The animal kingdom is incredibly diverse and beautiful. But some creatures are kind of ugly. Many insects are especially prone to gross, even scary appearances. Here are the 12 ugliest insects I’ve seen.
Some ugly insects include larvae of human botfly (pictured below), fleas, giant hissing cockroaches, mosquitos, wetas, and bed bugs. Some insects have ugly physical features (like external barbs), and others have creepy features (like feeding on our blood and laying eggs under our skin).
Did I miss one? Please let me know below.
The following insects all have features that are viewed by some as ugly, even scary. And to others, they might be cute. Some of these insects are even kept as pets.
My favorite? To me, the larvae of the human botfly is the ugliest and grossest of them all. More on this below.
12 Ugly Insects You Should Avoid
Each of these insects earned its spot on this list, just look at the pictures!
Most of these insects don’t pose a danger to humans, but all have unique features making them ugly and scary to some. Have a favorite? Let me know in the comments.
Okay, let’s get started.
1. Giant Water Bug
The first ugly insect on our list is the Giant Water Bug. Alongside the scientific Lethocerus americanus, this less-than-attractive creature goes by many names. They include Toe-Biters, Electric-Light Bugs, and Alligator Fleas.
With their appearance, they could be a guess alien on Doctor Who or Star Trek.
These nasty insects inhabit freshwater habitats such as ponds or lakes. They can be found onevery continent, so there’s no chance to escape them. They grow up to four inches long, making them one of the biggest bugs in North America.
Giant water bugs are commonly confused with cockroaches.
Fleas have small, rigid, shiny bodies and are found on pets or in carpeted areas. But they aren’t just ugly nuisances. Fleas can spread diseases and parasites to both pets and humans.
They are also responsible for allergies in animals and can cause itching, irritation, and even secondary infections from excessive scratching.
These creepy bugs can’t be fully appreciated until viewed close-up. Like in the following photo.
3. Human Botfly
In addition to having a gross-looking body, the botfly has one of the most disgusting habits of any insect. These ugly insects lay their eggs on the skin of mammals, and when they hatch, the larvae burrow under the skin and feed on the host’s flesh.
When the larva is ready to hatch, it eats its way to the surface and escapes. Removing botfly larva from a host’s skin can be a painful, nauseating process.
So, if you find yourself in Central or South America, keep an attentive eye out for these creatures.
The human botfly has the scientific name Dermatobia hominis.
4. Meal Moths
The Meal Moth, also known as Pyralis farinalis, is an unpleasant-looking pest with a wingspan of 1.5 inches commonly found in pantries and kitchens.
Its name comes from its favorite foods, stored grains, and cereal. Meal moths contaminate food with feces and larvae. They can be found worldwide.
5. Scorpion Fly
The Scorpion fly (Panorpa communis) gets its name from the male’s enlarged abdomen that resembles a scorpion’s tail.
The Scorpion fly can be found in Europe, Asia, and North America.
Their large heads and long tails are what make these insects hideous to look at. And the female’s habit of using a tail to stab prey before consuming them is equally revolting.
Mosquitos (Anopheles) might be one of the ugliest insects ever. In addition to their annoying buzzing and bloodsucking habit, they are the deadliest insect in the world.
They spread diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, and Zika. Forget sharks, snakes, and wolves; these gross creatures are the ones you have to worry about.
These insects have made their home in every corner of the world. They come in various shapes and sizes, the smallest being 0.1 inches long and the largest at about 0.9 inches.
7. Bed Bugs
Bed bugs (cimex lectularius) infest homes and hotels. These ugly insects can be found worldwide and feed on the blood of humans and animals while they sleep.
They leave behind itchy bite marks and can spread diseases like Chagas. Getting rid of bed bug infestations can be a long, complicated process.
8. Giant Hissing Cockroach
What’s more disgusting than a cockroach? A giant one that makes noise!
The Giant Hissing Cockroach can be found in Africa and can reach up to three inches long. Known as Gromphadorhina portentosa, these roaches hiss by forcing air through their respiratory openings, or spiracles.
Besides a repulsive visage, these insects love rotting food and garbage and can spread diseases such as salmonella.
Don’t let the size fool you; they move quickly and are best avoided.
Most people find all cockroaches repulsive. Did you know that there are 4600 roach species?
9. Giant Weta
The Giant Weta is one of the most disturbing insects on this list. It also might be the ugliest. This species (Deinacrida heteracanth) is from New Zealand and can grow up to four inches long.
Despite its unnerving appearance, with legs long enough to make your skin crawl, the Giant Weta is not poisonous. They have the appearance of a large cricket or grasshopper.
They are harmless but still possess a face that only a mother could love.
Here’s more about another type of weta – the tusked weta of New Zealand.
10. European Earwig
European Earwigs have repulsive pincers on the end of their bodies, which they use to catch prey and defend themselves.
While they don’t spread diseases or cause harm to humans directly, Forficula auricularias can invade gardens and damage plants.
11. Black Widow Spiders
Black widow spiders pack a deadly secret that gives them a decidedly creepy quality. You can easily recognize a female black widow spider by its shiny black body and the red hourglass shape on its stomach.
They populate warmer climates in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia.
Besides having an appearance that sends shivers down your spine, female black widows have a bite that causes severe muscle cramps, nausea, and paralysis.
These creepy arachnids live in dark places such as wood piles or basements.
Learn more about the five types of banana spiders.
12. Goliath Beetle
The goliath beetle (Goliathus regius) is massive, with some males reaching up to 4.5 inches in length. These enormous African insects feed on tree sap and fruit.
If you’re not a fan of bugs, goliath beetles, with their hideous look and ugly mandibles, are likely to make your skin crawl.
Keep reading: 9 Ugly African Animals
While ugly insects may make some people squeamish, they play a vital role in the ecosystem. However, it is important to exercise caution when encountering one. Without a little research, you never if they are as harmful as they are creepy.
Which of these insects is the ugliest to you? Have a scary insect to share? Let me know below!
See our huge guide: 28 Ugliest Animals on Earth
- About the Author
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Hi, I’m Bryan Haines. And I’m a co-founder of Storyteller.Travel. I’m a traveler and photographer.
I also blog about photography on Storyteller Tech.