Zoology

Amazing Feats of the Insect World



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Insects are amazing creatures.  There are over 900,000 species of insects in the world today and more are discovered each month. More insects are found in ten square feet of rainforest than there are people in Manhattan. Each year a third of the world's crops are eaten by insects, but in return certain cultures eat insects; they are a fantastic source of protein. There are many amazing insect feats but some stand out as truly amazing. 

One amazing trait is the ability to carry weight. On average a person can carry just over 40kg or fifty percent of his or her body weight. By comparison, the leaf cutter ant can carry up to thirty times its own weight, while the honey bee can carry three hundred times its own weight back to its hive. When it comes to strength, beetles are really the strong men of the animal world. The Hercules beetle can carry and lift eight hundred fifty times its own weight, equivalent to a normal person lifting 34,000 kg, or roughly thity-seven tonnes. The strongest animal in the world is an insect called Onthophagus taurus. Onthophagus Taurus is a type of dung beetle which can carry 1,141 times its own weight. That is equivalent to a normal person lifting six full double-decker buses. 

The insect nation, like the human race, comes in all shapes and sizes. The smallest known insect is the nicely named fairy fly. Fairy flies are tiny wasps that can grow as large as 0.139 mm in length.  They are so small that you would need a microscope to see them, but what makes them really amazing is that although they are smaller than some single-celled organisms, they have all the normal systems of a bigger animal. By contrast, the largest insect on record is the goliath beetle. This beetle can grow up to 4 ½ inches long and can weigh 3.5 ounces. Overall they have the most mass of any insect alive.

When it comes to lifespan, insects are thought to be short lived. After all, mayflies live around a day, while worker ants may only live up to sixty days.  However, when it comes to life span it pays to be royalty. The queens of ant hives can live up to twenty years, but the longest insect life span goes to the normal termite, or to be more accurate, the termite queen. This little insect can live up to fifty years. A termite worker or soldier can live to be around three, so a termite queen can live nearly seventeen times as long as a normal termite. That would make a normal human around 1,346 years old. 

Survival is a feat that is faced by every animal alive today. Humanity can only survive hazardous and extreme conditions thanks to inventive brains creating the technology needed. Insects, however, have no need for such things and can stand quite deadly conditions naturally. When it comes to surviving radiation, the cockroach is thought to be the natural king of survival. Radiation is measured in grays, and the average human will find between 3 and 6 grays deadly. The cockroach can withstand up to 900 grays, so they are certainly not wimps. The kings of radiation survival are the ants, some species of which can survive doses of around 2,250 grays. 

There are as many amazing facts and feats about insects as there are insects themselves. Anything the human race can do, an insect can do as well, and it is a fair bet that the insect will do it better. In today’s world, insects are being used in medicine and agriculture. Looking back at ancient cultures, you can see insect influences in religious and spiritual motifs. They are, when all is said and done, amazing.

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More about this author: Darren Owen

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