34 Common Insects You Can Find in New Jersey (2024)

Thousands of insect species live in New Jersey!

Types of insects in New Jersey

Trying to list them all would be impossible. So below, you will find the most common and abundant bugs that live in New Jersey. 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:

34 Common Insects in New Jersey:


#1. Common Green Bottle Fly

  • Lucilia sericata

Types of insects in New Jersey

  • 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 New Jersey.

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. Eastern Firefly

  • Photinus pyralis

Also known as Big Dipper Fireflies.

Types of insects in New Jersey

  • Their outer wings are dark brown with yellow margins, and their head has two orange spots.
  • They have six legs, two antennae, and compound eyes.
  • The last segment of their abdomens lights up and flashes bright yellow-green.

The best time to see these insects in New Jersey is on a warm summer night!

Odds are you’ve caught one of them when you were a child. 🙂

But interestingly, Eastern Fireflies aren’t flies at all; they’re a type of beetle that thrives in open grassy areas, woodland edges, and around streams.

The light they produce comes from an organ under their body called a lantern. This lantern produces light through a chemical reaction between luciferin, luciferase, and oxygen. The reaction forms a new molecule and releases energy in the form of light.

This light serves to warn predators that these insects taste bad, in addition to attracting mates.

The males are the insects you see lighting up the night skies. They flash and await a response from one of the flightless or nearly flightless females somewhere on the ground below.

YouTube video

It’s not just the adults that produce light. Eastern Firefly eggs and pupae emit a slight glow, too, protecting them from predators.


#3. European/Western Honey Bee

  • Apis mellifera

Types of insects in New Jersey

  • 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 New Jersey.

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.


#4. Monarch

  • Danaus plexippus

Types of insects in New Jersey

  • 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 New Jersey!

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

#5. Seven-Spotted Ladybug

  • Coccinella septempunctata

Types of insects in New Jersey

  • 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 New Jersey.

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

#6. Asian Lady Beetle

  • Harmonia axyridis

Also known as the Multicoloured Asian Ladybug, Harlequin Ladybird, and Japanese Ladybug.

insects and bugs invasive

  • Adults have domed bodies and are usually about .25 inches (.6 cm) long.
  • Their coloration may range from yellowish-orange to red or black with variable black, orange, or red spots and markings.

The Asian Lady Beetle is NOT a true ladybug. It is similar in how it looks but not in how it acts. It is native to eastern Asia and was brought over to help control aphids like other ladybugs.

Once introduced, this species spread quickly through North America. Many people call it the “Halloween Beetle,” as it often invades homes in New Jersey during October to overwinter. I know we get MANY Asian Lady Beetles coming into our house each year when the weather turns colder!

This species is considered one of the world’s most invasive insects. Their bodily fluids have an unpleasant odor and can stain fabric, so try not to crush this beetle if you find it inside!

Japanese Ladybug how to identify

The easiest way to identify this beetle is by the black markings on its head that look like the letters “W” or “M.”

Check out this video of how big of a problem the Asian Lady Beetle can be before winter.

YouTube video

#7. Eastern Bumble Bee

  • Bombus impatiens

common insects

  • They have black abdomens, legs, and heads.
  • Their thoraxes are primarily yellow, with a circular patch of black hairs between the base of their wings.
  • They have short, even hair all over their bodies and four wings.

The Eastern Bumble Bee is an important pollinating insect in New Jersey!

They’re common in fields, woodlands, gardens, and backyards, where they live in annual underground nests, each containing about 300 to 500 bees.

Eastern Bumble Bee Range Map
Ninjatacoshell, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Look for these insects buzzing about your yard, gathering pollen and nectar.

Interestingly, Eastern Bumble Bees can see ultraviolet light. Many patterns on flowers are invisible to the human eye, but these bees can see them perfectly.

These ultraviolet patterns act as “nectar bull’s eyes,” helping the bees to find food and pollinate the flowers.

YouTube video

#8. Common Green Darner

  • Anax junius

  • 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 New Jersey.

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!


