Last week we talked about 6 of the United States' Craziest Insects, and this week we’re expanding that to the rest of the world. Because--let’s be honest--there are parts of the world with such crazy insects that most Americans cannot fathom sharing ecosystems with them. These are our top 6 choices for the craziest bugs in the world.
The Bullet Ant makes it to the top our list, because it is the most painful sting in the world. Its name comes from comparing its sting to being shot. Its Latin name is Paraponera clavata, and they are usually ¾” to 1½” in length, with a reddish-black color. They are found in both Central and South Americas, in colonies of several hundred ants, found at the base of trees.
According to the Smithsonian, the Sateré-Mawé people, residing deep in the Amazon, use bullet ants as part of an initiation ceremony to become a man. Young men gather bullet ants from the forest and put the ants into gloves that they wear 20 times for 10-minute intervals while performing a ritual dance.
Giant Long-Legged Katydid
One of the largest insects on the planet is the giant long-legged katydid. There are over 6,000 species of giant long-legged katydids in the world, with varying difference between species. They resemble leaves, and can grow up to 6” in length. In addition to a long body, they have a long antenna that they use to find food and send out signals to mates. They use their leaf-like appearance to hide from predators. Different species of giant katydids are carnivores, whereas some are herbivores. These species are kept as pets around the world due to their gentle natures.
Just the name of this insect, the “assassin bug” sounds terrifying. They have also been nicknamed the kissing bug, due to their nature of attacking humans near the mouth. They are predominantly found in the southern United States. They use their long beaks to stab painfully into their prey, giving them their name “assassin”. Their beak is tucked in front of the head when not being used, and creates a sound when being moved. They hunt for insects on plants and trees, and attack quickly. They are distinguished by their narrow heads and wide abdomens, with red, orange, or brown markings on them.
One of the largest moths in the world is the atlas moth, which ranges from 9.5”-11.5” in length. The tips of the wings appear like a snake, as well as a map, which is where its name originates from. They store food in immature stages of their life, then enter into a cocoon and emerge as a beautiful moth. They have no mouths, and rely on the food that was stored before entering the cocoon. They have a short lifespan after emerging from a cocoon, and usually die after 1-2 weeks. Their cocoons are very durable and used as purses in countries like Taiwan.
The Hercules beetle is native the rainforests of Central and South Americas. They’re typically 2-3” in length, but males can get up to 6.75”, and they are usually 1”-1.5” in width. They are the longest species of beetles alive today. They are part of the rhinoceros group of beetles, due to their horns on the front of their head. With 13 subspecies of Hercules beetles, there is variation in color: from black, brown, white, blue, green, and yellow. Their name “Hercules” is attributed to their strength, as they can lift up 850 times their own weight. They make great pets around the world, despite their frightening-looking pinchers.
Asian Giant Hornet
The Asian giant hornet, also called the giant sparrow bee, is the world’s largest hornet. They can grow up to 2” in length, and have orange heads, brown antennae, and a brown/orange alternating abdomen. Their stings can be up to .25”, and inject a powerful venom composed of 8 different chemical components. They can wipe out an entire European Honey Bee colony within a couple of hours, and release pheromones when hives are found to draw in other hornets. If the honey bees are aware of the invaders, they fight back by swarming the hornets, and create enough heat to “fry” the hornets in their swarm. But they are usually no match for these hornets, which travel up to 60 miles per hour. If a human is stung by one of them, they need to seek medical attention immediately to prevent possible fatal allergic reactions. Each year 40 humans are killed by Asian hornets.
Check Out Our Other Crazy Bug Posts
These six insects are just scratch the surface on crazy bugs out there in the world. Stay tuned next month for more of our favorite insects from the United States, and around the world.