Insects and Arachnids


  • American Painted Lady Butterfly

    The American painted lady (Vanessa virginiensis) is native to the southern United States, Mexico, and Central America. It also migrates to form temporary colonies in the northern U.S. and parts of Canada, the West Indies, and Europe. You’ll find this bright orange butterfly in open meadows, parks, pastures, and along the edge of forests. Its wingspan is one and three-fourths to two and five-eighths inches.

    Grades: 4-12
  • Black Swallowtail Butterfly

    The black swallowtail butterfly (Papilio polyxenes) can be found throughout the eastern United States as well as parts of Canada and South America. The swallowtail is often found in backyard gardens and areas with fragrant flowers. Adult swallowtails eat the nectar from these flowers, but when in the caterpillar form they prefer leaves from plants like carrots and parsley.

    Grades: 4-12
  • Bumblebee

    There are 250 species of bumblebee (Bombus) around the world, 50 of which are found in North America. They are usually black and yellow and are known for their large hairy bodies. Only female bumblebees can sting. The bumblebee eats nectar and uses a tongue called the glossa to remove the nectar from flowers. After the food is removed, the bee stores the nectar in the nest.

    Grades: 4-12
  • Colorado Potato Beetle

    The Colorado potato beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) is an insect native to the southwestern United States and parts of Mexico. It is now found across North America and into Europe and Asia. A notorious garden pest, the Colorado potato beetle feasts on potato leaves in both its adult and larva form.

    Grades: 4-12
  • Cuckoo Wasp

    Cuckoo wasps are the common name for a species of small stinging wasps. Their most distinguishing characteristics might be their coloring. Cuckoo wasps are vivid red, blue, or greenish in color.

    Grades: 4-12
  • Damselfly

    The damselfly belongs to the order Odonata (along with the dragonfly) and the suborder Zygoptera. They are found all over the world, generally living near still bodies of water. Damselflies have actually been around since before the Jurassic Period, more than 210 million years ago.

    Grades: 4-12
  • Dragonfly

    The dragonfly belongs to the order Odonata (along with the damselfly) and the suborder Anisoptera. Dragonflies have actually been around since before the Jurassic Period, and live all over the world. Dragonflies are born with two sets of wings, and use both when flying. They hold their wings down and perpendicular to their body when at rest.

    Grades: 4-12
  • Eastern Carpenter Bee

    There are over 500 species of carpenter bees around the world. The Eastern carpenter bee (Xylocopa virginica) is the most common species found in the United States. They closely resemble some bumblebees, but have a shiny black abdomen while bumblebees are hairy.

    Grades: 4-12
  • Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

    The Eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus) can be found throughout the eastern United States, and west into Texas and the Great Plains. The swallowtail is often found in backyard gardens and areas with fragrant flowers. Adult swallowtails eat the nectar from these flowers, but in the caterpillar form, they prefer leaves from plants including birch, ash, and willow trees.

    Grades: 4-12
  • European Paper Wasp

    The European paper wasp (Polistes dominula) is considered an invasive species in the United States. The insect is native to Europe, North Africa, and parts of Asia, and was introduced to North America in the second half of the 20th century.

    Grades: 4-12
  • Flower Crab Spider

    Several types of spiders are known as crab spiders. In Kentucky, most of these spiders are in the family Thomisidae. They’re dubbed crab spiders because of their flattened body shape and habit of holding their long two pairs of forelegs out in front of them like a crab.

    Grades: 4-12
  • Garden Spider

    The garden spider (Argiope aurantia), also known as the black and yellow orb weaver or black and yellow argiope, is found throughout much of North America. This common spider is recognized by the black and yellow markings on its body and its long black legs.

    Grades: 4-12
  • Grasshopper

    The grasshopper (Caelifera) has about 11,000 known species that can be found all over the world. Members of this family are primarily green or brown, which allows them to stay camouflaged in the mostly grassy or wooded areas where they live.

    Grades: 4-11
  • Hoverfly

    The hoverfly or drone fly (Eristalis tenax) was introduced to North America from Europe. Adult drone flies resemble drone bees. These pollinators feed on flowers from the carrot and fennel families. You’ll find drone flies in gardens, prairies, weedy habitats, and backyards.

    Grades: 4-12
  • Ladybug

    Ladybugs (Coccinellidae) are a family of beetle found all over the world. Ladybug is the common name for this insect in North America, but in other parts of the world they are known as ladybirds. Gardeners welcome many ladybug species because they prey on pest insects that destroy desirable plants.

    Grades: 4-12
  • Monarch Butterfly

    The monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) is perhaps the most famous butterfly in North America and is known for its yearly migration. Monarch butterflies live throughout the U.S., but can’t tolerate the cold months in most states. They have a mass migration to southern California and Mexico.

    Grades: 4-12
  • Pandora Sphinx Moth

    The pandora sphinx moth (Eumorpha pandorus) is native to North America and is found from southeastern Canada down through the eastern United States and west to Texas. The upper side of its wings is greenish gray with dark patches and pink streaks and the underside is yellow-green or brown.

    Grades: 4-12
  • Pearl Crescent Butterfly

    This pearl crescent butterfly (Phyciodes tharos) is one of the smaller varieties of butterfly with a wingspan of just under one-and-three-quarter inches. It can be found in open fields, wooded areas with pine and along rural roadways where wildflowers are abundant.

    Grades: 4-12
  • Periodical Cicada

    The periodical cicada (Cicadidae magicicada) is an insect known for emerging every 13 to 17 years. The cicada’s eggs are laid in trees and when they hatch the young fall and burrow beneath the surface. It then takes the young cicada13 to 17 years to fully mature and again reach the surface.

    Grades: 4-12
  • Praying Mantis

    The praying mantis is a carnivorous insect belonging to the Mantodea order. There are roughly 2,200 species of mantis around the world. The praying mantis gets its name from the position of its front legs, which are bent in a prayer-like pose. In Europe, this insect is called Mantis religiosa.

    Grades: 4-12

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