18 Types of Insects That Fly (With Pictures)

Types of Insects That Fly
Photo by josep plans on Unsplash

When we imagine flying creatures, our minds often jump to birds or planes.

But let’s not forget about the small yet mighty types of insects that fly worldwide, where many species have mastered the art of flight.

From buzzing bees to delicate dragonflies, these airborne allies play crucial roles in our ecosystems and deserve our attention and appreciation.

In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the most common types of flying insects, their unique features, and why we should value them. So strap on your insect wings and take to the skies! 

Insects are a fascinating group of animals that come in all shapes and sizes. Among these creepy crawlies, flying insects are perhaps the most intriguing, and for good reason.

Their aerial skills have evolved to allow them to soar through the air, reaching great heights and distances.

In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the most common types of insects that take to the skies.

From bees and butterflies to dragonflies and moths, we’ll dive deep into the world of insects that fly and discover what makes them so special.

1. Bees

by Todd Huffman is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The bee is one of the most commonly recognized types of insects that fly.

These fuzzy pollinators are responsible for helping to produce many of the fruits, vegetables, and other plants that make up a large portion of our diet.

Bees have a unique ability to carry pollen on their bodies, which helps to fertilize flowers and promote plant growth.

They also produce honey, a delicious and nutritious sweetener used by humans for centuries.

Bees are vital to our ecosystem; our world would be much less colorful and fruitful without them.

So the next time you see a bee buzzing around your garden, take a moment to appreciate this tiny airborne ally.

2. Honey Bee

Honey Bee
by cygnus921 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Honey bees are one of the most important insects in the world, as they are responsible for pollinating a significant portion of the plants that humans rely on for food.

These buzzing insects can be found in almost every part of the world, from the tropics to the polar regions.

Honey bees have a distinctive appearance, with black and yellow striped bodies and two pairs of wings. They are social insects that live in large colonies, with a queen bee at the center of the hive.

The other bees in the colony include workers responsible for collecting nectar and pollen, and drones, who mate with the queen.

In addition to pollinating plants, honey bees produce honey, a sweet, viscous substance used as a natural sweetener and in various food and drink products.

Honey bees are also known for their ability to communicate using dance movements, which helps them find nectar and pollen sources.

While honey bees are generally considered beneficial insects, they can also be dangerous if threatened or provoked.

If you encounter a hive or swarm of bees, it is important to stay calm and avoid making sudden movements or loud noises.

If you are stung by a honey bee, remove the stinger as soon as possible and seek medical attention if you experience severe symptoms such as swelling or difficulty breathing.

3. Butterflies and Moths

Butterflies and Moths
by pete. #hwcp is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Butterflies and moths are two of the most beautiful and fascinating insects that fly. Both are known for their wings, often brightly colored and adorned with intricate patterns.

They also share a similar life cycle, starting as a larva and transforming into a pupa before emerging as an adult.

Butterflies are typically diurnal, which means they are active during the day. They have slender bodies and wings usually held vertically above them at rest.

They are known for their pollination services and are responsible for pollinating many different plant species.

Moths, on the other hand, are typically nocturnal and have thicker bodies and broader wings that are held flat against their bodies when at rest.

Moths are also important in the ecosystem as pollinators and food sources for many animals.

One interesting fact about butterflies and moths is that they are important bioindicators. This means that their presence or absence in a particular area can provide valuable information about the health of that ecosystem.

For example, the decline in butterfly populations has been linked to habitat loss and pesticide use.

Butterflies and moths are incredibly important and beautiful creatures that deserve our appreciation and protection.

By learning more about them and taking steps to protect their habitats, we can ensure that these airborne allies continue to thrive for generations to come.

4. Yellowjackets

by Judy Gallagher is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Yellowjackets may not be everyone’s favorite insect due to their painful sting, but they play an important role in our ecosystem among the types of insects that fly.

These wasp-like insects are commonly mistaken for bees due to their yellow and black stripes, but they are actually predatory wasps. 

Yellowjackets are social insects living in large colonies with a hierarchical social structure. They typically build their nests in underground burrows or in protected areas such as trees or shrubs.

Each nest can house thousands of individuals. Despite their predatory nature, yellow jackets do play a role in pollination.

While they primarily feed on other insects and nectar, they may inadvertently pick up and transfer pollen from one plant to another. 

However, yellowjackets are also known for their aggressive behavior when threatened or disturbed.

They can sting multiple times, and their sting can be quite painful, causing swelling and itching.

If you encounter a yellowjacket nest, it is best to leave it alone and contact a pest control professional for removal. 

Yellowjackets may not be the most beloved insect, but they are vital to our ecosystem.

