giant-dobsonfly

What Are The 5 Largest Insects In The World?

Insects represent over 80% of all the species alive on Earth right now. In fact, around about a million different species have been identified by scientists. While, in average, they measure from 3 to 20 millimeters, certain species far exceed that number. The following is a list of 5 of the largest insects found around the world.

Giant Dobsonfly

giant-dobsonfly

Credit: Insect Museum of West China

The most recent discovery on this list, the Giant Dobsonfly looks like a Dragonfly with snake-like fangs. It’s found in West China and it’s considered to be one of the largest insect ever to be found alive. It has a wingspan of 8.3 inches or 21.1 centimeters (that’s significantly bigger than your 15 centimeter ruler!), and, quoting CNN, “is capable of covering a human face.” As big as it gets though, an adult Dobsonfly does not eat and only lives for a few days for the sole purpose of mating before simply dying.

Sadly, the Dobsonfly is being driven away by increasing pollution as they rely on clean fresh water. Even a slight change in pH or the presence of contaminants can force the insect to search for fresher water elsewhere.

Titan Beetle

The Titan Beetle or Titanus giganteus is the largest beetle in the world. It can go up to 16.7 centimeters in length. The most striking feature of the Titan are its jaws which are powerful enough to easily break a pencil in two. It can also tear into human flesh with its sharp spines. The Titan hisses when threatened and can even fly which leads to people mistaking it for a giant cockroach. Having said all that, it’s utterly harmless to humans.

It’s found in the Amazon rainforest, Columbia, Guiana and north Brazil. As you can infer, It prefers to stay in hot tropical conditions where the grubs (the Titan larvae) feed on dead wood under the ground. The adults are only active during the hottest, most humid weeks of the year when they search for a mate.

Because of the the fact that they rely on dead wood to thrive, their very existence is being threatened due to the constant deforestation of the Amazons.

Chan’s Megastick (Phobaeticus chani)

chans-megastick-giant-walking-stick-bug

Chan’s Megastick (Phobaeticus chani)

The longest insect in the list (and the world!), the Giant stick insect is a master of camouflage. They have evolved this bizzare but genius shape to blend in with twigs and foliage and hide from predators. Even the texture of their exoskeleton closely resemble tree bark. They cannot fly or jump, so when disturbed, they fall to the ground and remain still. Giant Walking Stick’s can reach 20 inches or 50 centimeters in length (with legs outstretched), making it about as long as the keyboard I’m typing on.

This particular species is found only in the rain forests of Borneo, however stick bugs are found all over the world.

Little Barrier Island Giant Weta

little-barrier-island-giant-weta

Little Barrier Island Giant Weta

Only found in Little Barrier Island of New Zealand, the species of cricket is so heavy it can’t even jump. The largest of them can weigh more than 70 grams. To put that number into perspective, a sparrow weights less.

They feed on other insects, fruits and leaves and they don’t have too many natural predators. That and the complete isolation led its numbers getting to endemic levels and its large size. This is an example of island gigantism.

Atlas Moth

atlas moth

Atlas Moth

As you can probably guess from the name, the Atlas Moth is an absolutely huge insect. In fact, it’s the only moth in the world with a surface are of 62 square inches and a wingspan of 12 inches. Amazingly, in Taiwan, the cocoons of the moths can be used to turn into useful products such as purses. The brown silk that makes the cocoon is that strong!

Interestingly, the tips of their wings look like snake heads. Unlike typical moths, the Atlas Moth has no mouth. This is because they don’t need to feed once they emerge from their cocoons. They rely on stores of fat they gathered during their previous stages of life. But, of course, this means that they don’t live long. The males survive for a week or two to mate with a female, after which they die.

praying mantis eating dragonfly

What Do Praying Mantis Eat?

The praying mantis is a really fascinating insect to have as a pet, as a lot of kids have been lucky enough to discover. Not only is it intriguing to look at, it is also very easy to take care of. If you are thinking of keeping a praying mantis as a pet, you must ensure it is well taken care of at all times. Part of taking care of a praying mantis is understanding its diet and eating habits.