#9. Bald-faced Hornet

  • Dolichovespula maculata

Also called the Bald-faced Aerial Yellowjacket, Bald-faced Wasp, Bald Hornet, White-faced Hornet, Blackjacket, White-tailed Hornet, Spruce Wasp, and Bull Wasp.

insects and bugs common

  • They have black bodies with ivory markings on their faces, legs, thoraxes, and abdomens.
  • Look for three white stripes at the ends of their bodies.

Bald-faced Hornets are named for the ivory markings on their face. Despite the name, these insects aren’t true hornets. They’re actually a type of yellow jacket.

These intimidating bugs don’t have a pleasant reputation in New Jersey.

They aggressively defend their nests and can sting repeatedly. But while their appearance and nests can be scary, they’re pretty handy to have around (as long as the nest isn’t close to human habitation).

First, the adults feed on nectar and help to pollinate flowers. In addition, they also kill and eat other types of yellowjackets! Sometimes, in early summer, a nest will be so full of yellowjacket remains that it will have a yellowish cast! Unless their nest is somewhere you’ll come into contact with it, it’s best to leave them be.

I’m sure you have spotted one of their nests before. They are large, papery, and football-shaped. The queen builds these nests by chewing wood material and mixing it with her saliva to make a paste.

bald faced hornet nest


#10. Eastern Yellowjacket

  • Vespula maculifrons

Types of yellowjackets

  • They are black with yellow markings.
  • Their first abdominal segment has a wide, black, anchor-shaped marking.
  • Cheeks have continuous yellow bands that don’t completely encircle their eyes.

Eastern Yellowjackets seem to be found in every habitat in New Jersey!

In both urban and suburban areas, you may spot them in woodlands, parks, pastures, and lawns. They’re not picky!

And unfortunately, these insects can deliver an incredibly painful sting. Make sure you don’t wander too close to their nests, which they aggressively defend! These nests can be huge, as queens produce up to 25,000 individuals over a season.

Another problem with Eastern Yellowjackets is their nests are typically underground, so it’s hard to spot one. The nests are often found in residential lawns and are inconveniently discovered while mowing. 🙂

eastern yellowjacket nest


#11. 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 New Jersey. 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.


#12. Eastern Carpenter Bee

  • Xylocopa virginica

Eastern Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica)

  • Black faces and round, hairy, yellow bodies.
  • They have shiny black abdomens and distinct shiny black patches on their backs.
  • Males have a white spot on their face.

Eastern Carpenter Bees get their name from their unique nesting style, which sets them apart from other bees. They chew perfectly round tunnels into wood using their powerful mandibles.

The queens excavate these tunnels and use them to rear young. She creates sections within the tunnel using sawdust to build walls. She places an egg on pollen or nectar within each section, which the larva eats when it hatches.

Their large size can seem intimidating to people in New Jersey, but these insects are rarely aggressive. However, they’re known to boldly defend their nests and territories from intruders like wasps. Males can’t sting but can still deliver a powerful bite!


#13. Brown-belted Bumble Bee

  • Bombus griseocollis

Brown-belted Bumble Bee (Bombus griseocollis)

  • They have short, even hair.
  • A primarily yellow thorax with a black patch between the wing bases.
  • Their first abdominal segment is entirely yellow, and workers usually have a brown or reddish patch in a crescent shape on the second segment.

Brown-belted Bumble Bees are incredibly adaptable. They feed on various flowers like clovers, echinaceas, goldenrods, milkweeds, and vetches. And they have a wide range of habitats in New Jersey, including wetlands, agricultural areas, meadows, and even cities!

Brown-belted Bumble Bees live in small colonies of about 50 or fewer individuals. They nest underground or on the surface in organic matter.

These groups may be small, but they are mighty and will aggressively defend their nests from predators and parasites.

Unlike most bees, males are involved in raising the young. They will help incubate pupae by wrapping their legs around the cocoon and pumping their abdomens.


#14. 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 New Jersey 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.


