Insects come in many different forms and in all sorts of shapes and sizes, encompassing a huge range of diverse species from the smallest ant to the largest cockroach. They are all hugely important – they make up over half of all living organisms on Earth. They help to pollinate plants, make foodstuffs such as honey and can be used in medicines. We bring you the biggest bugs in the world, from the longest to the heaviest. So put that bug spray and swotter away and let us bee (ahem) intrigued.
Megasoma actaeon – Actaeon beetle
The impressive actaeon beetle is a rhinoceros beetle named after a famous Theban hunter in Greek mythology. Its powerful legs and strong jaw make it a formidable insect, and one of the largest in the world. In terms of weight, it comes joint 3rd with individuals reaching between 50 and 70g. The males have a large horn with teeth that protrudes from their prothorax, while the female does not.
Deinacrida heteracantha – Giant wētā
The heaviest insect in the world is the Giant wētā, a type of grasshopper that can reach 71g in weight, about the same as a well-fed gerbil. The giant insect is found in New Zealand, where it has remained unchanged for 70 million years.
In New Zealand, the giant wētā is protected by law due to its risk of extinction. Loss of habitat means that most individuals are found on smaller islands where there are also no mammalian predators.
Phobaeticus serratipes – Giant Malayan stick insect
The giant Malayan stick insect is mostly found in the Malaysian Peninsula, as well as in Singapore and the island of Sumatra. It is a popular species with people who keep stick insects as pets. One female individual was measured at 55.5cm with her legs extended, although their bodies tend to be relatively short in comparison.
Goliathus goliatus – Goliath beetle
At the larval stage, this beetle is the heaviest of all insects, but once they become an adult they can halve in weight, tipping the scales at between 50 and 70g. It is believed that in the wild, they may be able to grow to over 100g, but this has not been proven by scientists. Not only known for its size but also its strength – It can lift over 850 times its body weight.
Phobaeticus kirbyi – Stick insect
This species of stick insect is native to the island of Borneo, with its huge rainforests and swamps. They tend to be brown or green in colour, with a large head and small eyes. A specimen located at the Natural History Museum in London measures 54.6cm with the legs fully extended. For many years, this was thought to be the longest insect in the world.
Megaphasma denticrus – Giant walking stick insect
Not only very long but also heavy, the giant walking stick is quite hefty too. One individual has been measured at 65g, which is about three times heavier than the average mouse. This species can be found in the southern United States, where it lives in woodlands and grasslands. But due to excellent camouflage, it can be quite hard to spot.