11 Common Insects You Can Find in Arizona (2024)

Thousands of insect species live in Arizona!

Types of bugs and insects in Arizona

Trying to list them all would be impossible. So below, you will find the most common and abundant bugs that live in Arizona. I did my best to find an array of different types, such as bees, beetles, flies, mantises, ants, etc.

Also, this article ONLY lists INSECTS. Please check out these other ID guides if you are searching for something else:

11 Common Insects in Arizona:

#1. Common Green Bottle Fly

  • Lucilia sericata

Types of insects in Arizona

  • Adults have metallic blue-green or copper-green bodies.
  • They have black hair on their backs, black legs, and antennae. Transparent wings with light brown veins.
  • They’re slightly larger than houseflies.

The Common Green Bottle Fly is one of the most common and well-known insects in Arizona.

These bugs are not many people’s favorite, but they have some critical jobs in forensic, veterinary, and medical science! Their larvae or maggot stage can help scientists determine the time of death in investigations.

In their natural habitat, Green Bottle Flies are essential aids in decomposition, feeding on carrion and feces.

Surprisingly, they’re also pollinators. Some plants, like the Pawpaw (Asimina triloba), have adapted to attract them with flowers that have the color of drying blood and an odor of rotting meat.

These flies are incredibly prolific. A single female fly may produce 2,000 to 3,000 eggs in her lifetime. They reproduce quickly, too, completing their lifecycle in just 2 to 3 weeks.

#2. European/Western Honey Bee

  • Apis mellifera

Types of insects in Arizona

  • They are primarily red or brown with black bands and orange-yellow rings on their abdomens.
  • They have hairy thoraxes and slightly hairy abdomens.

The Western Honey Bee is one of the most common insects in Arizona.

Unlike most bee species, Western Honey Bees form perennial colonies which survive for years. These colonies comprise about 30,000 to 80,000 bees, most of which are female, including the queen and worker bees.

YouTube video

Defending the hive can cost these bees their lives. When a Western Honeybee stings, usually its barbed stinger becomes lodged in its target. The attached venom sac and musculature are pulled from the bee, resulting in the bee’s death.

Foraging is hard work! A single worker bee flies at about 15 miles per hour and usually visits 50 to 100 flowers in a single trip.

Despite all this effort, the average worker only produces about 1.5 teaspoons of honey in her lifetime.

This honey is tasty for humans but is also essential for the hive. Workers feed honey to the larvae and feed on it themselves during the winter in temperate climates.

#3. Monarch

  • Danaus plexippus

Types of insects in Arizona

  • Monarch butterflies have a wingspan of roughly 4 inches (10 cm).
  • Their recognizable coloring is a “stained glass” pattern of orange with black veins. White dots line the outside edge of the wings.
  • Caterpillars are plump, with black, white, and yellow bands and tentacles on each end of its body.

Monarchs are easily one of the most recognized insects in Arizona!

They are famous for their color pattern and migration. Look for Monarchs anywhere there is milkweed, which is the only food the caterpillars eat.

Most people are familiar with the declining population of Monarchs. Planting milkweed and other native flowering plants is the best way to help them.

Interestingly, Monarchs are toxic to most animals and at the very least, taste bad! This poison comes from the caterpillar’s diet, which is almost entirely made up of milkweed. Toxins from the milkweed plant stay in them, producing a bitter taste and poisonous effects.

During migration, usually in mid-September, you may even see groups of hundreds flying south!

YouTube video

#4. Seven-Spotted Ladybug

  • Coccinella septempunctata

Types of insects in Arizona

  • They have red bodies with six black spots and one big black mark on the middle of their wings (hence their name).
  • The head is black with two white dots.
  • They are also known as Seven-spotted Ladybird and C-7.

When you think of ladybugs, you probably picture something similar to the Seven-spotted Ladybug!

Almost everyone loves them because of the MASSIVE amounts of aphids they eat. This makes them very useful in controlling the pest population of aphids in grasslands and farms.

Surprisingly, this insect is NOT native to Arizona.

They were introduced here from Europe as a biological control against aphids. Interestingly, while they are thriving in North America, Seven-spotted Ladybugs are declining in their native ranges in Europe.

Check out this video of the Seven-spotted Ladybug, as it is an eating machine!

YouTube video

#5. Common Green Darner

  • Anax junius

Types of insects in Arizona

  • Adults grow up to 3 inches (7.6 cm) long.
  • Both sexes have unmarked green thoraces, bull’s eye marks on their faces, and clear wings that often become amber-tinted with age.
  • Males have bluish-purple abdomens with a black stripe down the middle.
  • Females may appear like males or have reddish-brown abdomens.

Green Darners are common flying insects in Arizona.

Named for their resemblance to darning needles, these dragonflies are nearly impossible to miss! They’re also one of the largest dragonfly species alive today.

Unlike many dragonflies, some populations of Common Green Darners migrate. Particularly in winter, they travel as far south as Panama. They’re common summertime residents of the northern US and southern Canada, and occasionally, vagrant individuals are spotted well outside their normal range.

They’ve been known to show up as far away as Japan, Russia, Bermuda, France, and the UK! Researchers suspect these are individuals who were blown off course during storms.

When researchers equipped Common Green Darners with micro radio transmitters, they found that these big dragonflies traveled about 10 miles per hour (16 kph) and up to 87 miles (140 km) per day!

#6. American Cockroach

  • Periplaneta americana

american cockroach pic

  • Shiny, reddish-brown wings, paler neck with two darker reddish-brown blotches in the center.
  • Short wings, males’ wings extend beyond their abdomen.
  • Also known as the Ship Cockroach, Kakerlac, and Bombay Canary.

The American Cockroach is one of the FASTEST running insects in Arizona. Surprisingly, they are weak fliers.