#15. Wheel Bug

  • Arilus cristatus

Wheel Bug (Arilus cristatus)

  • Adults reach up to 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) long.
  • They’re dark and robust with long legs, antennae, and a strong beak.
  • They have a characteristic dorsal crest shaped like a wheel or cog.

The Wheel Bug is one of the largest terrestrial bugs in New Jersey.

These odd-looking insects are a gardener’s favorite for their voracious, predatory appetite. They will feed on tent caterpillars, cabbage worms, Japanese beetles, Mexican bean beetles, and other pests.

These assassin bugs grip and pin prey with their front legs while piercing it with their beak to inject enzymes that paralyze the other insect and liquefy its insides. Then, the Wheel Bug inhales the fluids.

While they’re not aggressive, you should treat Wheel Bugs with respect. When handled roughly, they can deliver a bite more severe than a bee sting!


#16. Japanese Beetle

  • Popillia japonica

Japanese Beetle (Popillia japonica)

  • Broadly oval-shaped and generally up to 0.6 inches (1.5 cm) long.
  • They are metallic green with coppery brown wing covers.
  • They have five patches of white hair on each side of their abdomen.

This invasive insect has earned a nasty reputation in New Jersey.

While they’re not problematic in their native range, Japanese Beetles have caused significant issues on crops like roses, hops, asparagus, raspberries, and grapes.

Adult beetles skeletonize plant foliage as they feed, and you may spot damaged leaves before you notice the beetles. Unfortunately for gardeners, where there’s one beetle, more are sure to follow.

They’re highly adaptable, too, and can survive anywhere there’s sufficient foliage. They live in cities, grasslands, gardens, farms, and forests.


#17. 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 New Jersey.

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! : )


#18. Carolina Mantis

  • Stagmomantis Carolina

Carolina Mantis (Stagmomantis Carolina)

  • Adults typically reach 2 to 2.5 inches (5 to 6.4 cm) long.
  • Their bodies are mottled gray, brown, or green.
  • They have triangular faces, rectangular face plates, long, thin antennae, and wings reaching down their abdomen.

In New Jersey, you can find these insects in meadows and forests, often near or on flowering plants.

Carolina Mantises have incredibly sedentary lifestyles. They sometimes spend their whole life on a single plant or tree as long as food is available.

Being still is part of their strategy for capturing prey. They wait for other insects to come to the flowers, detecting them with impressive ears that capture high-frequency sounds.

Female Carolina Mantids occasionally eat their partners! This mainly occurs when food isn’t as abundant as the females need a lot of food to reproduce.


#19. Spotted Cucumber Beetle

  • Diabrotica undecimpunctata

Spotted Cucumber Beetle (Diabrotica undecimpunctata)

  • Adults are yellow-green with 12 black spots on their forewings.
  • They have black legs, heads, and beaded antennae.
  • Adults are about 0.2 inches (0.5 cm) long.

These little beetles may look harmless, but they are an agricultural pest in New Jersey.

The adults feed on plants in the cucurbit family, including cucumber, squash, and melon. While feeding, they often transmit pathogens that can cause bacterial wilt or mosaic virus, killing the plants.

Spotted Cucumber Beetle larvae cause problems, too, and are often known as Southern Root Cornworms. These larvae burrow into the seeds and roots of corn and sorghum, damaging young plants.


#20. Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

  • Halyomorpha Halys

  • Brown on top and creamy whitish brown on the bottom. But colors can be red, grey, light brown, copper, or black.
  • Blunt head has light and dark bands on antennae and around abdomen edges with a pale ring on each leg.

This invasive insect is a pest in New Jersey.

The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug was first seen in Allentown, Pennsylvania, in September 1998. It is believed that this stink bug hitched a ride from China or Japan in a shipping container.

This species eats the juice of fruits and veggies. They cause pitting and scarring of the fruit and introduce microorganisms that cause decay.

In the fall, this bug seeks shelter from the cold weather.

Up to hundreds will seek refuge indoors, which can become a massive nuisance. They look for openings, such as gaps in vents, windows, and doors.

