Most of the time bugs are thought of as nuisances and gross to look at. Most of the time when we share information about bugs with our readers it’s how to get rid of them! But there are many good bugs that are beneficial and/or just fun to watch. Check out which ones made our list and see if you can spot them in your yard this summer!
Fun Bugs To Look For:
1. Pill Bug — The pill bug or “roly-poly bug” is nicknamed because of its entertaining ability to curl into a ball when frightened. Pill bugs often live under things like rotting logs or compost piles, and they help decompose dead matter. They are not actually insects but isopods belonging to the crustacean family, making them more closely related to crabs!
2. Stick Bug — Also called the walking stick or stick insect, this creature is camouflaged to resemble a small twig. They can be difficult to spot, but look for them on branches and hiding under leaves–don’t be surprised when what you thought was part of the tree starts to walk away…
3. Butterflies — Some people say that if the first butterfly you see that year is white, you will have good luck all year long. However, these lovely bugs are not just lucky, but incredibly hardy as well–some of them migrate thousands of miles in a year. Butterflies also have straw-like tongues as long as their bodies used for drinking nectar, and they have taste buds in their feet! So next time you see a butterfly land on a flower, know that they are actually deciding if it tastes good enough for a meal.
4. House Centipedes — These creepy-looking bugs are 1 ½ inches long, have 15 pairs of long hair-like legs, and live cool dark places like basements and bathrooms. They can bite but they don’t normally bother people, and they eat other insects like spiders, ants, and termites. So if you can get over their startling appearance, they can actually be beneficial to have in your house!
5. Ladybugs — These beetles are wonderful to have in gardens since they consume pests like aphids and mites, and tend to be a favorite because of their bright red and black polka-dotted bodies. But did you ever wonder why they have spots? The spots are actually protection–they signal to predators that ladybugs taste bad! Ladybugs also avoid becoming lunch by secreting bad tasting substances and rolling over to play dead. Remember that ladybugs are different from Asian Lady Beetles. The way to tell? The Asian Lady Beetle is dark orange and has a distinct letter M on her head, whereas ladybugs are bright red and their heads are mostly black. Click here to learn more.
6. Praying Mantis — Mantids get their nickname from their prayer-like posture, but they are actually ferocious carnivores. Usually brown or green, they camouflage well, can rotate their heads 180 degrees and have sharp eyesight, and hold completely still until their prey comes close enough for them to quickly snatch and devour. They eat other insects and sometimes even each other, so you will usually see these bugs alone. They are useful in a garden since they eat pests.
7. Dragonflies — In the 18th and 19th centuries in Europe and early America, they were referred to as “the devil’s darner” in order to scare children. As the tale went, if children misbehaved, the dragonflies would sew shut their eyes and mouth while they slept. Dragonflies are harmless, however, and fun to watch as they swoop over ponds in the summertime.
8. Fireflies — Also known as “lightning bugs.” Now that it’s summer you’ll see these bugs begin to light up in the evenings. There are over 2,000 species of fireflies, and each type has its own unique pattern of blinking on and off that they use to find mates. Also, strangely, some adult fireflies never eat.
9. Daddy Long Legs — This spider is rumored to be the most poisonous spider in the world. But if you find one, don’t worry–they are harmless to people. They use venom for killing their prey but have such small amounts of it, and such tiny mouths that they can only use it on other bugs.
Which of these bugs is your favorite?
After graduating from Bates College in 2009, Kristen attended the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Maine. She lives in Western Massachusetts where she works at Orion magazine."