What Are The 5 Largest Insects In The World?

Insects represent over 80% of all the species alive on Earth right now. In fact, around about a million different species have been identified by scientists. While, in average, they measure from 3 to 20 millimeters, certain species far exceed that number. The following is a list of 5 of the largest insects found around the world.

Giant Dobsonfly

giant dobsonfly

Credit: Insect Museum of West China

The most recent discovery on this list, the Giant Dobsonfly looks like a Dragonfly with snake-like fangs. It’s found in West China and it’s considered to be one of the largest insect ever to be found alive. It has a wingspan of 8.3 inches or 21.1 centimeters (that’s significantly bigger than your 15 centimeter ruler!), and, quoting CNN, “is capable of covering a human face.” As big as it gets though, an adult Dobsonfly does not eat and only lives for a few days for the sole purpose of mating before simply dying.

Sadly, the Dobsonfly is being driven away by increasing pollution as they rely on clean fresh water. Even a slight change in pH or the presence of contaminants can force the insect to search for fresher water elsewhere.

Titan Beetle

The Titan Beetle or Titanus giganteus is the largest beetle in the world. It can go up to 16.7 centimeters in length. The most striking feature of the Titan are its jaws which are powerful enough to easily break a pencil in two. It can also tear into human flesh with its sharp spines. The Titan hisses when threatened and can even fly which leads to people mistaking it for a giant cockroach. Having said all that, it’s utterly harmless to humans.

It’s found in the Amazon rainforest, Columbia, Guiana and north Brazil. As you can infer, It prefers to stay in hot tropical conditions where the grubs (the Titan larvae) feed on dead wood under the ground. The adults are only active during the hottest, most humid weeks of the year when they search for a mate.

Because of the the fact that they rely on dead wood to thrive, their very existence is being threatened due to the constant deforestation of the Amazons.

Chan’s Megastick (Phobaeticus chani)

chans megastick giant walking stick bug

Chan’s Megastick (Phobaeticus chani)

The longest insect in the list (and the world!), the Giant stick insect is a master of camouflage. They have evolved this bizzare but genius shape to blend in with twigs and foliage and hide from predators. Even the texture of their exoskeleton closely resemble tree bark. They cannot fly or jump, so when disturbed, they fall to the ground and remain still. Giant Walking Stick’s can reach 20 inches or 50 centimeters in length (with legs outstretched), making it about as long as the keyboard I’m typing on.

This particular species is found only in the rain forests of Borneo, however stick bugs are found all over the world.

Little Barrier Island Giant Weta

little barrier island giant weta

Little Barrier Island Giant Weta

Only found in Little Barrier Island of New Zealand, the species of cricket is so heavy it can’t even jump. The largest of them can weigh more than 70 grams. To put that number into perspective, a sparrow weights less.

They feed on other insects, fruits and leaves and they don’t have too many natural predators. That and the complete isolation led its numbers getting to endemic levels and its large size. This is an example of island gigantism.

Atlas Moth

atlas moth

Atlas Moth

As you can probably guess from the name, the Atlas Moth is an absolutely huge insect. In fact, it’s the only moth in the world with a surface are of 62 square inches and a wingspan of 12 inches. Amazingly, in Taiwan, the cocoons of the moths can be used to turn into useful products such as purses. The brown silk that makes the cocoon is that strong!

Interestingly, the tips of their wings look like snake heads. Unlike typical moths, the Atlas Moth has no mouth. This is because they don’t need to feed once they emerge from their cocoons. They rely on stores of fat they gathered during their previous stages of life. But, of course, this means that they don’t live long. The males survive for a week or two to mate with a female, after which they die.

The 5 Biggest Spiders In The World

While most of us are scared of coming face to face with a tiny, harmless spider, can you imagine what it would be like to be standing in front of a gigantic one instead? As you would guess, the bigger a spider, the scarier they seem. But contrary to popular belief, not all large sized spiders are actually harmful! In fact, many of them are even kept as pets. For all those people who are intrigued and fascinated by these creepy crawlers, here are the names of the 5 biggest spiders in the world.

