Bug Fun!
[Home][For Kids][Bugfood!][Mystery Bug][Insects All Year] [Insect Stories] [Bug Fun!][Read More About Bugs] [For Teachers and Parents]

University of Kentucky Department of Entomology

Bug Food!
What Is It?? Mystery Bug
Insects All Year
Bug Fun!
Insect Stories
Read More About Bugs
Teacher/Parent Resources


Written and Compiled by R. A. Scheibner,
Extension Entomologist

1. From small in size
   To as big as wHOPPERS    
   We hop in the GRASS
   So we're called __________
2. I'm not your sister or your mother,
   But I'm married to your father's brother.
3. On netted wings, long and sleek,
   I daintily FLY beside the creek.
   I'm a DAMSEL long and thin
   Compared to my dragon kin.
   For me, slow and low flight satisfies,
   While high and fast the DRAGON FLIES.
4. You may call me BEETLE, bug or bird,
   Which may seem to be absurd.
   But give me "LADY" as title of address,
   Then that will help clear up the mess.
5. I'm busy, as busy as can BE,
   Making HONEY for you and me.
   My bumbling cousin is very busy too,
   But she won't make honey to give to you.
6. She's happy and gay and sings with might,
   Especially on a summer night.
   "Katy can't sing", cousin grasshopper said,
   But Katy tried and KATY DID.
7. We BUGS are of different sorts
   But we STINK by all reports.
   It's not because of bad performance,
   Or because of non-conformance
   That we have stinky reputations.
   We really stink. We make no refutations.
   But being stinky makes good sense.
   It's a means of self defense.
8. I don't like BUTTER, and I'm not a FLY.
   Whoever named me made a bad try.
   When I'm not flying up too high,
   You might chase me when I flutter by.
9. When an insect near me lands,
   My PRAYING hands become preying hands.
   I grab that fella and hold him fast,
   He's now doomed for my repast.
   Without stopping to say grace,
   I chew him up and feed my face.
   My praying pose was just a show.
   Preying is what I really know.
   I am a giant in my realm,
   It helps me my prey to overwhelm.
   I'm much bigger than an ant is,
   But much smaller than a MAN TIS.
10. Milkweeds are on what it feeds,
    Only this--no other weeds.
    Nothing else will suit its needs.
    It's a BUTTERFLY, orange dressed,
    And a MONARCH ranked o'er the rest.
    Of lesser rank is the Viceroy 
    That mimics it as a protective ploy.
11. Irresistibly drawn to flame,
    Is how I once got some fame.
    Playing in the candle fire,
    I singed my scaly wing attire.
    Now it's electric lights I do,
    I like them better, and they're safer too.
12. Our night flights make a pesky hum,
    But our bites are more irksome.
    Though you don't like us, we think you're neat,
    And suck your blood for an evening treat.
    Our small weight may be hardly felt,
    But our bite leaves an itchy welt.
    Besides making you ill at ease
    We may also spread disease.
    Yellow fever and malaria too
    Are diseases we can give to you.
    We also carry encephalitis,
    So if we're not around don't invite us.
    Drain standing water in which we breed,
    So we'll go elsewhere for this need.
    And there are other things you can do
    To prevent us from biting you.
13. DEER or HORSE are these FLIES'  dish,
    But they'll bite you too, if they wish.
14. When I was in my larval term,
    I was a nasty wireworm.
    I bored into the roots of crops,
    But did not eat the leafy tops.
    I'm a BEETLE now and not a pest,
    But yet may hold your interest.
    To be on my feet I insist 
    Put on my back I do resist.
    If placed upon some level ground
    In a position upside down,
    I have a handy little trick
    To right myself very quick.
    I arch my back and give a CLICK,
    So that into the air I flick.
    When I land from this flight,
    I usually am upside right.
    If by chance I land awry,
    I click again for a second try.
    This pleasing trick is just my nature,
    So often I'm called an elater.
15. I'm not a walking cane or crutch,
    But my name implies as much.
    I rest on tree limbs in open sight,
    But I'm still hidden as if by night.
    My camouflage is really slick.
    When I'm still I seem a stick.
    But if disturbed and I walk away
    "My land, a WALKING STICK", you say.
    And that, my friend, is my name,
    If you don't guess it, that's a shame.
16. Like a humming bird we HOVER
    At some blossom such as clover.
    We may resemble wasp or bee,
    But we're two-winged FLIES you see.
    We do not sting like those guys.
    It's not the habit of us flies.
    Another thing about us that's nice,
    When we were larvae, we ate plantlice.
17. I'm a BEETLE I'll let you know
    With some news to make you glow.
    On spring nights, when its dark and damp,
    I "fly" around and flash my lamp. 
