Okay, so I am not a bug person. Ladybugs I can tolerate. Maybe even the occasional ant if it’s very tiny and I’m feeling adventurous. But THESE bugs? I can’t believe they exist at all, let alone exist in Massachusetts. Many of these insects are actually incredibly gorgeous….and some of them are more on the ghoulish side of things. If you’re into creepy crawling critters, then this will be right up your alley. If you’re not (I feel ya) then let’s hold hands and get through this list together so we know what to look out for.
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1. Acorn Weevil
With a long snout like an elephant trunk, this weevil will first suck the plant juices from an acorn before using it to house its eggs. The female will deposit her eggs inside the hollow acorn before plugging up the hole with her own feces. Look for these guys on oak trees.
2. Candy Striped Leafhopper
Not only does this bug look like a sugary treat, but it actually secretes a sweet liquid that attracts prey. Look for them on blackberry bushes and flowering plants, but don't be lured in by the promise of dessert.
3. American Pelecinid Wasp
Check out that rear. Though that long tail may look like a fiendish stinger, don't worry: it's actually only for laying eggs on the backs of grubs. The wasp pokes deep into the soil until she hits a grub. She then lays one egg on it and moves on. Spot these in gardens and woods, usually on low shrubs or bushes.
4. Assassin Bug
That long beak is used to repeatedly and violently stab the assassin bug's prey to death. These fellows will inflict a PAINFUL sting if handled, so definitely observe from a distance.
5. Augochlora Sweat Bee
Who names these things?! A sweat bee? Seriously? The metallic shimmering color of these insects may be pretty, but do keep your distance. They can be found on flowers or tree bark. Females will nest in rotting wood.
6. Bold Jumping Spider
What makes this spider particularly creepy (to me at least) is that it can be found in virtually any habitat, including cars, homes, and offices. This thing will leap incredible distances to get to prey or away from predators.
You probably have seen one of these guys. They look like giant mosquitoes. Don't worry though: craneflies don't sting and actually aren't known to feed on....anything. At least while they're adults. They are thought to be related to daddy long legs.
8. Eastern Harvestman
The harvestman is an arachnid, but not technically a spider. If a harvestman feels threatened, it will sometimes self-amputate a leg and use it to distract a predator. The leg can twitch for up to an hour! They also breathe through holes in their legs. They don't have fangs and do not bite, but they look darn creepy.
9. Golden Tortoise Beetle
This incredible bug can actually change its coloring at will due to microscopic cavities in its cuticle that house pigmentation. The sheen can be dulled and the gold can become brown. Upon death, the metallic glimmer is lost. The edges of the beetle are transparent, like glass. Look for these on morning glory and sweet potato vines.
10. Green Lacewing
This insect doesn't look like an insect at all, until you look closer. What might appear to be a dirty bit of cotton or fluffy debris is actually the larval form of the green lacewing. This camouflage is shed when the lacewing matures, at which time it becomes a delicate, spindly, green creature. Look for these in flower beds, meadows, farms, and parks.
11. Hag Moth
The hag moth (also called a "monkey slug") has a wild and wooly appearance. This moth has extremely furry lobed limbs while it is in caterpillar form and resembles a terrestrial octopus.
12. Sac Spider
These hunters can frequently be found (brace yourself) in piles of laundry. For real. When someone moves it, or puts on something from the pile, the sac spider may get stuck between the textile and the person's skin. The spider may then bite the unlucky victim to escape. Rather than spin webs to passively catch prey, these guys spin "sacs" to use as retreats. They are venomous, but a single bite will not cause any serious harm.
13. Saddleback Caterpillar
You can see how this one got its name. While this little guy is sort of cute (you can imagine it giving rides to other smaller bugs) don't try and pick him up. Those bristles are actually stinging spines. Watch for these in grass and on shrubs.
Although they look like really small scorpions, pseudoscorpions lack a tail or stinger. These guys are really small. In fact, they often catch a lift on larger insects.
15. Small-Eyed Sphinx Moth
This furry guy has a startling appearance. Females can average 3 inches or more in length and have an orange stripe on their backs like a mohawk. Find these on trees and vines: cherry, hawthorn, serviceberry and grape.
16. Spined Micrathena Spider
Those spines are supposed to make the micrathena spider unappetizing to predators. It's definitely working on me. These spiders rebuild their webs every day and can be found in local forests. They are most active during the summer.
Everyone okay? Make it to the end without getting too itchy? Celebrate by sharing this with your friends and then tell us about the weirdest bug you’ve come across in Massachusetts.