The Twiddlebugs seen most frequently on Sesame Street are a family of four. These Twiddlebugs often find themselves facing difficult challenges, such as taking their car to the zoo or hanging a postage stamp on the wall. Presented with such daunting situations, it would an easy thing for them to simply give up, and indeed they express despair when their initial attempts at solving these problems meet with agonizing failure. However, the Twiddlebugs persevere in the face of adversity, and through collective brainstorming and cooperation, they always manage to overcome even the most seemingly insurmountable tribulations, such as figuring out how to exit a roller rink. These moments of triumph are cause for celebration for the Twiddlebugs, who remain blissfully unaware that their ultimate solution is rarely the most logical.
A secret of Twiddlebug reproduction is revealed in the Sesame song "Let's Lay an Egg". "Snails do it, slugs do it," two gastropods sing. "Even tiny Twiddlebugs do it!" the Twiddlebug family (only without Timmy) chirps. "Let's do it! Let's lay an egg!"
The main Twiddlebug family consists of:
- Thomas Twiddlebug (Papa Twiddlebug), performed by Jim Henson
- Tessie Twiddlebug (Mama Twiddlebug), performed by Frank Oz
- Timmy Twiddlebug (son), performed by Richard Hunt
- Tina Twiddlebug (daughter), performed by Jerry Nelson
Other Twiddlebugs have appeared in books, including Mayor Thaddeus Twiddlebug. The Twiddlebug species is seen in great numbers and a wider variety of colors, and different aspects of Twiddlebug life and culture are examined therein. Other Twiddlebug homes and communities exist in other windowboxes on Sesame Street. Twiddlebug Town is located in Elmo's windowbox.
The CGI versions of the Twiddlebugs are animated by Magnetic Dreams.
Performing the Twiddlebugs
The high-pitched effect of the Twiddlebugs' voices was accomplished by recording the performers at slow speed, then playing the vocal tracks back at normal speed. The characters' very deliberate enunciation is a result of the performers' attempts to keep the dialogue comprehensible after it was sped up.
In addition to being Muppets, the Twiddlebugs first appeared in computer-generated form in Sesame Street 4-D Movie Magic. Additionally, new computer-generated Twiddlebug sketches premiered on the show starting in season 37. Magnetic Dreams animation studio, Nashville, adapted the Twiddlebugs for CGI. The CGI versions of the Twiddlebugs also made a cameo in an advertisement for Sesamestreet.org. The CGI versions are all voiced by Rickey Boyd.
|Picture||Theme / EKA||Description|
| Counting Six Twiddlebugs|
|Kermit counts six happy little Twiddlebugs, and when he is finished, the Twiddlebugs have a party.|
| Going to the Zoo|
| The Twiddlebugs try to get to the zoo.|
Some airings of this segment feature a shorter version of Ernie's introduction.
| Hanging a Picture|
| The Twiddlebugs get a new postage stamp portrait of George Washington, but have trouble getting it to stick to the wall. They finally get it to work, but it is upside down.
| Finding the Door|
| The Twiddlebugs try to find a way out of the rollerskating rink. After their attempts to smash through the wall with their bodies fails, they find the door... and use it to break down the wall.
| Out of the Rain|
|The Twiddlebugs don't understand why they are getting all wet, while Mommy Twiddlebug isn't. They soon learn it's because she's inside the house. After they all huddle inside, Ernie finishes watering his plants.|
| "Get Along"|
|The Twiddlebugs are background singers for the song,"Get Along." As it was sung by Kermit the Frog, A Cow, the Martians, and some Anything Muppet greasers.|
| The Beach Umbrella|
|At the beach, the Twiddlebugs notice that only Thomas has a beach umbrella, which they decide to share. They soon notice that they have no idea where the ocean is. David Rudman plays Tessie in this particular segment.|
|On a cold day, the Twiddlebugs try to figure out what they should close to make themselves warm. After they try closing a book, a lunchbox and their mouths, Tina sees they must close the door. Once they're warm, they decide to go outside, but can't find what they should open.|
| Rainy Day|
|Ernie watches as the Twiddlebugs head for Hooper's Store in the rain, but they need something to keep themselves dry. They then take the umbrella with them.|
| The Mulberry Bush|
|The Twiddlebugs find a mulberry bush, and try to figure out if they should go under it, on it, or around it.|
|Cutting Down Flowers||Ernie watches as the Twiddlebugs cut down the pretty flowers in their yard. Once they've realized the environmental mistake they've made, they undo their action by creating giant flowers from wrappers.|
|Smoke Detector||The Twiddlebugs get a smoke detector installed in their home by the Twiddlebug Superintendent, but at first don't know what it is, but are pleased that it is working when it is tested. After Tessa figures out what it is and what it's for, smoke comes out of their oven (due to Tessie's stuffed bean being left unattended), and Ernie pours water over it to put out the smoke. Tessie is performed here by David Rudman, and daughter Tina is here referred to as Tessa.|
|Picture||Theme / First Appearance||Description|
| Family Photo|
|The family tries to take a family photo, but someone is always missing (as they are operating the camera). When they all try to take the picture they finally get it to work, by photographing themselves in the mirror.|
| The Twiddlebugs take a caterpillar in, thinking at first that it's a cat. After it doesn't drink any milk, and proves to have more than four legs, Tessie consults a book to discover that it's a caterpillar. They decide to name it "Cat."