But don’t worry, the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug doesn’t bite people or pets, and they don’t spread disease. But be careful not to pick them up or squash them because they will release their stink spray with a nasty odor.


#21. Chinese Mantis

  • Tenodera sinensis

Chinese Mantis (Tenodera sinensis)

  • Adults are usually tan with a green line running down their sides and the edges of their forewings.
  • Adults may reach 5 inches (12.7 cm) long.
  • They have triangular heads with square face plates featuring vertical stripes.

Chinese Mantises are skillful predators. Their folded arms fly out with lightning speed to catch all kinds of insects and spiders.

The females are even known to occasionally take larger prey like amphibians, small reptiles, and even hummingbirds!

The females aren’t always gentle with their partners either. Famously, the females sometimes consume their mates, starting with the male’s head.

This may seem like an odd partnership, but the females need all the nutrition and energy they can get to produce eggs.


#22. Differential Grasshopper

  • Melanoplus differentialis

  • Adults are usually shiny and yellow-brown.
  • They have brownish-yellow or brownish-red antennae and brown eyes with light spots.
  • Their upper hind legs are yellow with a black herringbone pattern, and their lower hind legs are yellow with black spines.

You may remember Differential Grasshoppers from hot summer childhood days playing outside. They are one of the classic insects of summer.

The best places to find these bugs in New Jersey are grasslands, but they will also inhabit vacant lots, open woodlands, roadsides, and croplands.

Their broad appetite helps them adapt to different areas. These grasshoppers feed on grasses, forbs, fruit trees, and crops.

If you’ve ever tried to catch one, you’ve probably noticed that Differential Grasshoppers are talented fliers. They can travel 10 to 100 yards in a single flight!


#23. Ailanthus Webworm

  • Atteva aurea

Ailanthus Webworm (Atteva aurea)

  • Adults’ wingspans are 0.5-1.18 in (1.3-3 cm).
  • They have orange forewings with four bands of yellow spots outlined in black.
  • Their hindwings are a solid smoky gray.

Ailanthus Webworm Moths move through life quickly, going from egg to adult in as little as four weeks! They eat leafy material when they are caterpillars and metamorphose into moths quickly.

As adults, these moths pollinate by feeding on nectar from flowers. Ailanthus Webworms commonly feed on tree-of-heaven nectar, which allows them to store chemicals in their body that are dangerous to consume. Their bright coloring helps warn predators that they don’t make a good meal.


#24. Green Stink Bug

  • Chinavia hilaris

  • Adults are bright green with narrow yellow, orange, or reddish edges.
  • They are shield-shaped, and their folded wings form an x-shape on their back.
  • They emit a foul odor when harassed or crushed.

These brightly colored bugs are some of the first insects in New Jersey to become active in the spring, adding little specks of bright green to the brown of the forest floor.

Green Stink Bugs can be pretty, but many farmers and gardeners find them a nuisance. They can be found feeding on an incredible range of plants, including crops like tomatoes, soybeans, and peach trees.

Green Stink Bugs have mouthparts that are a bit like straws. They suck nutrients from plants and have a particular fondness for developing fruits and seeds.


#25. Black Carpenter Ant

  • Camponotus pennsylvanicus

Black Carpenter Ant (Camponotus pennsylvanicus)

  • Adults are dull black and have distinctive white or yellowish hairs on their abdomens.
  • The largest workers are about 0.2 to 0.6 inches (0.5 to 1.6 cm) long.
  • Non-worker reproductive males and females have wings.

Black Carpenter Ants are among the most common ants in New Jersey.

You can find these large ants in grasslands, deciduous forests, meadows, agricultural fields, and urban and suburban areas. As their name suggests, they prefer to build their nests in wood, often using decaying logs, deciduous trees, or wood structures.

Black Carpenter Ants aren’t picky eaters and feed on other insects, human trash, nectar, fruit, and fungi.

These ants are surprisingly long-lived! While reproductive males usually die shortly after mating, workers may live from several months to seven or more years. Queens can live for over 10 years!


