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The Lie: Evolution



There is an absolutely phenomenal amount of amazing and fascinating facts about insects. A large part of my presentation (see Get Bugged) is based upon the incomprehensible amount of data about insects.

In order to save you some time I have listed several bits of insect trivia. None of this is claimed to be indisputable. The sites I used (miscellaneous lists and some obvious errors) are,,, and,

This site has the best documentation, but requires a lot more reading: University of Florida Book of Insect Records

Also see “Insect Hall of Fame” and “Large Little Creatures”.



There are more insects in one square mile of rural land than there are human beings on the entire earth.

There are more than 900,000 known species of insects in the world.

There are over a million species of insects in the world with about 90,000 species of insects in North America

There are more beetles than any other kind of creature in the world.

The largest termite mound, found in Australia was 6.1 meters across the base. The tallest termite mound, found in Africa, was 12.8 meters high, however only 3 meters across.

A termite colony might contain more than 3 million individuals.

Scientist have recorded the otherwise inconspicuous Springtails at densities as high 100,000,000 per square meter in the ordinary farm soil of Iowa U.S.A.

In Africa swarms of Orthoptera ( Desert Locusts Schistocerca gregaria) may contain as many as 28,000,000,000 individuals.

There may be as many as 659,000 ants in a single nest.


The world's smallest winged insects are the Tanzanian parasitic wasp and fairy flies which are only 1/5 of a millimeter in length (smaller than the eye of a housefly).

The largest termite in the world is the African species Macrotermes bellicosus, which reaches a length of 5 inches.

Fossils of prehistoric dragonflies have been found with a wingspan of 30 inches and a body length of 18 inches.

The largest butterfly is the Queen Alexandra's Birdwing from New Guinea (an endangered species), with a wingspan of 11 inches.

The largest moth is the Owlet moth of tropical America, with a wingspan of 18 inches.

The smallest butterfly is the blue butterfly from Africa, which has only a 1/2 inch wingspan.

The smallest insects are fairyflies, which are insects that parasitize or lay their eggs inside other insects' eggs (including pest insects!). Fairyflies are only 1/5 of a millimeter long.

The largest cockroach on record is one measured at 3.81 inches in length.

The largest butterfly in the world is the Queen Alexandra butterfly (Ornithoptera alexandrae) of Papua New Guinea; the females reach a wingspan of up to 11 inches.

The largest moths in the world are the Hercules emperor moth (Coscinocera hercules) of northern Australia and New Guinea (the females reach a wingspan of 10.5 inches with a surface area of 1002 inches) and the great owlet moth (Thysania agripinna) of South America (females measure up to 12 inches in wingspan, but lack the large surface area).

The African Goliath beetle, Goliath goliath, is the heaviest beetle (insect) in the world and weighs 100 grams (3.5 ounces) - the same as 33 pennies.

Megaphragma caribea from Guadeloupe, measuring out at a huge 0.17 mm long, is now probably the smallest known insect in the world.

The tropical stick insect is the longest 13 inches from end to end.


Comparative studies show that humans have 792 distinct muscles, whereas grasshoppers have 900, and caterpillars may have as many as 4,000 separate muscles.

An average man can pull about 0.86 times his own weight, but a leaf beetle (Donacia) can pull 42.7 times its own weight. Horses pull .5 wt, ants pull 52 times their weight (comparable to a human pulling 4.5 tons).

Crickets hear through their knees. 

The compound eye of a housefly has more than 4,000 lenses.

Dragonflies have as many as 30,000 lenses in each eye.


When a queen bee lays the fertilized eggs that will develop into new queens, only one of the newly laid queens actually survives. The first new queen that emerges from her cell destroys all other queens in their cells and, thereafter, reigns alone.

In warm weather, if the host plant is healthy, an aphid can produce 50 babies in one week, which will mature 1 week later. In one season, a single cabbage aphid and its young, if none died, could produce 1,560,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (1 heptillion, 560 hexillion) individuals under ideal conditions. Also under ideal conditions, one hectare (10Km^2, 2.47 acre) of vegetation can feed 5 million aphids, which could produce 2 tons of honeydew every day.

Some African and Australian termite colonies may have as many as 3 million individuals. (If termites were packed at the rate of 100 per cubic inch, a pickup truck with a bed 4 x 8 x 1.5 feet would have to make 7 trips to carry away 3 million termites.) (If one termite was 1/8 inch long, 3 million of them placed end to end would form a column 100 miles long.)