| Missing Snowshoe|
|Thomas Twiddlebug is missing a snowshoe (a paper clip), and tries to find it. However, Tina uses the paper clip as a music stand, and Timmy uses it as a backscratcher, and Tessie uses it to mix her batter for a cake. When everything is back to normal, Thomas prepares to go out, only to find that it's a nice sunny summer day.|
| Flat Tire|
| The Twiddlebugs are off to Uncle Ollie's surprise birthday party, when they suddenly get a flat tire. Now they have to search for something to replace it. Thomas suggests that either a triangle-shaped nacho or a square-shaped cheese cracker would work, but the cracker gives a bumpy ride, which breaks the nacho. But a red checker does work, and they're off - not realizing they left the cupcake behind.
| Taking Turns|
Little Children, Big Challenges
|The Twiddlebug kids learn how to take turns.|
- When Oscar Was a Little Grouch ("Tina Twiddlebug's Big Adventure")
- Big and Little Stories ("Betty Lou's Twiddlebug Story") (1982)
- Sherlock Hemlock and the Great Twiddlebug Mystery
- The Adventures of Ernie & Bert in Twiddlebug Land
- The Twiddlebugs' Dream House
- Twiddlebugs at Work
- Ernie and the Twiddlebug Town Fair
- Who's Hiding?
- More Sesame Street Finger Puppets (1972)
- The Sesame Street ABC Storybook (1974)
- Count with the Count (1975)
- See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Smell No Evil (1975)
- Bert's Big Band Paint-with-Water Book (1976)
- The Count's Number Parade (1977)
- The Sesame Street Mystery Coloring Book (1977)
- The Amazing Mumford Presents the Magic Weather Show (1981)
- Put & Play Magic Show (1981)
- Put & Play Grover's Wishes (1981)
- Which One Doesn't Belong? (1981)
- Trace & Color Alphabet (1984)
- Big Bird's Book of Rhymes (1985)
- Ernie's Finish the Picture (1985)
- A Bird's Best Friend (1986)
- A My Name Is Annabel (1986)
- ABC (1986)
- Find the Shapes (1986)
- Sesame Street ABC (1986)
- Through the Year (1986)
- Colors (1987)
- A Rainy Day on Sesame Street (1987)
- The Runaway Soup and Other Stories (1987)
- Museum of Monster Art (1990)
- 1-2-3 (1991)
- Sesame Street 123 (1991)
- Sleep Tight! (1991)
- Elmo's Little Playhouse (1993)
- Elmo's Mother Goose (1993)
- Around the Corner on Sesame Street (1994)
- Elmo's Big Lift-and-Look Book (1994)
- Me Cookie! (1994)
- Elmo's Lift-and-Peek Around the Corner Book (1996)
- B is for Books! (1996)
- Elmo Loves You! (1997)
- Elmo's Valentine (1997)
- The Poky Little Puppy Comes to Sesame Street (1997)
- Pumpkin Patch Party (1997)
- Elmo's Tricky Tongue Twisters (1998)
- It's Not Easy Being Big! (1998)
- Where Is Elmo's Blanket? (1999)
- Sounds of Sesame Street (2000)
- 123 Sesame Street (2001)
- Clap Your Hands! (2002)
- The City Sings a Song! (2005)
- Sesame Subjects books (2006-2007)
- Abby Cadabby's Rhyme Time (2007)
- Elmo's Piano (2007)
- Friendly, Frosty Monsters (2007)
- Lots of Opposites (2007)
- Music Player Storybook (2007)
- My First Trip to the Farm (2007)
- Rosita's Easter on Sesame Street (2007)
- Sesame Street Super Sticker Book (2007)
- What Makes You Giggle? (2007)
- Everybody Dance! (2008)
- Let's Help the Earth (2008)
- Ding Dong, Elmo's Here! (2009)
- Love, Elmo (2009)
- Out & About (2010)
- Potty Time for Monsters (2011)
- In the Who's Who on Sesame Street coloring book, the characters are incorrectly listed as Thomas (father), Tina (mother), Teddy (son) and Tessie (daughter).
- The Spanish version of Sesame Street, Barrio Sésamo, translated the names of the characters as Los Nabucodonosorcitos, literally "The Little Nabucodonosor's", for King Nebuchadnezzar II the Great of Babylon, called Nabucodonosor in Spanish.
- The German version of Sesame Street, Sesamstrasse, called them Krabbelkäfer, which basically means "Crawlingbugs" or "Scuttlebugs".
- Most of the time, Twiddlebugs are depicted on TV as miniature creatures, small enough to live in a window box. However, they have occasionally appeared as standard Muppet size:
- In an early segment, Kermit the Frog counted "happy little Twiddlebugs" at a Twiddlebug Party - most of whom were bigger than Kermit.
- In the final scene of The Muppet Movie, which featured a crowd shot containing nearly every Muppet then in existence, the Twiddlebugs appear alongside the other Muppets without being shrunk by camera-trickery and enlarged sets.
- In a 2006 Halloween card, Ernie is dressed as a Twiddlebug.