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Flying Insects: A Guide to Identification Classification and Control

Flying Insects: Guide to Identification and Classification

Are you tired of having unwanted guests buzzing around your home? Or perhaps you are simply curious about the many different types of flying insects?

Whatever your reason, if you are looking to learn more about these fascinating creatures, then read on!

Types of Flying Insects

The world is full of flying insects, ranging from the small and innocuous to the large and intimidating. The most common types of flying insects found in and around homes include house flies, fruit flies, and flying ants.

These insects are nuisances and can be found swarming around food sources or invading homes during the warm summer months. However, not all flying insects are pests.

Some are important pollinators, like honey bees, while others, such as paper wasps, hornets, and carpenter bees, actually help to control other pests in the garden. In fact, there are over 71,600 different species of flying insects, each with their own unique traits and characteristics.

From dragonflies to butterflies, and from mosquitos to beetles, there is a vast array of flying insects to explore.

Lifecycle of Flying Insects

Although flying insects come in many shapes and sizes, they all follow a similar lifecycle. Typically, an insect begins as an egg, hatches into a larva, and goes through a pupal stage before emerging as an adult.

The length of each stage can vary depending on the species and environmental factors. For example, house flies can go from egg to adult in just seven days, while the lifecycle of the monarch butterfly can span several months.

Understanding the life cycle of a particular insect can be useful in controlling a pest population or identifying a particular species.

Flying Insect Identification

Identifying flying insects can sometimes be a challenge, as there are so many different species. One of the first steps in identification is to determine whether the insect is an indoor or outdoor species.

Common indoor flying insects include mosquitos, flies, and cockroaches. These pests can be found in homes year-round and are often attracted to food sources and stagnant water.

On the other hand, flying insects that cause damage to structures, like termites, moths, and beetles, are primarily outdoor pests that can quickly invade homes and cause damage. To further identify a flying insect, one can also look at the insect’s order.

The different orders of insects include Hymenoptera, Odonata, Siphonaptera, Diptera, Phasmida, Isoptera, Hemiptera, Orthoptera, Dictyoptera, Lepidoptera, and Coleoptera. Each order has its own unique characteristics and includes a variety of different flying insects.

Knowing the order of a particular insect can help narrow down the identification process and lead to finding a solution to any pest problems.


Flying insects may be small, but they are an incredibly diverse and fascinating group of creatures. From common pests to important pollinators, each insect plays a vital role in the ecosystem.

By understanding the different types of flying insects, their lifecycles, and how to identify them, homeowners and nature enthusiasts can help control pest populations and appreciate the beauty of these winged wonders.

Flying Insect Lifecycle and Body Structure

Flying insects are a diverse group of creatures that have many unique characteristics that help them thrive. One of the most fascinating aspects of flying insects is their lifecycle, which can vary from species to species.

Two common metamorphosis types include complete and incomplete metamorphosis. Complete metamorphosis, as its name suggests, involves a complete change in appearance and behavior by the insect.

These insects go through four distinct stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. This type of development can be seen in flies, butterflies, and beetles.

Incomplete metamorphosis, on the other hand, only involves three stages: egg, nymph, and adult. In these species, the nymph is usually similar to the adult but smaller in size, with the adult form developing over time.

Insects like grasshoppers and dragonflies exhibit incomplete metamorphosis.

The Different Forms of Growing Insect Groups

Insects go through different forms during their growth process, depending on the group to which they belong. These forms are known as instars, and they can range from scarabaeiform to vermiform, depending on the species.

Scarabaeiform is a type of insect development where the body is pointed at both ends, mimicking a pointed leaf. Scarab beetles and mealworms develop using this type of instar.

Campodeiform instars have a slightly flattened body and legs that are roughly similar in size. They are found in insect orders such as earwigs and the silverfish.

Eruciform instars resemble caterpillars or maggots. This type of instar is found in a range of insects, from butterflies to various beetle species.

If an insect needs to make quick movements to escape predators or capture prey, they often develop with an elateriform instar. This development stage features the insect’s abdomen being able to flex in different directions, providing them with extra movement and agility.

It is common in beetles and fireflies. Vermiform instars hold a tubular body shape, such as larvae of worms and caterpillars.

