Last updated on May 25, 2023

Wirewood Symbiote - Illustration by Yohann Schepacz

Wirewood Symbiote | Illustration by Yohann Schepacz

Is there a creature type in Magic that just bugs you? One that makes your skin crawl? Something you wish would just buzz off?

Yes, I’m talking about those skittering, climbing, burrowing, and (sometimes) flying insects. They’re one of the most diverse groups of creatures in our real world, but how are they represented in Magic? Let’s get buggy!

What Are Insects in MTG?

Vorapede - Illustration by Slawomir Maniak

Vorapede | Illustration by Slawomir Maniak

Insect is a creature type in Magic that represents all the creepy-crawly ants, roaches, flies, and other bugs buzzing across the multiverse. Pest tokens and spiders have their own separate typing, but most other bug-like creatures are classified as insects.

Insects are generally green or black, tertiary in red, and very rarely white or blue. They cover a wide spread of stats from 1/1s to 15/15s with no real mechanical consistency. The best insects are either great stand-alone cards or synergy pieces for more prominent archetypes.

Best White Insect

#1. Luminous Broodmoth

Luminous Broodmoth

Luminous Broodmoth is the only white insect worth mentioning. It’s a powerful form of wrath protection that threatens to bring your creatures back as even stronger threats, so it’s great in aggro decks, aristocrat strategies, and counter-based builds.

Best Blue Insect

#1. Docent of Perfection

Docent of Perfection

Like white, blue’s only worthwhile inset is Docent of Perfection. Think of it as a giant horrifying Young Pyromancer that threatens to transform into Final Iteration once you have enough wizards on board.

Best Black Insects

#7. Virus Beetle

Virus Beetle

Black has a little more to offer, including Virus Beetle. It’s an artifact version of Burglar Rat and provides a small synergy body for decks that care about cheap artifacts or commanders like Tinybones, Trinket Thief, which wants tons of discard effects.

#6. Brood of Cockroaches + Endless Cockroaches

Brood of Cockroaches Endless Cockroaches

Brood of Cockroaches and Endless Cockroaches are recursive insects that ensure you always have sac fodder in your hand.

Brood costs life and only returns once per turn, but it’s cheaper to cast. Endless Cockroaches returns to hand immediately, but it costs an extra mana per cast. Neither are premium cards, but both are fine role-players for sacrifice-themed decks.

#5. Blightbeetle


It’s hard to find a space for Blightbeetle in most decks, but it’s an absolute hoser against counter-based strategies. It’s a sure-fire way to draw hate from the mono green +1/+1 counter deck at the table.

#4. Nantuko Husk

Nantuko Husk

Nantuko Husk is just Phyrexian Ghoul or Vampire Aristocrat reskinned as a zombie insect. It’s a mid-tier sac outlet for Commander, but it offers as many sacrifices as you need, free of charge.

#3. Hex Parasite

Hex Parasite

Hex Parasite feels like a card you play to combat a certain meta. It’s a great counter (pun intended) to planeswalkers, and it can mess up +1/+1 counter decks too. It can also remove detrimental counters from your permanents, like -1/-1 or stun counters.

#2. Distended Mindbender

Distended Mindbender

Distended Mindbender completely disassembles one player’s hand. You get to yank a cheap and expensive card from the targeted opponent’s hand, sometimes for as little as two mana depending on how you used the emerge ability.

The 5/5 body is unimpressive once it hits the board, but the damage should already be done.

#1. Bane of the Living

Bane of the Living

Morph creatures usually keep opponents on their toes. The mystery can make players second-guess attacking you or targeting you with spells (it’s always Willbender isn’t it?).

Bane of the Living sweeps up most of your other morph, but a sweeper effect is a great trap to spring from one of your face-down creatures (did somebody say ambush predator?).

