Can You Name All These Summer Insects?

By: Bambi Turner
Image: mikroman6/Moment/Getty Images

About This Quiz

It only takes a few minutes in the great outdoors to understand that there are a whole lot of insects in the world. In fact, around 80 percent of all living species on the planet are part of the insect family, according to Smithsonian Magazine. There are an estimated 200 million bugs for every human, or 10 quintillion (that's 10 with 18 zeroes behind it!) insects living 'round the globe at any one time. 

The truly interesting part, however, is that while there are as many as 30 million different species of bugs to be found, with 90,000 of those species living in the U.S., it can sometimes seem like every single one is after the same thing ... annoying humans as much as they possibly can. Not only do many insects spread deadly disease, but even those that can't kill you can make it their mission to drive you crazy, whether that's by drinking your blood, crawling through your kitchen, buzzing in your ears or even helping themselves to a big old bite of watermelon at your summer picnic. 

Think you can tell the difference between the creepy crawlies, scary stingers and harmless pests that seem to appear out of nowhere each summer? Take this quiz to see if you can tell what all the buzz is about!

Did you know that pretty much every fuzzy fat honeybee that buzzes through your backyard is a female? That's because the females do all the work required to maintain the hive, while males are kept around for reproductive purposes. And yes, these gold and brown insects can sting, but only once, and usually only if they are threatened.

Fireflies, or Lampyridae, are a type of beetle found in moist areas all over the world. Thanks to a special organ under the abdomen, this insect is able to emit a soft glow that lights up the night. Believe it or not, the exact light pattern you see is unique to each firefly species.

Sometimes called a ladybird, the simple ladybug is a welcome visitor in most gardens. Not only does this critter have a cheerful orange or red shell splashed with black spots, but it feasts on aphids — tiny insects that feast on flowers and produce.

Measuring up to 6 inches long, the praying mantis has a tiny triangular head and long front limbs that are often held in a prayer position. Contrary to rumor, there are no state or federal laws in the U.S. keeping you from killing this insect, but why would you want to? Oh, and despite what you may have heard, female mantises only eat their mates between 13 and 28 percent of the time, according to Snopes.com

There are more than 200 species of insects within the fire ant genus, and most are just 1/16th to 1/4th inch long. These ants can bite, but are largely harmless. Contrary to rumor, some fire ants are black, but any time you see a red fire ant building a mound, you can be certain it's an invasive species, according to the Texas A&M Extension.

Yellow and black-striped like a honeybee, the yellowjacket is an aggressive type of wasp that loves feasting on sweets, according to the Iowa State University Extension. When not buzzing around your picnic blanket, these stinging bugs reside in papery nests built in old trees, attics or even on the ground.

While they may seem like a mere annoyance, the bug-eyed housefly actually transmits at least 65 diseases, from cholera to tuberculosis, according to the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences — and you won't believe how fast these insects can reproduce. One fly lays 100 to 150 eggs at once, and they can hatch in as few as 8 hours if the weather is warm enough.

There are at least 174 mosquito species in the U.S., according to The New York Times, and all female members can deliver itchy bites, transmitting diseases like Zika, West Nile or Dengue fever. These insects are even more dangerous outside the U.S., transmitting malaria and other diseases that kill half a million people every year.

The good news is that bedbugs don't spread disease, according to the EPA. The bad news is that they spread incredibly quickly, and can deliver painful, itchy bites to your skin as you sleep. Oval-shaped and almost flat, these bugs are about the size and shape of an apple seed and leave telltale signs like eggs, blood and excrement stains when they take up residence in a home.

Measuring an inch and a half long, the American burying beetle is the largest carrion beetle, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. So-named because it buries its prey, this insect that was once found in 35 states is now found in less than half a dozen.

Its 1-inch-long black body with yellow rings might give it the look of a honeybee, but the paper wasp is a very different insect than the fuzzy honey-producing bee. Sometimes called an umbrella wasp because its papery nests look like upside-down umbrellas, the paper wasp is aggressive, and will sting over and over again if threatened, according to the Cornell University Extension.

