It may officially be spring, but it still feels very much like winter in parts of Maine. Given that summer still feels far off, we thought now would be a good time to introduce you to some of our state bugs. You have a few weeks to prepare for their summer arrival, which is why reading about them now should be significantly less horrifying. Unless you stare at the pictures too long imagining them crawling on you right this very second. That’s what I did when I wrote this and I don’t recommend it.
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
1. The Bold Jumping Spider
Close up, this guy looks terrible. But, the good news is that they're actually quite small. They have the ability to jump more than four times their own body length. It is this fast pounce that allows them to attack insect prey after stalking it. The bite from one is not lethal, but may cause a small stinging sensation. The goods news is that, because they are so fast, it is rare for humans to be bitten. Fun fact: These guys don't spin a web and they're on the go most of the day.
2. The Assassin Bug
So, this one is actually as scary as it looks. These bugs have very strong beaks which are kept tucked under their head when not being used. Assassin Bugs use their legs to hold their prey down. Then, they use their beak to stab the unfortunate guy until it dies. Then, they suck out its body fluids.
Humans are safe from losing all their body fluids, but bites will still be very painful.
3. The Bed Bug
These guys don't look especially horrifying. They're almost...cute. But, folks, I promise you that this is one of the scariest bugs on this list. They are little abominations. They'll feast on you in your sleep, typically biting three times in one area. Experts call it "breakfast, lunch and dinner" because they have one meal, then take a break, then continue all night. If you find out you have bed bugs, don't try moving to the couch. They will follow your CO2 to the new area and infest that area as well. Oh, one more thing you should know is how they reproduce. It's called "traumatic insemination" and involves a male punching the woman in the stomach and impregnating her. They're awful. Run, do not walk, from a place that is infested.
Some advice: When you check into a hotel, pull back the sheets and check in the crevices of the mattress for small specks. They are bed bugs and you'll need to get back on the plane and leave the area immediately. Maybe even leave the country.
4. The House Centipede
This beast is possibly the most hideous of everything on this list. In fact, while writing this section, I covered the photo of the bug. As horrifying as they are, the House Centipede is actually a helpful guy to have around because he keeps bigger pests such as cockroaches and moths low in number. House Centipedes move very fast and run with their bodies held high above the ground. They can be found in wet or damp areas, and occasionally can be seen outside.
5. The Arrow-Shaped Micrathena Spider
Feat not, Mainers, this spider is not as scary as it looks. The females have ridges with spines and it's believed that they are used to ward off predators. It's also possible that they exist to help her conceal herself in her web. Males do not have spines and are mostly black with white edges. Females are twice as large as males. Their webs are close to the ground and are typically re-spun every single day. Imagine if you had to rebuild your house every day! No thanks.
6. The Burying Beetle
These curious beetles find a dead bird or small mammal and remove its feathers and hair. Then, they get to work laying eggs on the carcass. It is then covered up with soil or plants. Later, when the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on the remains of the animal.
7. The Deer Tick
They're tiny, they're gross and recently they're deadly. A tick bite is more dangerous than you think. Unchecked, Lyme Disease can lead to a lifelong autoimmune disorder, or, in the case of one mid-coast Maine woman, even death. Always give yourself a thorough once over after spending time in the outdoors and, if you can, be sure to secure the loose ends of pant legs to avoid ticks traveling inside.
8. The Ichneumon Wasp
There are many different species of this wasp and all have different coloring. That long syringe-type thing on the back is actually NOT a stinger. It is used for inserting her eggs into wood (live trees, or logs) where the larvae will feed on any other insect larvae already there. These bugs will sting when threatened, so it's best to keep your distance.
9. The Common Pillbug
This one isn't actually an insect, it's a crustacean. And, it's not actually so scary. Pillbugs are a food source for insects and members of the spider family. Their diet of rotting organic material like leaves and wood means they help cycle nutrients through the food web. When feeling threatened, they roll up into a tight ball until the perceived threat has passed. For some reason, I called them "tickle bugs" when I was little. Depending on where you are from, you may have called them "roly-polies."
10. The Maritime Earwig
While most bugs hide from bodies of water, these guys spend the majority of their time near it. This species does not swim, but it hunts along wet sandy areas looking for insects to eat. They hunt at night, combing the beach for small insects, their eggs and any dead arthropods that drifted ashore. It is most often seen in areas around high tide.
Have you seen any of these? What’s the worst bug you can imagine here in Maine? Let us know over on