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The Insect World

From pests to pollinators, insects make an impact.

Few groups of animals touch our lives like the insects. Beneficial insects are at the foundation of the world’s ecosystems. Our agriculture is both dependent on insect pollination and vulnerable to insect attack. We are indebted to the insects and the services they provide, and yet we must spend billions to control the handful of insect species that are hazardous to our health, crops, and natural environment. For better and worse, we live in an insect world.

Don't judge all bugs with the same lens.

Only 1% to 3% of insect species are harmful. That leaves a lot of bugs that help humans by preying on pests and pollinating plants. Do you know which are which? Before you squash that bug under your foot, check Extension's Beneficial Insect website. Nearly a third of the food we eat needs a pollinator's help to grow. Ensure you're doing all you can to protect life's helpful insects.

adult periodical cicada on a green leaf

Cicadas of Illinois

Cicadas are emerging throughout Illinois as ground temperatures reach 64 F. Learn about the timing, habits, and lifecycles of periodical cicadas and discover how periodical broods differ from Illinois' annual, or dog-day, cicadas.

Learn About the Broods

top view of spotted lanternfly

Spotted Lanternfly

This planthopper is an invasive insect pest of fruit, ornamental, and woody trees and has been found in Illinois. Nymphs emerge around late April or early May and feed on tender plant tissue from a variety of plant host species.

Explore Lifecycle

bee hotel made of wood and natural material in shape of a house

Donate Your Bee Hotel

There are 500 native species of bees in Illinois. Suitable nesting spaces are scarce in some environments. Bee hotels provide artificial cavities as an alternative, but research is still ongoing to determine their conservation value.

Bee Hotel Project

Save the planet, help a pollinator


Pollinators are a group of amazing insects that are vital to both plant life and human life on earth. In recent years, pollinator populations have been declining dramatically which has prompted an immediate need for their protection and perpetuation on the landscape.

Be the hero a pollinator needs

What's That Bug?


Have you ever spotted an insect and wondered what type of insect it was? Bugs, caterpillars, butterflies, moths, beetles, wasps, and flies are all around us and play important roles in our ecosystems. Explore how to identify different groups of insects commonly found in Illinois in a Four Seasons Gardening episode about insect ID.


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