BugInfo

Fun Facts About Bugs

  • 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.
  • Mexican Jumping Beans, sometimes sold commercially, actually have a caterpillar of a bean moth inside.
  • It takes about one hundred Monarch Butterflies to weigh an ounce.
  • 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.
  • Blow flies are the first kind of insect attracted to an animal carcass following death.
  • The term "honeymoon" comes from the Middle Ages, when a newly married couple was provided with enough honey wine to last for the first month of their married life.
  • 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.
  • Vladimir Nabokov, a famous Russian author, collected butterflies and actually named as a new subspecies the Kamer Blue Butterfly from the pine barrens of the Northeast United States.
  • 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, 
Information Sheet Number 177