Who is ready to learn the most common bug and insect idioms and expressions we have in English? Before we begin, let’s find out exactly what we mean by ‘bugs’ and ‘insects’.

english idioms - animal idioms - bug and insects idioms and expressions in English

What are bugs and insects?

First things first, you all know what insects are right? If not, I’ll tell you…

Insects are very small creatures that usually have 6 legs and wings. They can be classed as ‘pests’ (think mosquito).

There are many idiomatic expressions (idioms) about bugs and insects. Are you ready to take a look?

idioms and expressions about bugs and insects

Scroll down for a list of common idioms and expressions with different types of insects. Each idiom includes the meaning and example. Keep scrolling to see the idiom with a real-life picture example.

Click here to find out the meaning of idiomatic/idiom (if you’re unsure)

bee meaning

A bee or a bumblebee as they are sometimes called is a flying insect that makes honey. Bees aren’t aggressive and will only sting you if they feel threatened. The mean ones are called wasps and hornets. They are a similar but bigger and angrier.

bee idioms and sayings list

bee idioms and expressions list in English

busy bee

meaning – an active and busy person
example – Gary never stops, he’s such a busy bee.

English bee idioms and phrases - busy bee meaning

have a bee in one’s bonnet

meaning – be obsessed with something
example – Leah has a bee in her bonnet about starting her own business.

bee idioms and expressions list - have a bee in one’s bonnet meaning

make a beeline for someone/something

meaning – go directly towards someone/something
example – I made a beeline for the free bar as soon as it opened.

popular bee idioms and expressions- make a beeline for someone meaning

the bee’s knees

meaning – the best
example – I’ve treated myself to a new computer, it’s the bee’s knees.

bee sayings in English list - bee's knees meaning

the birds and the bees

meaning – sex education
example – My dad is talking to my little brother about the birds and the bees.

common bee sayings - the birds and the bees meaning

bug definition

A bug is a general term for a small insect. e.g.

  • Help, there is a bug in my bedroom.
  • We need some pesticide; these little red bugs are eating my cabbages.

There is actually a good kid’s film called ‘A bug’s life‘ which can teach you the names of some common bugs. Children’s films are great for improving your English as the plot and the dialogue is fairly easy to understand.

bug idioms and phrases list

bug idioms and expressions

as snug as a bug in a rug

meaning – warm/cosy/comfortable
example – Let’s go home, get as snug as a bug and watch some films.

bug idioms and expressions list - as snug as a bug in a rug meaning

don’t let the bed bugs bite

meaning – wishing someone a good night’s sleep
example – It’s past your bed time, go upstairs now. Don’t let the bed bugs bite.

common bug idioms and expressions - don’t let the bed bugs bite meaning

have the travel bug

meaning – have a strong desire/an urge to travel
example – I’ve had the travel bug for 10 years. I don’t think I’ll ever stop travelling.

bug idioms and expressions - have the travel bug meaning

butterfly definition

A butterfly is a beautiful flying insect with colourful wings which sucks nectar from plants. A butterfly starts its life as a caterpillar until it forms a chrysalis and emerges as a butterfly.


I’ve always thought they should have been called a flutterby, as they daintily flutter by you.


Similar to a butterfly is a moth however they tend to come out at night and are not colourful more grey and brown colours.

butterfly idioms and expressions list

butterfly expressions and sayings

have butterflies in one’s stomach

meaning – your stomach feels funny because you are scared, nervous, anxious etc.
example – I had butterflies this morning, but they went just before the exam.

butterfly expressions and sayings - have butterflies in one’s stomach meaning

social butterfly

meaning – a person who is sociable and friendly with everyone
example – Corey used to be a social butterfly, now he’s a recluse.

butterfly expressions and sayings - social butterfly meaning

fly definition

A fly is an insect with 1 pair of wings and compound eyes. They come in different sizes but are all annoying in my opinion (especially the ones that bite!).

Flies start their lives as maggots (a disgusting worm-like creature). Flies lay their eggs on rotting flesh; the maggots are born, and they pupate and emerge as flies.

If you like old school films…there’s a good one from the 80’s called ‘The Fly‘ about a guy who gets bitten by a fly, then turns into one.

fly idioms and expressions list

fly idioms and expressions

drop like flies

meaning – people are dying, leaving, stopping an activity in large numbers
example – I’ve had three friends die in the last month. They are dropping like flies.

fly idioms and expressions - drop like flies meaning

fly on the wall

meaning – you would like to hear what is happening without being noticed
example – Marty is in trouble with his girl. I’d love to be a fly on the wall when she gets her hands on him.

fly idioms and expressions - fly on the wall meaning

wouldn’t hurt a fly

meaning – a gentle, peaceful person or thing
example – My dog barks a lot, but she wouldn’t hurt a fly.

common fly idioms and expressions - wouldn’t hurt a fly meaning

worm definition

A worm is a long snake-like creature with no bones or limbs. They usually live in the soil however they can also live inside humans and animals as a parasite, yuck!

Did you know that ‘worm’ is also a verb (a regular verb)? It means to wriggle and crawl your way into or out of something.

worm idioms and expressions list

worm idioms and expressions


meaning – a person who loves reading
example – My mum has always been a bookworm, she’s always got her head in a book.

worm idioms list - bookworm meaning

open a can of worms

meaning – do/say something that will cause more trouble than it’s worth
example – If the owner’s unqualified daughter gets the promotion, it will open a can of worms.

common worm idioms and expressions - open a can of worms meaning

the worm has turned

meaning – someone retaliates against the person who has treated them badly
example – He treats her like shit. One day the worm will turn.

worm idioms and phrases list- the worm has turned meaning

worm one’s way out of

meaning – give clever reasons to avoid doing something
example – We’ve wormed our way out of working this weekend, so we can come to the beach.

common worm idioms - worm your way out of meaning

If you enjoyed learning about bug and insect idioms and expressions, why not click the buttons below to discover more picture idioms about animals.