Best Red Insects

#5. Fire Ants

Fire Ants

I’ve never seen Fire Ants at a Commander table, but the card doesn’t seem that off to me. This can sweep up small tokens and utility creatures turn after turn, and it becomes more of a problem once you combine it with deathtouch effects or damage doublers.

#4. Clickslither


I bet you didn’t think you were getting a goblin tribal card on this list, did you?

Clickslither is a stylish insect that feeds off goblins. It might not be the all-star goblin card for EDH, but it can threaten some big swings.

#3. Invader Parasite

Invader Parasite

Invader Parasite is basically a Stone Rain stapled to a fragile insect body. If you exile a basic land, you can get some extra damage out of the card or blink/reanimate this to truly make your opponents miserable.

Fun fact: this has received errata to be a Phyrexian insect.

#2. Agitator Ant

Agitator Ant

Agitator Ant is like the more antagonistic version of Orzhov Advokist. It makes everyone’s board slightly stronger, but it forces your opponents to aim their goaded creatures at one another.

#1. Tunneling Geopede

Tunneling Geopede

Tunneling Geopede is a straightforward landfall creature that eeks some extra damage out of land drops. There are enough effects like this and Spitfire Lagac to make it the primary wincon for a landfall deck.

Best Green Insects

#21. Xantid Swarm

Xantid Swarm

Green carries the bulk of the insects, starting off with Xantid Swarm. The card looks completely silly on first read, but it can help push through important spells and wincons.

If you’re trying to combo off or you desperately need to resolve a specific spell, attacking an opponent with Xantid Swarm first locks that player out of most forms of interaction for the turn.

#20. Giant Ankheg

Giant Ankheg

Trample’s great, ward 2 is great, and the 8-mana casting cost is… not so great.

If you can sneak Giant Ankheg into play somehow it has a meaningful impact on the board. Casting this through conventional means leaves a bit to be desired. You could be casting Craterhoof Behemoth for eight instead.

#19. Broodhatch Nantuko

Broodhatch Nantuko

Broodhatch Nantuko is a “gotcha!” morph creature that wants to flip into a giant oncoming attacker. Sometimes it works and you chump a 10/10, unmorph, and make an army of tokens. Other times your opponents never attack you and this sits around doing nothing.

#18. Thornscape Familiar

Thornscape Familiar

The Planeshift “Familiars” all have a place in their respective 3-color decks. Thornscape Familiar doesn’t bring much else to the table, but mana reduction across two colors has its uses.

I’d personally look to something like Goblin Anarchomancer first, but I won’t completely count this out.

#17. Phyrexian Swarmlord

Phyrexian Swarmlord

Phyrexian Swarmlord has a nasty ability that rewards you for poisoning your opponents with a swarm of infectious Insect tokens. 4/4 for six doesn’t look like great stats, but its infect means it can take an opponent out in just three hits.

#16. Nullmage Advocate

Nullmage Advocate

You better have a friend at the table before you start activating Nullmage Advocate. The “Advocates” from Judgment allow you to give cards to an opponent from their graveyard in exchange for an on-board benefit for you. This opens up some political possibilities in Commander, and it gives you a great bargaining chip with other players.

#15. Nantuko Vigilante

Nantuko Vigilante

Nantuko Vigilante was power crept in almost every way by Ainok Survivalist. But redundancy is useful, and morph decks are happy to play both cards as sneaky versions of Reclamation Sage.

#14. Caustic Wasps

Caustic Wasps

I didn’t know Caustic Wasps existed before researching insects, but it seems annoying enough to have an impact in games. It’s more restrictive than Trygon Predator but I could see running it as an alternative in decks that can’t play blue.

#13. Vorapede


Vorapede has stats and keywords, and sometimes that’s just enough to cross the threshold of playability. I wouldn’t rush to include this in most decks, but undying is a well-documented broken mechanic that combos with many other cards.

#12. Hornet Nest

Hornet Nest

If you kick the Hornet Nest, you best be ready to get stung.