Praying mantises are carnivorous, which means they eat meat. Most of them are also exclusively predatory, which means that they actively hunt their prey. A praying mantis will capture insects using its front legs and feed on them. Even though insects form the primary diet of a praying mantis,its diet changes as the mantis grows bigger. Large species of mantis have been known to prey on small lizards, frogs, rodents, snakes and even fish. Basically, mantises will eat anything that is smaller than them in size, as this way they are able to capture the prey without struggle.

A praying mantis is very patient when it comes to hunting for prey. In fact, a mantis will wait for hours for prey to come along. It will carefully camouflage itself so that the prey cannot easily spot it and ambush the unsuspecting prey at the opportune moment.

Praying mantises make use of the spikes on their front legs to grasp their prey. Once the prey is captured, the mantis will bite its neck to paralyze it and then devour it. A mantis will start by eating from the insect’s neck, in order to ensure the insect’s struggle ends quickly.

Most predatory insects will liquefy their prey or drain away the body fluids of their prey. However, for a praying mantis the feeding process is different. When a praying mantis catches an insect, it slices and chews it with its mandibles. A mantis will eat the entire insect, leaving only fragments that may have been accidentally severed during the feeding process.

When thinking of how you’ll be feeding your praying mantis, ensure there is selected habitat for the feeding. A cage that has been made to look like a mantis’ natural habitat will be much appreciated by your pet mantis. Don’t forget to regularly release your mantis so it can enjoy the fresh air and fresh diet in your backyard. Of course, keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t run away!

praying mantis facts

Praying Mantis Facts

The mantis is an insect best known for its prayer-like posture. Sometimes confused with its close relative, the grasshopper, the mantis is a very interesting insect. Below we look at some of the features that make it so unique among the millions of insect species in the world.

Anatomy

  • Not all mantises are winged. Depending on the nature and presence of their wings, mantises can be classified into apterous (wingless), micropterous (with vestigial wings), brachypterous (short winged) and macropterous (long winged).
  • Other than flying, wings in mantises are also used to scare away predators and in makes, to attract females.
  • Their two forelegs legs have spines by which prey is caught and securely held.
  • The prothorax, the part of the body containing the head and forelegs, is highly flexible which allows the insect to move its forelegs and head in a wide range of movements while the rest of the body remains immobile.
  • The neck is extremely flexible and in some species, the neck has been observed to rotate through an angle of up to 180 degrees.
  • Praying mantises can see up to a distance of 20 meters. Their compound eyes are widely spaced and found at the sides of their faces so as to allow for a wide range of vision.
  • Since bats are one of their biggest predators, mantises are equipped with an auditory thoracic organ. This organ detects the high pitched sound bats produce for echolocation and immediately respond evasively.

Behavior (Feeding & Defense)

  • Most mantises tend to feed during the day (diurnal) as this is when they can take advantage of their vision. However, they can also fly at night and will be attracted to any artificial lights nearby.
  • The primary prey of a mantis is insects and so they make up a large part of its diet. When young, a mantis feeds on small insects and sometimes can also eat its own siblings. As it grows bigger, it needs larger insects to survive. In full adulthood the diet may vary and can consists of small snakes, rodents, birds, lizards and scorpions.
  • Most mantises hunt by ambush. They can stand still at a spot, well camouflaged, for a long period of time awaiting prey. Other species tend to pursue their prey.
  • When caught, prey is held in the spiked legs of the mantis. The prey is usually eaten live if it does not resist but if it does, then the mantis will eat off the head first.
  • After finishing a meal, the only remnants left behind are those that were accidentally dropped. Otherwise, a mantis is capable of eating everything.
  • The major form of defense in mantises is hiding and camouflage. They also threaten their predators by standing tall and spreading their forelegs with their wings fanned out. This makes the mantis appear larger and more intimidating.
  • Mantises are capable of producing sound especially when threatened. The hissing sound is used to scare away enemies.
  • As for camouflage, they will develop wing colors to blend in perfectly with the vegetation in the region of their habitat. Some species have become so good at camouflage that they can even mimic vegetation by turning into shapes and colors that resemble withered leaves or dry barks.
  • If you get bitten or slashed by a mantis, do not worry, it contains no venom at all.

