9 Incredibly Cute Arthropods

Cute as can be

Photo: L Church/flickr

Insects and other tiny arthropods come in varying shapes, sizes and levels of cuteness.

While no one would call a mosquito "adorable," there are plenty of caterpillars and other species that are downright sweet. From jumping spiders to damselflies, here's a look at several of the most charming-looking creatures on six (or eight) legs. When you see how cute they are, you definitely won't want to squish them.

Jumping spider

Photo: Opoterser/Wikimedia Commons

There are more than 5,000 species in the jumping spider family and at least a couple of them are adorable, like this little guy here. Most of them are hairy, very small and live in tropical places, according to the National Wildlife Federation. Like all spiders, they have eight eyes, but jumping spiders have particularly excellent vision. Jumpers stalk their prey, throwing out silk to pin dinner down before they inject venom with powerful jaws. Still, they're cute.

Silkworm moth

Photo: CSIRO/Wikimedia Commons

Silkworms are native to northern China where they've been domesticated to produce raw silk. The silkworm moth (or silkmoth) is an all-white creature with a very hairy body, and it has lost the ability to fly. There are many legends about how the insect's silk was originally discovered. In one ancient tale, a cocoon fell into an empress's tea. As she picked it out, silk began wrapping around her finger and she recognized the cocoon as the source of the silk.

Milkweed tussock moth caterpillar

Photo: Kevin Ripka/Flickr

The hairy caterpillars of the milkweed tussock moth or Euchaetes egle look like a cross between a bristle brush and a really fluffy dachshund. They have alternating tufts of orange, white and black, which explains why they're also sometimes known as the milkweed tiger moth. When they transform into moths, their wings are grayish, while their bodies are yellow with a row of black dots. The best place to find one of these tricolor insects is on a milkweed plant, of course.

Damselfly

Photo: Gilles San Martin/Wikimedia Commons

Damselflies are like dragonflies, but with smaller, slimmer bodies and wings that fold when they're resting. (Here's how to tell the difference between dragonflies and damselflies.) The damselfly has huge, widely separated compound eyes on each side of its head, plus an additional three, smaller eyes on top. Two small antennae plus a brilliant shade of blue on this particular damselfly make for an adorable face.

Saddleback caterpillar

Photo: Gerald J. Lenhard, Louisiana State Univ / © Bugwood.org/Wikimedia Commons

The slug moth, or Acharia stimulea, is cutest in its larvae stage when it's the interesting saddleback caterpillar. This fuzzy brown bug looks like it's wearing a vibrant green saddle blanket. This unique creature is found mostly in eastern North America. If you happen upon one, don't be tempted to touch it or pick it up. The caterpillar's prickly spines are hollow and connected to poison glands underneath its skin, according to HGTV. That can result in a painful sting.

Spicebush swallowtail caterpillar

Photo: Land Between the Lakes KY/TN/Flickr

The gorgeous swallowtail butterfly is black or brown with a splash of bright blue or greenish blue on its hind wings. So it's hard to believe that such a somber winged creature could come from this nearly fluorescent caterpillar. (To be fair, the caterpillars start out brown, but quickly turn greenish-yellow.) The Papilio troilus's real eyes are down low in the front of its head. Those big cartoon-like circles that look like they're watching you are just skin markings.

Bunny Harvestman

Photo: Used by permission from Andreas Kay/Flickr

A harvestman is the colloquial term for the third-largest group of arachnids, of the order Opiliones. They're not spiders, but they're definitely in the same class. More than 6,500 species in 50 families fall under the Opiliones umbrella — none of them stranger and more oddly disturbing than the Bunny Harvestman, a pairing of Bugs and bugs that only could be found in nature. This harvestman has eight legs, like all arachnids. Which means, thankfully, it does more scurrying than hopping.

Happy face spider

Photo: Nate Yuen/Wikimedia Commons

To see the smiling grin on Theridion grallator's pale abdomen, you'd have to be on the islands of Oahu, Molokai, Maui and Hawaii. And you'll have to look very hard to spot one of these grinning insects; they're only about one-fifth of an inch long. Scientists believe the happy face spider may have developed its distinctive markings to scare off birds (its only real predator) from eating it, says the Encyclopedia of Life.

Cross-eyed planthopper

Photo: gbohne/Flickr

Get this insect an optometrist, stat. With his crossed eyes and his comically large wings, this planthopper certainly looks like the creation of an amused cartoonist. There are more than 12,500 species of planthopper, an insect that got its name from either its resemblance to plants or its ability to hop like a grasshopper. However, the insects are much more likely to walk slowly or, in this case, to make use of a pair of incredibly oversized wings.