A ladybug craws across a blade of grass

40+ Insects in English

Did you know that there are over 900,000 different kinds of insects, which make up 80% of the world’s animal species?

Don’t worry, though; you don’t have to learn all 900,000 to be insect fluent in English.

In this post, we will be focusing on more than 40 common insects in English to add to your practical (useful) vocabulary.

These are the bugs (another word for insects) that you will likely see while spending time outdoors, but hopefully not in your house.


Insects in English to Expand Your Vocabulary

From the most beautiful butterfly to the most disgusting cockroach, here’s your English insect vocabulary.


insects in english

Ants are small social insects that live in underground colonies. You can easily recognize ants by their long legs, bent antennas and large, round abdomen.

Various types of ants:

  • Army ant: travels in a group and eats almost everything in its path
  • Bullet ant: indigenous (native) to South America, and known for its incredibly (very) painful sting
  • Red fire ant: common in backyards and give a fiery bite


insects in english

Bedbugs are annoying insects that live off of animal blood. They are known to bite humans when they sleep, leaving painful rashes. Bedbugs have flat, oval-shaped bodies.

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insects in english

Bees are flying insects that help pollinate plants. They are very important to the environment, and also to our own food supply.

Various types of bees:

  • Bumblebee: a large, social bee that has a very fuzzy black and yellow body
  • Carpenter bee: lives alone, can drill holes in wood and is able to sting more than once
  • Honeybee: lives in a large colony and produces tasty honey


insects in english

Beetles are flying insects with hard wing cases. There are thousands of types of beetles, and they are known to help in the decomposition (breakdown of once-living things) process.

Various types of beetles:

  • Ground beetle: brown beetles live in the dirt or underneath logs; they mostly come out at night
  • Dung beetle: type of scarab beetle that uses animal dung to make nests
  • Weevil: small beetle with a long snout; they consume (eat) leaves and, often, damage crops
  • Ladybug: predatory beetle recognized by its red wings with black spots; they eat certain plant-eating bugs and are often used in farms as a natural source of pest control


insects in english

Butterflies are an insect with a four-stage life cycle. You can recognize butterflies by their long, narrow abdomen, two antennae and colorful wings. A caterpillar will eventually turn into a butterfly.

Various types of butterflies:

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  • Monarch butterfly: orange and black butterfly that migrates (travels) to lay eggs
  • Swallowtail butterfly: a brightly-colored butterfly with a long back wing that looks like a tail
  • Zebra butterfly: a white and black-striped butterfly with a relatively long lifespan that, unlike most butterflies, consumes pollen


insects in english

Cockroaches are common household pests that have existed for millions of years. They are recognized by their flat brown bodies and long antenna.


insects in english

Crickets are leaping insects that make a chirping sound. These insects are green, white or black and have very long hind (back) legs for jumping.


insects in english

Dragonflies are flying insects with four wings and a long body. They are often seen near freshwater.

Firefly or Lightning Bug

insects in english

Fireflies are actually beetles—but are so special we thought we would give them their own place in this post!—that come out at night. These insects are known for the flashing lights on their bodies that they use to find mates.

Fly or Housefly

insects in english

Flies are very common household pests. They have short lifespans and are recognized by the “buzzing” sound they make. These are the annoying insects that tend to show up when you are having a picnic outdoors.

Various types of flies:

  • Fruit fly: found around rotting fruit and can reproduce (make babies) quickly
  • Horsefly: found near water or large mammals, and can deliver painful bites
  • Housefly: flying pests that can easily transfer bacteria to surfaces


insects in english

Grasshoppers are jumping insects with large hind legs. They are often brown or green. In some parts of the world, grasshoppers are cooked and eaten. Grasshoppers also have a big appetite and love to damage gardens.

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insects in english

Mosquitos are small flying insects that are known for biting humans. Their bites can transmit diseases and leave itchy, red bumps on the skin.


insects in english

Moths are winged insects similar to butterflies, but they are often only active at night. They are an important food source for bats, birds and other animals.

Praying Mantis

insects in english

Praying mantis comes in all different colors. This unique insect is recognizable by its long body and bent front legs that look like they are held in a prayer pose.