Appreciating and respecting their place in nature while taking precautions to avoid their painful sting is important.

5. Flies and Mosquitoes

Flies and Mosquitoes
by Radu P is licensed under CC BY 2.0

While they may not be the most beloved of insects, flies and mosquitoes are important members of the flying insect community. Both can fly, albeit in different ways. 

Flies, for example, have a unique way of flying that allows them to hover in place.

This is because they have two wings instead of four, allowing greater control and maneuverability. The most common types of flies include house, fruit, and horse flies. 

Conversely, mosquitoes are known for their annoying habit of biting humans and animals to feed on blood.

Despite this reputation, they are important in the ecosystem as pollinators and food sources for other animals.

Mosquitoes have long, slender bodies and two wings that beat in sync to keep them in flight. 

While both flies and mosquitoes can be a nuisance, it’s important to remember their value to the natural world.

Additionally, taking steps to prevent them from breeding and infesting your home can go a long way in keeping them at bay.

6. Dragonflies and Damselflies

Dragonflies and Damselflies
by Guilherme Jófili is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Dragonflies and damselflies are both fascinating and beautiful insects that fly.

They can fly in various environments, from ponds and lakes to forests and meadows. While they may look similar, the two have a few key differences.

Dragonflies are generally larger and more robust than damselflies, with a wingspan reaching up to 5 inches in some species.

They are also more aggressive hunters, often preying on other insects while in flight.

Dragonflies have large, multifaceted eyes that provide excellent vision and can see various colors, including ultraviolet light. 

On the other hand, damselflies are smaller and more delicate than dragonflies, with a wingspan of only 2-3 inches.

They have long, slender bodies and are typically less colorful than their dragonfly counterparts. Damselflies are also more docile and hunt while perched on plants and other objects.

Both dragonflies and damselflies are important for the ecosystem as they help control populations of other insects like mosquitoes.

They also serve as water quality indicators since they lay their eggs in aquatic environments.

Unfortunately, habitat loss and pollution are major threats to these insects, and many species are now endangered or threatened.

Next time you’re outside, watch for these incredible creatures. You may see them engaged in their characteristic aerial acrobatics as they hunt and mate.

Remember to appreciate and protect these airborne allies!

7. Grasshoppers and Crickets

Grasshoppers and Crickets
by Bernd Thaller is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Grasshoppers and crickets are members of the order Orthoptera and are often associated with warm weather.

Both insects have wings and can fly, although some species, such as the mole cricket, are flightless.

Grasshoppers are characterized by their long hind legs, which they use to hop or jump. They have short antennae and can range in color from green to brown.

They feed on vegetation and can cause damage to crops in large numbers.

Crickets, conversely, have long antennae and are usually brown or black in color. They produce a distinctive chirping sound by rubbing their wings together, which is used for mating and communication.

Crickets are omnivorous and will eat both plants and other insects.

While some people may view grasshoppers and crickets as pests, they play an important role in the ecosystem as prey for other animals and pollinators.

Their songs and sounds add to nature’s rich chorus and can be soothing background noise on a warm summer evening.

Next time you’re out in nature, take a moment to appreciate the grasshoppers’ acrobatics and the crickets’ musical serenade.

These small airborne allies may not be as well-known as their buzzing counterparts, but they deserve our admiration and respect.

8. Blowfly

by patrickkavanagh is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Blowflies are a common flying insect known for their vibrant metallic blue or green color.

These insects belong to Calliphoridae and are often found near decaying organic matter or carrion.

Blowflies are important scavengers as they help break down dead matter and aid in nutrient recycling. 

One unique characteristic of blowflies is their ability to lay their eggs in decaying matter.

The larvae hatch from the eggs and begin feeding on the decomposing material. After feeding, they pupate and emerge as adult flies, ready to lay their eggs.

Blowflies have a relatively short lifespan of only a few weeks, during which they play an important role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem.

Despite their role in nutrient cycling, blowflies can also be considered pests as they are known to infest homes and businesses in search of food.

It’s important to take preventative measures, such as sealing up potential entry points, to avoid infestations.

In summary, blowflies may not be the most glamorous among types of insects that fly, but they play an important role in our ecosystem.

From scavenging to nutrient cycling, these colorful flies contribute to the delicate balance of nature.

9. Hoverflies

by TrotterFechan is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Hoverflies are commonly known for their ability to hover in mid-air, and they are a type of insect that flies that mimics the appearance of bees or wasps.

Despite their appearance, hoverflies do not sting or bite humans. These fly insects are important pollinators and play a vital role in maintaining the ecological balance.

They are also beneficial in controlling aphids, as their larvae feed on them. 

