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6 Absolutely Enormous Bugs (With Photos)

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Huge, Enormous, Gigantic, and Just Plain Big

The huge insects and bugs gathered together here are among the biggest in the world. They are chosen for their size, weight, and "Oh My God" factor – that feeling that if one of these gigantic arthropods showed up at your door, you would think twice before inviting it into your house.

Enjoy the tour through the Land of Enormous Insects!

The giant weta

The giant weta

1. Giant Weta

This mammoth bug is more or less a king-sized cricket, although there are important differences that can be explained by an entomologist (a scientist who studies insects). Giant Wetas live in New Zealand, which sounds about right given the gigantic mountain ranges and wide-open vistas of that country (if you want proof of that, check out the film versions of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit). Although they're generally pretty peaceful, they can deliver a serious pinch with their massive jaws.

Giant Wetas are among the heaviest insects in the world, up to 2.5 ounces, more than a sparro and about as much as 50 large paper clips! Giant weta are endemic to New Zealand, and because all but one species is at rick of extinction, they are protected by strict environmental laws.

Giant Wetas in Action

Giant Wetas are among the heaviest insects in the world, up to 2.5 ounces, more than a sparro and about as much as 50 large paper clips!

Up close and friendly with a giant walking stick

Up close and friendly with a giant walking stick

2. Giant Walking Stick

Walking sticks are very appropriately named. These fascinating insects have evolved to exactly mimic a stick, complete with bumps, leaf notches, and "scars" from insect damage. They move slowly or not at all, and blend in so perfectly that it's surprising anyone ever sees them! One of the times that they do come out of hiding, however, is when they are drawn to lights at night. The researcher in the photo has been found by a simply enormous stick insect, likely by shining a light into a tropical forest at night. This is a time-honored technique for attracting insects for study (you should try it!).

Some stick insects are over 2 feet in length – yes, you read that right. That's about as long as a golden retriever dog is tall! Even at that amazing size, they are difficult to see when hiding out among tree branches.

Yes, it's real – the larva of the giant hercules beetle

Yes, it's real – the larva of the giant hercules beetle

3. Hercules Beetle Grub

Hercules beetles (scientific name Dynastes hercules) are simply gigantic insects, among the largest in the world, and are often included in lists of huge insects. Less often seen in "big insect lists" is the Hercules beetle grub. This is the larval stage that all beetles (and butterflies, and many other kinds of insects) pass through, and it is not nearly as common to see pictures of a Hercules beetle grub as it is to see a full-grown beetle.

Despite being relatively less well-known, the Hercules beetle grub is even more of a beast than the adult. It's about 5 inches long and very fat – a full-grown grub weighs about as much as a stick of butter – and is equipped with sharp, strong pincers for chewing through the wood of the rotting stumps and logs where it lives. These hefty creatures live in the American Tropics, but there are similarly gigantic beetle larvae throughout the world.

The enormous huntsman spider

The enormous huntsman spider

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4. Giant Huntsman Spider

While not technically an insect, the giant huntsman spider (family Sparassidae) deserves to be on this list of giant bugs simply by virtue of its jaw-dropping size. A big specimen can have legs that reach 12 inches across – as big as a dinner plate!

Related to the venomous brown recluse spider found in North America, Huntsman spiders have a potent bite and have sent people to the Emergency Room. However that is very unusual, and all spiders are quite shy; bites in self-defense are very rare, and always due to the spider fearing for its life from a gigantic, loud, terrifying attacker – you!

In any case, coming across a huntsman spider can be an unnerving experience. They don't rely on spinning a web to obtain prey, opting for a "seek and destroy" approach, much like the smaller (and cuter) jumping spiders. When a huntsman spider finds an insect – or even a small mammal, like a mouse – it rushes and grabs its victim, quickly biting it to subdue it. All in all, this spider is a creature to be reckoned with.

Huntsman spiders have a potent bite and have sent people to the Emergency Room. However that is very unusual, and all spiders are quite shy; bites in self-defense are very rare.

A giant water bug

A giant water bug

5. Giant Water Bug

Here's an enormous insect that most people won't come across, although they are quite common. Giant water bugs (family Belostomatidae) occur throughout North America, and people who grow up in the country are more likely to be famliar with them, since they live in streams, ponds, and lakes.

One common name for these big insects gives an idea of how seriously you should take them: "the giant toe-biter." Anytime you enter a country pond, there is a chance – however remote – that there's a giant water bug lurking in the mud, waiting to grab your toe if it feels threatened. A bite from a giant water bug is pretty painful, since they inject venom that is normally used to paralyze small fish and other prey.

Another common name: "electric light bugs." They do come to lights, and they will fly into your face without warning. Trust me – I know!

A Giant Hornet, aka a "murder hornet."

A Giant Hornet, aka a "murder hornet."

6. Asian Giant Hornet

Asian giant hornets have been in the news, and for very good reason – they have recently established a beachhead in some ares of the Pacific Northwest, where the climate is similar to their native Japan. Unlike Japan, however, they have no natural enemies in North America. This means there's the potential for them to spiral out of control and overwhelm native species.

In addition to being huge – almost the size of your thumb – giant hornets can be highly aggressive; every year in Asia there are people who die from unprovoked attacks. These huge hornets also attack honeybee hives, arriving in a frenzy of destruction and literally biting their victims in half.

These huge hornets are straight out of a horror movie, and it's going to take money and effort to keep them under control.

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Resources

The following sources were used for this guide:

https://australian.museum/learn/animals/spiders/huntsman-spiders/

https://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/MISC/BEETLES/Dynastes_hercules.htm

https://www.nps.gov/articles/giant-water-bug.htm

https://www.doc.govt.nz/nature/native-animals/invertebrates/weta/giant-weta-wetapunga/

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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