Bug Blog

How Many Individual Insects Exist In The World?

You don’t need to be told that insects are the most abundant animals on earth. Researchers think that insects account for eighty percent of all animal life on the planet. So far scientists have discovered and described well over ninety thousand different insect species, and this is only within the United States. Amazingly, experts believe that this astronomical amount does not even account for half of all insect species in the US, including the insects that have yet to be discovered, of course. However, not all scientists agree with this assessment, as many of them claim that there remains about seventy three thousand more insect species in the US to discover. The global bug population, on the other hand, is obviously far larger, with more than nine hundred thousand insect species described so far. According to studies conducted by Terry Erwin of the Smithsonian Institution’s Department of Entomology, thirty million insects are currently inhabiting Latin America. To put it as simply as possible, different experts have agreed that the number of individual insects in the world far exceeds the trillions. In fact, it is believed that there are ten quintillion individual insects on earth, and that is a lot of zeros, nineteen zeros to be exact.

The United States does not contain nearly as many insect species as Latin America, which many people will find to be a good thing. Most of the insects that dwell within the US fall into four insect orders: Coleoptera at 23,700, Diptera at 19,600, Hymenoptera at 17,500, and Lepidoptera at 11,500. Coleoptera and Diptera are beetles and flies respectively. Hymenoptera make up a large group of insects, as they include bees, wasps and ants. There are likely many more Hymenoptera species to be found in the world. Finally, the Lepidoptera order includes moths and butterflies, which are decreasing in numbers with each passing year.

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