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What is the Strongest Bug?
What does it mean to be strong? When we talk about bugs, the question of ***who is the strongest*** can be answered in many different ways.
Are we talking about pure brute-force strength to lift things?
Ability to survive in harsh climates?
Ability to withstand pressure?
Is the strongest bug the one who would win in a fight against others?
People may argue about the absolute and #1 strongest bug depending on how they define it, so with that in mind, this list of the top 10 strongest bugs does not aim to crown a winner.
All 10 of these bugs are impressive in their own right and deserve admiration for qualifying for this top 10 list!
Should you want to pick a “Winner,” based on your criteria, that is perfectly fine though! With that said, it is now time to list the top 10 strongest bugs in no specific order…
10. The Ferocious Killer: Japanese Giant Hornet
Size does not always equal a bug being strong, but the Japanese Giant Hornet is both extremely large and powerful in regards to its venom!
The favorite prey of this type of hornet is the honey bee. But, not only can a single Japanese Giant Hornet kill many honey bees with ease, these insects also act as a well-trained army.
Here is how their attacks work:
- The Japanese Giant Hornets will send out scouts to locate honey bee nests
- Once they found a honey bee hive, the scouts report back to the base
- A large number of hornets gathers and decimates the hive in a matter of minutes
30 or so Japanese Giant Hornets can kill an entire hive of honey bees! That is some impressive killing-strength.
Scientists who studied the stinging power of these hornets also determined that the venom from a single Japanese Giant Hornet can kill 10 mice. Conversely, a whole colony of these hornets attacking at once could theoretically kill an animal weighing 150 pounds.
If you are thinking – well, that’s how much some humans weigh – you are right. But the good news is, giant hornet colonies are very unlikely to go chasing after a human or a large animal, except if they feel extremely threatened.
That being said, around 30 people unfortunately die every year due to being stung by Asian Giant Hornets due to allergic reactions to the venom.
One thing is for certain – the Japanese Giant Hornet venomous sting is one of the most powerful in the world. “It’s a nasty cocktail of chemicals designed so that you don’t mess with these guys again,” Justin Schmidt, an entomologist who has studied the species extensively, told National Geographic.
9. The Gentle Giant: Rhinoceros Beetle
When it comes to brute strength, the Rhinoceros Beetle is (relatively speaking) the second-strongest animal in the entire world (will reveal the strongest one a bit later).
This beetle is able to lift 850 times its weight!
Can you guess how the Rhinoceros Beetle got its name? Yes, it’s because they look like rhinos! Although, truth be told, only the males do, because only the males have the large horns on their heads. These horns can get quite massive and are often used for digging in the dirt or fighting other males for a potential female mate.
Despite their imposing horns, Rhinoceros beetles are harmless to humans. They do not bite, sting, or have any kind of venom that can hurt us.
They simply eat rotting fruit, tree sap, and the bark of old and decaying trees when not avoiding predators or laying eggs in the aforementioned rotting trees (which helps feed newly-hatched larvae).
The Rhinoceros beetle is therefore powerful, but gentle at the same time.
8. The “Silent” Killer: Mosquito
If you were to measure how strong something is by how many people it can kill, the mosquito wins.
Yes, out of all the insects in the world from the most terrifying in appearance to the biggest or smallest, the mosquito racks up the highest body count. They are responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths each year,
How does a tiny mosquito manage to do such a thing? By acting as a vector for a variety of diseases.
The diseases mosquitoes can carry include malaria, West Nile virus, dengue, zika virus, and more. Out of those, malaria alone is estimated to kill over 600 000 people each year.
And if we talk about non-deadly cases of malaria (which are still anything but pleasant), the numbers are even crazier. According to WHO estimates, there were 247 million cases of malaria worldwide just within one year (2021).
They may not have a ton of strength or be especially hardy, but in regards to the insect that kills the most humans every year, the mosquito is the deadly winner.
7. The Strongest Brains: Bumblebees
Knowledge is power, right? Sometimes we measure strength not in physical prowess, but knowledge.
This makes the fact that Bumblebees may be the smartest insect on the planet its own form of impressive strength!
To maximize the number of flowers they visit to collect pollen, Bumblebees will engage in complex mathematics. Even massive supercomputers might struggle to consider all the elements and parameters bumblebees take into consideration!
These insects can instinctively calculate how to get to the most flowers in the shortest amount of time whilst considering distance, their energy, and a multitude of other factors ranging from wind direction to the quality of flowers
Bumblebees don’t have to stop and consider all of these elements, they simply do it on the fly.
For this reason, if we are looking at the strongest insect in terms of smarts, Bumblebees earn that crown!