Reproduction & Life Cycle

  • Many mantis species display what is referred to as sexual cannibalism. This is where the female eats the male after mating. The feeding usually begins by biting off the head of the male. Due to this phenomena, it has been observed that hungry females are approached by less male mantises as compared to satiated ones due to fear of being cannibalized.
  • The female lays between ten and four hundred eggs which come out in a frothy mass which then hardens to form a protective capsule around the eggs.
  • Like most insects, the lifecycle of a mantis consists of egg, nymph then adult. The major difference between a nymph and an adult is the lack of wings and functional genitalia.
  • The general lifespan of a mantis is between 10 to 12 months.

Interestingly enough, mantises can be used to control pests. In some parts of the world, there are thriving businesses that sell mantis eggs. These eggs hatch into nymphs which tend to have a huge appetite. Thus, they will eat any and all insects they can find including those that are harmful to plant growth.

Goliath Birdeater | Biggest Spider in the World

The Goliath “Bird Eating” tarantula is the World’s biggest spider.

Its scientific name is Theraphosa blondi, making it a tarantula (Theraphosidae family).

The Goliath spider can be found in South America throughout the Amazon rainforest including Northern Brazil, Southern Venezuela, Guyana, and Suriname.

This massive spider can grow up to 11.5-12 inches in legspan, and can weigh up to 6.2 ounces.

In parts of South America, this spider is roasted with banana leaves as part of the local cuisine.

Like most tarantulas, the Goliath has a defense mechanism known as “urticating hairs.” These hairs can cause pain and irritation on human skin.

Also like other tarantulas, the birdeater’s fangs can pierce human skin. Its bite isn’t considered dangerous, and is generally considered comparable to a bee or wasp sting.

These supposed “bird eaters” rarely actually eat birds, and mostly subsist on worms, amphibians, arthropods, rodents, snakes, lizards, and other vertebrates.

 

Trimerotropis

9 Cool Facts About Insects

Just about everyone encounters some form of insect on a daily basis – it’s inescapable. Despite their prevalence and ubiquity, they may go basically unnoticed by most people. Here are some interesting insect facts to consider next time you see an insect creeping about.

  1. There are between 6-10 million different species of insects in the world. While the actual number of individual insects in the world is thought to be at least in the quadrillions or higher, there is an extreme amount of diversity with 6-10 million species in the class of Insecta, which is the scientific name for insects.
  2. The above number is speculative, because scientists have only actually cataloged 1.5 total species of living creatures on the earth. 2/3rds of known living species, or 1 million known & cataloged species of living creatures, belong to the ever-present insects.
  3. Thought to be the most numerous of insects, there are estimated to be more than 10 quadrillion ants on Earth. This means there’s at least a million ants on Earth, and due to their strength, we could technically each be carried around by our own collection of ants if that were a thing.
  4. As far as biodiversity is concerned, the most broad and successful living creatures are the beetles. The beetles, of the order Coleoptera, consists of more than 400,000 different species.
  5. Insects have been around for about 400,000 years. This means they were around long before and long after the dinosaurs. This is likely due to their adaptability, quick life cycle, and the breadth of their range.
  6. Speaking of range, insects are one of the few living creatures that are found on every continent. Even Antarctica has the tiny Belgica antarctica. Perhaps ironically, there are no ants on Antarctica.
  7. There are no ocean-dwelling insects. As widespread and successful as insects are, you will be hard-pressed to find any if you’re out at sea.
  8. Insects breath through their exoskeleton. Insects exchange oxygen through structures called spiracles on their exoskeletons. From their, oxygen is transported throughout the insects body through the trachea system.
  9. Insects don’t have veins, arteries, capillaries or any such structure. Their organs soak in a bath of blood within their body, and as mentioned, the trachea system ensures a fresh supply of oxygen to that blood.

There you have 9 basic but interesting facts about insects. Perhaps next time you see one, you will admire its success and beauty, rather than being creeped out.

10 Cool Termite Facts

Termites have been around for millions of years. What do we know about them? Most people think that they are a pest and nothing else. That couldn’t be further from the truth: we should be thankful that termites exist. Let’s take a look at 10 interesting facts about termites:

termite-facts1.) Termites are ecologically beneficial

They can be pests to some homeowners, but the environment is better off because of what termites do. They are decomposers: they recycle decaying and dead trees into soil by breading down plant fibers. Forests need these insects. Termites improve and aerate the soil too.

