Although it is well known that plants and animals harbor microbial symbionts that can influence host traits, the factors regulating the structure of these microbial communities often remain largely undetermined. This is particularly true for insect-associated microbial communities, as few cross-taxon comparisons have been conducted to date. To address this knowledge gap and determine how host phylogeny and ecology affect insect-associated microbial communities, we collected 137 insect specimens representing 39 species, 28 families, and 8 orders, and characterized the bacterial communities associated with each specimen via 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Bacterial taxa within the phylum Proteobacteria were dominant in nearly all insects sampled. On average, the insect-associated bacterial communities were not very diverse, with individuals typically harboring fewer than 8 bacterial phylotypes. Bacterial communities also tended to be dominated by a single phylotype; on average, the most abundant phylotype represented 54.7% of community membership. Bacterial communities were significantly more similar among closely related insects than among less-related insects, a pattern driven by within-species community similarity but detected at every level of insect taxonomy tested. Diet was a poor predictor of bacterial community composition. Individual insect species harbored remarkably unique communities: the distribution of 69.0% of bacterial phylotypes was limited to unique insect species, whereas only 5.7% of phylotypes were detected in more than five insect species. Together these results suggest that host characteristics strongly regulate the colonization and assembly of bacterial communities across insect lineages, patterns that are driven either by co-evolution between insects and their symbionts or by closely related insects sharing conserved traits that directly select for similar bacterial communities.