6. The Strongest Source of Light: Fire Beetles
While the just-covered Bumblebees may be the brightest insect metaphorically speaking, when it comes to literally the brightest bug the Fire beetle is champ.
The glow from a single Fire Beetle is as bright as a LED flashlight.
…And it is all energy produced by the Beetle–an impressive feat of metabolic strength!
Fire Beetles (also known as Pyrophorus Beetles) do not glow off-and-on like fireflies. Instead, they give off light constantly with the ability to get even brighter with their two body segments should the need arise to scare off a predator.
Even the eggs of Fire beetles glow! Despite being so bright you don’t have to worry about them somehow burning you or even biting–they mainly eat pollen and other smaller insects, making them harmless to humans.
5. The Strongest Defense: Ironclad Beetle
One form of strength is being able to defend yourself against threats. Due to having the toughest exoskeleton around the Ironclad beetle without a doubt is tough in that regard!
This bug will play dead if threatened because no predator is going to be getting through its shell.
You would need a power drill to pierce its outside or a hammer, nail, and very strong arm!
Defense from predators is not the only function of the Ironclad Beetle’s awesome armor. It also comes in handy for storing water to keep the beetle hydrated! That’s very important considering the fact that these beetles usually live in the desert.
While the Ironclad beetle may never go looking for a fight and if threatened may very well play dead, the fact nobody is going to be able to hurt it without some heavy machinery makes that incredible toughness its own kind of impressive strength!
4. Strongest Legs: Froghopper
If you’re looking for some strong legs, you are looking for a froghopper.
Capable of jumping 70cm, that is 115 body lengths and the farthest of any insect around relative to its size!
Thanks to having a body-shape conducive to jumping (flattened head, short antenna, etc.) and legs that are quite sizable with its body, the Froghopper has its intricate and incredible joints to thank for much of its incredible long-distance jumping. The strongest jumper around of the insects is the Froghopper by a (figurative) mile!
3. Raw Strength: Dung Beetle
When it comes to strength in comparison to body weight, the Dung beetle is the strongest animal in the World (by that measurement, at least).
To give you an idea of how much power the Dung beetle has, it is the same as if an average adult pulled six double-decker buses packed to the brim with people!
What does the Dung beetle use all this strength for? Well, as its name implies, pushing around (what else?) poop! Dung beetles will gather up the excrement of all kinds of animals, roll it into massive balls, and then transport these big circular meals to a burrow where a delicious (for the beetle at least) feast can be had.
Compared to the size of the Dung beetle they can make some tightly-packed and impressively dense and hefty balls of fecal matter. It’s a dirty job, but somebody has got to do it, and the Dung Beetle is the best in its excrement-disposal field!Read more about how strong dung beetles (and ants!) are in How Strong Are Ants Compared to Humans?
2. The Weightlifting Champion: Leafcutter Ant
Many people know how ants are renowned for their strength relative to their body size, and Leafcutter ants are arguably the most impressive!
With astounding neck-strength, they can pick-up and carry 1,000 times their weight in their mouth whilst keeping their neck carefully locked.
Should they try to walk around with more it has been observed their head will simply pop-off–a shocking sight that is both a little gross and impressive when it comes to how determined the Leafcutter ant can be!
This strength gets even more impressive when observed with a group of Leafcutter ants. Enough of them can carry things as large as lizards or baby birds!
Therefore, not only is a single Leafcutter ant impressively strong, but it is also known that there is strength in numbers! If you’re interested in learning more about Leafcutter ants, read our article How Strong Are Ants?
1. The Indestructible: Cockroach
If one wanted to define the strongest insect by which one is the hardest to kill, that definition would have a picture of a cockroach next to it. They simply do not die.
A cockroach can hold its breath for 40 minutes, go for a month without food (up to a week without water), and can live for up to a week even if it loses its head.
Plus, cockroaches can withstand a great deal more radiation than what would be a lethal dose for humans. Should the World ever end in a Nuclear war, they may very well keep on trucking (although they are still susceptible to massive amounts of radiation, so don’t believe urban legends about how they could survive a nuclear blast).
Cockroaches are among the most adaptable creatures on Earth so in regards to simply not dying, that is one strength the cockroach excels at.
All Kinds of Strength
As this article has made clear, there are all kinds of strengths when it comes to identifying the top 10 strongest bugs. There is raw brute force, lethality, smarts, and the general strength to survive. All of these bugs are at or near the top of their respective fields of strength and that is why they are the 10 strongest around!
If you enjoyed reading this article, why not check out our articles on Can Ants and Worms Live Together? and Everything You Need to Know About Bugs and Your Garden
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