any small creature with six legs and a body divided into three parts. Insects usually also have wings. Ants, bees and flies are all insects
Insect is often used to refer to other small creatures, for example spiders, although this is not correct scientific language.
a long thin creature with no bones or legs, that lives in soil
long thin creatures that live inside the bodies of humans or animals and can cause illness
the young form of an insect when it looks like a short worm
I find both these definitions oddly restrictive. Insects have 6 legs and worms (in the primary sense) have none. The other senses of worm are also specific. There are many small creatures who do not fall into these categories. Centipedes definity have legs, and a lot more than six. Is there a common (not too scientific) word to refer to all small creatures?
A bug doesn't work, as is defined as
chiefly North American A small insect:
a thick green scum which crawls with bugs, centipedes, and worse
Insect, not creature, not worm. Also note the exclusion of centipedes from the umbrella of bugs. In fact, Oxford defines centipedes exclusively in scientific terms.
A predatory myriapod invertebrate with a flattened elongated body composed of many segments. Most segments bear a single pair of legs, the front pair being modified as poison fangs.
Although Oxford here lists an informal sense of insect:
informal Any small invertebrate animal such as a spider or tick.
It curiously drops this definition in the advanced learners' version. Moreover, it's reluctant to use the term in its own definition of spider:
An eight-legged predatory arachnid with an unsegmented body consisting of a fused head and thorax and a rounded abdomen. Spiders have fangs which inject poison into their prey, and most kinds spin webs in which to capture insects.
Is there any word, preferably not too informal, which would include all small creatures like insects, worms, spiders and centipedes; without having to resort to biological jargon?
Also, how right/wrong is it to use
bugfor this purpose?