Insects are major contributors to our understanding of the interaction between transposable elements (TEs) and their hosts, owing to seminal discoveries, as well as to the growing number of sequenced insect genomes and population genomics and functional studies. Insect TE landscapes are highly variable both within and across insect orders, although phylogenetic relatedness appears to correlate with similarity in insect TE content. This correlation is unlikely to be solely due to inheritance of TEs from shared ancestors and may partly reflect preferential horizontal transfer of TEs between closely related species. The influence of insect traits on TE landscapes, however, remains unclear. Recent findings indicate that, in addition to being involved in insect adaptations and aging, TEs are seemingly at the cornerstone of insect antiviral immunity. Thus, TEs are emerging as essential insect symbionts that may have deleterious or beneficial consequences on their hosts, depending on context.