Friday, August 28, 2009

World's heaviest insects

Quigley at your service this morning to settle some contentious claims about weighty insects in the weird news. Earlier this year, the giant weta was put forth as one of the heaviest insects in the world, weighing in at more than 70 grams. Today, an article is making the rounds suggesting that the giant burrowing cockroach - as the largest cockroach and weighing only 35 grams - may be the world's heaviest insect. These are both outclassed by the goliath beetle (pictured), which can weigh up to 100 grams in the larval stage. With help from Wikipedia (and no help from the Guinness Book of World Records, which has a most confounding website), I have compiled a list of insects by weight:
  • Goliath beetle (larval) Goliathus goliatus +115g
  • Hercules beetle Dynastes hercules 85g
  • Giant weta Deinacrida heteracantha 75g
  • Stick insect Phobaeticus kirbyii 72g
  • Queen Alexandra's birdwing butterfly (larval) Ornithoptera alexandrae 58g
  • Atlas moth (larval) Attacus atlas 58g
  • Giant burrowing cockroach Macropanesthia rhinoceros 36g
These would all lose to the goliath birdeater, at 120 grams, except that spiders are not insects! But even this pales in comparison to the 452 gram (1 lb.) dragonflies that used to take flight in the prehistoric past!

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