This card has great flavor and puts a nice roadblock in front of attackers. It’s easy to play around but can also be manually triggered with burn spells or damage-based sweepers. Nothing says “ouch!” quite like a Blasphemous Act that leaves behind 13 1/1 deathtouch fliers.

#11. Iridescent Hornbeetle

Iridescent Hornbeetle

+1/+1 counter decks have no shortage of payoff cards, and Iridescent Hornbeetle rivals all but the best. You get a 1/1 Insect token for each +1/+1 counter you put on creatures during your turn, which can lead to some explosive end steps.

#10. Nantuko Cultivator

Nantuko Cultivator

Nantuko Cultivator feels like a criminally underrated card, especially in land-themed decks. It’s a great way to profit from excess lands in hand, and it also fills the graveyard for cards like Splendid Reclamation or Worm Harvest.

#9. Ant Queen

Ant Queen

Ant Queen is a simple card. It’s a fine body for its cost, a great mana sink, and a token generator all in one. It’s not exactly the queen of all insect cards, but it’s a decent casual Commander card.

#8. Crash of Rhino Beetles

Crash of Rhino Beetles

Commander’s not really about big dumb creatures. But big, dumb, trampling creatures… that’s a different story.

Crash of Rhino Beetles becomes a 15/15 trampler for five with 10 or more lands on the battlefield, which is significantly above rate.

#7. Hornet Queen

Hornet Queen

It’s very hard to kill someone in combat the turn after they resolve a Hornet Queen. You can go from no board at all to completely stabilized by resolving this, although it costs you seven mana.

It sometimes benefits from being a 2/2 body, making it a great target for cards like Reveillark or Graceful Restoration.

#6. Moldgraf Monstrosity

Moldgraf Monstrosity

Moldgraf Monstrosity is an imposing threat on board and provides extra value when it’s eventually dealt with. Random reanimation isn’t always what you want, but it’s hard to be too disappointed with the death trigger.

#5. Spring-Leaf Avenger

Spring-Leaf Avenger

Nobody expects the green ninjutsu creatures. Spring-Leaf Avenger can surprise someone with a huge hit, rebuy a permanent from your graveyard, and even pick up an attacker with a useful ETB ability.

#4. Giant Adephage

Giant Adephage

If you’re not a fan of bugs then you should do everything in your power to make sure Giant Adephage never deals combat damage. It’s the world’s largest Spawnwrithe, and it’s even harder to stop once the ball gets rolling.

#3. Wirewood Symbiote

Wirewood Symbiote

Wirewood Symbiote is virtually useless as a solo creature, but it’s such a powerful engine card in elf decks that it deserves a high spot. Elves tend to tap for loads of mana, and this can untap creatures. I’ll let you put that all together.

#2. Caustic Caterpillar + Haywire Mite

Caustic Caterpillar Haywire Mite

Caustic Caterpillar and Haywire Mite are a duo of 1-drop insects that mess with your opponents’ artifacts and enchantments. Caterpillar costs more to activate and hits creatures while Mite gains life and exiles the target.

There are some nuances between the two, but they feel close enough to occupy the same spot.

#1. Scute Swarm

Scute Swarm

Once a single Scute Swarm hits the battlefield there’s a brief opening to deal with it before it’s too late. The problem becomes exponentially worse from land number six and onwards. As the flavor text on this card suggests, there are always more Scute bugs.

Best Multicolored Insects

#7. Army Ants

Army Ants

Army Ants isn’t a widely played Commander card, but it’s a tool that exists for decks that can generate tons of lands. It can go to work on opposing mana bases or just snipe powerful lands off the battlefield once you’ve got your mana under control.

#6. Zabaz, the Glimmerwasp

Zabaz, the Glimmerwasp

Zabaz, the Glimmerwasp works like a Hardened Scales effect for modular creatures. It’s great for artifact decks with +1/+1 counter synergies, or players who like to blow up their own stuff.

