Posted on March 18 2008
The truth is that ‘bug Latin’ is really a misnomer. The classification of insects by genus, family and species really has nothing to do with classical languages; it was just a convenience for scientists (particularly Carolus Linnaeus) who needed to make up a unique name for every living thing a few hundred years ago.
And that really is why scientific bug names are important. It’s the only way to refer to one specific sulphur or blue-winged olive, for example, as being different from another. But as Rick Hafele points out in “Basic Bug ID, Part I: Mayflies,” the minute differences between bugs are mostly impractical to learn. More important is knowing what a bug is likely to be, based where it is and what it is doing. Only then should you break out the hand lens, and if you do, this article will give you the details you need to impress your friends (and antagonize your enemies). New on MidCurrent.