Don't Get Creeped Out, Just Tell Us About the World's Greatest Insect Places!

Living in New York City, you’re going to see The-Largest-Roach-The-World-Has-Ever-Seen every so often. At first, seeing a massive cockroach skitter across the kitchen floor sent me spiraling into sleepless nights and a general sense of shame that I was living in squalor. But after living in the city for over a decade, I’ve come to realize that my apartment didn’t have roaches, the entire city did. I keep my space pretty clean, so seeing a giant roach in my living area is rare, but when I see them in other places around the city, I don’t exactly want to pick them up and hug them, but I don’t immediately recoil either. They’re just another of the city’s unique, if somewhat gross, inhabitants. Like pigeons. Or bankers. ANYHOW, bugs, arachnids, and insects (which is the catch-all term I’ll use for this intro, even though I’m well aware that there are many different specific differences between small, non-mammal vermin) freak a lot of people out, but they’re also incredible little alien creatures that can make a place more unforgettable and unique. Now we want to hear about the most amazing places to see insects, or the most incredible insect encounters you’ve ever had on your travels!


(Image: Jürgen Otto/CC BY-SA 2.0)

In the comments below, tell us about your favorite insect place or insect encounter! Tell us about kind of little creature you met and what made the experience so unforgettable. If you have any pictures of your favorite insect encounter, include that too! Your response may be included in an upcoming round-up article on Atlas Obscura! You don’t have to love insects to recognize that they’re fascinating!

In various places in Latin America.

Had a scorpion crawl across my pillow while I was laying down reading

Stood on a scorpion without knowing and somehow despite squishing the body missed the stinger plunging into my foot.

Caught numerous scorpions in places I was living in and released them.

Was bit and clawed by a preying mantis I briefly kept as a pet before releasing. It drew blood but it was hilarious too , I love these little creatures because although they are diminuitive they have a tiger cat fierceness and a strangely endearing alien like face.

Caught some tarantulas in places living in and released them.

Was stung by a huge strange looking wasp in a jungle. I believe (although still haven’t determined for sure) it was a tarantula hawk wasp because it certainly looked like images I’ve since seen of them and had the same kind of black sheen colour to it but I’m not 100% certain. It was extremely aggressive and I was stung for no clearly apparent reason , the sting was very painful. It felt like being stabbed with a knitting needle that had been heated white hot under a flame (never experienced being stabbed with a boiling hot needle but I guess it would have felt something like that sting). Unforgettable for all the wrong reasons , makes me wince even now.

The last (potentially)narrowly life threatening experience happened last year when I was living in Brazil on a wildlife reserve in a cabin surrounded by cerradao type habitat. I would go outside to smoke at night in between typing up research on my laptop. One night was smoking and sitting down cross legged on the concrete floor of veranda which I briefly rested my hand against it. I felt the tickle of something crawl across my hand which felt too big to be a mosquito but was probably a roach or a moth. I looked down out of curiosity and to my disgust and shock saw what was unmistakably a chagas bug with a huge spiked proboscis that appeared poised to pierce my skin. Felt horrified like I rarely have towards insects but adrenaline kicked in and quickly flicked my hand and it fell on its back onto the concrete. Then I just felt some kind of vicious sadistic desire to kill it because it could have given me a fatal disease. So I lit a match and pressed the flame down ontop of its exoskeleton (it had fallen on its back with legs wriggling in air ) which sort of crackled a bit and made little popping sounds as the insects legs kind of writhed around and it was burnt to a crisp. Eventually it sort of stopped moving, the legs contracted and curled back towards the body as it blackened and died (I assume). I then stood up and squished it over and over again with my shoe until it was just some kind of dark mustard coloured mush of slime and very dead. I don’t regret doing it at all , I’m sure they are morbidly fascinating critters for entomologists who would probably disapprove of me killing it. Of course chagas insects have an ecological role too , but frankly I’d rather encounter them as a pinned specimen behind the glass of a museum case. I sure as hell didnt and don’t want to get chagas disease!

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They tell it better than I can:
https://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/mayflies-swarm-mississippi-riv/30937631

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Just last week I was at a butterfly exhibit in Westminster Colorado when a butterfly landed on my calf and hung on for 45 minutes. Others came and went, but this guy hung on and had to be removed by staff so I could leave. I showed it to various kids in the exhibit who were a lot less afraid after seeing me walking around with it.

Perhaps the most interesting thing I learned was that butterflies have weight you can sense when they land on your skin. And they push off with their feet – and you can feel that too

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It’s pretty small, but the gardens at Kansas State University has an insect zoo. You can race giant cockroaches and even bring home a pet tarantula if you go at the right time of year. And the gardens themselves have plenty of bees and butterflies in the Spring.

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