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The Incredible Insects All Around Us

A large number of people at least occasionally make statements about how much they hate “bugs”. Never mind the fact that many kinds of insects are actually useful or helpful. Whether people truly dislike them or not, there are a number of facts about insects that are incredible and quite a few that boggle the mind.

For example, 1.5 million species of insects are known and cataloged. Yet, many entomologists believe that there are at least 9 million species of insects on Earth, possibly more, and many new species are being discovered continuously.

There are many individuals belonging to each species, too. Scientists have concluded that there are somewhere around 10,000,000,000,000,000 ants on Earth at any given moment. That number is 10 quadrillion, and that is just ants. That so far exceeds the 7 billion people on the planet that it means that there are over a million ants for every man, woman, and child on earth. The total weight of all the ants in the world is many times greater than the total weight of all the people in the world.

Ants aren’t even the most populous insect, either. It is estimated that 4 out of every 10 insects is a kind of beetle. This is certainly borne out if just those that are known are counted. Of the 1,500,000 species known, 40% of them are beetles.

               Golden Tortoise Beetle 

There are native insects on every continent on Earth, too. Even as inhospitable as Antarctica is, there is a species of midge that is native to that continent.

Insects can also be quite variable in size. The smallest known is a fairyfly, a kind of parasitic wasp that measures less than 0.0055 inches in length. That is five and a half thousandths of an inch. That is too small to see with the naked eye for many people. The largest insect known is a kind of cricket found in New Zealand, called the Giant Weta. The largest on record measured just under 4 inches and weighed an astounding 2.5 ounces; over an eighth of a pound. That makes the Giant Weta larger than even a sparrow.

               Giant Weta 

Many insects are considered to be pests to man. Yet, the vast majority aren’t pests at all. In fact, as much as most people despise cockroaches, there are over 12,000 species known and only four of those species are pests. Many of the other species are not only not pests, but most people wouldn’t even be able to recognize them as being cockroaches. 

Some insects have an incredibly short lifespan as adults and may only live for a few hours. Other insects can live a lot longer. Some queen ants are thought to live as long as 30 years, and some termite queens are believed to live about 50.

There are even insects that can survive intense radiation; 100 times the amount of radiation required to kill a human.

Whether you like them or not, insects are all around us and they are totally incredible, though people rarely give them much thought except to complain about them. That is too bad. While some insects really are pests and can be damaging to mankind, probably 95% of them have no impact on people at all. That, in itself, is pretty incredible.

What do you think?

9 points

Written by Rex Trulove

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    • A lot of cockroaches look nothing like what people are most acquainted with. There are also quite a few that are usually not recognizable as cockroaches when they are seen, but very rarely are. You’re right. Many are very colorful and quite pretty.

    • I’ve spent enough time out in the woods, particularly camping, that insects no longer cause me anxiety, though mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, horseflies, deer flies, and chiggars are still bothersome. That doesn’t mean that I especially want to have insects in my house and that sometimes happens. It is one reason I tend not to get upset when I see a spider in my house. Spiders are expert insect exterminators. 🙂

    • There is also quite a few people who make a decent amount of money raising crickets. They are sold to people who have pet lizards, pet amphibians, pet turtles, and fish. My turtle and toad love them, especially when worms and grasshoppers aren’t available.

  1. I hope this comment doesn’t Bug you Rex!

    It is always amazing to me, to consider the number of insects in the world. I always love the Cicada’s when they emerge, so many insects, so much noise but then gone so quickly!

    • I very nearly went into entomology instead of computer science. I’ve always been fascinated by insects. That was borne out of a major fear that I had of ants, which in turn came from an experience at the age of 4 of falling into a nest of fire ants. So…I started studying ants and quickly became intrigued by insects in general.

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