Golden Silk Orb-Weaver (Nephila)

Golden Silk Orb-Weaver

Golden Silk Orb-Weaver

This spider is also known as the Banana Spider and belongs to the N Jurassica family that existed more than 165 million years ago. The female Golden Orb Weaver grows up to 2 inches without leg span and can reach 6 inches if its leg span is taken into account. The males, however, are only half that size. While they pose no threat to humans, they can actually help you get rid of unwanted pests by feeding on them while living on their beautiful golden webs near residential areas. Their silk has also proven to have a very high biocompatibility rate and can be used for peripheral nerve growth!

Brazilian Wandering Spider (Phoneutria)

Brazilian Wandering Spider Phoneutria

Brazilian Wandering Spider – Phoneutria

Coincidentally enough, this next spider on the list is also referred to as the Banana Spider due to its tendency to inhabit banana plants. The two spiders shouldn’t be confused though, as you’ll also find this guy on our “Most Dangerous Spiders” post while the Golden Silk Orb Weaver (the other banana spider) is generally harmless.

This spider has a leg span of 15 centimeters and has one of the most infamous venoms in South and Central America. They are called ‘wandering’ because unlike other spiders, they go hunting for their prey at night instead of waiting for them in the webs. Some of the spiders from this species have also resulted in human deaths. If the Brazilian Wandering Spider successfully injects a full dose of its venom into its victim, not only would the person suffer serious injury, he could also die.

Goliath Birdeater Spider (Theraphosa blondi)

Goliath Birdeater - Theraphosa blondi

Goliath Birdeater – Theraphosa blondi

This one is a tarantula and a humongous one at that. It belongs to the Theraphosidae family and is known to be the largest spider in the world by mass (not leg-span). A specimen is even entered in the Guiness Book of World Records as the largest spider. Some members of this family have been seen to feed  humming birds – which is where they get the name ‘birdeater’ from. They are also known to feed on other small animals in addition to large insects. With a leg span of almost 12 inches, they can weigh more than 6 ounces. The look pretty scary, but you shouldn’t worry to much about a bite from one of these guys. Their bite has been compared to the sting of a wasp or hornet, mildly uncomfortable.

Brazilian Salmon Pink Tarantula (Lasiodora parahybana)

Brazilian Salmon Pink Bird-eating Tarantula Lasiodora parahybana

Brazilian Salmon Pink Tarantula – Lasiodora parahybana

Another “bird eating” tarantula, this Brazilian menina is almost as large as her cousin as it can grow up to 11.5 inches in leg-span and can weight up to 3.5 ounces. First discovered in 1917, they gained popularity as a pet for their incredible size but docile nature and relatively harmless bite. Their fangs can grow quite large though, up to an inch in length, so while the venom is not very toxic, its bite can cause quite a bit of damage.

Giant Huntsman Spider (Heteropoda maxima)

Giant Huntsman Spider

Giant Huntsman Spider

This creepy crawler belongs to the heteropoda genus and is regarded as the largest spider in the world by leg span. While its body length is not more than 4 inches long, it has a leg span of close to 12 inches. Mostly found in caves, it was first discovered in 2001 in Laos.

The Most Dangerous Spiders In The World

People find spiders scary or creepy. In reality though, there are many more harmless spiders than there are those that can harm humans to any great extent. However, there are some nasty critters in the spider family that have a reputation for causing some pretty severe harm. Below are 5 of the most dangerous spiders out there.

1. Redback Spider

australian redback spider

Australian redback spider

It is also referred to as Latrodectus hasselti scientifically. Very similar to its relative, the Black Widow, this spider is found in Australia and is very dangerous. The female redback spider is easily identified due to the presence of a stripe that is red in color on her abdomen. The female can be longer than the male, a female can measure up to one centimeter while the male is limited to a length of 4 mm. It has a neurotoxic venon that is highly dangerous to human beings. After an individual is being bitten by this spider the person can experience continuous pain up to a period of 24 hours. They can bite in case an individual moves too close to their habitat either in a crevice or touching their webs.

2 .Sydney Funnel-Web Spider

Sydney funnel web spider

Sydney funnel web spider

It has a scientific name of Atrax robustus. It is commonly found in Sydney Australia. It can bite human beings where it can lead to great injuries and death if not treated quickly. It has atracotoxin which is a compound readily found in the venom that they produce after a bite. The compound is highly dangerous to primates including man. After biting an individual the symptom of their venom in a human being is experienced in a period of less than one hour. The males are known to be more dangerous in bites as they can bite severally as a defense mechanism when threatened.

