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.


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


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)


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

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.