Top 10 largest insects in the world

Slimy, yet even more satisfying.

Insects come in many different forms and in all sorts of shapes and sizes, encompassing a huge range of diverse species from the smallest ant to the largest cockroach. They are all hugely important - they make up over half of all living organisms on Earth. They help to pollinate plants, make foodstuffs such as honey and can be used in medicines.

But which is the biggest? And which ones look like they have been photoshopped and cannot possibly be real?

We bring you the biggest bugs in the world, from the longest to the heaviest. So put that bug spray and swotter away and let us bee (ahem) intrigued.

Top 5 by length:

5. Phobaeticus kirbyi – Stick insect

Light brown stick insect on green leaves

This species of stick insect is native to the island of Borneo, with its huge rainforests and swamps. They tend to be brown or green in colour, with a large head and small eyes.

A specimen located at the Natural History Museum in London measures 54.6cm with the legs fully extended. For many years, this was thought to be the longest insect in the world.

4. Phobaeticus serratipes – Giant Malayan stick insect

Green stick insect green background

The giant Malayan stick insect is mostly found in the Malaysian Peninsula, as well as in Singapore and the island of Sumatra. It is a popular species with people who keep stick insects as pets.

One female individual was measured at 55.5cm with her legs extended, although their bodies tend to be relatively short in comparison.

3. Ctenomorpha gargantua – Gargantuan stick insect

huge stick insect hidden on branch

This stick insect is native to the rainforests of Queensland, Australia, where they reside high in the canopy and out of harm's way. The females have been measured at a whopping 56.5cm, although it is thought that larger specimens might exist.

The males can actually fly in order to find a mate but are considerably smaller than the females for this reason. And if they don't make it, the females are able to reproduce without the help of a male.

2. Phobaeticus chani – Chan's megastick

phobaeticus chani long stick; Shutterstock ID 1258581859; purchase_order: -; job: -; client: -; other: -

Another stick insect native to the island of Borneo, Chan's megastick is an impressive insect. Its total length with legs extended has been measured at 56.7cm, but unlike a lot of stick insects on our list, its body is also long, at a maximum length of 35.7cm.

First described in 2008, it held the record of the world's longest insect until 2014.

1. Phryganistria 'chinensis' – Undescribed species

Huge stick insect on human arm

The longest insect in the world is the Phryganistria 'chinensis', an undescribed species of stick insect. A wild example of this new species was measured at 62.4cm, but since then a captive-bred example of this species reached 64cm in length, making it the longest insect in the world. Now all it needs is a name.

The bug was discovered in 2014 in Liuzhou, Guangxi, China, by researcher Zhao Li, who has gone on to breed more examples in captivity. They are as long as the average adult human arm and can live for up to a year.

Top 5 by weight:

=3. Megasoma actaeon – Actaeon beetle

big beetle with huge horn

The impressive actaeon beetle is a rhinoceros beetle named after a famous Theban hunter in Greek mythology. Its powerful legs and strong jaw make it a formidable insect, and one of the largest in the world.

In terms of weight, it comes joint 3rd with individuals reaching between 50 and 70g. The males have a large horn with teeth that protrudes from their prothorax, while the female does not.

=3. Megasoma elephas – Rhinoceros elephant beetle

Rhinoceros elephant beetle, Megasoma elephas, big insect from rain forest in Costa Rica. Beetle sitting on stone in the green jungle habitat. Wide angle lens photo of beautiful animal in green jungle

The elephant beetle is actually black in colour, but a series of fine hairs all over its body makes it appear to be yellow. This beetle is another large species, which has been known to reach 13.7cm in length. It is mostly found in areas of Central America, such as Mexico.

Its name comes from the horn that is present in the males. It protrudes from the centre of the head, thus resembling an elephant's trunk. In terms of weight, this is another species that can reach between 50 and 70g.

=3. Goliathus goliatus – Goliath beetle

huge black and white bug beetle

At the larval stage, this beetle is the heaviest of all insects, but once they become an adult they can halve in weight, tipping the scales at between 50 and 70g. It is believed that in the wild, they may be able to grow to over 100g, but this has not been proven by scientists.

Not only known for its size but also its strength – It can lift over 850 times its body weight.

2. Megaphasma denticrus – Giant walking stick insect

stick insect blending into tree branch

Not only very long but also heavy, the giant walking stick is quite hefty too. One individual has been measured at 65g, which is about three times heavier than the average mouse.

This species can be found in the southern United States, where it lives in woodlands and grasslands. But due to excellent camouflage, it can be quite hard to spot.

1. Deinacrida heteracantha – Giant wētā

Huge bug on human hands

The heaviest insect in the world is the Giant wētā, a type of grasshopper that can reach 71g in weight, about the same as a well-fed gerbil. The giant insect is found in New Zealand, where it has remained unchanged for 70 million years.

In New Zealand, the giant wētā is protected by law due to its risk of extinction. Loss of habitat means that most individuals are found on smaller islands where there are also no mammalian predators.

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