2. Brazilian Wandering Spider

Brazilian Wandering Spider Phoneutria

Brazilian Wandering Spider – Phoneutria

It has a scientific name of phoneutria fera. Other names referring to them include banana spiders or armed spiders. These are found in the tropical parts of south America. They form the world most venomous spiders as evidenced due to their entry into the Guinness World Book of Record in the year 2010. They have derived their name Wandering Spiders due to their habit of wandering freely on the floor of the jungle at night. During day time they are known to hide themselves in the moulds of the termites. After they bite someone their venom can lead to effects such as breathing problems, loss of muscle control, after the symptoms they can lead to inflammation, paralysis and even asphyxiation.

4. Baboon Spider

Killimanjaro Mustard Bamboo Spider - Pterinochilus chordatus

Killimanjaro Mustard Bamboo Spider – Pterinochilus chordatus

It is also referred to as Harpactirinae, they are found in Africa. They are the biggest spiders on this list. They have derived their name due to their last leg segments resembling the fingers of a baboon. They can bite and become more aggressive when disturbed.

5. Black Widow

Black Widow Spider

This one has a scientific name known as Latrodectus mactans. The female is well known to be mostly black with red coloring that is often compared to the shape of an hourglass. The female is also known to eat the male after they reproduce. This brought about the name black widow. They can inject the venom continuously into an individual after they bite severally which can reach level where it can be fatal.

There you have it; 5 of the most dangerous spiders on Earth.

The Different Types of Spiders

Spiders have thousands of species and their history goes back millions of years ago. Thanks to them, we have a natural pest controller. Check out this list for some of these species, and see if you have encountered them already.

Family Agelenidae – The Funnel Weaver Spiders

Tegenaria-agrestis-Hobo-spider

Hobo spider – Tegenaria agrestis

These spiders look very similar to the wolf spiders, except that unlike the latter, they are able to build their own webs. They are likewise lighter in build with bristly legs. Their funnel-shaped webs are normally placed near the ground, and they hide at the narrow end of the web’s tunnel while waiting for their prey. Its hiding place is usually protected by a rocks or leaves, so they are normally found outdoors.

Genus Agelenopsis or Grass Spiders

  • Agelenopsis naevia
  • Agelenopsis emertoni
  • Agelenopsis oklahoma
  • Agelenopsis potteri
  • Agelenopsis utahana

Hobo Spider or Funnel Web Spider

  • Tegenaria agrestis

Family Amaurobiidae – The Hacklemesh Weave Spiders

These spiders look very much like the funnel weaver spiders, except for their shorter legs and smaller spinnerets. Their legs are lighter in color comparison to their carapace. They are able to survive throughout the winter, by seeking refuge inside the homes. Their bites can be painful, but not lethal.

Species of Amaurobiidae

  • Amaurobius borealis
  • Callobius bennetti
  • Coras juvenilis
  • Coras lamellosus
  • Coras medicinalis
  • Coras montanus
  • Cybaeopsis tibialis
  • Wadotes hybridus
  • Wadotes tennesseensis

Family Antrodiaetidae – The Folding Trapdoor Spiders

These are thick-bodied spiders, so they are sometimes mistaken for tarantulas. They also have enormous black fangs which makes them look more formidable. Their bites can be pretty painful, but they were never proven to be too toxic as their poison glands are rather small. They build a burrow by digging a hole right through the ground, then closes both sides with a the silk rim, acting like a double-door. There it waits until a insect or a centipede comes at close range when it will leap out and strike.

Species of Folding Trapdoor Spiders

  • Antrodiaetus robustus
  • Atypoides hadros

Family Anyphaenidae – The Ghost Spiders

Anyphaena accentuata - a member of the ghost spider family

Anyphaena accentuata – a member of the ghost spider family

They are also known as the “wandering” predators and are usually seen protecting their egg sacs. Some members have a translucent body, thus they’re called “ghost spiders.” They also earned the name the “buzzing spiders” because of the drumming sound the male spider produces during the mating season.

