Insect Learning Center

Insectek’s Bug Glossary

Found a bug but don’t know what it is? Find out with Insectek’s complete insect glossary. Learn all about the creepy-crawlers that share our.

Have a specific bug on your mind?

Click the thinks below to skip to the insect you’re looking for.

Ants

With over 12,000 species of ants, it is almost impossible to avoid seeing them wherever you go. Ants are found on every continent except for Antarctica… how ironic!

ARGENTINE ANTS

Where do they live?

Argentine Ants live in large colonies near wetlands such as rivers and lakes.

What do they eat?

Argentine Ants will eat almost anything they can find. They’re known to prefer sweets, fats, and oils.

CARPENTER ANTS

Where do they live?

Carpenter Ants prefer to live in damp habitats like old trees. They nest in old damaged wood because it provides them with protection while keeping their environment damp.

What do they eat?

Carpenter Ants like to eat fats, sugary foods, and other dead and living insects.

ODOROUS HOUSE ANTS

Where do they live?

These ants are native to the United States and live in harsh outdoor conditions in soil and under rocks and old debris.

What do they eat?

Odorous House Ants like to eat diseased insects and sugary foods.

PAVEMENT ANTS

Where do they live?

Pavements Ants live – you guessed it – near the pavement! They plant their lives next to or under slabs of cement including sidewalks, patios, and driveways.

What do they eat?

Pavements Ants have a broad diet of other insects, oils, seeds, meats, and many other household foods.

RED IMPORTED FIRE ANTS

Where do they live?

These Fire Ants form a mound of soil where their colony lives.

What do they eat?

Red Imported Fire Ants primarily eat vegetation like leaves.

Bed Bugs

You can probably take a wild guess as to how these creatures got their names. Bed bugs are usually found in beds, but can be found anywhere that humans are.

Where do they live?

Bed Bugs will latch onto boxes, shoes, clothing, and anything else near their food supply. They can hide in cracks and crevices in the floors, but prefer to live in mattresses, sheets, and box springs.

What do they eat?

Bed Bugs feed on the blood of animals and coat their bites with an anesthesia that prevents the animal from feeling the bite. They often prefer humans because of their large amount of exposed skin.

Bees

What’s the buzz about bees? These insects live within colonies with a queen bee, worker bee, and drone. They all work hard together to pollinate, which can benefit bees, plants, and humans!

CARPENTER BEES

Where do they live?

These bees often live in soft-wood structures that the female carpenter bee carves out for her larvae. The bees live solidarily and provide only for their family, instead of an entire colony.

What do they eat?

Like other bees, Carpenter Bees feed off of the pollen and nectar from flowering plants.

HONEYBEES

Where do they live?

Honeybees often construct their home in trees.

What do they eat?

As their name suggests, honeybees gather pollen and nectar from flowering plants to produce honey. The honey is then stored in a honeycomb that is used to feed the colony.

KILLER BEES

Where do they live?

These bees live in small colonies, enabling them to build their homes in almost anything from trees to empty buildings.

What do they eat?

Killer Bees gather pollen and nectar to feed their young and the colony.

Beetles

Did you know that ladybugs are in the beetle family? Beetles, or Coleoptera, create the largest order in the animal kingdom! There are over 12,000 species in the United States alone. These creatures can be found anywhere across the globe that has warm weather.

POWDER POST BEETLES

Where do they live?

These beetles have a long flat body and are usually found in hardwood floors, cracks in wood, and other hardwood surfaces.

What do they eat?

Powder Post Beetles feed on hardwood, so it’s important to keep an eye out for holes dug by these beetles.

MERCHANT GRAIN BEETLES

Where do they live?

TThese beetles’ incredibly flat and long bodies make it easy for them to get into any crevice. Oftentimes, these bugs make their way into our packaged foods – they even gained their name from being found in shipments of food!

What do they eat?

Merchant Grain Beetles prefer foods that are high in sugar and fat, which makes packaged foods the perfect delicacy for these bugs.

Butterflies

If you have ever read The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, you know that caterpillars turn into beautiful butterflies. Despite their beautiful features, butterflies are still considered insects. Some people believe that a butterfly landing on you can actually be a sign of good luck!

