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.
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.
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)
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
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.
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.