    My flashing light may seem like LIGHTNING,
    But not so bright and not so frightening.
    To some it looks like a "fire" spark
    That twinkles in the evening dark.
    My lamp is not to light my way,
    Nor flashing it just idle play.
    I flash a code my mate will see,
    Who then will "fly" to meet with me.
18. In COLORADO or points west,
    I ate nettles and warn't a pest.
    But when the settlers westward moved,
    And planted spuds, I much approved.
    I switched to taters, I liked them better,
    And flourished like a real go-getter.
    A potato diet did me well,
    And my numbers began to swell.
    I spread west to east across the land 
    Where potatoes were at hand.
    It soon became well recognized,
    I was a pest to be despised.
    In nearly any garden patch,
    You can find me by the batch
    Eating leaves from POTATO,
    And on occasion from tomato.
    Our bright red larvae eat here too,
    Just like we adult BEETLES do.
19. A pumpkin, SQUASH or a melon
    Are the plants that we dwell on.
    With our beaks we poke the vine,
    And on the sap we will dine.
    Soon the vine begins to wilt.
    And later on it's finally kill'd
    We're stinky BUGS and brown in hue.
    Our gray numphs are with us too.
20. From our body backward trails,
    Two or three threadlike tails.
    Life's short for us, but just a day,
    Sometime in the month of MAY.
    Out of streams and bays we swarm,
    When the weather starts to warm.
    On weak wings we FLY about
    Before life's candle flickers out.
    Jumping fish upon us gorge.
    So do toads and frogs, by George!
21. From MEXICAN areas we went forth,
    Made our move to go up north.
    Lived in Texas and there around,
    Then moved east where beans abound.
    The garden BEAN is our main food,
    Soybean too when in the mood.
    We don't eat aphids for our repast,
    Like ladybirds with whom we're classed.
[Scientists say that this BEETLE pest is Epilachna varivestris]
22. Plants react to insect stings
    And sometimes form peculiar things.
    Odd shaped growths on the roots
    Or on the leaves and twigs and shoots.
    Smooth or hairy, or even horned
    May their surfaces be adorned.
    Some are big and some are small
    And take most any shape at all,
    From spindle shaped to like a ball.
    What is this GALLing growth y'all?
23. In people's homes we do abide
    In crack and niche is where we hide.
    During day we shun the light
    And come out when it is night.
    Any food left in the kitchen
    Is the stuff for which we're itchin'
    Crumbs on counters or in drawers
    Is the food we claim as ours.
    Filth and garbage is in our diet.
    If it's edible, we will try it.
    "Loathsome pest", folks say of us,
    But leave us food as if they love us.
24. I am not of the insect throng.
    In the mollusc group is where I belong.
    On my back I wear a shell
    And hide in it if things aren't well.
    When I think the coast is clear,
    That is when I re-appear.
    Usually when the night is quiet, 
    I venture out to seek my diet.
    I rasp the leaves of grass and lettuce,
    And other plants if you let us.
    In the morning on cement
    Slime trails show you where I went.
    Another thing odd about me,
    Have a look if you doubt me,
    On my head two stalks arise,
    And at their ends are my eyes.
25. I'm the one who scared Miss Muffet
    When she sat upon her tuffet.
    From the moment that I  SPIED HER,
    I knew she'd spook if I sat beside her.
    It's just as well she ran away.
    I couldn't eat her anyway.
    But the flies on her curds and whey
    Were for me delicious prey.
26. In the brush or high grass
    I wait for man or beast to pass
    Then from my perch on one I'll fall
    And on my eight legs start to crawl
    To some spot to sink my head
    And suck up blood so nice and red.
    Before I eat I'm brown and flat.
    Filled with blood I'm gray and fat.
    If you find me stuck to you,
    Prompt removal is what to do,
    For when we feed we might inject
    Nasty germs that can infect.
    You could be a sad receiver
    Of Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
27. In papers nest below the ground
    Is where our colonies may be found.
    Or we may nest in a hollow tree,
    Or on a limb so plain to see.
    We are social among each other,
    But not to strangers we find a bother.
    If anything disturbs our nest
    We swarm out in strong protest.
    If it moves, we'll attack it.
    We are dressed in a YELLOW JACKET
    Marked with spots or dots of black.
    We have have a stinger at the back.
28. ALFALFA has a pest most evil
    In the form of a WEEVIL.
    On the stems she will sit,
    And with her snout chew a pit.
    Then turn around upon her legs
    And in the pit lay her eggs.