These larvae often eat more than usual during this developmental period, allowing them to grow rapidly.

The Three Sections of a Flying Insect Body

Insect bodies generally consist of three sections: the head, the thorax, and the abdomen. These sections work collaboratively to control, sustain, and form the insect’s basic body functions.

The head encompasses the insect’s sense organs, mouthparts, and compound or simple eyes, which help them see and detect light. The thorax is the middle section that supports the insect’s wings and legs, with the wings being controlled by muscles found inside this area.

Lastly, the abdomen contains vital organs, such as the digestive system, reproductive system, and various air sacs.

The Eye Structure of Flying Insects

The eyes of flying insects are relatively unique compared to those of other animals. Many of these insects have compound eyes, allowing them to see in multiple directions at once.

These eyes are made up of a collection of individual ommatidia, each receiving incoming light signals, which are arranged in different geometric shapes, such as hexagons. Simple eyes, also known as ocelli, are a secondary type of eye structure found in certain insects like flies.

These small eyes are typically located on the head or wings near the insects compound eyes to help detect light and determine an insects position relative to the sun.

House Flies

Houseflies are a common flying insect that you might see buzzing around your home during summer. They are usually grey in color and have a length of less than one-tenth inch.

While these flies are not typically dangerous, they can transmit diseases like cholera and typhoid fever through their contaminated waste.

Houseflies mainly lay eggs in organic waste, like such as decayed meat, animal droppings, and garbage.

Once hatched, larvae feed on this organic material, eventually turning into adult flies that are a nuisance for homeowners. Controlling house flies takes a little work.

Some basic preventative measures include cleaning kitchen surfaces, taking the garbage out regularly, and removing any pet waste from the yard. Additionally, using insecticides or traps may be necessary to help rid your home of these pesky insects.



Flying insects have many different physical and reproductive traits that help them adapt and thrive in different environments. Understanding their lifecycle, body structure, and species characteristics can help control pest populations and appreciate them in natural environments.

Additionally, knowing how to control specific flying insects, like house flies, can keep your home and surroundings healthier and cleaner.


Mosquitoes are a well-known type of flying insect that often cause issues for people. These biting pests primarily live near stagnant water and humid environments.

Female mosquitoes need blood from hosts to extract protein to help them produce eggs. In contrast, male mosquitoes do not bite as they feed on nectar or sugary plant fluids.

Distinct Characteristics of


Mosquitoes are known for their long, thin legs and wings, which help them take off and fly with ease. Both males and females have long and slender bodies.

Male mosquitoes use their feathery antennae to detect the scent of female mosquitoes for successful mating. Female mosquitoes have traditionally been known for being the only gender that can bite.

This is because only the female mosquito has a proboscis, which enables her to extract blood from warm-blooded animals like humans. Threats and Treatment of


Although mosquitoes are often seen as just a nuisance pest, they can also cause serious health problems.

They act as vectors for several diseases, including malaria, yellow fever, and Zika virus. To avoid the risk of these diseases, it is vital to take preventative measures and treat mosquito infestations.

Preventing mosquito breeding is possible by eliminating standing water around your home’s immediate vicinity, such as in plant pots, old cans, and tires. You can also minimize your risk of being bitten by using mosquito repellent when spending time outside and wearing light-colored clothing to deter them.

Fruit Flies

Fruit flies are small, reddish-brown insects that are about 1/8 inch long, with distinctive red eyes. They are common in warm, humid environments and are frequently seen in kitchens and around fruit bowls.

Fruit flies can reproduce incredibly quickly, with females laying up to 500 eggs in rotting fruit during just a few weeks. Distinct Characteristics of

Fruit Flies

Fruit flies are unique for their bright red eyes, which are usually the first indication of their presence.

They have transparent wings, with dark veins, and a yellow or brown-toned body. Fruit flies are attracted to sugary substances and are common in homes with ripe or overripe fruit, kitchen compost, and open garbage cans.

Threats and Treatment of

Fruit Flies

Although fruit flies are not harmful to humans, they can become a nuisance in the home and are known to contaminate food. To combat an infestation of fruit flies, first, eliminate their breeding sources by getting rid of overripe fruit or vegetables and cleaning any leftover food debris from surfaces.

