Creepy Crawlies – Words for Insects in English

Creepy crawlies are insects which creep (walk slowly) or crawl (walk on four or more legs).

Flying insects

Bees produce honey, but can give you a nasty sting. They live in “hives”. Wasps have thinner bodies than bees, and like sweet fruit. They can be quite aggressive and can sting more than once, unlike bees. But hornets probably have the most dangerous sting. They are much bigger than wasps and their buzz (noise they make when they fly) is much louder. Both wasps and hornets build “nests”.

Flies can be found everywhere. They are known to spread disease. Mosquitoes (or “mozzies”) and midges (small biting flies found in the UK) bite in the early evening and have an irritating “whine” when they fly close to you. Moths are also seen in the evening, when they are attracted by lights. During the day time, you can see butterflies, which often have beautiful colourings. In warmer countries, stink bugs are also attracted by light. They buzz loudly, and give off a terrible smell if they are crushed.

Crawling insects

Ants live in nests and most varieties are harmless, although some can also bite.

Many people are frightened of spiders, particularly the larger varieties. In England, “daddy long-legs” are common. They look like spiders, and often seem to live in bathtubs.

Perhaps the two crawling insects that disgust people the most are cockroaches and bedbugs. Cockroaches live in warm countries, breed often, and are known to be able to survive most conditions. They are also one of the oldest species of insect in the world. Bedbugs also infest whole buildings, and feed on humans at night.

Other insects that feed on humans and animals are fleas (an especially common problem for cats and dogs), ticks (which feed on animal blood) and lice (singular: louse) that feed on human blood. There are often outbreaks of headlice in schools. Don’t confuse a louse with a woodlouse, which is a small and harmless insect that likes cool spots. It can roll itself up into a ball.

Other creepy crawlies

You often find worms in the garden. These are thin and eat earth. Maggots are the larvae of insects and among other things, they eat dead animals and rotten fruit.