    From each egg a grub comes out,
    Green in color and sort of stout.
    Up the stem this worm will climb
    And bore buds in springtime.
    Later on when buds are leaves
    The grub will fatten up on these.
29. In the spring we find on cherry
    CATERPILLARS, very hairy.
    In a limb fork they build a TENT
    And that is where their nights are spent.
    When the sun comes out to greet them
    They wander to the leaves and eat them.
    Out behind them they unravel,
    A silken trail to where they travel,
    So when they wish to homeward go,
    The silk will be a path they know.
    Back into their tent they'll creep,
    And through the night they will sleep.
30. With long legs spraddled to the side
    On water surface it can glide.
    Across a pond it can get
    And not get its body wet.
    It's held from water by its feet
    So body and water do not meet. 
    Looking somewhat like a spider
    Is this graceful WATER STRIDER.
31. I look so dainty, LACE WINGed and green
    But to an "aphids" I'm awfully mean.
    To them I'm vicious as a "lion".
    They are food that I rely on.
    I put so many to their end
    That gardeners say I'm their friend.
32. For most their lives they're not found,
    Because they live beneath the ground,
    But periodically, at seventeen years,
    Their clan in great hordes appears.
    From the soil their grubs will crawl,
    And cling to tree trunk or building wall,
    Then shed their skins to become adults,
    And fly to trees for their assaults.
    The males' songs, sung in chorus,
    Are loud and shrill and annoy or bore us.
    But to these bugs it's a courtship calling
    That females think is quite enthralling.
    By his call she will decide
    Who shall have her as his bride.
    Then into limbs of trees and shrubs,
    She pokes her eggs which hatch to grubs.
    The grubs drop to earth when they hatch,
    And dig to roots where they attach.
    And that is where they will stay
    For seventeen years til some June day,
    When they emerge for another fling
    As singing insects on the wing.
33. When a dog gets bit by these
    He snaps or bites in hopes to seize
    The pest that makes him ill at ease,
    But with a jump, the insect FLEES.
34. You may not see me during day.
    I'm in hiding tucked away.
    When night comes and things are dead
    I like to BUG you in your BED.
    While you lie there fast asleep,
    I come from hiding and to you creep.
    With my beak I pierce your skin,
    And take a luscious blood meal in.
    Then back to hiding I will crawl
    To mattress, bed frame or the wall.
    I take my time to digest my snack,
    But later on I will be back.
    My bite by some is hardly felt.
    Others itch and get a welt.
35. We're pale in color and at a glance
    We may look like "white ants".
    We live in colonies in soil or wood,
    Where having eyes ain't much good.
    Therefore, as you may surmise,  
    We don't bother having eyes. 
    By touch and taste and by smell,
    We find our way very well.
    Wood that's in or on the ground
    Is by us readily found.
    If wood and ground do not touch,
    That does not stop us very much.
    Hollow mud tubes that we make
    Are highways that we take
    To reach wood above the soil,
    And in that wood we also toil.          
    We eat the wood that we find  
    Leaving only dirt behind.
36. In most gardens you can find
    Colonial groups of our kind.
    Sucking sap is what we do,
    And also making honeydew.
    Honeydew is stuff that's sticky
    It falls on leaves and makes them icky.
    Honeydew is also sweet
    And for ants is quite a treat.
    So ants tend us and keep at bay
    Insects that use us as their prey.
37. I'm a BEETLE of the scarab type.
    I eat leaves and fruit that's ripe.
    A white grub is my baby stage.
    That's when I'm a rhizophage*.
    Ah yes, if you please,
    You can call me JAPANESE,        
    But I came here long ago           
    And made a home, as you know.
[*An animal that eats roots]
38. The English say it isn't CRICKET
    To seem so nice and yet be so wicked.
    Like that cheerful jumping twirp,  
    Who eats my things and then will chirp
    As if his song is payment proper
    For what he eats as his supper.
    I'll admit his chirp is nice,
    But, By Jimminy! At what a price!
    The things he ruined and to me belong,
    I did not get for just a song.
    In fact, I have a sneaky hunch
    He doesn't sing to pay for lunch.
    I'll bet his song's a serenade
    To call a mate who'll join the raid.
39. It's common sense that a STONE
    Cannot FLY unless it's thrown.
    I'm an insect that no one flings
    And I don't have stony wings.
    If my name is to give a clue,
    Of how I look, or what I do,
    A flying stone won't make beans