Despite the name, American Cockroaches are native to Africa and the Middle East. These cockroaches were brought over hundreds of years ago on ships.

Adults are active all year round in moist and warm locations, like inside your house! These cockroaches are mostly commercial pests that infest restaurants, supermarkets, bakeries, warehouses, and shipyards. But it’s possible to find them in your house in basements, crawl spaces, and cracks in foundations.

American Cockroaches can also pick up disease-causing bacteria like Salmonella on their legs and deposit it on food they walk on. This can cause food poisoning or infections.

#7. Large Milkweed Bug

  • Oncopeltus fasciatus

Large Milkweed Bug (Oncopeltus fasciatus)

  • Their pronotum (shield-like plate) between their head and wings features a black forward-pointing triangle with orange on each side.
  • Each forewing has a striking pattern from front to back: an orange front-pointing triangle, a broad black band, and an orange backward-pointing triangle.
  • They have long black antennae and legs.

As their name suggests, these striking insects feed primarily on milkweed. Large Milkweed Bugs use their straw-like mouthpart to pierce the plants and drink their juices.

Their bodies build up the toxic compounds from the sap that they eat. Like other species that feed on milkweed, the Large Milkweed Bug’s bright colors warn predators that they taste terrible.

Their narrow diet means you’ll find them living where milkweed grows. Look for Large Milkweed Bugs in Arizona in open areas like roadsides, pastures, fields, and wildflower gardens.

While Large Milkweed Bugs may damage some milkweed plants, their presence is generally short and isn’t harmful to the other species depending on these plants, like Monarch Butterflies and Tussock Moths.

#8. Convergent Lady Beetle

  • Hippodamia convergens

  • Oval, dark orange body with as many as 13 black spots that vary in size.
  • The head is black with two white spots.

This species is a common native insect in Arizona.

Convergent Lady Beetles live in a wide variety of habitats. Look for this pretty species in your yard or garden. Unfortunately, in certain areas, they are being outcompeted and replaced by the invasive Asian Ladybeetle.

Convergent Lady Beetle Range Map

convergent ladybug range map

Both adults and larvae feed on aphids, but adults also eat whiteflies, insects, pollen, and other plant materials.

During colder weather, Convergent Lady Beetles form large groups called aggregations. They do this to mate and stay warm during hibernation!

convergent ladybug aggregations

When these ladybugs are in their large groups, they are collected and sold in garden centers as a source of pest control. However, they usually fly away once the person purchases and releases them. Hopefully, they put a buyer-beware notice on the container! : )

#9. Boxelder Bug

  • Boisea trivittata

Boxelder Bug (Boisea trivittata)

  • Adults are relatively flat and elongate.
  • They are black or dark brown with reddish lines on the edges of their forewings, margins of their abdominal segments, and the center of their pronotum (plate-like structure behind their heads).
  • Their eyes are red.

Boxelder Bugs are native insects in Arizona.

As their name suggests, it’s common to find them on Boxelder trees, though they will also use Maple and Ash trees. These trees are the bug’s primary food source, and they feed on the leaves, flowers, twigs, and seeds.

You may spot some of them near your house during the fall. Groups of Box Elder Bugs seek out dry, sheltered locations to hibernate through the winter.

Box Elder Bugs sometimes fall prey to birds, spiders, rodents, and praying mantises, but they have developed unique techniques to stay safe. Their red markings and foul smells they release help ward off predators.

#10. Pallid-winged Grasshopper

  • Trimerotropis pallidipennis

Pallid-winged Grasshopper (Trimerotropis pallidipennis)

  • Adults may grow to 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) long.
  • Adults are variable in color but are primarily gray or gray-brown with dark bands on their forewings and yellowish hind tibiae.
  • Their hind wings are long, narrow, and pale yellow with greenish or bluish at the base and a narrow dark band.

These drably colored grasshoppers typically live in deserts or dry areas with sparse vegetation and bare ground like roadsides, vacant lots, and fields. Their coloration helps them blend in with the ground.

Some of the Pallid-winged Grasshopper’s behavior in Arizona is dependent on temperature.

They tend to spend time foraging when temperatures are 75–90 °F (24–32 °C) and breed when they are 86–104 °F (30–40 °C).

Occasionally, Pallid-winged Grasshoppers will have localized population booms that can cause severe damage to vegetation and crops. These outbreaks may last a year or two.

Rainfall is a major factor in the survival of Pallid-winged Grasshopper eggs. The large outbreaks of these grasshoppers are associated with above-average rainfall levels in the previous fall, winter, and early spring.

#11. Gray Bird Grasshopper

  • Schistocerca nitens

Gray Bird Grasshopper (Schistocerca nitens)

  • Adults are typically 1.6 to 2.8 inches (4 to 7 cm) long.
  • Adults have variable coloration but are usually patches of gray and brown.
  • They have dark bars on the tops of their hind femora.

Also called Vagrant Grasshoppers, these large insects have a skill for traveling. They look a bit clumsy but looks can be deceiving. These grasshoppers are strong fliers, sometimes migrating hundreds of miles.

Gray Bird Grasshoppers aren’t tied to moist habitats like many other grasshopper species. You can find them in mountainous areas, deserts, and woodlands, and they often congregate around bright outdoor lights at night.

These grasshoppers adapt to different habitats by feeding on various plants, including crops and ornamental plants. The Gray Bird Grasshopper can be a troublesome pest, especially outside its native range. For example, in 2004, a swarm on the Hawaiian island Nihoa wiped out 90% of the vegetation!

Learn more about the bugs that live in Arizona:

Check out these ID guides that focus specifically on different insect families in Arizona.

Do you need additional help identifying insects in Arizona?

If so, check out this excellent ID guide!

Which of these insects have you seen in Arizona?

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