#26. Red Milkweed Beetle

  • Tetraopes tetrophthalmus

  • Adults typically measure 0.3 to 0.6 inches (0.8 to 1.5 cm).
  • Adults are reddish with symmetrical black spots.
  • They are narrow and elongated with unridged antennae that bisect their eyes.

To find Red Milkweed Beetles in New Jersey, you need to find milkweed. They are almost always near their host plant, the Common Milkweed.

Like the Monarch Butterfly, their bright coloration may reflect their relationship with the plant. Scientists believe these beetles receive some protection from predators by feeding on the toxic milkweed.

These crafty beetles have developed a way to feed on milkweed leaves, stems, and flowers without the latex sap gumming up their mouthparts. They carefully sever the plant’s veins below their feeding site, draining the sap from a specific area and allowing them to feed freely.


#27. Goldenrod Soldier Beetle

  • Chauliognathus pensylvanicus

  • Adults are about 0.75 inches (1.9 cm) long.
  • Their front wings are orange with large black spots at the tip and don’t quite cover their abdomens.
  • Their heads and legs are black, with two black spots on their thorax.

These bright little insects are important pollinators in New Jersey!

They earned the name “soldier beetle” for their reddish and black coloration, which were thought to resemble British military uniforms in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Goldenrod Soldier Beetles can be found in meadows, fields, and gardens. As their name suggests, spotting them on goldenrod is common, but they’ll visit other flowers, too.

Goldenrod Soldier Beetles mostly eat pollen and nectar but occasionally consume small insects like caterpillars, aphids, and other pests.

They’re a great friend to gardeners and safe to handle because they don’t bite or sting.


#28. Red-legged Grasshopper

  • Melanoplus femurrubrum

Red-legged Grasshopper (Melanoplus femurrubrum)

  • Adults typically range from 0.67 to 1.2 inches (1.7 to 3 cm) long.
  • They are variable in color and may be reddish-brown, yellow, dark brown, green, or olive green, with bright red or yellowish hindlegs featuring a black herringbone pattern.
  • Their wings typically extend beyond the tip of their abdomen.

You may have spotted these insects in New Jersey flying away as you walk through open habitats like yards, croplands, open floodplains, vacant lots, meadows, and prairies. When startled, they can fly distances of 40 feet (12.2 m)!

These grasshoppers have to be quick to stay alive. They’re an important food source for wildlife like turkeys and quail.

Red-legged Grasshoppers feed on various grasses and other plants, including goldenrod, dandelion, clover, and vetch. But interestingly, when food is scarce, Red-legged Grasshoppers develop longer wings, allowing them to fly longer distances to new areas searching for food.


#29. Fork-tailed Bush Katydid

  • Scudderia furcata

Fork-tailed Bush Katydid (Scudderia furcata)

  • Adults usually range from 1.5 to 1.75 inches (3.8 to 4.4 cm) long.
  • They are leafy-green with long green antennae but may have pinkish, brownish, or rusty tinges, especially in autumn.
  • Females have a brownish or purplish ovipositor, a sword-like appendage at the tip of their abdomen.

These insects are one of the classic sounds of the night in New Jersey.

Fork-tailed Bush Katydids are one of about 250 species of katydids or “bush crickets” found in North America. Unlike true grasshoppers, they spend most of their time in trees and shrubs and rarely descend to the ground.

These bright green insects are nocturnal. They spend their nights feeding on the flowers, foliage, and fruit of the trees and shrubs they call home. Don’t worry, gardeners; they rarely cause significant damage.

Katydids can be incredibly hard to spot because they blend in perfectly with the leaves. If you get lucky, you may spot one on a tree trunk that stands out against the drab bark or around an outdoor light at night.

If you find a katydid, you should handle them with care. While not aggressive, they can give a good pinch if handled roughly.


#30. Two-striped Grasshopper

  • Melanoplus bivittatus

Two-striped Grasshopper (Melanoplus bivittatus)

  • Adults are typically 1.2 to 2 inches (3 to 5 cm) long.
  • They are usually green or tan, with two pale yellow stripes running along the top of their bodies from above their eyes to the hind tips of their wings.
  • They have green or buff hind tibia with black spines.

