Update 12/30/2019: The article now includes Sword and Shield
If you were doing a Monotype (or Single Type) Run in Pokémon, would you go for a team with a lot of diversity that shows up late or a team with low diversity that appears very early on? I think, given the options, trainers would choose the latter rather than the former. And if you’re the case, let me suggest training a Bug Team in Pokémon.
Bug Pokémon have one of the highest rates of early availability in the Pokémon games. Not counting the starters, they are just behind Normal and Flying type for their early availability occurrences. As such, they are great if you want to get your team rolling almost right away. However, be prepared for low diversity as a huge number of Bug Pokémon are part Poison or Flying type, types that don’t give them a lot of variability. Bug Pokémon also suffer from an abysmal movepool by primarily favoring Bug, Poison, and Flying moves. If you want to stop Fire, Flying, and Rock Pokémon, you got to have the moves to back it up. Diversity will play a very strong role to make your team great.
Finally, Bug Pokémon, on average, have the worst stats out of all 18 types. Now, before I go any further, Bug Pokémon have a huuuuge disadvantage to this because there are very few Bug Legendaries. Even then, fully evolved Bug Pokémon are relatively weak as they are treated as early Pokémon you can train before moving on to bigger fish. It’s a trade off for their early availability. Thankfully, later generations change this perception which is why you’ll see me more likely recommend later rather than earlier games. As a side note, Generation 5 was probably the best generation for Bug Pokémon as it introduced an incredible range of Pokémon that are actually very strong and diverse. Expect to see a few of these Pokémon in our MVP list.
Let’s take a look at what your team may look.
- Only Pokémon of a certain type may be caught and trained.
- You must catch the first Pokémon available of that type if your starter does not match that type (you’ll then have to discard that starter).
- You may train a Pokémon that evolves to said type as long as you do it ASAP.
- No trading allowed.
- Mega Pokémon count as long as you Mega Evolve them as soon as they appear on the battlefield.
- Only Pokémon caught before Elite Four are counted.
I want to start with the worst games because frankly, there’s not a lot of necessarily bad games for a Bug type run. The Kanto games are arguably the worst games for a Bug type run as they have abysmal diversity with a rather weak team. Oh, and watch out for Blaine and his fire comrades, they’ll roast you! Jumping a few generations later, Black and White is a mixed bag as the first Bug you can catch is after the second gym, the latest out of any of the games. Even then, you’ll still have great diversity with Volcarona and Galvantula giving you stellar support…you’ll just have to wait a bit before you can catch that Venipede.
Best Pokémon Games
The rest of the games honestly range from decent to fantastic; in fact, a lot of them have a “*6A” rating or better as seen in the chart above. Even starting in Generation 2 we have a team that can neutralize weaknesses thanks to Heracross and Shuckle.
Personally, I like Black 2, USUM, and Sword and Shield. The other games are great but these are packing some of the best bugs around! What these games have in common is a slow but steady increase of teammates throughout the game and a nice variety of Pokémon to cover your weak points. Sword and Shield are probably the best as you can catch a whole team of Bug Pokemon who neutralize your weaknesses RIGHT BEFORE THE FIRST GYM!!! These games also have the rare but coveted Move Tutors who can teach you anything from Scolipede’s Aqua Tail to Forretress’ Stealth Rock. Check out the team combos below.
XY and ORAS are also really good, probably not as stellar as the previous examples but that’s a high bar to reach. I really like the diversity they offer and the early availability of Pokemon. ORAS you will have an issue of weak Pokemon near the beginning of the game but that will clear by the middle of the game when you get Heracross and Armaldo, and later with Galvantula, Volcarona, and Forretress. Both games offer Shedinja as well which neither Black 2 nor USUM has. Shedinja! They’re great! I mean they’re not very strong but they’re super adorable. Love these cicada ghosts.
Bug Teams in Pokemon Games
Pokemon RBY and FRLG
Ideal Team: Parasect, Venomoth, Scyther (Red, FireRed, Yellow)/Pinsir (Blue, Leafgreen, Yellow), Butterfree, Beedrill (all versions except Yellow)
First available Pokémon: Caterpie and/or Weedle (except Yellow) via Viridian Forest.
Cover weaknesses? No, Flying, Fire, and Rock not neutralized.
Pokemon GSC and HGSS
Ideal Team: Heracross, Venomoth, Shuckle, Parasect, Scyther/Yanmega, Forretress
Optional: Butterfree (G, C, HG), Beedril (S, C, SS), Ledian (S, C, SS), Ariados (G, C, HG)
First Pokémon: Caterpie (G, C, HG)/Weedle (S, C, SS)/Ledyba (S, C, SS)/Spinarak (G, C, HG) in Route 30 before the first gym. Venonat and Paras via Pokewalker.
