Insects do a lot for us and our environment. They pollinate our crops, help control pest population, provide nutrition for birds and fish and more. 

You can learn more about our creepy crawly friends at the Arizona Insect Festival Sunday. 

You'll get to engage in interactive exhibits and learn all about insect-based research at the UA. Plus, you'll get to see some pretty cool insects up close and personal and even see their brains. 

Joryn Beckel, 2, is fascinated by the Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches, which stole the show at the 17th annual Tarantula Conference at the Hilton Tucson El Conquistador Resort in Oro Valley in 2015. The Joy of Cockroaches is one of the booths at the seventh annual University of Arizona Insect Festival on Sunday, Oct. 1.

There are more than 20 booths to explore, including Stings 'N Things where you'll learn about insects with stingers, Aquatic Insects where you'll learn about water insects, Tohono Chul has a Native Bee Workshop and more. 

You'll even be able to taste bugs (if you're game) at the Insects as Food booth  and meet and pet a caterpillar. 

The festival takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 21 at the ENR2 building at the University of Arizona, 1604 E. Lowell Street, and it's free to attend. 

In the meantime, check out these thirsty desert bugs and get to know them a little better. 


AKA: Diceroprocta apache and Diceroprocta semicincta

About me: I love the monsoon season. I've been telling you it was coming for the last few weeks with my loud buzzing song. I've been living in the ground feeding on roots for a few years, so it's time to party. I'm hoping my wobbling abdomen and glorious buzzing sound attracts a partner. There's lots of competition since there are literally thousands of us in the trees around town, but, there's only one ME. I have big brown eyes, beautiful translucent wings and I hear I'm delicious in a taco.

Likes: Summer monsoons, singing and dancing (or wobbling my drum-skin like membranes that amplify inside my body. That's the loud buzzing sound you hear), trees and a good sweat.

Dislikes: Wasps

Looking for: A mate who answers my call and swanky tree branches to lay eggs in

Palo Verde Beetle

AKA: Derobrachus geminatus

About me: I've lived under ground for the past three years feasting on delicious Palo Verde tree roots. But now I'm ready to get out, meet other beetles and find 'the one.' I only have about a month to live, so I want to mate and lay eggs pretty soon to carry on the family name.  I'm about three inches in length, have large mandibles and long legs. I'm not creepy — I prefer dark and mysterious.   

Likes: Monsoons, flying around while humans scream in terror, eating delicious Palo Verde tree roots (as larvae underground), looking for a mate and walking over the feet of unsuspecting people

Dislikes: Being bothered 

Looking for: Love, obviously. 

Figeater beetle

AKA: Cotinis mutabilis

About me: I've been waiting to meet you as I matured in someone's compost pile, where I transformed from a weird looking grub into something round and glorious. I'm not being conceited. It's called body positive. And, it's the truth. When you see my metallic green color, you'll agree.

I can be seen flying during the day because unlike my nocturnal bug friends I like the sunlight. I promise I'm not drunk, just not super graceful. I hope you find that cute and endearing. You may even hear me as I fly by since I make a loud buzzing sound similar to a carpenter bee.

You'll often find me hanging out under shade trees, which make pretty sweet breeding grounds. That's right. I'm looking for a mate. I'm also looking for delicious sweet fruit to feast on. Wanna meet me at that fig tree I saw at the UA? I think there's a shade, too. Wink, wink.

Likes: The sweet fruit of prickly pears, figs, sap from velvet mesquite trees, and other ripening or fermenting fruits, flying and chilling out in the shade.

Dislikes: When people cover their delicious gardens

Looking for: A mate, of course. And a place to lay eggs, preferably a nutrient rich compost pile. 

Giant Mesquite Bug

AKA: Thasus neocalifornicus

About me: I am a young and beautiful nymph. When I get older, I'll be just as amazing with wings and beautiful darker colors. That's right. I'll age like a fine wine. I am the largest true bug in Arizona at just over an inch long. You've probably seen my family all red, orange, black and white clustered on mesquite trees. If not, you're missing out. We're beautiful. If you were wondering, no we don't harm the trees. We just make them look good. 

Once I grow my wings and new look I'll only have a few months to live, so I want to get a head start on meeting someone.  

Likes: The juices of new leaves, seed pods and young stems of mesquite trees and hanging out in large groups 

Dislikes: Birds and lizards and being handled. You'll know when I'm agitated by my stinky smell. 

Looking for: Some delicious mesquite juice and a sweet bug mate to have babies with before I die. 

Kissing Bug

AKA: Triatominae

About me: I'm a brown leaf-shaped fellow with a red or orange-striped band around the edge of my body and a cone shaped mouth part. I love to fly in the night. I love kissing, as my name implies, and by that I mean I come out at night and bite the faces of unsuspecting humans to drink their blood. I'm kinda creepy that way. Wanna join me? Some people are allergic to my bite and a few even catch Chagas disease because I carry the parasite that causes it. Sorry not sorry.

Likes: Flying, blood and light

Dislikes: Yellow bug bulbs, screens and closed doors

Looking for: Sleeping people and dogs and someone to nest, fly and feast with

#ThisIsTucson is member-supported. Your contribution helps our team bring you stories that keep you connected to the community. Become a member today.

Angela Pittenger | This Is Tucson