9 Insects That Start With A (Common Names)

Ant colony
iStock.com/Cabezonication

Written by Katie Melynn Wood

Published: March 8, 2024

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Insects are the largest group of animals in the entire world. There are over 1 million individual species recognized with new additions every year. There is still so much to learn about these amazing creatures. Insects are found in just about any environment and are always a crucial part of the ecosystem. These particular insects that start with A are found across the globe and represent a variety of families and orders.

All animals, including insects, have scientific names that identify them by genus and species. They also have common names, which are used to refer to them outside of scientific circles. These can be easier to pronounce and spell. Common names often describe the insect’s physical characteristics or geographic region, although they are not always native to these areas.

#1 Ants

Aggressive Animal: Fire ant

An ant colony is typically comprised of female worker ants and one queen, who is responsible for laying the eggs.

This group of insects is part of the Hymenoptera order. There are between 15,700 and 30,000 species of ants in the world, although estimates state that only around half are described and classified. Ants are found on every continent except Antarctica, although not all species are in every part of the world. Many are named for their geographic region or place of origin. Ants are known for living in nests. They rely on colony behavior for survival, with each ant participating in colony life by supporting the group by gathering food, defending the nest, mating with the queen, or laying eggs for the next generation of ants. Some can carry as much as 10 times their body weight.

#2 Aphids

Black aphids

Aphids suck sap out of plants and can cause severe damage.

This name applies to insects that are part of the Aphidoidea family and rely on sap from plants for food. Aphids are some of the most frequently discussed insects that start with A, especially among gardeners. Aphids tend to cause problems and are considered a garden pest. They quickly wreak havoc on plants, especially when part of an infestation. You might also hear aphids referred to as greenflies or blackflies based on their coloring. Some species eat any plant while others show a preference for particular plants in the garden. They reproduce quickly, leading to infestations that can be hard to control. Some natural methods to keeping aphids from destroying your garden include introducing predatory insects, such as ladybugs.

#3 Alderflies

Alderfly relatives have been discovered in fossils.

There are 66 species of alderflies currently in existence, although there are numerous that are now extinct. These small insects are less than 1 inch long and have long antennae and four wings. Alderlflies live in areas close to water, often staying by ponds, lakes, streams, and rivers to lay their eggs. Alderfly larvae need aquatic environments to mature into adults. Because of their natural habitat, alderflies are tasty food for other aquatic animals, such as birds and fish. Alderflies are used as fishing bait.

#4 Antlions

Adult Antlion Insect

Adult antlions have distinct wings and long bodies.

With long bodies and wings, antlions are very interesting insects. They are also known as antlion lacewings due to the appearance of their wings. Antlions spend the majority of their lifespans as larvae, so the larvae might be more recognizable than the adults. As larvae, they eat ants and other smaller insects, rather than plants. Antlions are plentiful in tropical environments but some species live in other climates as well. Overall, there are around 2,000 species around the world.

#5 Assassin Bug

assassin bug is killing a butterfly caterpillar

Assassin bugs are fierce predators that feed on other insects.

Named for its feeding tactics, the assassin bug is a fascinating example of adaptive evolution. These insects that start with A are bugs with a sharp beak that they use to stab their prey, usually caterpillars, flies, and other smaller bugs. They are venomous and use venom to kill their prey when they attack. While this isn’t lethal to humans, an assassin bug’s bite can be painful for humans and pets.

#6 Admiral Butterfly

red admiral butterfly on flowers

The red admiral is a type of

butterfly

that has a fairly large wingspan of nearly three inches.

There are a few species of admiral butterflies and each is typically named for its coloring. Red admirals and white admirals are two of the most common as well as the most striking. They have black wings with bands of markings in brighter colors. They can also be named for their geographic range, whether it is North America, Europe, India, or another part of the world.

#7 Atlas Moth

Atlas Moth

The wing tips of the Atlas moth resemble snake heads, which can scare away potential predators.

This giant moth is one of the most recognizable insects that starts with A. If you see an Atlas moth, it’s sure to be a sight you won’t forget. These beautiful moths can have a wingspan of more than 9 inches with rust-colored wings that have white spots outlined in black. Other markings on their wings can include pink or purple lines. Each wing also has an extension that protrudes from the side. They only live a few weeks at most, which can be cut short if they have to use a lot of energy to fly around.

#8 Asian Lady Beetle

There are many different colors of Asian lady beetles but all have hard outer wings.

A lady beetle is another name for a ladybug. The Asian lady beetle is a specific species that is native to eastern Asia, although it is now found in other parts of the world as well. Its coloring ranges from deep red with prominent black markings to lighter red or orange with few markings. Asian ladybeetles are large compared to many other similar species of ladybugs. They can be up to 8.5 millimeters and have a domed wing structure characteristic of a beetle.

#9 Army Ant

army ants

Army ants travel in colonies in search of food.

There are more than 200 types of army ants, which are named for their army-like tactics when they go out to find food. Unlike many other ant species, army ants do not form nests. Instead, they move as a colony in search of food and other necessities. Some species construct makeshift nests out of their bodies to keep the queen ant and her larvae in the middle protected. The larger soldier ants guard the smaller and more vulnerable worker ants.


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About the Author

Katie is a freelance writer and teaching artist specializing in home, lifestyle, and family topics. Her work has appeared in At Ease Magazine, PEOPLE, and The Spruce, among others. When she is not writing, Katie teaches creative writing with the Apex Arts Magnet Program in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. You can follow Katie @katiemelynnwriter.

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