MONARCH BUTTERFLIES

Where do they live?

Monarch butterflies migrate north from Mexico in early spring. These butterflies mate soon after they leave Mexico and lay their eggs on milkweed plants in the United States.

What do they eat?

Monarch butterflies love milkweed plants and their caterpillars can only eat milkweed. That’s why these butterflies are sometimes referred to as Milkweed Butterflies.

VANESSA ATALANTA

Where do they live?

These butterflies’ lifespans are pretty short: only about two months! They need warm weather to survive, so these butterflies can be found in warm or tropical climates.

What do they eat?

Adult Vanessa Atalanta butterflies usually feed on rotting fruit, tree sap, and bird droppings. They will sometimes feed on nectar from flowering plants, including daisies and milkweed.

MERCHANT GRAIN BEETLES

Where do they live?

These butterflies are found all over the world! They have been spotted in every country except Australia and Antarctica. Because of their global reach, these butterflies are sometimes called Cosmopolitan Butterflies.

What do they eat?

Painted Lady Butterflies love to feed on nectar from plants. This sweet liquid stems from goldenrods, marigolds, and everlastings, and provides the butterflies with the nutrients they need in order to survive.

EASTERN BLACK SWALLOWTAIL

Where do they live?

These butterflies are predominantly found in North America. In fact, the Black Swallowtail Butterfly is even the state butterfly for both Oklahoma and New Jersey!

What do they eat?

Differentiating themselves from other butterfly species, Eastern Black Swallowtails feed on carrots, parsley, dill, fennel, and rue. Their caterpillars are often nested on citrus trees.

Cockroaches

Although the song “La Cucaracha” may be fun and catchy, there is nothing particularly fun about spotting a cockroach. These cold-blooded insects have been around since the dinosaur age, so there is no getting rid of them anytime soon.

AMERICAN COCKROACHES

Where do they live?

American Cockroaches prefer to live in dark, damp areas like sewers, drains, pipes, and basements. They are common all over the United States and can be found in homes, commercial buildings, restaurants, and more.

What do they eat?

These cockroaches are omnivores, meaning they can eat both plants and animals. They prefer to eat leaves, wood chips, fungi, and small insects. They can often be found searching for food under appliances like refrigerators, washing machines, and dryers. They can eat sweets like sugar and candies and starchy items like glue and wallpaper.

BROWN-BANDED COCKROACHES

Where do they live?

Brown-Banded Cockroaches get their name from the two light brown bands that lie across the top of their bodies. They like to live in warmer environments that are on the dry side. Unlike other cockroaches, these cockroaches prefer a dry climate and avoid damp areas that attract other species of cockroaches.

What do they eat?

Brown-Banded Cockroaches tend to eat starchy food items like glue and book bindings.

GERMAN COCKROACHES

Where do they live?

German cockroaches are characterized by their unique shape compared to other species of cockroach. Although these cockroaches are called German, they live nearly everywhere in the world! This type of cockroach is actually most common in the United States, and they prefer dark and damp environments where food and water are readily available.

What do they eat?

These cockroaches prefer to consume sweet foods. Water is a very important resource for German Cockroaches because they will dehydrate if they are not around humid environments for over two weeks.

ORIENTAL COCKROACHES

Where do they live?

Oriental Cockroaches prefer cool and damp locations so they are often found in basements and other dark rooms in the home.

What do they eat?

What don’t they eat? Oriental Cockroaches feed on all kinds of discarded trash but tend to prefer to forage for food in open cans

Dust Mites

Easily mistakable for a speck of dust, dust mites are a type of insect that you want to keep an eye out for! Dust mites are harmless to humans, but they do create “dust” from transmission of sheddings that can affect your allergies.

Where do they live?

To be close to their food source, Dust Mites live on mattresses, bedding, furniture, carpets and curtains that attract the small skin particles that Dust Mites feed on.

What do they eat?

Dust Mites feed on small particles of dead skin that people and pets shed on a daily basis. That’s why dust mites favor areas where skin flakes are discarded like bedding, furniture, and curtains.

