FUN FACTS ABOUT INSECTS

 

      Male mosquitoes do not bite humans, but rather live on plant juices and other natural liquids from plants and decomposing organic material.

 

      Houseflies find sugar with their feet, which are 10 million times more sensitive than human tongues.

 

      Ticks can grow from the size of a grain of rice to the size of a marble.

 

      Approximately 2,000 silkworm cocoons are needed to produce one pound of silk.

 

      While gathering food, a bee may fly up to 60 miles in one day.

 

      Ants can lift and carry more than fifty times their own weight.

 

      When the droppings of millions of cattle started ruining the land in Australia, dung beetles were imported to reduce the problem.

 

      Wasps feeding on fermenting juice have been known to get "drunk' and pass out.

 

      The queen of a certain termite species can lay 40,000 eggs per day.

 

      Honeybees have to make about ten million trips to collect enough nectar for production of one pound of honey.

 

      Insects have been present for about 350 million years, and humans for only 130,000 years.

 

      Beetles account for one quarter of all known species of plants and animals. There are more kinds of beetles than all plants.

 

      To survive the cold of winter months, many insects replace their body water with a chemical called glycerol, which acts as an "antifreeze" against the temperatures.

 

      There are nearly as many species of ants (8,800) as there are species of birds (9,000) in the world.

 

      The male silk moth is estimated to "smell" chemicals of female silk moths in the air at the ratio of a few hundred molecules among 25 quintillion (25,000,000,000,000,000,000) molecules in a cubic centimeter of air.

 

      True flies have only one pair of wings, and sometimes, none at all. A hind pair of "wings" is reduced to balancing organs called halteres.

 

      There are about 91,000 different kinds (species) of insects in the United States. In the world, some 1.5 million different kinds (species) have been named.

 

      A particular Hawk Moth caterpillar from Brazil, when alarmed, raises its head and inflates its thorax, causing it to look like the head of a snake.

 

      About one-third of all insect species are carnivorous, and most hunt for their food rather than eating decaying meat or dung.

 

      The oldest known fossil of an insect dates back 400 million years and is a springtail.

 

 

 

 

Prepared by the Department of Systematic Biology, Entomology Section,
National Museum of Natural History, in cooperation with Public Inquiry Services, 
Smithsonian Institution

Information Sheet Number 92