Species of Ghost Spiders

  • Anyphaena celer
  • Anyphaena pectorosa
  • Arachosia cubanum
  • Wulfila saltabundus
  • Anyphaena fraterna
  • Hibana cambridgei
  • Wulfila albens
  • Anyphaena maculata
  • Anyphaena accentuata

Family Araneidae – The Orb-Weaver Spiders

This family is one of the three largest groups of spiders. Their webs are normally built vertically and are attached to branches, stems or man-made structures. These webs are typically large, spanning several feet and have the typical shape one thinks of when imagining spider web. Most of the time they are brightly colored and their legs are hairy or spiny.

Species of Orb Weaver Spiders

  • Acacesia hamata
  • Acanthepeira marion
  • Araneus alboventris
  • Araneus bonsallae
  • Araneus diadematus
  • Araneus guttulatus
  • Araneus iviei
  • Araneus marmoreus
  • Araneus niveus
  • Araneus partitus
  • Araneus pratensis
  • Acanthepeira cherokee
  • Araneus saevus
  • Acanthepeira stellata
  • Araneus bicentenarius
  • Araneus cavaticus
  • Araneus corticarius
  • Araneus gemmoides
  • Araneus juniperi
  • Araneus miniatus
  • Araneu nordmanni
  • Araneus cingulatus

Family Atypidae – The Purseweb Spiders

Also called Atypical Tarantulas, these spiders are medium-sized with dark coloring, and are known for their oversized chelicerae. Their stance is low and they have sprawling legs. Male purseweb spiders are known to travel long distances to search for a female during their mating season. Their babies, when hatched, look very similar to the adults.

Species of Purseweb Spiders

  • Sphodros atlanticus
  • Sphodros rufipes
  • Sphodos niger
  • Sphodos coylei

Family Clubionidae – The Sac Spiders

These spiders have good eyesight so they  hunt for their prey rather than waiting for them in a web. Their eggs are protected by silk that looks like a sheet, and not a ball-shaped sac. These are sometimes protected by the females until they hatch in the spring.

Species of Sac Spiders

  • Clubiona bryantae
  • Clubiona catawba
  • Clubiona chippewa
  • Clubiona kastoni
  • Clubiona maritima
  • Clubiona mixta
  • Clubiona moesta
  • Clubiona obesa
  • Clubiona pygmaea
  • Clubiona quebecana
  • Clubiona canadensis
  • Clubiona johnsoni
  • Clubiona kiowa
  • Clubiona norvegica
  • Clubiona pikei
  • Clubiona kulczynskii

Family Ctenidae – The Wandering Spiders or Tropical Wolf Spiders

These spiders dwell on the ground and they can be normally seen running freely on low vegetation or on the soil surface. The males are typically more slender and smaller compared to the female.

Species of Wandering Spiders

  • Anahita punctulata

Family Ctenizidae – The Trapdoor Spiders

These spiders are generally found in Southern California and look like small tarantulas, only with shiny bodies. Their chelicerae contains spines that help them dig burrows, where they hide behind a trapdoor to wait for their prey. When prey goes near, the trapdoor will help the spider imprison it.

Species of Trapdoor Spiders

  • Ummidia tuobita

Family Cybaeidae – The Pond Spiders

These are medium-sized spiders who have fully adapted to the aquatic lifestyle. Their carapace range from pale to dark yellow-brown color. When submersed, the air trapped in their abdomen will give a silvery glow. Two of their legs contain very fine hairs that help them to swim. Unlike most species, their males are slightly larger than the females. At least one member of this family spends its entire life under water.

Species of Pond Spiders

  • Cybaeus giganteus
  • Cybaeota calcarata
  • Diving Bell Spider (Argyroneta aquatica)

Family Dictynidae – The Meshweavers

These are small, stout but heavily-haired spiders. Their body measures from 2-3mm, and never goes over 5mm. Some of their species can be found dwelling in herbs and foliage, yet others stay close to the ground.

