North American Insects and Spiders / Tree Encyclopedia
Explore over 5,000 close-up pictures of live, wild insects and spiders.
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Our tree encyclopedia offers information and diagnostic photos for over 450 tree species.
 
Class Arachnida / Order Araneae: Spiders are the largest group of arachnids. They are easily recognized by their eight legs, and there are few creatures great or small that elicit such irrational fear in mankind. The vast majority of spiders are completely harmless and offer beneficial services, chief of which is keeping the burgeoning insect population in check.
Spider Index | Spider Main | Funnel Web | Orb Web | Nursery Web | Cobweb
Honey Bee nectaring on New England Aster Flower
Order Hymenoptera: Bees, Wasps, & Ants belong to this large order, which also includes sawflies. Most species are solitary, but some, such as the domestic honeybee, exhibit a complex social structure in which exist sterile female workers and fertile male and female royalty. Bees & Wasps Index
Green Tiger Beetle
Order Coleoptera: Beetles are the dominant form of life on earth: one of every five living species is a beetle. Coleoptera is the largest order in the animal kingdom, containing a third of all insect species. There are about 300,000 known species worldwide, 30,000 of which live in North America. Beetles Index
Tree Encyclopedia
Tree Encyclopedia
Trees are the longest-lived and largest organisms on Earth, and have been thriving for more than 370 million years. Today, they can be found almost everywhere from the Arctic Circle to the Sahara Desert. Trees are the climax species nearly everywhere; if land is left fallow, it eventually becomes host to trees. Explore over 3,000 large pictures in more than 450 species, with leaves, bark and form detailed.
Trees Index | Crabapples | Nut Trees | Fruit Trees
Butterflies
Order Lepidoptera: Butterflies are revered for their brightly colored wings and pleasing association with fair weather and flowers. Lepidoptera comprises at least 125,000 known species including 12,000 in America north of Mexico. Learn to identify many of the American Midwest's common species through large format pictures and natural histories.
Butterfly Pictures | Butterfly Index | Moths | Moth Index | Skippers
Haploa Moth
Order Lepidoptera: Moths. Unlike the butterflies, moths are usually nocturnal. Many moths and their caterpillars are major agricultural pests in large parts of the world, e.g. moths in the family Tineidae are commonly regarded as pests because their larvae eat fabrics, clothes and blankets made from natural fibers such as wool or silk; moths in the genus Farinalis feed on stored grain, flour, corn meal and other milled grain products.
Moth Index
Chinese Mantis
Order Dictyoptera: Mantids and cockroaches. Mantids have triangular heads with huge compound eyes, long, thin bodies, four thin legs, and prominent forelegs held in the characteristic prayerful pose.  The strong mouthparts can cut through even heavily armored heads of insects.  Both genders use their exquisite camouflage and ability to remain motionless to lie in wait and ambush unwary prey, including  small frogs, lizards, and even hummingbirds.
Housefly on flower
Order Diptera: Flies are prevalent in virtually all habitats, with over 16,000 species in North America. Flies are distinguished from all other insects in that they only have one pair of normal wings.  Mouthparts are adapted for piercing, lapping and sucking fluids (often blood).  Perhaps the world's most-famous fly, the mosquito, kills more humans than any other invertebrate disease vector.
Diptera Index
Grasshopper Head Detail
Order Orthoptera: Grasshoppers, katydids and crickets have long, powerfully muscled hind legs that they use for jumping, large, flat-sided heads with big compound eyes and large chewing mouthparts.  Grasshopper and cricket males are known for their musical sounds made when they rub together roughened portions of their wings or legs.
Orthoptera Index
Hemiptera
Order Hemiptera: True Bugs species number almost 5,000 in North America, and 40,000 worldwide. They have mouthparts formed into a beak, adapted for sucking plant juices or the liquefied insides of their prey.
Suborder Auchenorrhyncha - Cicadas & Planthoppers
Suborder Sternorrhyncha - Aphids, scales, mealybugs, jumping plant lice
Bedbug
Really? Bedbugs? In this day and age? Oh yeah, they are making a big comeback in North America. Learn what you need to know to protect yourself, on the road and in your home. These disgusting little critters want you for their next blood meal. Find out why those little portable steam cleaners are a big waste of money and why directing clouds of "steam" around your house is not such a good idea.
Green Darner Dragonfly
Order Odonata: Dragonflies date back 300 million years, to the Carboniferous Period of the Paleozoic Era. These colorful, enchanting insects are revered second only to the butterflies in the popular psyche. Explore detailed close-up photographs of live, adult dragonflies photographed in the wild.  
Odonata Index
American Rubyspot Damselfly
Order Odonata: Damselflies also date back 300 million years. Today, there are about 450 North American species, and 5,000 in all. They have evolved into highly efficient hunters; their freely moveable heads sport huge compound eyes and their sharp biting mouthparts, coupled with their four powerful, independent wings make them extremely agile flyers capable of snatching prey in midair.