Hoverflies come in various colors and patterns, from bright yellow and black stripes to green and brown tones. Their wingspan can range from a few millimeters to several centimeters. 

Some hoverflies are migratory and can travel hundreds of miles, while others are found only in specific regions. They prefer to live in meadows, gardens, and woodlands. 

Next time you see a hovering insect in your garden, look closer; you might spot a hoverfly.

10. Whiteflies

by jeans_Photos is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Whiteflies are small insects that are part of the Aleyrodidae family.

These tiny insects have a distinctive white powdery appearance on their wings, hence the name “whitefly”. They are also known for their ability to fly in a cloud-like formation, seen in fields or gardens.

Whiteflies can be found all over the world, and there are more than 1500 different species. 

Whiteflies can cause a lot of damage to plants as they suck sap from the leaves, causing the plant to weaken and potentially die.

They are commonly found in vegetables and ornamental plants such as tomatoes, peppers, and roses.

In addition to being a nuisance for gardeners and farmers, whiteflies can transmit viruses to plants, leading to serious plant diseases. 

While there are different species of whiteflies, they all have similar characteristics.

They are tiny insects, only measuring about 1/16th of an inch long. Their wings are usually held vertically over their bodies when at rest.

Whiteflies are often found in colonies on the underside of plant leaves. They feed on the plant sap by inserting their mouthparts into the leaf and sucking out the nutrients. 

One way to control whiteflies is to use insecticides, which can also harm other beneficial insects.

Another option is to introduce natural predators of whiteflies into the garden or field. Several types of insects prey on whiteflies, including ladybugs and lacewings.

Some plants, such as marigolds and basil, are also said to repel whiteflies.

11. Ladybugs

by kaibara87 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Ladybugs may be small, but they are powerful in insect control. These friendly, flying beetles benefit gardens and farms by eating aphids, scale insects, and other harmful pests. 

Ladybugs, also known as lady beetles or ladybirds, have distinct and colorful red and black markings on their round bodies.

They have six short legs and two sets of wings that fold neatly over their backs. 

Ladybugs go through a complete metamorphosis from egg to larva, pupa to adult. After hatching, ladybug larvae look nothing like adults and are often mistaken for pests.

However, they are as effective in controlling insect populations as their adult counterparts. 

Ladybugs are not only beneficial to gardens but also make for great house guests. Many people believe that finding a ladybug in their home is a sign of good luck.

These tiny creatures, among the insects that fly, often seek refuge indoors during winter and can be safely and gently relocated back outdoors if necessary. 

Next time you see a ladybug, take a moment to appreciate all the good they do for the environment.

These fluttering flyers are more than just a pretty faces – they are an important part of the ecosystem.

12. Cockroaches

by treasuresthouhast is licensed under CC BY 2.0

While cockroaches are known for scurrying across the ground, they are actually capable of flight as well.

Certain species of cockroaches, such as the American and German cockroaches, have fully developed wings and can fly short distances.

The primary purpose of flight for cockroaches is to escape danger or find new food sources.

However, their flight capabilities are limited, and they prefer to run on their six legs instead.

Flying cockroaches may be a nightmare for some, but they serve an important ecological role as decomposers and scavengers.

So the next time you see one take flight, try to appreciate their unique abilities and role in the ecosystem.

13. Black Flying Beetles

Black flying beetles are one of the most common types of insects that fly.

These beetles are known for their large size and distinctive black coloration. They can be found in various habitats, from forests and fields to urban areas. 

The ground beetle is one of the most common species of black flying beetle. These insects are typically found on the ground, but they are also capable of flight.

They are often seen scurrying around on the ground, searching for food. 

Another common species of black flying beetle is the June beetle. These insects are also known as May beetles, as they are most active during May and June.

June beetles are often attracted to light sources and can be found flying around porch lights and other outdoor lighting fixtures. 

Like many other types of beetles, black-flying beetles benefit the environment. They help to break down organic matter and play an important role in the ecosystem.

Some species are also important pollinators, helping to ensure the health and survival of plant species.

14. Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
by The NYSIPM Image Gallery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The brown marmorated stink bug is a native insect to Asia that has made its way to North America in recent years. It is known for its distinct shield shape and brown, mottled appearance.

While it is not a strong flier, it is still considered a flying insect, capable of short flights to escape predators or find a new feeding location.

One interesting fact about the brown marmorated stink bug is that it emits a strong odor when threatened or disturbed.

Hence the name “stink bug.” This odor serves as a defense mechanism to deter predators.

While it may be a nuisance to humans, as it can enter homes for warmth during the colder months, it is also an important pest in crops such as soybeans, apples, and peaches.

Despite its less-than-desirable qualities, the brown marmorated stink bug is still a fascinating flying insect to observe in nature.