Covers Weaknesses? Yes
Pokemon RSE and ORAS
Ideal Team: Dustox/Venomoth (ORAS)/Beedril (ORAS), Heracross, Volcarona (ORAS), Forretress (ORAS), Galvantula (ORAS), Armaldo/Crustle (ORAS)
Optional Pokémon: Pinsir, Beautifly, Shedinja, Ninjask, Leavanny (ORAS), Parasect (ORAS), Kricketune (ORAS)
First Pokémon: Wurmple via Route 101
Covers Weaknesses? Yes
Ideal Team: Vepiquen, Wormadam (Steel and Ground form), Heracross, Dustox, Mothim/Yanmega (Platinum)/Scyther (Platinum)
Optional Pokémon: Kricketune, Beautifly
First Pokémon: Kricketot via Route 202 before the first gym
Covers Weaknesses? No, Fire is not neutralized
Pokemon BW and B2W2
BW Ideal Team: Scolipede, Leavanny, Crustle, Galvantula, Volcarona, Durant
Optional: Karrablast, Shelmet
First Pokémon: Sewaddle and Venipede via Pinwheel forest after second gym
Cover weaknesses? Yes
B2W2 Ideal Team: Galvantula, Scolipede, Crustle, Vespiquen, Heracross/Leavanny, Volcarona
Optional: Karrablast, Shelmet, Pinsir, Shuckle
First Pokémon: Sewaddle via Route 20 before the first gym
Cover weaknesses? Yes. HOWEVER, be warned that in White 2 you can only get a Heracross via Hidden Grotto in Lostlorn Forest and even then it has a 0.75% of appearing. So technically you can cover your weaknesses it would just be very annoying. At least in Black 2 you don’t need the Hidden Grotto.
Ideal Team: Vespiquen/Yanmega, Shedinja, Scolipede, Crustle, Heracross (Y), Durant
Optional Pokémon: Beedrill, Butterfree, Viviilon, Ninjask, Masquerain, Pinsir (X), Shuckle, Scyther, Wormadam and its various forms, Mothim
First Pokémon: Scatterbug via Route 2 and Weedle (X)/Caterpie (Y) for Route 2 as well but you can catch them both in both versions at Santalune Forest.
Weaknesses Covered? Regardless of versions, you’re good!
Pokemon SM and USUM
SM Ideal Team: Vikavolt, Golisopod/Aquachnid, Scolipede (scan), Masquerain, Romblebee
Optional: Parasect, Butterfree, Ledian
First Pokémon: Caterpie, Ledyba, Grubbin, and Spinarak via Route 1
Cover weaknesses? No, Rock is not neutralized in Sun and Moon
USUM Ideal Team: Vikavolt, Golisopod/Aquachnid, Volcarona, Forretress, Armaldo (US)/Masquerain, Romblebee
Optional: Masquerain, Parasect, Butterfree, Ledian, Ariados, Beedril (scan)
First Pokémon: Caterpie, Ledyba, Grubbin, and Spinarak via Route 1
Cover weaknesses? Yes, every type is taken care of
Pokemon Sword and Shield
Ideal Team: Crustle, Centiskorch, Durant, Orbeetle, Galvantula, Araquanid/Golisopod
Optional Pokémon: Butterfree, Vikavolt, Shedinja, Ninjask, Escavalier (Sword Raid), Accelgor (Shield Raid), Ribombee, Vespiquen, Shuckle, Frosmoth
First Pokémon: Blipbug, Caterpie, Grubbin by random encounters (30%, 15%, and 10%) via Route 1.
Weaknesses Covered? Yes, and it’s taken care of before the first gym!
MVP (Most Valuable Pokémon)
Ah yeah, Heracross, baby! One of the best Bug Pokémon, Heracross offers so much for your team and is just cool overall. What’s more, Heracross is one of the most common Bug Pokémon you’ll likely encounter in a Bug playthrough so be prepared to find and train one. What’s nice is they usually show up about midway through the games so you won’t have to wait until the end to catch one.
Heracross’ signature move, Megahorn, is the move that helped define Generation 2 and was Gamefreak’s answer to the overpowered Psychic Pokémon. After G2, other Pokémon acquired it as well but Heracross started it and is a very strong STAB move to fight against your foes. Of course, Heracross learns other cool moves like its various Fighting moves and Night Slash which is very fine. But check out the TMs; Rock Slide, Earthquake, and Shadow Claw are moves you’ll need to stop your Flying, Rock, and Fire Pokémon (except Shadow Claw, it’s just pretty sweet).
Unfortunately, it’s not all honey sap and apricorns for Heracross. That 4x weakness to Flying moves is brutal and can be a pain to counter. And despite having the most powerful Bug move yet, Heracross is weak to Psychic moves which is a huge bummer. Thankfully, the Rock neutralization makes up for this and Heracross is packed with sufficient Rock-countering moves.
Available in: GSC, RSE, DPP, HGSS, B2W2, Y, ORAS
Volcarona is the most powerful, non-Legendary and non-Mega evolved Bug Pokémon (quite a mouthful). Impressive on its own but even more impressive is its unique Fire/Bug typing, which only it and Centiskorch share. As such, Volcarona can learn a plethora of Fire-based attacks and even Psychic via TM. Let me doubly stress this as Volcarona is the ONLY Bug Pokémon that can learn Fire attacks; Fire attacks can hit so many Pokémon super effectively and is a must for your team. The fantastic Quiver Dance is also nice as each use raises your Sp At., Sp Def., and Speed, by one stage each (already raising its monstrous Special Attack stat). Once you up your stats, use Roost (by TM or by Move Tutor), replenish your health, and go to town! If you’re feeling up to it, you can even teach it Hurricane for a very strong Flying move.
