The Bug Bin Glossary

Throughout the invertebrate keeping community, and certainly within The Bug Bin, you might notice some unique terms and phrases that aren’t commonly found outside the bug-keeping world. Here’s a quick rundown of commonly used lingo!


ABG = a type of substrate mix developed by Atlanta Botanical Gardens.

Activated charcoal = also called activated carbon; a material sometimes included in substrate mixes and aquariums that is used for filtration.

Ammonia = a toxic chemical (NH3) that comes from decomposing organic matter, such as dead animals and feces. Most commonly used in reference to fishkeeping.

Arachnid = animals in the Arthropod class Arachnida. Examples include spiders, scorpions, harvestmen, solifuges, whipscorpions, and vinegaroons.


BDFB = Blue Death Feigning Beetle (Asbolus verrucosus)

Beardie = shorthand phrase for a bearded dragon.

Bioactive = a terrarium that acts as a “miniature ecosystem” for the primary inhabitant and includes live plants and a clean-up crew.

Blattodea = the order of insects that includes cockroaches and termites.


CB = captive-bred.

CBB = captive-bred and born.

Carab = shorthand phrase for a beetle in the family Carabidae, the ground beetles.

Centipede = animals in the Myriapod class Chilopoda; carnivorous with one pair of legs per body segment.

Clean-up crew = microfauna in bioactive systems that serve as “janitors”, breaking down organic matter. Common examples include isopods and springtails.

Coconut fiber = also called Eco Earth and coconut coir, this is a loose and fibrous material that is sometimes used in substrates. Hence the name, it is primarily composed of organic coconut products.

Coleoptera = the order of insects that includes beetles.

Collembola = see “Springtail”.

Cork bark = a type of wood that is a favorite of terrarium builders for looking nice and holding up to many environments. Usually purchased online.

Crestie = shorthand phrase for a crested gecko.

Crustacean = animals in the Arthropod subphylum Crustacea. Examples include crabs, lobsters, crayfish, and shrimp.

Cull = to cull an animal is to humanely euthanize it. Usually used in the context of euthanizing overpopulated organisms or “runts”.

Cuttlebone = the internal shell of a cuttlefish, most commonly used as a calcium source for captive animals.


Decomposer = organisms that gain their nutrients from dead organic matter and secrete enzymes into the soil to recycle nutrients back to plants. Examples include fungi and bacteria.

Deep Heat Projector = a type of lamp that does not produce light but does emit infrared rays that mimic the heat of the sun.

Detritivore = animals that primarily feed on dead organic matter but digest them as normal consumers do. Examples include many species of earthworms, snails, beetles, millipedes, crabs, etc.

Dracaena = a wide group of plants in the genus Dracaena, commonly used in vivarium building.

Drainage layer = the bottom-most level of a naturalistic or bioactive terrarium, where water can drain to through the substrate and substrate barrier.


Exo-terra = a brand best known for manufacturing front-opening terrariums and other pet products.


Feeder = usually refers to a feeder insect or small mammal raised and bred for the purpose of being fed to another animal.

Fertilizer = a material used to bolster plant growth. Can be organic or chemical, but most chemical fertilizers will kill invertebrates.

Flakesoil = a highly nutritious substrate primarily composed of fermented wood.


Gastropod = a class of Mollusks that includes snails and slugs.

GBB = Greenbottle blue tarantula (Chromatopelma cyaneopubescens)


Halogen = a type of incandescent (heat-producing) lamp that closely mimics the sun’s infrared heat rays and is commonly used for reptile and amphibian heating.

Heat mat = a device sometimes used to heat an enclosure. Not recommended for most animals.

Hemiptera = an order of insects known as “true bugs”. Examples include cicadas, stink bugs, and leafhoppers.

Hisser = shorthand term for a hissing cockroach.

Hymenoptera = a large order of insects that contains wasps, bees, ants, and sawflies.


Isopod = a broad order of crustaceans. In practicality, this term refers to terrestrial isopods, also called woodlice, sowbugs, pillbugs, and many other names.


Jumper = a shorthand phrase for a jumping spider, a type of spider in the family Salticidae.



Leaf litter = dead leaves. Used for vivarium building and detritivore food.

Leo = shorthand phrase for a leopard gecko.

Lepidoptera = an order of insects that is composed of moths and butterflies.


Millipede = animals in the Myriapod class Diplopoda; detritivorous with two pairs of jointed legs on most body segments.

Mite = a type of very small arachnid that are usually considered “pests” in vivariums.

Myriapod = the Arthropod subphylum Myriapoda, consisting of the millipedes and centipedes


Nitrate = a chemical (NO3–) that is converted from nitrite and is far less toxic than other molecules in the nitrogen cycle. Oftentimes used in reference to fishkeeping.

Nitrite = a toxic chemical (NO2–) that is converted from ammonia in the nitrogen cycle. Oftentimes used in reference to fishkeeping.


OBT = Orange baboon tarantula (Pterinochilus murinus)

Orchid bark = a type of wood used for drainage. The name is derived from its use in potting soils dedicated to orchids.


Peat = a nonrenewable resource that is a layer of soil in some bogs. It is primarily composed of decomposed plant material.

Pede = shorthand phrase for a myriapod, but usually applied to millipedes.

Perlite = a type of volcanic rock commonly used in potting soil (the white specks).

Pesticide = a chemical used to kill insects and other invertebrates.

Phasmid = an order of insects that is composed of stick insects, leaf insects, and relatives.

Pod (abbr.) = shorthand phrase for an isopod.

-pod (suffix) = foot.

Pooter = a tube-like contraption that allows for catching and observing invertebrates.

Pothos = this is a type of tropical plant commonly used in enclosures. It is known for its incredible hardiness and widespread availability.


QOL = abbreviation for quality of life.



Scarab = shorthand phrase for a beetle in the family Scarabaeidae.

Sphagnum = a type of moss commonly used in vivarium building.

Sp. = abbreviation for a singular species.

Spp. = abbreviation for multiple species (plural).

Sterilize = to sterilize something is to cleanse it completely from any life forms.

Springtail = tiny hexapods in the subclass Collembola that serve as a clean-up crew in many enclosures.

Substrate = this is the material that lines the bottom of an enclosure. It varies greatly depending on the inhabitant, but is usually primarily composed of soil.

Substrate barrier = a layer of mesh between the substrate and drainage layer in bioactive and naturalistic vivariums that allows water to drain through.


Teneb = shorthand phrase for a beetle in the family Tenebrionidae, the darkling beetles.

Thermometer = a device that MEASURES the temperature of a heat source.

Thermostat = a device that CONTROLS the temperature of a heat source.

Topsoil = this is a material used in many substrate mixes. Topsoil is essentially “dirt from outside”. It can be found at many garden and home improvement stores.


UVA = a longer-wave type of radiation emitted by the sun. Can pass through glass.

UVB = a shorter-wave type of radiation emitted by the sun used for vitamin D3 synthesis. Greatly beneficial to all animals. Cannot pass through glass.



WC = wild-caught.

Weevil = a type of beetle in the superfamily Curculionoidea, known for their elongated snouts.