Its ability to emit a strong odor and fly short distances makes it a unique and interesting addition to fluttering flyers.

15. Hornets

Hornets are often mistaken for wasps or yellowjackets due to their similar appearance, but they are actually distinct species among types of insects that fly.

They are known for their large size, and their powerful stingers can cause a painful sting.

Despite this, hornets are important in controlling other insect populations, particularly smaller prey they hunt for food.

One of the most common hornets is the bald-faced hornet found throughout North America.

They are named for their distinctive black-and-white coloration and tendency to build paper nests in trees, shrubs, and other outdoor locations.

Bald-faced hornets are highly aggressive and defend their nests vigorously, so it is best to keep a safe distance if you come across one.

Another type of hornet found in North America is the European hornet. As their name suggests, these hornets were introduced to the continent from Europe and are now widespread in many areas.

European hornets are also known for their large size and are sometimes mistaken for the Asian giant hornet.

This species has recently made headlines due to its potentially harmful impact on honeybees and other insects.

Despite their intimidating reputation, hornets can be fascinating creatures to observe.

If you see a hornet flying nearby, take a moment to appreciate the unique pattern of its wings and the way they move through the air with agility and grace.

With their role in keeping other insect populations in check, hornets are valuable allies in the complex ecosystem of our world.

16. Fruit Fly

Fruit flies are a type of small fly that are often found in homes near ripe or rotting fruits and vegetables. They have red eyes and yellowish-brown bodies and are about 3 mm long.

Although they may be a nuisance to homeowners, fruit flies actually play an important role in the ecosystem. 

Fruit flies are attracted to fermenting fruit, which means they are responsible for breaking down and decomposing the fruit.

This helps prevent the fruit from producing harmful toxins and releases nutrients into the soil. Additionally, fruit flies are a food source for other insects and birds.

In research, fruit flies are often used as a model organism for studying genetics and neuroscience.

Their short lifespan and ability to reproduce quickly make them ideal for experiments and scientific studies.

Fruit flies have helped scientists understand various topics, including circadian rhythms, brain development, and behavior.

So, the next time you see a fruit fly in your home, don’t be too quick to swat it away. These tiny insects are doing important work in the ecosystem and in scientific research.

Plus, with their short lifespan, they won’t be around for too long anyway.

17. Drain Fly

Drain Fly
by Nick Goodrum Photography is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Drain flies, also known as moth flies, are common types of insects that fly, and they are commonly found in damp areas such as drains, septic tanks, and sewage systems.

While they may seem like a nuisance, these little flies actually play an important role in breaking down organic matter and cleaning up waste. 

Identifying drain flies is easy, as they have a distinct hairy appearance with wings shaped like a heart. They are usually less than 5mm long and color gray or black.

If you have noticed a swarm of these flies near your sink or shower drain, it may indicate a clog or build-up of organic matter.

While they are harmless to humans and pets, drain flies can become problematic if their numbers get too high.

It is important to locate and eliminate the source of their breeding to get rid of them. This may involve cleaning and unclogging drains, repairing leaky pipes, and reducing moisture levels in the affected area. 

Despite their pesky nature, drain flies are quite fascinating insects. They have a unique mating behavior where the male and female form a “dance” in the air, circling each other in a figure-eight pattern.

They also have a short lifespan of only a few weeks, during which time they play a crucial role in decomposing waste and keeping our environment clean. 

So next time you spot a swarm of drain flies, don’t be so quick to dismiss them.

These little airborne allies are working hard to keep our plumbing and sewage systems clean and functioning properly.

18. Fungus Gnat

Fungus Gnat
by The Manic Macrographer is licensed under CC BY 2.0

While not the most beloved of insects that fly, fungus gnats play an important role in nature.

These tiny flies, about 1/16 of an inch in length, primarily feed on fungus and decaying plant material.

In doing so, they help to break down and recycle organic matter, which is crucial for maintaining healthy ecosystems.

Despite their small size and innocuous nature, fungus gnats can be a nuisance in certain situations.

They are often found in damp, humid environments like greenhouses, where they can damage young plants by feeding on their roots.

They can also be a nuisance in homes, where they may fly around lights or windows.

If you encounter a fungus gnat infestation, you can take a few steps to control their numbers.

One of the most effective methods is to remove any sources of excess moisture, such as standing water or damp soil.

You can also use yellow sticky traps to catch the adult gnats or introduce natural predators like nematodes or predatory mites.

While they may not be the most glamorous of flying insects, fungus gnats play an important role in the ecosystem.

By learning to appreciate these small but mighty creatures, we can cultivate a greater appreciation for the diversity of life surrounding us.

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