Throughout Europe and many tropical regions, sandflies are known for spreading Leishmaniasis, a rare but serious disease that can cause paralysis or organ failure. Though rare in the U.S., Americans should be proactive in protecting themselves from Sandflies when traveling abroad. Take heart though, in that only around 20 of the 600 sandfly species are linked to this disease.

The mighty Monarch butterfly measures 3 to 4 inches across and has a characteristic black and orange color pattern. As a caterpillar, it looks quite different thanks to yellow, white and black stripes. Found all over North America, the Monarch population has decreased by 90% since the '90s thanks to habitat loss and climate change, according to the National Wildlife Federation.

A type of damselfly — a flying bug with broad wings that is generally smaller than a dragonfly — the vivid dancer is found throughout Mexico and the American Southwest. Roughly 2 inches long, the male species has clear wings and a brilliant blue body, while females lack the bright hues and come in shades of brown or olive.

Cockroaches are some of the oldest living creatures on the planet, and have survived for hundreds of millions of years — so good luck eliminating them with that can of bug spray! More than 50 species call the U.S. home, with German cockroaches among the most common in homes.

If you live in the eastern half of the U.S., beware of the Io Moth caterpillar. Simply brushing against this critter, which is green with red and white stripes, can subject you to a sting from its spines, which contain a powerful venom, according to the National Capital Poison Center.

Dermatobia hominis, or botflies, are hairy flies that look fairly harmless. If one drops its nearly invisible eggs on your skin, however, you'll learn how terrible this bug can be. That's because botflies make their home in human skin, burrowing under the flesh until they are ready to emerge as adults, and leaving a painful, leaking pustule behind.

Forty of the world's 2,000 termite species live in the U.S., and all of these soft-bodied tan bugs would love to feast on the wood in your home. Just half an inch long, most people don't know they have termites until they either discover structural damage or spot a flying swarm of these bugs, which appear in late spring or early summer as part of the mating process.

One of the largest "true bugs" in the U.S., according to the University of Florida Department of Entomology and Nematology, wheel bugs deliver a bite that is more painful than the average bee sting. You can identify these gray or brown insects by the crest on their backs, which looks like a wheel extending out of the spine.

Also known as red bugs or harvest mites, chiggers are tiny red bugs that you can really only see under a magnifying glass. Despite their small size, they deliver a painful, itchy bite. You won't feel the bite when it happens, but you'll know you've run into a chigger when red bumps start appearing a few days after you've been in a grassy or wooded area.

At less than 3 inches in length, it's hard to imagine how a locust could inspire such dread. Put thousands or millions of these bugs together, however, and you've got a swarm that can seem like the end of the world. National Geographic states that a desert locust swarm can include 40 to 80 million insects in just half a square mile, and the swarm can cover hundreds of square miles at once!

There are more than 550 species of swallowtail butterflies, and at least 30 can be seen flitting around in North America. These brightly colored insects have tail-like structures on their wings that resemble the feathered "tail" of the swallow bird, hence their name. One swallowtail species, the birdwing, have a wingspan greater than 10 inches.

The dreaded tick is a tiny brown or black bug that feasts on human or animal hosts. Hitching a ride on an unsuspecting host, the tick burrows into the skin, and some can transmit serious diseases. These insects are most likely to bite in spring and summer, according to the CDC, so takes steps to protect yourself when venturing into wooded or grassy areas.

Scutigera coleoptrata, or centipedes, may seem to have countless legs as they speed across the ground, but most have no more than 30 in total. These yellow to gray creatures are only about an inch long, but can seem much bigger thanks to their many appendages. Harmless to humans, the centipede can potentially deliver a bee-sting-like bite when threatened.

