• Question: Which insect has adapted the most to its environment?

    Asked by WilliamW on 29 Jun 2020.
    • Photo: Gulnar Abdullayeva

      Gulnar Abdullayeva answered on 29 Jun 2020:


      Hi William, thank you for the interesting question.

      Insects are extraordinarily adaptable creatures, which can live in most environments, including deserts and the Antarctic. Generally, an adaptation is a special characteristic that allows a plant or animal to be successful in a particular environment. There are different types of adaptation. For example, mimicry (means the resemblance of one animal to another) and camouflage (refers to the process of making something less obvious) are well known adaptation types in insect world.
      For your question, it is known that ants are the most numerous insects in the world, with estimates 10-100,000 trillion individuals. It shows how they are extremely adoptable to the environment. They divide their labour among family and take care of their young collectively.

      Besides, Coleoptera (commonly called beetles), are also highly adaptable species, constituting almost 25% of all known life-forms. Beetles can be live in most habitats and a ‘clever’ adaptation enables them to crumble animal and plant debris. Another example can be cockroaches that are resilient insects and have adapted quite well in human habitats. Some species of cockroaches are even able to survive without food for months or without air up to 45 minutes.

      You can find more information here: https://io9.gizmodo.com/the-eight-super-adaptable-life-forms-that-rule-our-plan-5939568

      I hope it helps.

    • Photo: Alfonsina Arriaga Jimenez

      Alfonsina Arriaga Jimenez answered on 30 Jun 2020:


      It is a very good question William. All insects are adapted to their environment, there are some that have evolved so close to where they live and they acquire certain capacities that make them perfect to leave in one place (like colours, size, etc.). So whenever you look around you you can see all the adaptations and they have for being in a place for hundreds of millions of years. Check this as an example:
      https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2017/08/these-adaptations-give-insects-a-survival-advantage/

    • Photo: Xander Johnston

      Xander Johnston answered on 30 Jun 2020:


      Hi, there is loads of insects and beasties that live in dangerous or scary places. one of those being our homes! as you probably know lots of people are afraid of insects and spiders but as the phrase goes “they are more scared of you than you are of them” (although in some cases this isnt true 🙂 but these insects have evolved over a long time to be able to live in our homes without being killed by us or the environment. as in our houses we have fans, lights and lots other dangerous object that could harm an insect. i cant pick out one individual species that has adapted the most but my answer would be all of the insects that live in your very home!

    • Photo: Jozsef Vuts

      Jozsef Vuts answered on 2 Jul 2020:


      Insects have adapted to their environment the best they can! This is not to say they are perfectly adapted, but they use mechanisms that help them pass their genes on to the next generation efficiently. For example, they usually lay lots of eggs, so some will reach adulthood and reproduce again given the chance. Others, like ants, couple this with their remarkable ability to engineer their own environment to make it suit them better. Aphid mothers give birth to young ones that already carry a young aphid!
      They are also very good at living off not very nutritious food, which I think is another reason why they are so successful. Plants are, for example, very poor-quality food, but plant-eating insects can get the little nutrition out of them using microorganisms.
      As the others have already said, they can live in very hot, cold, dry or wet places, even in the water, each requiring demanding different adaptations. So I think their adaptability is in their usually large numbers, which create an opportunity for genetic variation to rise by chance, and a few of those individuals with the right genetic makeup to survive (rule of big numbers!).

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