Bugs outnumber us a billion to one, and while scientists have discovered more than a million insect species, they believe that there are still over 10 million different types of bugs that haven’t been identified yet. Whether you are a bug lover, or can’t stand the sight of the creepy crawlies, you can deny that there are some very interesting types of bugs and insects out in the world.  By looking at different types of bugs, and their special abilities, maybe you will come to have a better understand and appreciation for our bug friends.

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How do bees communicate with each other?

Within a bee colony, there a three types of bees - a queen, drones and workers. There is only one Queen per hive, and she is responsible for laying all the eggs, as well as secreting certain chemical and pheromones that control the behaviour of the inhabitants of the hive. Drones are strong males that have do not have a sting. Their purpose is to reproduce with the queen. Worker bees are the smallest, and the busiest. They feed the queen, look after the unhatched eggs, maintain the hive, and make honey. They are also in charge of collecting pollen and nectar.

A single bee would need to visit two million flowers and fly 80,000 kilometres, or 49710 miles (that is travelling twice around the world), to be able to collect enough pollen to make a 2 kilogram (4.6 pound) jar of honey. Because this is completely infeasible, instead, scout bees will fly around the hive and tell the worker bees the location of the pollen and nectar. When they have located the pollen and nectar, the bee will buzz loudly and dance to communicate the location to other bees. If it is less than 100 metres away (330 feet), the bee will vibrate its wings and dance in a circle. If it is further away, the bee will dance in a figure eight. Bees are also able to carry close to their own body weight in nectar.

Are cockroaches super bugs?

Cockroaches are extremely hardly bugs. They have been known to live for up to nine days with their heads chopped off. Eventually though, because they cannot eat or drink, they’ll die. Having been around on Earth for hundreds of millions of years, cockroaches have evolved to be strong and resilient. They eat just about anything, from cardboard to plastic, and even their own young.  Producing several thousand offspring a year, they are also very prolific breeders. Cockroaches are also capable of surviving radiation levels roughly 1,000 times more than man can, which is the equivalent of a nuclear bomb. They are one of the most hated bugs because they are kitchen and house pests that are very good at spreading bacteria and diseases.

Why do ants follow each other?

Life bees, ants are highly social insects. They live together in colonies that are meticulously organised like cities, and have very strict rules of behaviour. Ant colonies have been known to grow large enough to be home to over 300 million ants, with their underground nests spreading out over miles and miles. If you have ever observed ants outside, you may have noticed that they will typically follow each other in a line. This is because they use chemicals they use to communicate with each other, which they follow along on the ground.  Once a scout or worker ant has found food, or danger, they release a hormone called a pheromone as a trail along the ground, allowing the other ants to be alerted and follow the invisible path. It is one of the most sophisticated chemical signals in the animal kingdom.

ant(127181)Credit: morguefile

Why are spider webs so strong?

The silky thread that spiders used to weave their web is several times stronger than a piece of steel, as is only one tenth of the diameter of a single human hair. The spider silk is so strong because it gets its strength from non-crystalline proteins that are elastic, which allows the web to absorb the energy of the prey it catches. Other crystalline proteins in the silk are both edged and rigid, adding strength and durability to the construction of the web.

Spiders don’t get stuck on their own webs because they stand on their ‘tippy-toes’.  When a spider is on its web, only their middle claw and a few bristles are actually touching the web at any one time. The middle claw and special hairs allow the spider to free itself if it gets stuck on the web. Also, secretions from their mouths and regular grooming of their legs also help spiders to navigate along their webs without getting stuck.

Spiders also have very poor eyesight, and rely instead on the vibration of the silk threads when their prey lands on their web and becomes stuck. The vibrations reach their legs through tiny hairs and different vibrations from each leg will tell the spider their prey’s exact location on the web.  Web vibrations are also used as communication and courtship during mating. Male spiders will send friendly vibrations to a female he wishes to court. He will pluck and tap the strands of silk on the web and twitch his body in a special way. If she’s interested, the female will send similar vibrations back along the web to the male.

More Bug Facts

  • Mosquitoes are responsible for more human deaths worldwide than any other animal or insect.
  • One out of every four animals on Earth is a beetle.
  • Found in Papua New Guinea, female Queen Alexandra butterflies are the largest butterflies in the world, with some having wingspans larger than 26 centimetres (11 inches).
  • The eggs of walking stick insects are among the largest in the insect world.
  • A flea can jump 130 times its own height.
  • Caterpillars will sometimes pretend to be dead to avoid being attacked by predators.
  • Amazon ants steal the young of other ant species to f the work of feeding and cleaning their entire colonies.
  • Some species of wasp sleep while hanging by their teeth.
  • The green lynx spider can spit venom up to 20 centimetres to hit their prey.
  • Honeybees often drink sap from lime trees, which ferments to become alcoholic.
  • Termite queens can lay up to 30,000 eggs a day.
  • Houseflies taste with their feet.

 If you have enjoyed reading about bugs, why not learn more about butterflies?