So I've been wanting to build a Hunter and I've got a major geek on for insects and was curious about the communities opinion of this particular archtype. I'd personally love to mix it with Packmaster to have my own giant ant colony, but that one sttikes me a fair bit on shallow end of the pool.
I was planning on going two-hander and have a beetle flanking buddy and was also wondering if there were any stand-out Druid/Ranger spells to keep an eye out for.
The biggest issue with Verminous companions is that they are mindless, which means at first level you can teach them two whole tricks (1 for being a companion, plus 1 bonus trick.) Being mindless does make them immune to any mind effecting magic, so only boost their int if you want to give that up. Since you want a flank buddy, those two tricks are going to be attack and flank. It will be a while before you can get any skirmisher tricks, which is annoying. At least you can still give them teamwork feats.
Best first level spells come mostly from the ranger side. Resist energy and slow poison as first level spells are nice. Lead blades so that once a minute you can do 3d6 instead of 2d6 with a greatsword. longstrider is +10' movement for an hour/level. Endure elements is always useful. Since you can put worm on yourself with animal focus, you don't really need cure light wounds, except to heal teammates.
It may be best to start without a companion. You get to use the animal focus ability on yourself without limit, and using summon nature's ally, you still get a "companion" for 1 minute per level. Once you reach 3rd or 4th level, you can grab your actual companion. (With regular hunter, the powers are weaker and you get more tricks, so giving up the companion isn't as worth it.)
One note about attributes: If you are going to have a companion, make sure you have at least a 13 int, so you can grab pack flanking. It's that good.
I thank you for your advice. You have given me some good ideas going forward.
In other news I was looking over the companion choices and was sad at how much better the Giant Wasp and Giant Scorpion are. I was hoping to do just as well with and Ant or Beetle but I don't think anything short of the GM letting me rewrite their stats is going to fix this.
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Like a third of the aspects are about grappling, that's a path I recommend considering.
You can't go wrong with 2handing though. And the Giant Mantis is a solid choice even if you don't focus on grappling, since it can become a flying mount.
Beetles are tough little buggers, having the best starting AC for the vermin companions (AC 18, +6 natural armor, +1 dex, +1 size). Add in the beetle aspect, and you have an AC 20 companion to start. It may also be more acceptable to your party to travel with a 3 foot beetle, as opposed to a 6 foot wasp or scorpion. They also get their upgrade at 4th, as opposed to 7th for the scorpion or wasp.
That said, Scorpions are twice as fast, are much more offensive minded, and have that all important grab. While wasps don't have grab, they do have a 60' fly rate, and both are poisonous.
If you are playing a human, look at taking the alternate racial ability eye for talent, which replaces your bonus feat. It is one of the few ways to start off with a positive intelligence for your skeletal challenged little friend.