Earwigs

Don’t worry – Earwigs do not crawl into your ears! This is how many people assumed they got their name. Earwigs are harmless to you, and your ears. Myth: busted!

Where do they live?

Earwigs tend to make their habitats in cracks and in damp areas. In their natural surroundings, they live under rocks and tree debris, as well as in mulch. Even though they prefer damp areas, Earwigs are attracted to light just like mosquitoes.

What do they eat?

Earwigs prefer to eat plants and other insects for survival. Specifically, Earwigs tend to eat flowering plants like clover, dahlia, and zinnia, as well as plant-bearing fruits and vegetables like strawberries, celery, and lettuce.

Fleas

If you have a pet, you know how common it is for your furry friend to get attacked by fleas. With the right care and remedies, you can easily get rid of fleas from your pet’s back and your home!

Where do they live?

Fleas latch onto animals, including household pets like cats and dogs. They primarily live attached to their host because they rely on the animal as a food source.

What do they eat?

Fleas feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals. They often jump from animal to animal feeding on their blood and laying their eggs. Fleas can occasionally bite humans, but don’t rely on humans as their main food source.

Flies

Although the song “La Cucaracha” may be fun and catchy, there is nothing particularly fun about spotting a cockroach. These cold-blooded insects have been around since the dinosaur age, so there is no getting rid of them anytime soon.

FRUIT FLIES

Where do they live?

Fruit Flies live on the food they feed on and lay their eggs there as well. Fruit Flies can produce about 500 eggs at a time and lay them on moist surfaces of fruits. When the larvae hatch, they use their fruit habitat to feed off of as well.

What do they eat?

Fruit Flies love fruit! But that’s not all – these flies also feed on vegetables! They target rotting or decaying fruits and vegetables.

HOUSE FLIES

Where do they live?

House Flies can be found wherever there is a food source attracting them, such as a farm, decaying animal, trash bin, and other places where decaying matter is found. Additionally, these flies lay their eggs on decaying matter.

What do they eat?

House Flies have a unique mouth that allows them to chew foods and convert solids to liquids using their saliva. These flies often feed on semi-liquid foods like animal waste and decaying foods.

Lice

You may have heard of or experienced head lice. But lice are not limited to the heads of humans! Lice can crawl, and are only transmitted through direct contact.

CHEWING LICE

Where do they live?

Chewing Lice are rare in North America, however, they live by latching onto the skin of dogs.

What do they eat?

Chewing Lice are primarily found on dogs, and therefore eat skin flakes and secretions that originate from dogs, including blood, scabs, and hair.

SUCKING LICE

Where do they live?

Sucking Lice are small and wingless. They may look harmless, but they have a piercing mouthpart that allows them to penetrate the skin of animals and suck the animal’s blood. Because of their nature, Sucking Lice are considered parasites.

What do they eat?

These lice can latch onto the skin to begin feeding on blood and tissue fluid. They prefer to attach to rodents, like mice and rats.

Mosquitoes

Similar to flies, mosquitoes have two wings. Don’t let their small size fool you – Mosquitoes are known to be the world’s deadliest animal! This is not because they can eat you whole like a shark or a lion, but because of the diseases that they carry when they move around.

Where do they live?

Mosquitoes can be found resting in tall grass or vegetation around homes or other buildings. They prefer to stay in humid environments with standing fresh water, which they use to lay their eggs. When they are not producing eggs, mosquitoes live on plant nectar.

What do they eat?

Adult mosquitoes feed on plant nectar to obtain sugar that enables them to survive. Female mosquitoes need protein to produce their eggs, so they rely on consuming the blood of people and animals through their straw-like mouths.

Moths

Known as the less colorful cousins of butterflies, moths are nocturnal insects that vary in size from as small as a coin to the size of a human hand.

INDIAN MEAL MOTH

Where do they live?

These moths are attracted to light, making bright areas like kitchens, pantries, and grocery stores prime locations for moths to survive.

What do they eat?

Indian Meal Moths rely on grains, seeds, nuts, dried fruit, cereals, and a variety of processed foods for sustainability.

