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Creepy Crawlies: Bugs and Insects

Los insectos y bichos


To say that insects don't bug the Spanish would be an overstatement. However, these creepy crawlies do get some strange yet intensive Spanish love. Many a rhyme and song feature an insect or two as their protagonists: the Mexican folk song La cucaracha is still as popular as ever and the Spanish children's rhyme Mariquita mariquita is far more well known than the English version, ladybird, ladybird.

Even snails take their turn in the musical limelight with their own song, the canción del caracol, as well as the hit pop song Sopa de caracol, which topped the American music charts in 1991 and then again in 2000. And if you want to see how high some insects can fly, Latin pop superstar, Shakira sang about Moscas en la casa.

So, to enjoy music in Spanish to the full, an understanding of the vocabulary of insects, could be pretty handy. Come along, let's crawl to the Ugly Bug Ball!

English WordSpanish WordPronunciation
beela abejaah-bekha
spiderla arañala ah-ran-ya
waspla avispaah-bisp-ah
slugla babosala bah-bowsah
snailel caracolel karah-kol
bed bugla chinchela chin-cheh
cicada / jar flyla cigarrala thee-garr-ah
cockroachla cucarachala kuker-rachahah
beetleel escarabajoel eskarrah-bakhoh
wormel gusanoel goo-sanoh
silk wormel gusano de sedael goo-sanoh de say-dah
cricketel grilloel greeyoh
antla hormigala or-meegah
stick insectel insecto paloel inseckto paloh
locustla langostala lan-goster
dragonflyla libélulalee-beh-loo-lah
fireflyla luciérnagaloo-thee-er-na-ga
butterflyla mariposala mah-ree-powser
ladybirdla mariquitala mah-ree-keytah
flyla moscala moskah
bluebottle flyel moscónel moss-kohn
mosquitoel mosquitoel mos-keetowe
caterpillarla orugala oh-roogah
mothla polillala poh-leeyah
fleala pulgala pullgah
grasshopperel saltamonteel sal-tah-monteh
termitela termitala ter-meetah

Note: The word bicho in Spanish refers to any small, unwanted and unliked creature, kind of like "little beasty", which is why it is often used for bugs. That is why it is also often used when refering to other small animals too.

For those who are planning to go to Latin America, being prepared for different types of insects and their stings is very important. Insects in Latin America carry different diseases which in some cases when not treated quickly or effectively, can be very dangerous.

Make sure you have the appropriate vaccines and are fully prepared. It is also useful to have a basic conversational level of Spanish, so that if you do need to see a doctor, you are able to communicate, albeit using limited medical vocabulary.