Species of Meshweaver Spiders

  • Argenna obesa
  • Cicurina brevis
  • Cicurina cavealis
  • Cicurina ludoviciana
  • Cicurina minnesota
  • Cicurina placida
  • Cicurina robust
  • Cicurina arcuata
  • Cicurina itasca
  • Cicurina minima
  • Cicurina pallida
  • Dictyna bostoniensis
  • Dictyna coloradensis
  • Dictyna formidolosa
  • Dictyna minuta
  • Dictyna terrestris
  • Dictyna arundinacea
  • Dictyna brevitarsa
  • Dictyna foliacea
  • Dictyna longispina
  • Dictyna sancta
  • Dictyna bellans

Family Dysderidae – The Woodlouse Hunters

Unlike most spiders, they only have six eyes and the females don’t have genital plates. Their long chelicerae are very effective for hunting pillbugs, woodlice and sowbugs. They can usually be found hiding under logs and rocks, protected by a silk sheet.

Species of Woodlouse Hunters

  • Dysdera crocata

Family Gnaphosidae – The Ground Spiders

With almost 2000 species, these family claims the seventh largest group of spiders. They are also found on all continents but Antaractica in a variety of climates. Their spinners are large and clylindrical. Their abdomens do not have distinguishable marks and their color ranges from grayish-brown to black. Like most, they are also nocturnal so they can be found in their silken refuge during the day.

Species of Ground Spiders

  • Callilepis imbecilla
  • Callilepis pluto
  • Cesonia bilineata
  • Drassodes auriculoides
  • Drassodes neglectus
  • Drassodes saccatus
  • Drassyllus covensis
  • Drassyllus depressus
  • Drassyllus eremitus
  • Drassyllus fallens
  • Drassyllus frigidus
  • Drassyllus lepidus
  • Drassodes qosiutus
  • Drassyllus aprilinus
  • Drassyllus creolus
  • Drassyllus eremophilus
  • Drassyllus gynosaphes
  • Drassyllus nannellus
  • Drassyllus dixinus

Family Hahniidae – The Dwarf Sheet Spiders

Most of these spiders grow only from a range of 1.3mm to 6mm, although the majority do not go over 2mm. Their webs are made of very fine silk making them very hard to locate, unless they’re topped with dew. Unlike others though, the sheet do not serve as their retreat as they hunt in the open.

Species of Dwarf Sheet Spiders

  • Antistea brunnea
  • Cryphoeca montana
  • Neoantistea agilis
  • Neoantistea magna
  • Neoantistea riparia
  • Calymmaria cavicola
  • Hahnia cinerea

Family Linyphiidae – The Sheet Weaving Spiders

These family of spiders holds the second largest group with over 4000 species. It is considered as the most distributed spider group since they can thrive in any type of weather condition. They usually grow from 1 to 8.5mm and are mostly found near the ground. Other names for this family of spiders include “money spider” and “line weaving spider.”

Species of Sheet Weaving Spiders

  • Agyneta olivacea
  • Baryphyma longitarsum
  • Bathyphantes alboventris
  • Bathyphantes canadensis
  • Bathyphantes weyeri
  • Centromerus cornupalpis
  • Centromerus latidens
  • Allomengea dentisetis
  • Bathyphantes brevis
  • Bathyphantes pallidus
  • Blestia sarcocuon
  • Centromerus denticulatus
  • Baryphyma trifrons affine

Family Salticidae – The Jumping Spiders

With over 5000 species, this family claims the top spot for the largest family of spiders. Most of them thrive in tropical rain forests, but can be found in a variety of climates throughout the world. They can be easily mistaken as ants, and are thus sometimes called “ant-like” spiders. Unlike most spiders, they are active during the day and rest on a small web throughout the night.

Species of Jumping Spiders

  • Admestina tibialis
  • Agassa cyaena
  • Eris aurantia
  • Eris militaris
  • Eris flava
  • Eris pinea
  • Eris floridana
  • Evarcha hoyi
  • Ghelna canadensis
  • Habrocestum parvulum
  • Habrocestum pulex
  • Habronattus agilis
  • Habronattus borealis
  • Habronattus calcaratus
  • Habronattus captiosus
  • Habronattus cognatus
  • Habronattus decorus
  • Habronattus coecatus
  • Habronattus conjunctus
  • Admestina wheeleri
  • Attidops youngi
  • Ghelna barrowsi
  • Euophrys monadnock

There you have a big ole list of the types of spiders. I will keep building it as more spiders are discovered and as I get time as cataloging almost 50,000 species of spiders can take some time. Let me know if I’ve forgotten your favorite 8-legged friend.