Like Heracross, Volcarona has a 4x weakness but this time for Rock. This is very rough, so tread carefully among the Ground, Steel, and Fighting Pokémon. And like a lot of strong Pokémon, Volcarona doesn’t evolve until Level 59 which is incredibly rough as by then you’re knocking on the Elite Four’s door. Thankfully, you can catch a fully evolved Volcarona in B2W2 after the Quake Badge.
Available in: BW, B2W2, ORAS, USUM
Shuckle, Armaldo, and Crustle
Bug/Rock Pokémon are nice as they neutralize both Flying and Fire and offer a STAB, counter offense to them. How effective this…depends on which one you catch and train! Obviously, Shuckle is super defense heavy so be prepared for long, sluggish battles but the other two offer more offensive-based attacks. I highly recommend getting one of these guys as I can’t tell you how headache inducing it is to fight a bird without anything significant to counter them.
Unfortunately, their move diversity is just okay. They know some Ground moves, maybe a Poison or Ghost move, but you’re not going to get anything more than that, especially for earlier generations. Crustle gets a boost though in Sword and Shield thanks to the TRs but most importantly it can learn Body Press which relies on the user’s Defense and not Attack stat. For the love of God you should teach it to Crustle as its Defense is 125!! That’s a really nice move to have on your team.
These guys are also pretty slow so be prepared to take a hit or two before you can finish off an opponent. And ironically, they’re still weak to Rock! Don’t forget about that! I have done that more than a few times.
Available in: GSC (Shuckle), RSE (Armaldo in all three and Shuckle in Emerald), HGSS (Shuckle), BW (Crustle), B2W2 (Crustle and Shuckle), XY (Crustle and Shuckle), ORAS (Armaldo), US (Armaldo), SWSH (Shuckle and Crustle)
Forretress and Durant (and I guess Trash Wormadam)
It may surprise you how common Bug/Steel types are even when we subtract Scizor, Genesect, and Escavalier. Forretress, Durant, and Wormadam are scattered throughout the games so you’ll probably run into one when you do a Bug run. Like Rock, Steel neutralizes two of Bug’s three weaknesses, namely Flying and Rock. If you want to play up that defense then look towards Forretress but if you want a speedy offense, look towards Durant instead. Wormadam…is okay, it’s stats are better than other Bug Pokémon but you can do better.
Of course, that 4x Fire weakness is horrendous. You’ll be roasted so bad by any kindlers or circus performers. And, unfortunately, these guys do not have a great move diversity. Move tutors can alleviate this but not by much. But Forretress doesn’t really need move diversity for what it’s trying to pull; it will act as your wall, set up spikes and wear down your opponents. And at least Durant can learn Rock Slide and Shadow Claw by TM.
Available in: GSC (Forretress), E (Forretress), DPP (Wormadam), HGSS (Forretress), BW (Durant), XY (Wormadam, Durant), USUM (Forretress), SWSH (Durant)
Galvantula and Vikavolt
I love Galvantula, I really do. And although I was sad I couldn’t train one again in Alola, we got a nice counterpart via Vikavolt. The Electric type pairs nicely with Bug as both compliment their strength and weaknesses. In this case, neutralizing that Flying weakness and zapping the birds from the sky! Galvantula also has the ability Compound Eyes which makes your Thunder attacks about 91% accurate which is sooooooooooo goooooooood. Your biggest drawback is your limited movepool. Both Pokémon can learn Electric and Grass moves and that’s about it. Granted, those moves are pretty decent for Bug Pokémon so it’s not too bad.
Available in: BW and B2W2 (Galvantula), ORAS (Galvantula), SM and USUM (Vikavolt), SWSH (Both)
Golisopod and Araquanid
We end our list with the latecomers whose main fault is their few appearances which will likely change as new games are produced. Both of these Pokémon have the amazing Water/Bug type and really deliver it justice (unlike Surskit introduced four generations earlier). Golisopod is second in natural strength to Volcarona but first in move diversity. Teach your Golisopod a variety of moves (especially if a Move Tutor is involved) such as Rock Slide, Poison Jab, Shadow Claw, and Sucker Punch. Of course, teach it its trademark move, First Impression, to deliver a very strong attack right at the beginning of the battle! Araquanid, meanwhile, makes up for its low move diversity and alright stats for a very nice ability in Water Bubble. Water Bubble halves Fire attacks, doubles Water attacks, and prevents a Pokémon from being burned. This is great! You hardly ever get an actual resistance to Fire attacks for Bug Pokémon! Just remember that you’ll need to nurture your Wimpod as a baby so be patient with it and Araquanid is more defense oriented so don’t expect it to win battles by quick KOs.
Available in: SM and USUM (Both), SWSH (Both)