2.) Respect your elders

Termites are much older than the human race. They descend from an ancestor that’s similar to the modern cockroach. Mantids, cockroaches, and termites all share this ancestor that lived over 300 million years ago. Termites hold the record for the oldest mutualism between two organisms known to man. Today, there are over 2,700 species of termites in the world. There are about 40 species in the United States.

3.) Termites digest wood with the help of microorganisms

Termites need help to digest tough cellulose, or plant fibers. They eat plants directly or fungus that grows on plant material. Their gut is full of microorganisms that break down the cellulose. Both organisms benefit from this relationship.

4.) The old raise the young

There are no deadbeat dads here. Termite kings won’t leave their offspring. They’re not like males bees; male bees die after mating. The termite king will stay with the queen after he’s fertilized her eggs. He helps to feed the young, too, by giving them predigested food.

5.) They eat each other’s feces

They do this because they are not born with those beneficial microorganisms inside them. They need them before they can begin to munch away on food.

6.) Most of them are blind

Termite soldiers and workers are usually blind because they don’t need to be able to see in order to perform their duties. They live in the dark, where their eyesight would be useless. The only termites with eyesight are reproductive termites, they need it in order fly and find their mates.

7.) They have a sophisticated communication system

If there’s a threat, termite soldiers will bang the walls of the galleries with their heads in order to warn the other termites.

8.) Chemical communication is important too

They use pheromones (chemical scents) to provide information to one another. They can guide other workers by leaving scent trails using the glands that they possess. Each colony has its own unique scent.

9.) Good hygiene is very important

Most people would be surprised at how much time termites spend grooming themselves and each other. They do it because it is important for their survival; if they didn’t put any effort into staying clean, they’d get in trouble with harmful bacteria and parasites.

10.) Some of them can fly

Queens and kings can fly. They are called alates, and use their wings to leave their colony, look for a potential mate and start their own colony. Once they’ve found a new home, they break off their wings and raise their offspring.

Despite that fact that a lot of people find them to be pests, and spend a lot of time and effort trying to kill termites, and get rid of termites, they are truly fascinating little creatures.

Golden Silk Orb-Weaver

The 5 Biggest Spiders In The World

While most of us are scared of coming face to face with a tiny, harmless spider, can you imagine what it would be like to be standing in front of a gigantic one instead? As you would guess, the bigger a spider, the scarier they seem. But contrary to popular belief, not all large sized spiders are actually harmful! In fact, many of them are even kept as pets. For all those people who are intrigued and fascinated by these creepy crawlers, here are the names of the 5 biggest spiders in the world.

Golden Silk Orb-Weaver (Nephila)

Golden Silk Orb-Weaver

Golden Silk Orb-Weaver

This spider is also known as the Banana Spider and belongs to the N Jurassica family that existed more than 165 million years ago. The female Golden Orb Weaver grows up to 2 inches without leg span and can reach 6 inches if its leg span is taken into account. The males, however, are only half that size. While they pose no threat to humans, they can actually help you get rid of unwanted pests by feeding on them while living on their beautiful golden webs near residential areas. Their silk has also proven to have a very high biocompatibility rate and can be used for peripheral nerve growth!

Brazilian Wandering Spider (Phoneutria)

Brazilian Wandering Spider Phoneutria

Brazilian Wandering Spider – Phoneutria

Coincidentally enough, this next spider on the list is also referred to as the Banana Spider due to its tendency to inhabit banana plants. The two spiders shouldn’t be confused though, as you’ll also find this guy on our “Most Dangerous Spiders” post while the Golden Silk Orb Weaver (the other banana spider) is generally harmless.

This spider has a leg span of 15 centimeters and has one of the most infamous venoms in South and Central America. They are called ‘wandering’ because unlike other spiders, they go hunting for their prey at night instead of waiting for them in the webs. Some of the spiders from this species have also resulted in human deaths. If the Brazilian Wandering Spider successfully injects a full dose of its venom into its victim, not only would the person suffer serious injury, he could also die.