A female bot fly lays her eggs on the proboscis of a mosquito; when the mosquito bites a human, the bot fly larvae emerge from their eggs and crawl under the human's skin through the mosquito bite or by boring into the flesh.

The largest insect egg belongs to the Malaysian jungle nymph, a sticklike insect, and measures about 1.3 centimeters long - larger than a peanut! (Some insects, mainly mantises and cockroaches, lay egg cases that are larger, but they contain about 200 individual eggs.)

The Madagascan Hissing Cockroach is one of the few insects who give birth to live young, rather than laying eggs.

The male gypsy moth can "smell" the virgin female gypsy moth from 1.8 miles away.

The queen of a termite colony may lay 6,000 to 7,000 eggs per day, and may live 15 to 50 years.

Among most insects, both males and females occur; but in many species only the female sex occurs. Hermaphroditism, where both sexes are functional in the same individual, rarely occurs in insects. In the California race of the cottonycushion scale, 90 to 99% of the individuals are hermaphrodites that can fertilize their own eggs. The remaining individuals are all males. No true females occur.

Aphids are born pregnant without the benefit of sex. Aphids can give birth 10 days after being born themselves.

Also see “Insex”.


The coffin fly maintains itself for many generations in human bodies buried in coffins

Longevity: aphids - 3 weeks Periodical cicadas - 17 years

A cockroach can live for up to a week without a head.

Ants are social insects and live in colonies which may have as many as 500,000 individuals.

Worker ants may live seven years and the queen may live as long as 15 years.

The complete life-cycle of a house fly takes from 10 to 21 days.

The periodical cicada lives underground as a nymph for 16.5 years.


Amazon ants (red ants found in the western U.S.) steal the larvae of other ants to keep as slaves. The slave ants build homes for and feed the Amazon ants, who cannot do anything but fight. They depend completely on their slaves for survival.

The first week as an adult worker, honeybees clean the hive. By the second week, they feed the young. The third week, they make and repair wax cells in the hive. By the fourth week, they have begun guarding the hive, and finally, they will visit flowers for pollen (bees have built-in saddle bags) and nectar from the fifth week till they die. Workers might live for 6 to 8 weeks, while queens live up to 5 years. The total distance of the many trips honey bees travel to produce a pound of honey is about equal to twice the distance around the world.

In its entire lifetime, the average worker bee produces 1/12th teaspoon of honey.

An Australian bee, called a karbi, invented the rack: if an intruder arrives at the hive entrance, guards grip its limbs in their jaws and immobilize it by stretching its limbs to their full extent for an hour.

Petroleum flies feed on other flies that get trapped in pools of crude petroleum in California

Mosquitoes of genus Malaya steal honeydew from the jaws of worker ants.

Australian termites have been known to build mounds twenty feet high and at least 100 feet wide.

Only female mosquitoes bite. Females need the protein from blood to produce their eggs.

Only full-grown male crickets can chirp.

When ants find food, they lay down a chemical trail, called a pheromone, so that other ants can find their way from the nest to the food source.

It takes about ten pounds of mulberry leaves to enable silkworm caterpillars to manufacture one pound of cocoons - which can be spun into a silk thread more than 100 miles long.

The red admiral butterfly can distinguish sugar solutions 200 times more dilute than the human tongue can taste.

The loudest insects are male cicadas, which can be heard about a quarter of a mile away.

Each cocoon of a silkworm produces a single thread about 1,500 feet long. More than 25,000 cocoons are needed to make a pound of silk.

The Asiatic silkworm moth (Bombyx mori) has been so domesticated over the centuries that it probably does not exist in the wild anymore. It has been reared in China for 4,000 years.

Bees must collect the nectar from two thousand flowers to make one tablespoonful of honey.

The dehydrated larvae of the African chironomid Polypedilum vanderplanki were able to withstand exposure to liquid helium (-270 C) for up to 5 min. with a 100% survival rate.

The loudest insect in the world is the male cicada. He can be heard over 400 meters away, about the distance of four football fields (slightly more than 1/4 of a mile).

