The world’s biggest creepy-crawlies revealed

  • Monster beetles, spiders, flies, moths, bugs and butterflies revealed
  • Most species are found in Asia,  Australia or South America
  • Despite their sinister appearance, most insects won’t attack unless under threat 

Where would one find a beetle so strong it can break pencils clean in half with its jaw? Or spiders so big they feast on birds?

Here, MailOnline reveals where holidaymakers are most likely to encounter such creatures – and other gigantic creepy-crawlies.

They are the world’s biggest, strongest, longest and heaviest spiders and bugs.

Giant weta

The giant weta is endemic to New Zealand and in some cases can weigh more than a mouse, making it the world's heaviest insect

The giant weta is endemic to New Zealand and in some cases can weigh more than a mouse, making it the world’s heaviest insect

In some cases the giant weta weighs more than a mouse, making it the heaviest insect in the world – and unable to jump.

Endemic to New Zealand – specifically Little Barrier Island, north of Auckland – it is one of 70 species of weta. 

The giant weta has ears on the knees of its front legs.

Giant huntsman spider

The giant huntsman spider is found in caves in Laos and has the largest leg span of all the arachnid species

The giant huntsman spider is found in caves in Laos and has the largest leg span of all the arachnid species

Considered the world’s largest spider by leg span, which can reach up to 30 centimetres, the giant huntsman spider actively hunts down prey.

Regular huntsman spiders are found all over Asia, Australasia, South America and beyond, but the giant huntsman spider is found in Laos – and was only discovered in 2011.

These cave dwellers might look terrifying to arachnophobes, but the poison from their bites is mild and unable to harm healthy humans. 

 Giant water bug

Here a male giant water bug is seen laden with eggs on its back

Here a male giant water bug is seen laden with eggs on its back

Giant water bugs are also known as toe-biters thanks to their penchant for nibbling on the feet of unsuspecting paddlers in freshwater streams across North America, South America, Northern Australia and East Asia.

They are the largest of the hempitera order of bugs – which does not include beetles or flies.

In Asia, these bugs are a common and a popular delicacy, so don’t be surprised to find them on offer in street food markets, particularly in Thailand.

Goliath birdeater spider

Goliath birdeaters are part of the cuisine of countries such as Guyana and are said to taste similar to shrimps

Goliath birdeaters are part of the cuisine of countries such as Guyana and are said to taste similar to shrimps

The largest spider in the world by mass and size (but not legspan), the goliath birdeater takes its name from the fact that it can devour birds, although it is more likely to feast on toads or earthworms.

These tarantulas have venom-filled fangs, and although they have been known to bite humans, the result is akin to a wasp’s sting. 

More painful, however, is its urticating defense: where they rub their stomachs with their hind legs and release hairs that hurt and irritate the eyes and nose for days.

It is native to northern South American countries such as Guyana, Suriname and northern Brazil, where it is part of the cuisine. The arachnids are often roasted inside banana leaves and the flavour has been described as similar to shrimp.

Atlas moth

The atlas moth, found in Asia and Malaysia, is the largest moth in the world, but thanks to having no mouths they live only a few days once they mature into adulthood

The atlas moth, found in Asia and Malaysia, is the largest moth in the world, but thanks to having no mouths they live only a few days once they mature into adulthood

Found across south-east Asia and Malaysia, these huge moths have a wingspan reaching over 25cm – the largest of any moth in the world. 

Female Atlas Moths are both larger and heavier than the males, however neither adult sex of the moths have mouths, meaning they live only a few days. 

Queen Alexandra’s birdwing

With a wingspan of up to 30cm, the Queen Alexandra's birdwing butterfly of Papua New Guinea is notable for its distinctive markings and bright yellow abdomen

With a wingspan of up to 30cm, the Queen Alexandra’s birdwing butterfly of Papua New Guinea is notable for its distinctive markings and bright yellow abdomen

The largest butterfly in the world with a wingspan of up to 30cm, Queen Alexandra’s birdwing is also notable for its distinctive markings.

