The Earth is home to some 900,000 known species of insect, and probably many more unknown. Most of these insects lead short lives of a few months or a couple of years. However, there are some insects who are much longer lived. These bugs can live almost as long as a human in varying forms, and some live longer than people.
These insects are a pest to homeowners dealing with an infestation, but in the wild they can build some truly magnificent termite mounds. Termite colonies are often hierarchal in nature with workers and soldiers maintaining the colony, while a Queen termite and King termite provide each new generation. Most workers and soldiers only live about two years in captivity. Studies have found that the Queen and King termites can last for decades, up to fifty years or more. Although, most of the colony ends up with a short live span, the royalty can live as long as many humans.
Another long lived insect are cicadas. These insects have an unusual life cycle during which they spend most of their lives underground before emerging for a brief few months to breed and die. There are over 2,500 classified species of cicada and probably more unknown species. Cicadas are known to live underground as ‘nymphs’ or juveniles for between 13 and 17 years before emerging to begin their adult life cycles. Cicadas are usually harmless with no mouth parts, but they do have a proboscis that they use to suck sap out of trees. These insects are known for the loud mating calls of the male that can cause annoyance to humans in the area.
Wood Boring Beetle
A wood boring beetle is also a nuisance to homeowners who do not have properly treated wood. These insects spend a large part of their lives as larva, eating wood. This is better done in trees, but sometimes they do make it into a home and live in the wood framing and paneling. There are many species of wood boring beetle, most of which live as larva in the wood for a few months to a few years. However, some wood boring beetles have been found living in wood as larva for up to twelve years, or even thirty years.
These are just three long lived insects. You never know, there may be some insects, as yet unidentified, that live even longer. One creature, called the “Springtail”, is a hexapod that looks very insect like. Springtails can enter a state of suspended animation when dehydrated or under stress and return to life later on. They could ‘live’ indefinitely in this manner. However, this does not mean they are invincible and will die from injury, poison, or even getting eaten like any other creature.
About the author: Chris is a blogger for a New Jersey pest control company.