of a tree or shrub; used commonly in Texas landscapes.  Its berries are poisonous.

zoysiagrass -
a variety of turfgrass; low water requirement, shade tolerant, cold tolerant, medium to fine leaf texture, low mowing frequency requirements (7-10 days), low disease potential.

From the book:
Field Guide to Texas Insects,
Drees, B.M. and John Jackman,
Copyright 1999, Gulf Publishing Company,
Houston, Texas

A Field Guide to Common Texas Insects, Bastiaan M. Drees and John A. Jackman.
Texas A&M University
Texas A&M University •  Department of Entomology  •  412 Heep Center, TAMU 2475
College Station, TX 77843-2475 • 979.845.2516
Department of Entomology at Texas A&M University