The abdomen on both males and females is a bright yellow, however the males have turquoise streaks on the wings, whereas the females have more subtle colourings. 

This butterfly is found in Papua New Guinea and is an endangered species.

Titan beetle

The titan beetle can grow up to seven inches, making it the largest species of beetle in the world

The titan beetle can grow up to seven inches, making it the largest species of beetle in the world

Found in the tropical rainforests of South America, the titan beetle can grow up to seven inches, making it the largest species of beetle in the world.

Titan beetles have an incredibly strong jaw which can break a wooden pencil in half. 

They typically hiss if frightened.

Giant burrowing cockroach

Some people have been known to keep the giant burrowing cockroach as a pet

Some people have been known to keep the giant burrowing cockroach as a pet

The heaviest cockroach in the world, also known as the rhinoceros cockroach, is native to Australia and most commonly found in Queensland. 

Although it can weigh as much as 35g it’s not actually very large, with a maximum length of just over three inches. 

As they don’t have wings and are good at breaking down dead leaves, they’re often kept as pets. The giant burrowing cockroach can live for up to ten years.

The world’s longest stick insect

Zhao Li (pictured) found the Phryganistria Chinensis Zhao in China's Guangxi Zhuang region and promptly named the record breaking stick insect after himself 

Zhao Li (pictured) found the Phryganistria Chinensis Zhao in China’s Guangxi Zhuang region and promptly named the record breaking stick insect after himself 

Only discovered in 2014, this species of stick insect – the Phryganistria Chinensis Zhao – measures over 62 centimetres long, blowing Chan’s Megastick, the previous world record holder for longest stick insect, out of the water by a cool six centimetres.

Found on a mountain in China’s Guangxi Zhuang region, the creature had been spotted by locals before being officially discovered by Zhao Li, of the Insect Museum of West China, from whom the species takes its name. 

The species is not easy to spot – its twiggy appearance means it blends into trees easily. 

Goliath beetle 

Goliath beetles can be kept as pets, with owners feeding them on dog and cat food, as well as fruit and sap

Goliath beetles can be kept as pets, with owners feeding them on dog and cat food, as well as fruit and sap

Found in tropical or subtropical Africa, the larvae of the goliath beetle is the heaviest in the world, weighing between 80 to 100 grams.

However, the adults (only) weigh half this. 

Goliath beetles can be kept as pets, with owners feeding them on dog and cat food, as well as fruit and sap.

Asian giant hornet 

The Asian giant hornet can grow to 4.5cm and is highly aggressive

The Asian giant hornet can grow to 4.5cm and is highly aggressive

The Asian giant hornet can grow to 4.5cm in length and is the world’s largest hornet.

Found across eastern Asia, it’s also highly aggressive, with a 6mm stinger.

In Japan between 30 and 40 people die each year after being stung by one of the insects and going into anaphylactic shock.  

Tarantula hawk

The sting of a tarantula hawk is intensely painful, making it an excellent predator

The sting of a tarantula hawk is intensely painful, making it an excellent predator

The tarantula hawk is one of the largest types of wasp and a proficient predator – and it inflicts a horrific death on its victims.

It preys on tarantulas, disabling them with a sting before dragging them off into a lair. There it lays an egg on its abdomen. When the larvae hatches it feeds on the spider and eventually emerges from its insides as an adult.  

Its sting causes intense pain – receiving the highest possible score on the Schmidt Sting Pain Index.

The insect can be found across the globe in India, Southeast Asia, South America, Africa, Australia and in the southern states of the USA.

It is the state insect of New Mexico. 

Giant helicopter damselfly

Helicopter damselflies are the largest of the species, with wingspans as wide as 19cm

Helicopter damselflies are the largest of the species, with wingspans as wide as 19cm

The helicopter damselflies are the largest of all the damselflies, with wingspans as wide as 19 centimetres.

They are largely found across Central and South America, although one species is found in east Africa. 

These damselflies survive just on spiders, using their long front legs to extract their prey from its web. 





Courtesy: Daily Mail Online

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