The Bug Files

Insects have been on planet Earth 400 million years ago – that’s 200 million years before the dinosaurs! In all that time, insects have had a head start building up adaptations and methods of species survival that continue to awe (and pester) humans. Even today, research continues on insects because they still remain mysterious and fascinating. They also outnumber humans several -thousand to one. In fact, if we were to group every other living species on the planet (such as birds, humans, animals, fish, etc.) into one, that group would only make up one-fifth of all the living things on the planet while insects dominate the remaining four-fifths! Throughout history, it would seem that insects and bugs have been the real dominators on this planet we share. At least it has made them complex and interesting, which is why I have compiled some of my favorite bug facts for this blog. Please enjoy and stay tuned as we are finding out more and more about our numerous and ancient insect friends who rule this planet.
• The only continent on which butterflies are not found is Antarctica. Even Greenland is home to six species of butterflies that live on the edges of its immense glaciers.
• Monarch Caterpillars shed their skin four times before they become a chrysalis, growing over 2700 times their original size.
• In its entire lifetime, an average worker bee produces 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey.
• Bees must collect the nectar from 2,000 flowers to make one tablespoonful of honey.
• Fleas can jump 30,000 times without stopping and can leap 150 times their own height. That would be like a six-foot-tall man leaping over three statues of liberties stacked on top of each other.
• 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 fourteenth century.
• A recent study conducted at Midwestern University in Arizona looked at how large a modern insect can grow and still get enough oxygen to live. They came up with a maximum body length of about 6 inches. That turns out to be the average size of the largest-known insect today, South America’s Titanic Longhorn Beetle.
• Insect flatulence (burps and toots) counts for 20% of the world’s emissions of methane gas.
• The dehydrated larvae of the African chironomid Polipedilum vanderplanki are able to withstand exposure to liquid helium (-270 degrees C) for up to five minutes with 100% survival rate.
• A cockroach can live without food for a month, if we cut off its head it could continue to live for a week finally dying of dehydration.
• The earliest fossil cockroach is about 280 million years old – 80 million years older than the first dinosaurs.
• The symbol of the scarab beetle (a dung beetle) was sacred to the ancient Egyptians, who associated them with the god of the rising sun. They carved names, symbols, and designs onto the abdomen of the dead insects and wore them as jewelry. They even attached them over the hearts of mummies, with the belief that they would help the deceased as they stood judgment in the afterlife.