These insects are well adapted to various habitats in New Jersey!

Part of the reason they can call so many areas home is their diet. Two-striped Grasshoppers aren’t picky and will feed on grasses, herbaceous plants, woody plants, seed pods, flowers, and crops.

When food is scarce, Two-striped Grasshoppers will also scavenge on dead plants and animals. In addition, they occasionally resort to cannibalism!

These grasshoppers can be a lot of fun to find and catch. However, many insect lovers have found out the hard way that Two-striped Grasshoppers are quick to bite when handled. 🙂


#31. 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 New Jersey.

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.


#32. Western Conifer Seed Bug

  • Leptoglossus occidentalis

Western Conifer Seed Bug (Leptoglossus occidentalis)

  • Adults are reddish to dark brown.
  • The membranous portions of their wings are dark brown and form a diamond at their rear.
  • Their abdomens have a yellow or orange and black pattern, but only the edges are visible until they’re in flight.

As their name suggests, Western Conifer Seed Bugs feed on the sap in conifer seeds. You can find them on a number of host plants, such as Douglas-fir, Eastern White Pine, Eastern Hemlock, Ponderosa Pine, and White Spruce.

While these insects don’t pose a considerable threat to native forests in New Jersey, they can be destructive in conifer seed orchards. They’ve been known to damage up to 80% of a seed crop.

If you’re looking for Western Conifer Seed Bugs, you may hear these bugs before you spot them. They produce a loud buzzing noise in flight. It’s thought that this buzzing noise, along with their brightly colored abdomens, may mimic bees, protecting them from birds.


#33. European Mantis

  • Mantis religiosa

European Mantis (Mantis religiosa)

  • Adults typically measure 1.7 to 3.5 inches (4.2 to 8.8 cm) long.
  • Adults may be shades of green, yellow, brown, or occasionally black.
  • They have triangular heads and distinct “bull’s eye” marks on their forearms.

These funny-looking insects are native to Europe but have established themselves in New Jersey. They’re the classic “praying mantis” you are probably familiar with.

European Mantises rely on this excellent camouflage as part of their ambush hunting strategy. Their specially adapted, spiked forearms help them snatch any prey that happens by including other mantises.

YouTube video

Female mantises have earned a nasty reputation for eating their mates. Thankfully, for the males, this only happens about 30% of the time.

Males must try to approach females without being spotted. They use a “stop and go” tactic, as mantises are good at spotting movement but not stationary objects.

If a female spots an approaching male, she’ll eat him, starting with his head. Oddly, males can sometimes still mate headless. 🙂


#34. Spotted Lanternfly

  • Lycorma delicatula

Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula)

  • Adults grow up to about 1 inch (2.5 cm) long.
  • Their forewings are grayish with black spots.
  • The lower sections of their hindwings are red with black spots, and the upper sections are dark with a white stripe.

Spotted Lanternflies are newcomers to the ranks of North American insects. They were first discovered in 2014 and probably came in with a shipment of stone from China.

Spotted Lantern Fly Projected Range Map
Project map on potentially suitable habitats for the spotted lanternfly globally. – US Department of Agriculture/Journal of Economic Entomology, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

These little insects may look striking but have become devastating pests in New Jersey.

Spotted Lanternflies feed on many types of trees and shrubs. They don’t eat whole leaves. Instead, they pierce the tissue with their mouthparts and suck out the sap.

Spotted Lanternflies are considered especially dangerous to grape plantations. Some farmers have reported up to 90% losses from Spotted Lanternflies.

Their waste is an issue, too. Spotted Lanternflies secrete a sugary substance called honeydew, which can cause infections of black sooty mold on trees and plants.


Learn more about the bugs that live in New Jersey:

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


Do you need additional help identifying insects in New Jersey?

If so, check out this excellent ID guide!


Which of these insects have you seen in New Jersey?

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