Talking about the largest insect brings on a heated debate sometimes. While the term largest is relative, there are large insects that existed and are now extinct and there is the largest insect that is still alive.
The largest insect ever is the Meganeuropsis. A dragonfly-like bug also referred to as griffin fly. These however went extinct. Today, the largest insect is the Phryganistria Chinensis Zhao in terms of length. The Giant Weta, on the other hand, is the largest insect in terms of weight.
Large insects do exist. However, these critters are so big that they have slow or low manoeuvrability. This makes them an easy target for birds, which they also compete with for food. Because of this, the large insects are found deep inside forests where they easily hide from their predators and get their daily food without a hassle or without putting themselves out in the open.
The Phryganistria Chinensis Zhao
The longest insect in the world today is this Phryganistria Chinensis Zhao. It is a stick insect that was captured by Zhao Li who it was named after in 2016. The insect is from Southern China, and it was declared as the world’s longest bug after it exceeded the Phobaeticus chani, (another stick insect) in length.
The Phobaeticus has a specimen in the Natural History Museum of London and it measures 56.7 centimetres. The body alone without the legs extended measures 357mm which is impressive. The Phryganistria Chinensis Zhao came in and measured 62.4 centimeters overtaking the Phobaeticus chani.
Zhao Li, the person who captured the longest insect, heard of the mysterious creature in Southern China. He was working for the museum at this time when he set on a journey to look for the insect. The locals described the insect as being so long it couldn’t fit in any two palms extended. It took Zhao Li years searching for the insect until 2016 when he captured it and named it after himself.
When he captured it, he took it back to the museum where it laid six eggs. The eggs hatched and the smallest of the offsprings measured a good 26 centimeters. Till today, it’s considered to be the largest insect ever in terms of its length.
The Largest Insect Ever Lived
This would be the dragonfly-like bug also known as the Meganeuropsis. Though it’s extinct, there exist models of the insect and its size is impressive if not scary. Think of a dragonfly that has such big and large wings that can block a 27-inch TV screen.
While it might be extinct, there exists a model of the insect today and their 2.5 feet wings makes them scary. They had huge mandibles as well making the daunting predators. Think of what the dragonflies that exist today can do then multiply that eight times.
Imagining that such an insect could ever live is scary. The Meganeuropsis went extinct a long time ago during the Paleozoic Era. Today, it’s hard for insects to grow to that size but some give the Meganeuropsis a run for its name and size.
The Largest Insect in Terms of Weight
Insects do come in all shapes and sizes. The Giant Weta tops the list of the world’s largest insect in terms of weight. The Giant Weta is from New Zealand and it’s the heaviest known adult insect. There are 70 species of the Giant Weta and the Little Barrier Island Giant Weta is the heaviest weighing more than two ounces. In New Zealand, the Giant Weta is known as the wētāpunga to Maoris translating to “the god of all ugly things.”
To put it in perspective, think of an insect weighing more than a sparrow. This is the Giant Weta. The Giant Weta is long and heavy to fly. Its body measures up to 4 inches long excluding the legs and the long antennae. Wetas are found in New Zealand island making them perfect examples of island gigantism.
The Largest Insect in The World in Terms of The “Bulkiest.”
Remember, we said that the term ‘large’ is relative right from the word go. It’s also the reason we have these different insects considered as large but in different categories. If the term ‘large’ means the bulkiest to you, then this title goes to the Goliath Beetle, also known as the Goliathus.
The Goliathus beetle is one of the largest insects in the world if we measure it in terms of overall weight, size, and bulk. These adult beetles measure from 2.4 to 4.3 (60-110mm) inches for the males. The females measure 2.0-3.1 inches (50-80mm).
They are heaviest in the larval stage, weighing up to 2.8-3.5 ounces (80-100 grams). The adults, however, measure half of this weight.
The beetles are native to Africa and they don’t move a lot in the morning when it’s cold. They prefer staying in a dormant state when it’s cold and moved when warmed by the sun, becoming more active to the point of flying when frightened.
An interesting fact about the beetles is they are believed to vegetarians in the wild. However, they have a voracious appetite for proteins when captured where they are fed cat and dog food.
The Largest Insect in Terms of Wingspan
Insects are amazing creatures to observe and entomologists seem like they have quite a lot of fun. For example, think of the Atlas moth. If we were to classify the largest insect in terms of wingspan, this moth takes the day. It’s a bird-sized insect! The Atlas Moth is found in the Malay Archipelago in Taiwan. They have giant cocoons and fashionable Taiwanese women sometimes use the cocoons as purses.
The Atlas Moth has a wingspan of more than one foot with a wing space of 60 square inches wide.
Most of the above bugs are ugly and might seem like creatures from a horror movie. However, they are real and do exist though it’s rare to come across them. The rise of birds in the world is associated to the decrease of the largest insects in the world. The insects became prey to the birds due to their low maneuverability.
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