Goliath Birdeater Spider (Theraphosa blondi)

Goliath Birdeater - Theraphosa blondi

Goliath Birdeater – Theraphosa blondi

This one is a tarantula and a humongous one at that. It belongs to the Theraphosidae family and is known to be the largest spider in the world by mass (not leg-span). A specimen is even entered in the Guiness Book of World Records as the largest spider. Some members of this family have been depicted eating on humming birds – which is where they get the name ‘birdeater’ from. They are also known to feed on other small animals in addition to large insects. With a leg span of almost 12 inches, they can weigh more than 6 ounces. They look pretty scary, but you shouldn’t worry to much about a bite from one of these guys. Their bite has been compared to the sting of a wasp or hornet, mildly uncomfortable. [More: Goliath Birdeater]

Brazilian Salmon Pink Tarantula (Lasiodora parahybana)

Brazilian Salmon Pink Tarantula - Lasiodora parahybana

Brazilian Salmon Pink Tarantula – Lasiodora parahybana

Another “bird eating” tarantula, this Brazilian menina is almost as large as her cousin as it can grow up to 11.5 inches in leg-span and can weight up to 3.5 ounces. First discovered in 1917, they gained popularity as a pet for their incredible size but docile nature and relatively harmless bite. Their fangs can grow quite large though, up to an inch in length, so while the venom is not very toxic, its bite can cause quite a bit of damage.

Giant Huntsman Spider (Heteropoda maxima)

Giant Huntsman Spider

Giant Huntsman Spider

This creepy crawler belongs to the heteropoda genus and is regarded as the largest spider in the world by leg span. While its body length is not more than 4 inches long, it has a leg span of close to 12 inches. Mostly found in caves, it was first discovered in 2001 in Laos.

Black Widow Spider

The Most Dangerous Spiders In The World

People find spiders scary or creepy. In reality though, there are many more harmless spiders than there are those that can harm humans to any great extent. However, there are some nasty critters in the spider family that have a reputation for causing some pretty severe harm. Below are 5 of the most dangerous spiders out there.

1. Redback Spider

Australian redback spider

Australian redback spider

It is also referred to as Latrodectus hasselti scientifically. Very similar to its relative, the Black Widow, this spider is found in Australia and is very dangerous. The female redback spider is easily identified due to the presence of a stripe that is red in color on her abdomen. The female can be longer than the male, a female can measure up to one centimeter while the male is limited to a length of 4 mm. It has a neurotoxic venon that is highly dangerous to human beings. After an individual is being bitten by this spider the person can experience continuous pain up to a period of 24 hours. They can bite in case an individual moves too close to their habitat either in a crevice or touching their webs.

2. Sydney Funnel-Web Spider

Sydney funnel web spider

Sydney funnel web spider

It has a scientific name of Atrax robustus. It is commonly found in Sydney Australia. It can bite human beings where it can lead to great injuries and death if not treated quickly. It has atracotoxin which is a compound readily found in the venom that they produce after a bite. The compound is highly dangerous to primates including man. After biting an individual the symptom of their venom in a human being is experienced in a period of less than one hour. The males are known to be more dangerous in bites as they can bite severally as a defense mechanism when threatened.

3. Brazilian Wandering Spider

Brazilian Wandering Spider - Phoneutria

Brazilian Wandering Spider – Phoneutria

It has a scientific name of phoneutria fera. Other names referring to them include banana spiders or armed spiders. These are found in the tropical parts of south America. They form the world most venomous spiders as evidenced due to their entry into the Guinness World Book of Record in the year 2010. They have derived their name Wandering Spiders due to their habit of wandering freely on the floor of the jungle at night. During day time they are known to hide themselves in the moulds of the termites. After they bite someone their venom can lead to effects such as breathing problems, loss of muscle control, after the symptoms they can lead to inflammation, paralysis and even asphyxiation.

4. Baboon Spider

Killimanjaro Mustard Bamboo Spider - Pterinochilus chordatus

Killimanjaro Mustard Bamboo Spider – Pterinochilus chordatus

It is also referred to as Harpactirinae, they are found in Africa. They are the biggest spiders on this list. They have derived their name due to their last leg segments resembling the fingers of a baboon. They can bite and become more aggressive when disturbed.

5. Black Widow

Black Widow Spider

Black Widow Spider

 

This one has a scientific name known as Latrodectus mactans. The female is well known to be mostly black with red coloring that is often compared to the shape of an hourglass. The female is also known to eat the male after they reproduce. This brought about the name black widow. They can inject the venom continuously into an individual after they bite severally which can reach level where it can be fatal.

There you have it; 5 of the most dangerous spiders on Earth.