Damselfly Index
Annual Cicada
Suborder Auchenorrhyncha: Cicadas, hoppers and their kin have beak-like mouthparts arising from far back beneath the head, adapted for sucking plant juices. All members of this order are plant feeders. Aphids are among the most injurious agricultural pests, they can reproduce without mating; theoretically, one female aphid can produce billions of offspring. Male cicadas produce the loudest sounds in the insect world, their buzzing sometimes exceeding 100 decibels. 
Cicada Index
Dog Tick
Class Arachnida > Order Ixodida  Ticks are external blood-feeding parasites of birds, mammals and reptiles and are important vectors of Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and other viral and bacterial diseases. Learn to protect yourselves and your loved ones (doggies, especially). Visit the American dog tick, the Black-legged Deer Tick and the Lone Star Tick and Southern Tick Associated Rash Infection (STARI)
Green Lacewing
Order Neuroptera: Lacewings in this order have many veins and cross veins in their four transparent wings. There are only 338 species in North America. The order includes lacewings, antlions, mantidflies, and spongillaflies.  Green lacewings, one common species, has large, copper-colored compound eyes and long, thin antennae.  Their larvae are commonly called aphid lions after their voracious appetite for aphids.
mayfly thumbnail
Order Ephemeroptera: Mayfly adults survive only a few hours or at most a few days. They eat nothing, nor do they crawl or walk. They only fly and mate, sometimes in swarms so large they show up on weather radar.  The chief importance lies in their value as food for fish, dragonfly nymphs and birds. Anglers imitate the adults in dry flies, referred to as "spinners" or "duns," and pattern wet flies after the nymphs.
Garden Slug
Garden Slugs: Phylum: Mollusca / Class: Gastropoda
Learn slug anatomy through our close-up photos. Read how to use natural methods to control these slimy pest critters, and what plants can resist their depredations.
If you pour salt on garden slugs, do they shrivel up and scream?
Flowers
Please enjoy our pages on flowers, wild and otherwise. There are many species of interest to butterfly gardeners, prairie restorers and urban and suburban gardeners.  Flowers Index
Order Trichoptera: Caddisflies resemble moths but have very fine hairs on their wings instead of scales. The aquatic larvae of some species are free-swimming predators, some spin silken nets to trap vegetable matter in fast-moving water, and still others construct portable shelters out of sand grains, bits of shell, or plant fragments.
Order Microcoryphia (Bristletails) There are about 22 species of bristletail in 12 genera in 2 families in North America, with 350 species worldwide. Bristletails prefer outdoor, grassy or wooded environments; under tree bark, in leaf litter and rock crevices, under rocks.  Often confused with silverfish, bristletails are not found indoors.
Order Mecoptera: Scorpionflies do not sting or bite. They spend most of their time in low vegetation, hunting small soft-bodied insects or scavenging on fruit, dead insects and bird droppings. Mecopterans have changed little from fossils 250 million years old, and entomologists consider now-extinct members of this order to be ancestors of modern flies, butterflies, and moths.
Subphylum: Crustacea > Class: Malacostraca > Order: Isopoda - Pillbugs, sow bugs and woodlice are neither insects nor arachnids, but crustaceans, members of the same class as shrimps, lobsters and crabs.  Anyone who has ever turned over a log or rock is familiar with these primitive critters. They are omnivores and scavengers, feeding upon decaying vegetable matter, fungi and animal remains. They form an important link in the food chain by recycling dead and decaying material.
Classes Diplopoda (Millipedes) and Chilopoda (Centipedes)
Millipedes do not bite, pinch or sting, but may emit foul-smelling or irritating defensive chemicals. The house centipede can complete its life cycle indoors, as many a terrified homeowner can attest.
Order Opiliones: Harvestmen are often mistaken for spiders; they aren't spiders. About 1900 species of harvestmen are distributed over the world in forests, fields and other land habitats. They can and do walk on water. These oddball creatures are some of the most abundant on our forest floor.
Chicago Skyline
Chicago, Illinois - The Windy City
Modern pictures of Chicago landmarks and points of interest.
The City of Chicago covers an area of nearly 150,000 acres (approx. 234 square miles) and sits 578 feet above sea level on the shore of Lake Michigan, in northeastern Illinois. Lake Michigan is second largest of the Great Lakes (after Superior) and the 5th largest fresh water lake in the world, at 118 miles across and over 300 miles long.
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Order Hymenoptera: Bees, Wasps, & Ants
belong to this large order, which also includes sawflies. Most species are solitary, but some, such as the domestic honeybee, exhibit a complex social structure in which exist sterile female workers and fertile male and female royalty.
Insects & Spiders | Bees & Wasps Index | Bees & Wasps Main | Beetles Index
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