Most household buggers are satisfied with living in crevices and nibbling away at your crumbs. But if they ever grow to be as big as we are, would they be content with living off our scraps, or fight for equal rights?
But… Why? Why can’t insects get (much) bigger than they currently are?
The short answer is, no one really knows. However, there are several hypotheses as to why insects and other arthropods don’t get bigger:
Their exoskeletons aren’t strong enough for growth
While there’s still no direct evidence, Jon Harrison, an insect physiologist at Arizona State University, believes that insects’ exoskeletons may not be strong enough to allow them to go up in size.
Unlike an endoskeleton, an exoskeleton limits an organism to very discrete amounts of growth through molting. Any exponential growth, however, would require an impossibly thick exoskeleton to support it. The added bulk would probably make the insect’s legs crumple into the earth from the strain of holding its own body weight.
Plus, a very large insect would take too long to molt, and put too much energy into the production of a new exoskeleton. In the end, it’s just not practical for them to grow any bigger.
They don’t want to look too tasty
This is probably a point you’d find hard to understand. And we don’t blame you – insects look far from appetizing, and probably even less so if they were any bigger than they already are.
But we can’t speak for all of Mother Nature’s inhabitants! There are plenty of predators that would disagree with us.
Scientists suggest that larger creatures, particularly those without protective skeletons, would look irresistible to predators. And when insects molt, they’re the most vulnerable morsels of meat you’ll find anywhere in the wild.
So it’s for that reason that the scientists believe the insects hit the ceiling in order to make for a less attractive meal for its prey. Just take a look at this fossilized wing of an ancient species of flies:
The wing is about 7.5 inches long! One study found that the size of ancient flies declined as birds evolved, suggesting smaller creatures were better able to avoid hungry predators and safely preserve their genes for the future.
So let’s thank the cycle of predation and competition in the prehistoric skies, because our lives would’ve been an absolute buzzing nightmare.
Oxygen… Need more Oxygen!
This is the most plausible hypothesis that Harrison and his contemporaries could think of.
Insects “breathe” via tiny tubes called “trachea”. And when insects reach a certain size, they’ll require more oxygen than their tracheas can shuttle, ultimately limiting them to their current sizes.
But back in the prehistoric times, that clearly wasn’t really an issue. Like we’ve mentioned earlier, the insects from 300 million years ago were as big as they were terrifying – even ants were the size of hummingbirds!
That’s likely due the oxygen content in the atmosphere being much higher in the past. To simulate this hypothesis, Harrison placed certain species of insects in a high oxygen condition, where they got about 20% bigger in a single generation!
Put your flamethrowers away
Pushing the theories and hypotheses aside, there are many more questions than answers. Scientists still don’t understand exactly why bugs aren’t bigger, or more broadly, the biological basis behind their body size.
So lay down your arms and rest easy. It doesn’t look like our insect friends will be hitting their growth spurts anytime soon.
And even if they do, never fear – our pest control technicians have your back. Magical Pest’s pest management solutions are capable of eradicating giant bugs faster than you can scream, “kill it with fire!”
Magical Pest knows how to efficiently eliminate pest infestations for good, relying on safe and proven methods that set the standards of the industry. To learn more about our pest control service, contact us today!