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Top 10 Massive Insects That Are Actually Real

VO: Rebecca Brayton

Script written by Laura Keating.

Do you like big bugs? Neither do we. But unfortunately, there are lots big insects in nature. Whether it’s the Goliath Beetle, the Tarantula Hawk or the Giant Water Bug, these giant bugs are so big they’re scary! WatchMojo counts down ten of the largest insects we can’t believe exist in nature.

Special thanks to our users Esteban Tomás Guirao, ViolaCello and mac121mr0 for suggesting this idea! Check out the voting page at WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top%2010%20Biggest%20Insects


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Script written by Laura Keating.

Top 10 BIGGEST Insects That Are Actually REAL

Do you like bugs? No? Too late. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down the Top 10 BIGGEST Insects That Are Actually REAL!

For this list, we’ve considered only the biggest INSECTS, so no spiders, centipedes, or scorpions – which all technically fall under other categories of classification.

#10: Hercules Beetle

You know with a name like Hercules, this thing’s not messing around. Small (compared to a human) but mighty, the Hercules Beetle is incredibly strong for its size, and able to lift objects much heavier than itself – up to 850 times its own body weight. The largest of the rhinoceros beetles (so named for their horns), Dynastes Hercules can grow up to 6.7 inches in length. They use their horn-like pincers for everything from dominance displays, to lifting and fighting -- talk about a serious multipurpose facial appendage. Despite their size however, they are surprisingly gentle and are non-aggressive. Good thing for us, right?

#9: Tarantula Hawk

What’s scarier than a huge wasp? One that literally HUNTS TARANTULAS. Yes, their name might make them sound like a 1980s prog-rock band, but these guys are the real deal. While they primarily use their toxic sting to take down those big, fuzzy, eight-legged nightmare-makers, according to humans who have been stung, the pain is like nothing else, and can be accompanied by up to five minutes of paralysis. At up to two inches in length, with a quarter-inch stinger, they are the largest wasp in the United States. One almost pities the arachnids they hunt. A tarantula hawk is the Bryan Mills of the insect world - as in, very skilled.

#8: Giant Water Bug

Found many places across the globe, in some regions, these creatures can grow up to 4.75 inches. We wish we could tell you that they only inhabit the most remote wilderness, but sadly, no. In urban areas near water, they’ve been known to seek out light in street lamps, where they are commonly mistaken for less harmful insects like June Bugs. While the latter might creep people out, they don’t generally bite. Unfortunately, these little predators do. Also known as Toe Biters or Alligator Ticks, they strike their prey with speed and power. Although generally more content to avoid humans, they won’t hesitate to attack if startled or threatened. So watch your step.

#7: Actaeon Beetle

Babies in the animal kingdom… they’re always so cute – (Nightmare Fuel Actaeon Beetle Larva) ARGH KILL IT WITH FIRE! Ahem. That “little” horror show is actually the larva of the Actaeon Beetle, another type of rhinoceros beetle. While it may start off looking like an extra from old Cronenberg film, despite their size and off-putting origins, they are gentle giants. Also known as megasoma actaeon – which totally sounds like a classic kaiju – they can reach 2.75 inches in width, and roughly 4.75 inches in length. Thankfully... they seem to be on our side. Go on; give it a little pat on the back!

#6: Titan Beetle

Another aptly named insect, the Titan beetle is arguably the biggest known beetle in the world, with the largest recorded specimen reaching a whopping 6.6 inches. While they are able to fly, their huge size impairs takeoff. Therefore, they have to climb and then launch themselves out of the trees to get going. In terms of self-preservation mechanisms, they rely on their powerful mandibles both defensively and to crush their prey. Found mainly in the rainforests of South America, they tend to keep to themselves, and quite frankly, we’re happy with that arrangement.

#5: Goliath Beetle

Found in the tropical forests of Africa, these beetles may not be the biggest in terms of length, but with bulk and weight combined they are considered one of the largest and heaviest bugs in the world, weighing up to 3.5 oz at the larval stage. Like many insect species, and our other aforementioned beetles, they spend a lot of time in their pupal phase, and once they reach adulthood, they mate and … well, that’s sort of it. The adults only live for around 3 months. But while they’re around, they’re actually rather cute little guys. Or should we say… cute big guys?

#4: Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing

Had enough of the creepy-crawlies? Okay, here’s a palate cleanser: meet the Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing. These beautiful butterflies are the largest in the world. While specifically, the females of the species take the title for largest, the males, with their bright, vibrant coloring, are the more famous of the two. Found only in the Oro province of Papua New Guinea, the female Queen Alexandra can achieve a wingspan of nearly 10 inches. Given their beauty and size, both sexes are sought by collectors, but due to their endangered status, the buying and selling of the Q.A.B.s is 100% illegal.

#3: Atlas Moth

You might be noticing a pattern with the names here. But if something is going to be named after a Greek titan who holds up the entire earth, you bet it’s going to be big. The wingspan of the Atlas moth reaches nearly 10 inches. In fact, this colossal creature allegedly served as the inspiration for Godzilla’s flying foe Mothra. The Attacus Atlas had long been thought of as the largest moth in the world in terms of surface area, but recent studies have posited that the title actually goes to the Hercules moth. Atlas versus Hercules for title? We’d watch that! From a safe distance...

#2: Giant Weta

Science suggests that a species, when secluded, for example on an island, will tend towards one of two evolutionary paths: Dwarfism, or gigantism. The “island rule” factors in resources, climate, etc. Well… there must have been an abundance of just about everything when it came to the Weta, then. Their genus, Deinacrida, literally means “terrible grasshopper”, and we’ve got to agree with the Greeks on that one. Largely wiped out on mainland New Zealand, they have thrived on surrounding islands, growing up to nearly 4 inches (not including legs), and weighing, on average, about 1 ¼ oz. However a few notable ones have weighed in at twice that, at almost 2.5 oz.

Before we unveil the big pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Giant Burrowing Cockroach
- Praying Mantis
- Asian Giant Hornet

#1: Giant Stick Insects

Across the globe, one can theoretically find countless varieties of these bugs. But you’d have to spot them, and they don’t make it easy. Should you notice one, be warned - they are huge and a little freaky. The longest on record, a new species, was found in 2016 in China, measuring a whopping 24.6 inches, but little is known about it. In Australia however, a specimen, of the Ctenomorpha gargantua variety, named Lady Gaga-ntuan, has given birth to a daughter that has grown to an impressive 22.25 inches. As for their odd appearance, it’s evolutionary camouflage, and it seemingly works: less than half-a-dozen female Ctenomorpha gargantua have been found living in the wild.

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