A spider in its web

While technically, spiders are arachnids, not insects, they are known for their unique anatomy, which includes two body segments and eight legs.

They produce silk from specialized glands, using it for various purposes such as creating webs for prey capture, constructing egg sacs or as safety lines while moving.

Spiders are diverse in size and behavior, ranging from tiny jumping spiders to large orb-weaving species, and they play a crucial role in ecosystems by controlling insect populations.

Various types of spiders:

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  • Common House Spider: often encountered indoors, building messy, irregular webs in corners of rooms, closets and basements. Despite their somewhat intimidating appearance, common house spiders are harmless to humans.
  • Black Widow: known for their distinctive black color and red hourglass-shaped markings on the abdomen. They are found in various regions globally. While the venom of female black widows can be harmful to humans, bites are relatively rare, and fatalities are extremely uncommon. 
  • Brown Recluse: known for its violin-shaped marking on its body. Despite its venomous bite, bites are uncommon, and severe reactions are rare. 
  • Garden Spider: known for their large, intricate, wheel-shaped webs. They are common in gardens and wooded areas and are generally harmless to humans.


insects in english

Termites are white insects that look similar to ants. They are known for chewing wood and can cause significant damage to houses.


insects in english

Wasps are flying insects with colorful bodies and wings, similar to bees. They build nests and can sting predators multiple times.

  • Yellowjacket: A yellow and black social variety of wasps; they play an important role in the environment by eating other bugs and keeping populations under control

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Why Learn the Names of Insects in English?

Expand your English vocabulary

Learning insect names is a great way to expand your English vocabulary. As you learn a new insect name, consider writing it down. Maybe you can even try drawing a picture of it next to the word or include some adjectives (words that describe nouns) to describe the insect. Writing down new vocabulary is also a great way to get some spelling practice in.

Launch a career in science or environmental studies

If you are applying for an English-speaking position in the science field, your employer will expect you to have an understanding of advanced scientific terms. But you have to start somewhere, right? Learning the names of insects in English is an excellent place to begin!

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Have a more meaningful visit at zoos and natural spaces

If you are exploring a zoo, park, natural history museum or even a greenhouse (an enclosed place where plants are grown) in an English-speaking environment, it would be helpful to understand the names of insects in English. You might see signs explaining the types of insects found in a space, so understanding this vocabulary will help you get more out of this type of experience.

Understand pop-culture references

From sports teams to superheroes (Spiderman, Antman, etc.), insects are frequently used in pop culture. By learning these bug names, you will pick up on references in movies or television shows that you might have otherwise missed.

For example, you can hear insect names used in the videos below:

“Common Insect Names”

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In this easy-to-understand video, you will hear the names of multiple insects. Each insect name is repeated, which gives you the chance to repeat the name along with the video. When the video introduces each insect, it also includes a short fun fact!

Insect-related words you will hear in this video:

  • Butterfly
  • Grasshopper
  • Mantis

“The Very Hungry Caterpillar”

Use this illustrated reading of the classic children’s book by Eric Carle to boost your insect vocabulary. As you listen, you will also hear the English words for a variety of numbers and food items.

Insect-related words you will hear in this video:

  • Butterfly
  • Caterpillar
  • Cocoon

“Should We Eat Bugs?”

This TedEd video offers an interesting overview of the history of eating bugs. As you watch, you will learn why most humans no longer consider bugs a delicacy (luxury food item).

Insect-related words you will hear in this video:

  • Beetles
  • Termites
  • Locusts

“The Loathsome Lethal Mosquito”

This TedEd video is geared towards advanced language learners. As you watch, you will learn all about the mosquito and its role in the environment. This video also gives you the chance to learn additional (extra) non-insect related vocabulary words.

Insect-related words you will hear in this video:

  • Horsefly
  • Pest
  • Wasp

“Urban Beekeeping and Honey Love”

This informative documentary-style video will help you learn English vocabulary words related to bees and beekeeping. You will also learn more about the importance of bees and people who are working to save them.

Insect-related words you will hear in this video:

  • Colony
  • Honeybee
  • Pollinate


With so many insects in the world, this list is just the beginning!

Who knows, soon you might find yourself on your way to learning hundreds, if not thousands, of insect vocabulary words in English!

And One More Thing...

If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:


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