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Interesting Insect Facts

Interesting Insect Facts 0

Did You Know?


Roaches:  There are nearly 4 000 species of Cockroaches (Dictyoptera, Blattodea) in the world, of which only 25 to 30 (or less than 1%) have any pest status, the rest are innocent members of the earth's fauna, some of which make great pets.

 A cockroach can live for a week without its head. Due to their open circulatory system, and the fact that they breathe through little holes in each of their body segments, they are not dependent on the mouth or head to breathe. The roach only dies because without a mouth, it can't drink water and dies of thirst.

A cockroach can hold its breath for 40 minutes, and can even survive being submerged under water for half an hour. They hold their breath often to help regulate their loss of water.

A one-day-old baby cockroach, which is about the size of a speck of dust, can run almost as fast as its parents.

Because they are cold-blooded insects, cockroaches can live without food for one month, but will only survive one week without water.

Studies have shown that cockroaches can tolerate high radiation levels, far beyond the levels that we humans can live with. In fact, cockroaches were found in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where the US dropped atomic bombs, and in Chernobyl, where the worst nuclear accident happened. (Not to mention a cockroach was Wall-E’s only companion in post-nuclear Earth). How did the cockroaches survive? It is not yet clear but scientists believe it has something to do with the fact that cockroaches have slower cell cycles, molting only once a week at most.

Cockroaches do not have to mate every breeding season. The females can store the sperm, using it for the next few seasons and only when food is plentiful. In cockroach species with short lifespans, the females can even store enough sperm to last them a lifetime. Some female cockroaches are even capable of reproducing in severe conditions when there is no male to be found!

Some female cockroaches need only to mate once. Most cockroaches lay dozens of eggs which are stored in a case called an ootheca. These cases can be deposited somewhere or the females can carry them on their backs until the eggs hatch. Others give birth to live young.

To many, cockroaches are hated pests. To some, though, they are beloved pets. The Madagascar hissing cockroach and the true death’s head cockroach, for example, are popular pets since they are odorless and require minimal care. As mentioned before, cockroaches are not picky eaters and they do not get sick easily. They only need a terrarium with a lot of hiding places.

 A pair of Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches.



Ants On Planet Earth 

Going for a walk outdoors?  While on your hike when you look down you'll probably spy an ant or two or 10 scurrying along.  The renowned biologists Bert Hölldobler and E. O. Wilson estimated in their Pulitzer Prize-winning 1990 book, "The Ants" (Belknap Press), that on the order of 10 quadrillion ants live on the planet at any given moment. That's about 1.4 million ants per human, based on a world population of 7.3 billion people.

Ants can live how long?

Amongst the Hymenoptera order (ants, bees and wasps), the egg-laying queens of colonies can live for decades. In the case of the red harvester ant, Pogonomyrmex barbatus, queens can live perhaps as long as 30 years.

Insects breath through their sides. 

Insects do not breathe through their mouths. They inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide via holes called spiracles in their exoskeletons. These holes typically line insects' thoraxes and abdomens. Also bizarre: Insect respiratory systems are not patched into the animals' circulatory systems, as they are in humans, where the lungs exchange gases with the bloodstream. Instead, insects have a cardiovascular-like network of tubes, called a tracheal system, which delivers oxygen and ferries away carbon dioxide from each cell in the animals' bodies.





Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth 0

What is diatomaceous earth?


Diatomaceous earth is made from the fossilized remains of tiny, aquatic organisms called diatoms. Their skeletons are made of a natural substance called silica.

Over a long period of time, diatoms accumulated in the sediment of rivers, streams, lakes, and oceans. Today, silica deposits are mined from these areas.

Silica is very common in nature and makes up 26% of the earth's crust by weight. Various forms of silica include sand, emerald, quartz, feldspar, mica, clay, asbestos, and glass. Silicon, a component of silica, does not exist naturally in its pure form. It usually reacts with oxygen and water to form silicon dioxide. Silicon dioxide has two naturally occurring forms: crystalline and amorphous.

Most diatomaceous earth is made of amorphous silicon dioxide. However, it can contain very low levels of crystalline silicon dioxide.

The first pesticide products containing silicon dioxide (diatomaceous earth) were registered in 1960 to kill insects and mites.

Did you know that many insects are edible?

Did you know that many insects are edible? 0

It is estimated that insects form part of the traditional diets of at least 2 billion people. 

Edible insects inhabit a large variety of habitats, from aquatic ecosystems and farmed land to forests. More than 1 900 species have reportedly been used as food.

Insects deliver a host of ecological services that are fundamental to the survival of humankind. They also play an important role as pollinators in plant reproduction, in improving soil fertility through waste bioconversion, and in natural biocontrol for harmful pest species, and they provide a variety of valuable products for humans such as honey and silk and medical applications such as maggot therapy.

In addition, insects have assumed their place in human cultures as collection items and ornaments and in movies, visual arts and literature.

Globally, the most commonly consumed insects are beetles (Coleoptera) (31 percent), caterpillars (Lepidoptera) (18 percent) and bees, wasps and ants (Hymenoptera) (14 percent). Following these are grasshoppers, locusts and crickets.

Nutritional Facts:

Mopane caterpillars 

The larval stage of the emperor moth (Imbrasia belina) — are common throughout the southern part of Africa. Harvesting of mopane caterpillars is a multi-million dollar industry in the region, where women and children generally do the work of gathering the plump, little insects.
The caterpillars are traditionally boiled in salted water, then sun-dried; the dried form can last for several months without refrigeration, making them an important source of nutrition in lean times. And few bugs are more nutritious. Whereas the iron content o beef is 6 mg per 100 grams of dry weight, mopane caterpillars pack a whopping 31 mg of iron per 100 grams. They're also a good source of potassium, sodium, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium and zinc.


Want to get rid of the termites gnawing at your floorboards? Just do like they do in South America and Africa: Take advantage of the rich nutritional quality of these insects by frying, sun-drying, smoking or steaming termites in banana leaves.
Termites generally consist of up to 38 percent protein, and one particular Venezuelan species, Syntermes aculeosus, is 64 percent protein. Termites are also rich in iron, calcium, essential fatty acids and amino acids such as tryptophan.


Chapulines are grasshoppers of the genus Sphenarium, and are widely eaten throughout southern Mexico. They're often served roasted (giving them a satisfying crunch) and flavored with garlic, lime juice and salt, or with guacamole or dried chili powder. The grasshoppers are known as rich sources of protein; some claim that the insects are more than 70 percent protein.
Researchers have noted that the gathering of Sphenarium grasshoppers is an attractive alternative to spraying pesticides in fields of alfalfa and other crops. Not only does this eliminate the environmental hazards associated with pesticide sprays also gives the local people an extra source of nutrition and income, from the sale of grasshoppers.


The larvae of the mealworm beetle (Tenebrio molitor) is one of the only insects consumed in the Western world: They are raised in the Netherlands for human consumption (as well as for animal feed), partly because they thrive in a temperate climate.
The nutritional value of mealworms is hard to beat: They're rich in copper sodium, potassium, iron, zinc and selenium. Mealworms are also comparable to beef in terms of protein content, but have a greater number of healthy, polyunsaturated fats.


In China, cockroaches are deep fried and sold on sticks on the streets. There are also many indigenous tribes that eat cockroaches, live or cooked. So long as the cockroaches are on a diet of food and vegetables, they should be safe to eat, although doctors still warn against the practice.

Check out these pictures.

China eating roaches



  • Ken Parton