Jumbo insects I hear you ask –surely this is an oxymoron? Oh no, it isn’t. Jumbo insect is probably what I would term the ginormous black beetle that was flying towards me just last week whilst I was trying to sunbathe by our villa’s pool in Mallorca. It was massive but sadly too quick for me to take a photo and share with you.
Jumbo on the other hand immediately makes me think of huge things – mostly man-made too – like jumbo jets. Interestingly though the word “jumbo” to mean large originates from the name of the famously large elephant Jumbo the Elephant in the 19th century.
This then got me onto thinking about insects and their size – just how large is the largest insect in the world? And am I likely to ever encounter it on my travels? (hoping no, as I am not a big insects fan!).
The Titan Beetle, Atlas Moth, Hercules Beetle and Goliath Birdeater (that’s a spider by the way, which is known to eat birds and bats!) all make most Top 10 Giant Bug lists – their names alone give a clear indication of their potential size….LARGE!
In 2011 the Telegraph reported the discovery of the largest Giant Weta found on Little Barrier Island in New Zealand – weighing the equivalent of 3 mice (it seemed this was the largest known insect at the time). If you were squeamish about insects before, an encounter with this insect may well heighten your entomophobia (fear of insects)!
Lucky for us then that we live in the age we do and not millions of years ago, when it seems giant bugs were very common indeed. According to a study highlighted by the National Geographic, 300 million years ago giant bugs would have been part of our daily lives. It seems the decrease in the % level of oxygen in the air slowly translated into a decrease in the overall size of bugs. The change in oxygen levels meant they could no longer fuel the bigger bodies they had previously and so they naturally adapted over time to cope and survive.
So, I guess, the next time you do see an abnormally large insect – be grateful that it is not any bigger?!