To prevent future fruit fly visits, you can use fruit fly traps or place a mesh screen over produce to keep fruit flies away. In


Flying insects are a diverse group of creatures, and each species has its distinct characteristics and life cycles.

Mosquitoes and fruit flies are both common types of flying insects that can cause problems in homes and in the environment. By understanding their habitats, traits, and how to prevent and treat infestations, homeowners can help control pest populations and maintain a healthy living space.

Flying Ants

Flying ants are a common type of flying insect that is often seen swarming in large groups during the summer months. They are members of the ant family and are found in different environments, including forests, meadows, and urban areas.

The ability to fly helps them find new food sources, mate, and establish new colonies. Distinct Characteristics of

Flying Ants

Flying ants have a distinct appearance, with two sets of wings and an elongated body shape.

The body is divided into three segments, with the first segment forming the head and the second segment forming the thorax. The wings of flying ants are of unequal size, with the front wings being more extensive than the hind wings.

Ants may have wings temporarily or permanently, depending on their species, and they tend to swarm collectively in groups.

Threats and Treatment of

Flying Ants

Flying ants typically don’t pose a risk to human health or cause structural damage to homes.

However, infestations can be a nuisance. If you notice an infestation in your home, it’s essential to identify the entry point and seal any cracks or crevices to prevent further colony development.

To control an infestation of flying ants, homeowners can use insecticides or kitchen remedies like vinegar or peppermint oil. If these methods do not work, professional pest control services may be required.

Flying Termites

Flying termites, also known as “swarmers,” are one of the most destructive types of flying insects, causing severe damage to buildings made of wood. These termites generally swarm during the spring or summer, with the goal of reproducing and colonizing other structures.

Unlike ants, termites have four wings that are all of equal size. Distinct Characteristics of

Flying Termites

Flying termites have a distinctive, tube-like body shape.

Their wings are typically twice the length of their body and are long and narrow. A swarm of flying termites can be an intimidating sight and can sometimes be mistaken for flying ants.

Termites feed on cellulose materials, making them a significant threat to structures made of wood, and their destructive tendencies can be hard to detect. Threats and Treatment of

Flying Termites

Flying termites are a significant threat to buildings and homes, causing severe structural damage if left untreated.

Homeowners should take preventative measures by regularly checking for signs of termite activity, such as mud tunnels, holes in wood, or debris-like substances around wood fixtures. If an infestation of flying termites is found, it’s best to contact a pest control professional immediately.

They can provide expert guidance and treatment options, such as pesticide application or fumigation to stop the swarmers and prevent further damage to the structure. In


Flying insects can be a nuisance or a destructive force, depending on their species.

Flying ants and termites are two such examples, with their distinct appearances, life cycles, and potential threats. By understanding their habitats and traits and taking preventative measures, homeowners can help control pest populations and keep their property safe from damage.

Paper Wasps

Paper wasps are common flying insects that are often mistaken for yellow jackets or honeybees. They build their nests from paper-like material and can be found in gardens, parks, and around homes.

Paper wasps are known for their aggressive behavior when they feel threatened and can deliver painful stings. Distinct Characteristics of

Paper Wasps

Paper wasps have a narrow waist and slender bodies, usually ranging from to 1 inch in length.

Their bodies are mostly black or brown, with stripes of yellow or white. This contrasts sharply with their wings, which are usually translucent.

The nests of paper wasps are made up of a gray, paper-like substance and usually located in high places like trees, eaves, or porch ceilings. Threats and Treatment of

Paper Wasps

Paper wasps typically only attack when their nest is disturbed or threatened, which can lead to painful stings.

While most people are not allergic to their venom, some may experience an allergic reaction, which requires immediate medical attention. The best method for treating a paper wasp infestation is prevention, by sealing any cracks or openings, removing potential nest materials like cardboard or paper, or keeping garbage containers closed.

If a paper wasp nest has already been established, it is recommended to consult a professional pest control service for safe removal.


Hornets are a type of flying insect that is known for their large size and potent venom. They can be found in different environments, including

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