What is the Strongest Insect?

Learn more about the following five pests that are believed to be some of the strongest insects in the world, based on their ability to lift objects many times greater than their body weight.

strongest insect honey bee

Honey Bees

Though honey bees, on average, measure between three quarters of an inch to an inch long, these pests are considered to be one of the toughest and strongest pests that exist. Worker bees, in particular, are the strongest of the honey bees, and are responsible for building a complex series of hives for the colony, fending off potential predators, and collecting and transporting hundreds of pounds of nectar throughout their lifetimes. While each worker honey bee weighs just one-tenth of a gram, they carry over half that weight in nectar each time they return to the nest. This is equivalent to if a 180-pound human carried a 100-pound bag for several miles at a time, more than 12 times a day, every day, for half of a year.

Cockroaches

One of the most common myths surrounding cockroaches is that these pests are indestructible, especially when it comes to surviving a potential nuclear apocalypse. Though this myth has been debunked, these creatures are still incredibly durable. This popular myth stems from the fact that cockroaches can withstand exposure to extreme amounts of radiation–much more than humans. Donald Lewis from Iowa State University's Department of Entomology found that American cockroaches will die when exposed to 67,000 rems of radiation. According to Lewis, a “rem” is the dosage of radiation that will cause a specific, measured amount of injury to human tissue. German cockroaches will die when exposed to 105,000 rems of radiation, while humans will perish when exposed to just 800 rems. Not only that, but these pests can survive for over a week after being decapitated. Cockroaches are physically strong, and they’re also incredibly durable, too.

Rhinoceros Beetles

Part of what makes rhinoceros beetles, also known as Hercules beetles, unique is their incredible strength. Though researchers from the University of Florida note that these pests rarely measure more than 2.5 inches long, they can carry objects that weigh more than 850 times their own weight–and for long periods of time, too. This would be the equivalent of an average adult carrying a space shuttle on their back, though these pests typically just use this strength to help them dig deep into the ground to escape encroaching predators.

Leafcutter Ants

Leafcutter ants are not quite the strongest pests in the world, but there’s no denying these creatures are strong, since they’re capable of lifting more than 50 times their body weight. This may not seem like a large feat, considering most ants only weigh one-hundredth of a gram, but they carry this weight using just their jaws. They use this invaluable strength to carry food, leaves, and other nesting materials to help construct their colony’s nest.

Dung Beetles

While leafcutter ants are strong, the dung beetle is actually the strongest insect in the world. These creatures are similar to rhinoceros beetles but considerably more powerful; dung beetles can pull objects that weigh 1,141 times their own weight, which is equivalent to the average adult pulling four semi-trucks at one time. Depending on the species, dung beetles can measure between one-eighth of an inch to 1 ¼ inches in length.. Not only are these pests strong, but like cockroaches, they are incredibly durable. Dung beetles can be found in nearly every habitat, including deserts, farmlands, forests, savannas, and mountainous regions. The only continent these pests cannot be found on is Antarctica.

Like their name suggests, these insects are coprophagous, meaning they eat the feces of other living creatures. Using their superhuman strength, dung beetles collect large balls of dung, usually from herbivorous or omnivorous mammals, and transport the dung balls to their nest to help feed their young.

 

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