9 Creepy Endangered Bugs You Shouldn't Squish

Close up of a Dehli sands flower-loving fly on a green leaf

Marjory Nelson, USFWS / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

It's easy to want to save endangered species that are adorable, and most of us can even find something sort of cute about those that are less attractive — but when it comes to saving spiders, beetles, and flies, not as many people are on board. From blind cave-dwellers to nocturnal flightless beetles, here are nine bugs that are endangered and worth protecting.

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Fen Raft Spider

A fen raft spider on a tree trunk with a caterpillar

Sandra Standbridge / Getty Images

The fen raft spider is one of the largest and rarest spiders in the United Kingdom. Measuring at 0.8 inches long, this spider makes its home in fens (a type of wetland) and marshes. Instead of building a web, they are comfortable hunting over open water — using leaves and plant stems as temporary watch points, and then attacking by running across the surface tension of the water. Only found in Central Europe and three areas of the U.K., the fen raft spider is endangered and is protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act. Discovered in 1956, they are at risk due to decline in the number of wetlands that provide their habitat.

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Spruce-fir Moss Spider

A specimen of a spruce-fir moss spider on a flat surface

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

The spruce-fir moss spider is a tiny spider that lives only in the high peaks of the Appalachian Mountains in the spruce fir trees for which they are named. They range in size from about .1 inches to .15 inches, and are light brown to yellow or reddish brown in color. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the spruce-fir moss spider builds tube-shaped webs between rocks and moss in the spruce-fir forests of North Carolina and Tennessee, but they need the conditions to be just right (not too wet or too dry). Since the forests have dwindled due to climate change, insect infestation, and previous logging and burning, this endangered spider’s biggest threat is from habitat loss.

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Kauaʻi Cave Wolf Spider

Kauaʻi cave wolf spider on the surface of a red rock

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain 

This one and a half-inch long arachnid is unlike other wolf spiders in that it has no eyes. Like the fen raft spider, it chases down prey and catches it instead of building a web, and it depends on the endangered Kaua‘i cave arthropod for food. The female lays as many as 30 eggs at one time and carries the baby spiders on her back until they are old enough to fend for themselves. Discovered in 1971, the Kaua‘i cave wolf spider was classified as endangered in 2000. As development and agriculture have taken over the areas surrounding the spiders’ cave habitats, the Kaua‘i cave wolf spider population has dwindled.

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Katipō Spider

A long black-legged katipo spider with its distinctive red spot on its body

Mark Anderson / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

One of only two spiders endemic to New Zealand, the katipō is a widow spider. The katipō’s range is limited to coastal beach areas, where it is threatened due to displacement caused by development and a decline in the quality of their native habitat.

While bites are rare, it's the females, which are larger than the males, that are more dangerous. Their bite can cause pain, sweating, difficulty breathing, and abdominal cramps.

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Blackburn's Sphinx Moth

A specimen of Blackburn's sphinx moth on display on a white surface

The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0

Native to Hawaii, the endangered Blackburn's sphinx moth is the state’s largest native insect, with a wingspan of up to 5 inches. Considered extinct until a new population was discovered in 1984, the moths are found in Maui, Kaho‘olawe, and on the Big Island. Threats to Blackburn’s sphinx moths are a decline in the larvae’s native plants, habitat loss, and newly-introduced predators.

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Salt Creek Tiger Beetle

Salt creek tiger beetle on a red stone wall

Seth Wiley / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain 

The Salt Creek tiger beetle is an endangered species and one of the rarest insects in the United States. It is found only in the salt flats of eastern Nebraska, just north of Lincoln. Its population has declined due to the loss of its saline wetland habitat.

Measuring at just a half inch in length, the Salt Creek tiger beetle, which spends most of its two-year lifespan underground, is a predator that uses its tiger-like mandibles to grab prey.

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Frégate Island Beetle

close up of a Frégate Island beetle on a rock

Martin Harvey / Getty Images 

The inch-long Frégate Island giant tenebrionid beetle is found only on the island of Frégate in the Seychelles. Considered a vulnerable species, the beetles have survived an influx of people and development. Due to their limited habitat, they are particularly susceptible to the introduction of non-native species and disease.

These nocturnal flightless beetles live in trees and fallen logs, and only come out to feed.

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Red-barbed Ant

A red barbed ant in a test tube on a counter

Kaan Sezer / Getty Images

Although the red-barbed ant lives all over Europe, its small distribution in the Isles of Scilly and on two small conservation sites in Surrey make it endangered in the United Kingdom.

A victim of habitat loss due to development and agricultural production, the ant requires a dry, sunny habitat for nesting and foraging. Other threats include disturbance of nests, fires, and predatory ant species.

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Delhi Sands Flower-loving Fly

Delhi Sands Flower-Loving Fly in a field of buckwheat

Eric Porter / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

Endangered since 1993, California's Delhi sands flower-loving fly lives within an eight-mile area of southwestern San Bernardino and northwestern Riverside counties in California. It is the first and only fly to receive protective status under the Endangered Species Act. The fly’s Dehli sand habitats are threatened by new construction of homes, businesses, and roads.

The fly feeds on nectar from the California buckwheat, and adults are active only during the summer months.