    To interpret what my name means.
    Although I don't have a stony look,
    I rest on stones by creek and brook,
    And if disturbed, I can fly
    Someplace else that's nearby.
    Also, when I was not full grown,
    I lived in water beneath a stone.
40. Soon after that this worm is born
    It makes a bag that will be worn,
    And wherever it may roam
    It drags along its silk bag home.
    Camouflaged with bits of plant debris
    The bag is often hard to see
    This BAG WORM  will raise the deuce
    When it eats needles from pine and spruce.
41. This BEETLE pest occurs in number
    On the vines of your CUCUMBER.
    The general color of this fellow
    May be green or greenish-yellow,
    But also SPOTTED on its back
    Are rows of marks colored black.
    Worst of all about this guy
    It carries germs that make plants die.
42. A CARPENTER is very good
    At building houses made from wood.
    You may guess, that from our name,
    We ANTS can also do the same.
    But we don't use hammer, plane or saw.
    We just make holes that we gnaw.
    The holes are our home construction,
    But you may say it is destruction, 
    Because the wood we choose to bore
    May be in your home's wall or floor.
    Sometimes our home is too big perhaps
    And your home is weakened and may collapse.
43. We have a hundred feet it's claimed,
    And said in Latin, that's how we're named.
    For hundred say "CENTI", and for feet say "PEDE"  
    With that many feet we have great speed.
    With our speed we dash around,
    And hunt for insects on the ground.
    When we catch one in our hold,
    We use poison fangs to knock them cold.
    Then at leisure we can snack
    On the insect that can't fight back.
44. With MUD I'll DAUBER, but not for fun
    It's serious work that must be done.
    From a pool or puddle edge,
    I carry mud to 'neath a ledge.
    And while the mud is still like goo,
    I shape a home. That's what I do.
    Then off I fly to find spider prey,
    That I will sting and tuck away
    In the house I made of clay.
    On the spiders, my eggs I'll lay.
    When I'm done with this chore,
    I use more mud to close the door.
    From now on til they're full grown,
    My young family is on its own.
    The spiders will be the food
    To feed my growing young WASP brood.
45. We have TWO WINGS, that is one pair,
    That take us nicely through the air.
    Other insects may have more,
    To be exact,two pairs, that's four.
    But two wings are all that we need
    To FLY quite well, sometimes with speed.
    Now if you know your insects well,
    A hint I gave will help you tell
    Our group name, for which the clue
    Is nearly always very true.
46. I'm just an egg at my birth
    Then hatch to larva and gain girth.
    Then to pupa I transform
    Before I change to adult form.
    It really is a wondrous marvel
    That when I am young and larval
    I look so ugly to the eye,
    But later am a butterfly.
    What is the word that you should know
    For the process I undergo
    To change in form as I grow
    To butterfly from forms so low?
47. From their name you might suppose
    It was the moth that ate your CLOTHES
    But let me make the record clear
    It was not the MOTHS that ate your gear.
    The moths don't eat, nor take the fling.
    They don't have jaws to bite a thing.
    It's the larva of the moth
    That can chew and damage cloth.
48. Names for things are sometimes quaint
    And seem to mean things that they ain't.
    For instance, you'd be out of line
    To think "sowbug" is bug or swine.
    If its not either of these two,
    What is its class, I ask of you?
    To help you with a guess I'll tell,
    Crabs are in this class as well.
49. LEAF sap is on what I feast.
    I do not bite any beast.
    They're not food I think is proper,
    But like a flea, I'm a HOPPER.
    Leaves on which we have fed
    First turn pale, then brown and dead.
    This kind of damage you may learn
    Is often called "hopperburn".
50. In spring when we BUGS are little,
    We live in gobs of frothy SPITTLE.
    Later on we leave this home,
    And are adults free to roam.
    And as adults fully grown,
    Froghopper is the name by which we're known.
51. On musty paper or musty BOOK
    Is where you can find me if you look.
    I am tiny like a LOUSE
    But don't bite people of the house.
    What I eat is mildew, or mold,
    The taste of people leaves me cold.
52. Boring inside a LEAF
    It's safe from foes and outside grief
    But the work of the tiny MINER
    Shows on the surface like a shiner.

Answers to these riddles

Last updated: 14 January 1999

* Return to UK Department of Entomology Katerpillars page

* Return to UK Department of Entomology homepage

* Return to University of Kentucky homepage