#5. Xira, the Golden Sting

Xira, the Golden Sting

Xira, the Golden Sting got a huge glow-up from the original Xira Arien. This newer version re-envisions Xira as a hornet assassin complete with card draw and token generation.

Let’s be honest, the best part of Xira is the creepy Insect tokens it creates.

#4. Zask, Skittering Swarmlord

Zask, Skittering Swarmlord

Zask, Skittering Swarmlord was created in Jumpstart 2022 as an insect tribal commander. It has a strange combination of abilities that essentially makes it a bug-themed self-mill commander.

I’m not sure how cohesive a full-on insect tribal deck can be but this at least has a Crucible of Worlds effect attached to it.

#3. Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest

Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest

Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest was one of the first commanders I built from scratch. It combines token generators with sacrifice effects, allowing Mazirek to grow enormous beaters. Mazirek takes a board of creatures from unassuming to lethal very quickly.

#2. Kathril, Aspect Warper

Kathril, Aspect Warper

I’d be more excited for Kathril, Aspect Warper if it weren’t for the hassle of tracking ability counters in paper. Kathril is a “keyword” payoff that asks you to build a deck with varying keyword abilities across its creatures.

The power level is there, just a bit messy.

#1. Grist, the Hunger Tide

Grist, the Hunger Tide

Grist, the Hunger Tide cheats its way onto this list thanks to a passive planeswalker ability that makes it a creature in every zone except the battlefield. This ability makes it an insect in your graveyard, your hand, and even the command zone.

Grist can destroy other creatures and planeswalkers once it’s in play, and it benefits from being in a deck alongside other insects.

Best Colorless Insects

#3. Circuit Mender

Circuit Mender

Circuit Mender is a power crept version of Filigree Familiar. It’s probably not on the radar for most Commander players, but you could do worse in a blink deck since this draws a card when it leaves the battlefield.

#2. Canoptek Tomb Sentinel

Canoptek Tomb Sentinel

Canoptek Tomb Sentinel is an excellent reanimation target that becomes a better Meteor Golem if it enters the battlefield from the graveyard. Unearth means you always have one shot at exiling something.

It’s worth noting that this card doesn’t work with effects that cast it from the graveyard since it enters from the stack, not the graveyard.

#1. Canoptek Scarab Swarm

Canoptek Scarab Swarm

Canoptek Scarab Swarm is a brutal graveyard hoser, completely exiling one player’s graveyard while generating 1/1 fliers on your side of the battlefield. It’s a standout card from the Warhammer 40k Commander decks and one of the more generically powerful insect creatures.

Best Insect Payoffs

Zask, Grist, and Blex

Despite the larger number of insects in Magic, a fully fleshed-out insect tribal deck seems like a hard sell. Still, there are a few viable options if you’re determined to make it happen.

I’ve mentioned Zask, Skittering Swarmlord as a possible commander with a self-mill component. Grist, the Hunger Tide gives you point-and-click removal in the command zone, and Blex, Vexing Pest is a lord for insects and other creepy crawlies.

Sacrifice Decks

Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest Ant Queen

A lot of the entries above have abilities that either generate tokens or sacrifice permanents. Sac outlets and sac fodder are the two backbones of any sacrifice deck, so some of these insects could combine together into a six-legged aristocrats deck.

I don’t know how effective it would be, but it’s not hard to imagine a commander like Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest benefitting from having an Ant Queen pumping out tokens.

Sorry for Buggin’ You

Circuit Mender - Illustration by Hector Ortiz

Circuit Mender | Illustration by Hector Ortiz

Okay, it’s safe to put away the bug spray. I’m not a fan of insects myself, but they’re all over Magic, whether we like them or not. They’re not a mechanically unified creature type, but that doesn’t stop a few from rising above the rest.

Are you an insect lover dying to show off your favorite pests in Commander? Which ones are your favorites, and how do you play them in your decks? What would you like to see from insects in the future? Let me know in the comments below or join the discussion in the Draftsim Discord.

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