With its 3-inch-long body shaped like a darning needle, plus a 3-inch wingspan, the common green darner is among the biggest of all dragonflies. This official insect of Washington state is found all over North America and the Caribbean, and goes by the scientific name Anax junius.

Also known as the Rocky Mountain pine beetle or the Black Hills beetle, the mountain pine beetle is not much bigger than a grain of rice. Despite its small size, this insect can cause a lot of damage. It lays its eggs under the park of evergreen trees, resulting in the eventual decline or death of the tree.

Drosophila melanogaster, also known as the vinegar or fruit fly, is a common kitchen pest when the weather heats up. It lays its eggs on rotting produce, or in the drains of your sinks, generally being a nuisance. Don't be too hard on this insect though; it is a hugely useful creature for biological researchers and has been involved in a number of important studies.

The boxelder is a black or brown bug with orange-red lines arranged in patterns along its back. While it chows down on the leaves and seeds of trees, it doesn't really harm the trees during the process. Most creatures don't prey on this foul-tasting insect, though some spiders include boxelders in their diets.

Less than an inch long and shaped like a shield, the brown marmorated stink bug is so-named because it releases a stinky odor when threatened or crushed. An invasive species in the U.S., according to the USDA, the stink bug is a major threat to crops and fruit trees. It has few native predators, which has allowed it to spread quickly across the U.S.

Less than 1 mm in size, the clover mite is a tiny red insect that scurries through outdoor spaces in the spring and summer. They can't survive indoors for long, so aren't really a household pest, and are mostly harmless to humans beyond some minor plant damage.

The ash borer is native to Asia, but started showing up in Michigan in 2002, according to the Arbor Day Foundation. Since then, this half-inch-long beetle has quickly spread across the U.S., laying its eggs in ash trees and devastating forests in the east and Midwest.

Most active in the hottest months of the year, just as humans are trying to have pool parties and BBQs, the mud dauber is a wasp that builds tube-like nests out of hardened mud. While they are unlikely to sting without being provoked, they can deliver multiple painful stings when threatened or attacked.

The mighty ant is one of the strongest insects out there, able to transport 20 times its own body weight to carry food or fallen insects back to the nest. There are more than 12,000 ant species, and most live in colonies led by a single queen and supported by millions of female workers and male drones.

A type of scarab beetle, the Hercules beetle is the largest beetle in the U.S. according to the University of Pennsylvania Department of Entomology and Nematology. Measuring 2 to 3 inches long and 2 inches wide, males can be as long as 7 inches when you include their sharp, curved horns.

Grats, midges, no-see-ums, punkies, five-0's, or moose flies. No matter what you call them, these tiny swarming insects can be a major nuisance. While the vast majority don't bite humans, a select few do, and others are known for transmitting diseases among livestock.

Kissing bugs are so-named because they tend to bite humans in the mouth. While rare, this bite can transmit a parasite that causes Chagas disease, according to the CDC. Steer clear of this shield-shaped brown bug, which can be found throughout much of the southern U.S.

Forget the superstitions ... Earwigs don't lay eggs in the ears of sleeping humans. In fact, these half-inch-long red and brown bugs with a pair of pincers on their hind end pose very little threat to humans, according to the Iowa State University Extension.

There are more than 5,000 species of aphids on Earth. These tiny green or black flies hang out under leaves, zapping their sap and harming or killing the plant itself over time. While aphids reproduce asexually, they are a favorite meal of ladybugs and lacewings, which helps to control their numbers.

Wheat weevils, also known as grain or rice weevils, are found all over the world. They range in color from red to black, but all have a distinctive long "snout" that they use to feast. These critters can devastate a harvest and are also an unpleasant surprise to find in your pantry.

It's hard to believe that such a small bug can cause such misery, but the 1/10th inch long flea manages to be quite a major pest. The 2,500 species in this insect family feast on blood, and can consume 15 times their own weight daily, according to the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. Even worse, they transmit tons of parasites, from heart worm to the plague.

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