Female mosquitoes need a lot of protein in order to lay eggs and can triple her body weight with just one meal of blood from a reptile, bird, or mammal. For a a 100 pound human this would equal 36 gallons of liquid at one sitting.

Trap-jaw ants strike one another during antenna-boxing bouts at speeds up to 19.5 strikes per second.


Painted ladies migrating from Africa to England must travel over 3,000 miles.

The male deer bot fly is reputed to develop flying speeds of several hundred miles per hour, but this is probably an exaggeration. A tabanid fly, related to horse flies, has been clocked at 90 miles per hour. Hawk moths have been timed at 33.5 miles per hour. A dragonfly of the species Anax parthenope has been clocked at almost 18 miles per hour. Honeybees fly at about 7 miles per hour, and have to beat their wings 190 times per second to do it.

Fleas jump 200 times their body length-like a human clearing a 70-story building. Grasshoppers jump 80 times their length - like a human jumping 1 1/2 football fields. Flea beetles 1 inch long can jump up to 2 feet--like a human jumping over 15 cars. A 1/2 inch click beetle can catapult about 1 foot.

Dragonflies are one of the fastest insects, flying 50 to 60 mph.

Insects with the fastest wing beat frequency are the no-see-ums, or very tiny midges, which beat their hairy wings 1,046 times per second. Male mosquitoes beat their wings 450 to 600 times per second. Cabbageworm butterflies beat their wings nine times per second.

American cockroaches can run on two legs -- a feat certified by the Guinness Book of World Records -- and can achieve a speed of nearly 5 feet per second, or 50 times their body length per second. If a cockroach were the size of a lion it would cover nearly 50 miles per hour. Compared to a man six feet tall a roach runs about 135 miles per hour.

The highest sustained ground speed recorded is that of the black cutworm (Agrotis ipsilon) which flies at speeds of between 97 and 113 km/h (60-70 mph).

Honeybees fly at about 7 miles per hour and have to beat their wings 190 times per second.


The most dangerous insects are mosquitoes, which pass on a parasite causing malaria, as well as the diseases dengue, yellow fever and certain types of encephalitis. Malaria kills a million people a year. The disease-carrying mosquito, delivering encephalitis, the West Nile virus, malaria, and Dengue fever, is by far the deadliest beast in the animal world. The World Health Organization says mosquitos cause more than 2 million deaths a year worldwide.

Each year, insects eat 1/3 of the Earth's food crop.

The animal responsible for the most human deaths world-wide is the mosquito.

Fleas have changed history. More human deaths have been attributed to fleas than all the wars ever fought. As carriers of the bubonic plague, fleas were responsible for killing one-third of the population of Europe in the 14th century.

Also see “The Dragonfly’s Demise”.


Blister beetles have been used both as an aphrodisiac and to produce hair on bald heads (neither claim has been substantiated).

Biosatellite II orbited the Earth with gnats, flour beetles and wasps.

A scale insect, Laccifer lacca, is cultivated in parts of southeast Asia and the Philippines because a sticky secretion produced by the scale insects can be used to manufacture shellac. (It takes the combined efforts of more than 150,000 insects to produce one pound of lac.)

At least 50 important crops grown in the United States depend on insects for pollination.

Be sure to see “Thank God for Insects”.


Egyptian mythology and art included the following insects:

Dung beetles or scarabs-jewelry, dung rolling reminded Egyptians of the sun (which they called Ra) rolling across the sky each day.

Buprestid beetles-wood borers are the symbol of a myth, where a goddess (Isis) brought Odyssus back to life

Click beetles have a pronotum is shaped like the shield of ancient Egyptian soldiers

Biting flies were symbols of determination, perseverance, valor, gold medals in the shape of the flies were given to soldiers

Grasshoppers, dragonflies and bees were used in jewelry, as a symbol of life on the Nile

Praying mantids were a symbol of funerals, and the afterlife

Springtails have been found at both of the Earth's poles.

Nearly 100% of a firefly’s light is light. A light bulb is about 10% light and 90% wasted heat.

A cricket contains 76 mg of calcium. The June Beetle has only 22 mg followed by the grasshopper with 28 mg and the red ant with 48 mg.

Beetles taste like apples, wasps like pine nuts, and worms like fried bacon.

Cockroaches can detect movement of one-millionth of a millimeter and respond to the slightest air movements.

A cockroach can hold its breath for 40 minutes.