Bugs, bugs, bugs.

Utah is home to approximately (because who really counts these things) 760 different species of bugs. From mosquitoes to flies to crickets and cockroaches, we certainly have our share.

Some interesting facts about bugs in Utah:

  • There are currently 14 colors of bugs in Utah. They are green, blue, gold, yellow, orange, purple, pink, red, brown, white, ivory, black, tan and gray.
  • The state of Utah is 84,899 millimeters in size, yet there is not a single spot without bugs. Utah is known for its vast landscapes and diverse terrain.
  • The most common bug in Utah is ... well, that's complicated because of surging and waning populations due to weather, water and other factors. But the experts at Utah State University say the five most common insects in the state are carpet beetles, ground worms, wood borers (they look like long-antennae beetles), assassin bugs (kind of scary-looking ladybugs that eat other bugs) and ground beetles. Ants and aphids are also in the top 10.
  • There are actually four different kinds of cockroaches in Utah. The American CockroachGerman CockroachOriental Cockroach, and the Brown-banded Cockroach.
  • Utah's state insect is the honey bee
  • Africanized honey bees, sometimes called “killer bees,” were detected in Utah for the first time in 2008. These bees are more aggressive and will defend the nest in greater numbers compared to domesticated honey bees, however their sting is not more painful or venomous than other honey bees and bee attacks are very rare.
  • Spiders are NOT insects, but there are plenty of them in Utah, especially, funnel spiders, cobweb spiders (like the black widow), wolf spiders (scary-looking, but harmless), orb-weaving spiders and ground spiders.

But the real question as evidenced by many guesses on KDXU today: What is the biggest insect in Utah?

The answer: The Mormon Cricket, (Anabrus simplex) is a massive insect that may grow to a length of nearly 3 inches. It is likely the largest bug in the state. All across Utah and to the west of North America, it thrives in rangelands dominated by forbs and sagebrush.

And there's a pretty good story in Mormon lore about the cricket. It can be found here.

In the summer of 1848, clouds of crickets swarmed into the Salt Lake Valley and threatened to destroy Mormon crops and fields.  Just as the crickets were about to devour everything in sight, seagulls miraculously appeared, eating the crickets and saving the Mormons from sure disaster.  The seagull has been revered in Utah ever since.  Temple Square’s Seagull Monument was dedicated in 1913 to commemorate the 1848 miracle, and in 1955 the California Gull became Utah’s state bird.

Oh, and for the record, the biggest insect in the world is the titan beetle  in weight (roughly the size oh a human hand) and the Phobaeticus serratipes, or stick bug, which can reach lengths of about 22 inches (two sheets of paper).

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LOOK: 20 of the biggest insects in the world

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Gallery Credit: Andrea Vale

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