Pill Bugs

Pill bugs, also known as rollie-pollies, are actually considered to be crustaceans, not insects. In the same family as crabs, shrimp, and barnacles, they are the only species of the crustacean family that can survive on land.

Where do they live?

Although they can survive on land, they still must be near wet locations.

What do they eat?

Pill bugs really enjoy eating decomposing vegetation. You can find them eating fruits, vegetables, grasses, and weeds.

Spiders

We all know the Itsy Bitsy Spider song, but spiders aren’t as innocent as the song makes them seem. There are over 3,000 species of spiders in the United States – some poisonous, others not. The Black Widow and Brown Recluse spiders are two spiders you should never try approaching.

BLACK WIDOW SPIDERS

Where do they live?

Black widows are found in the more southern regions in the United States. They prefer to be undisturbed, so they live in darker, hidden areas. This can include basements, piles of wood, and shrubs.

What do they eat?

These spiders solely eat other insects, such as grasshoppers, mosquitoes, caterpillars and sometimes spiders.

BROWN RECLUSE SPIDERS

Where do they live?

Brown recluse spiders prefer to be in darker, hidden areas where they cannot be bothered. They are commonly found in piles of wood and near garbage.

What do they eat?

These spiders eat other bugs, but not just any bugs! They prefer softer-bodied insects, such as crickets, cockroaches, and moths.

Stink Bugs

Ever wonder how stink bugs get their name? These insects give off an unpleasant odor when threatened, as a defense mechanism.

Where do they live?

Stinkbugs are found throughout the United States, typically in warmer climates. Stink bugs are considered to be agricultural pests, meaning they are found in gardens and farms often.

What do they eat?

Due to their agricultural habitats, stink bugs typically feast on all sorts of vegetation. They enjoy leaves, flowers, crops, fruits, and other pests.

Termites

Silent, but deadly. That may sound familiar, but in this case, we are talking about termites! Termites are known as “silent destroyers” because they tend to chew through wood slowly, which in the long run leads to a lot of property damage.

DAMPWOOD TERMITES

Where do they live?

Given away by its name, Dampwood termites need to live in damp spaces. They usually live in houses with leaking plumbing units that provide them with moist wood.

What do they eat?

These termites feed on decayed, wet wood.

DRYWOOD TERMITES

Where do they live?

These termites are found in or near dry wood.

What do they eat?

Drywood termites eat wood and cellulose, a substance found in plants.

FORMOSAN TERMITES

Where do they live?

These termites group themselves underground. They are found throughout North America, typically in warmer regions

What do they eat?

The diet of these creatures consists of wood, cardboard, paper, and other fabrics that contain cellulose.

SUBTERRANEAN TERMITES

Where do they live?

Being that they need soil to survive, subterranean termites typically live underground or near wet areas above ground. They create mud tunnels underground for a quick and efficient way to get food.

What do they eat?

Like all termites, this species eats wood, plastics, and other things that contain cellulose.

Ticks

Ticks are a small type of insect that can cause a lot of damage. They are capable of transmitting diseases, such as Lyme and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

DEER TICKS

Where do they live?

Deer ticks live in humid, forest-like areas. Typically, these ticks hide in the grass.

What do they eat?

These ticks feed on animal blood, more specifically, the blood of white-tailed deer.

Wasps

Wasps can benefit your garden by consuming dead flies and insects. But when it comes to them stinging people, they may become a bit of a bother.

BALD-FACED HORNETS

Where do they live?

These wasps are found throughout the United States. They build large nests that hang from trees and sometimes buildings.

What do they eat?

Bald-faced hornets enjoy sweets, such as nectar or fruit juices.

EUROPEAN HORNETS

Where do they live?

These types of hornets enjoy hollow spaces, such as a hollow tree or hollow areas of walls in houses.

What do they eat?

Along with small insects such as grasshoppers, European Hornets also eat tree sap.

YELLOW JACKETS

Where do they live?

Yellow jackets typically build their nests underground. This is because they prefer cooler, dark spaces.

What do they eat?

Yellow jackets eat small insects and spiders. They occasionally eat human food as well.