Top Five Olympic-Worthy Pests
The Opening Ceremonies kicked off the 2014 Winter Games and athletes from all over the world are competing in the most high-profile sporting event of their careers. With all the excitement of our own USA athletes vying for the gold we thought it would be fun to give recognition to several pests that have Olympic-worthy traits designed by nature. Keep reading to learn more about our gold medalists for the strongest bug, fastest bug, best swimmer, best gymnast and best fighter.
The Gold Medal for the Strongest Bug goes to the rhinoceros beetle. The rhinoceros beetle may not be the largest bug but it is proportionally one of the strongest. They have the ability to lift objects 850 times their own weight. That is equivalent to a human being able to lift nine elephants - at the same time! To maintain their strength the rhinoceros beetle eats other adult beetles, fruit, nectar and sap.
The Gold Medal for the Best Fighter goes to the praying mantis. There are few insects that can strike faster than a praying mantis. The legs of this insect are equipped with spikes for snaring prey and pinning it in place. The mantis has the ability to turn its head 180 degrees to scan the surroundings using two large compound eyes and three simple eyes. When directly threatened, many mantis species stand tall and spread their forelegs, with their wings fanning out wide. We certainly wouldn't want to go up against the praying mantis if we were an insect!
The Gold Medal for the Fastest Bug goes to the cockroach. Cockroaches are capable of moving 50 body lengths per second, making them the fastest land-moving insects. To put this in perspective, if a cockroach were the size of a human, their top speed would be over 200 miles per hour! While in motion, cockroaches run in a tripod gait - meaning at any one time they only have three legs on the ground. To maintain the strength required to move so quickly, cockroaches get their nutrients from the bacteria that live in their bodies.
The Gold Medal for the Best Gymnast goes to the golden wheel spider. Also known as the wheel spider, this acrobat is found in the Southern Africa Namib Desert. When threatened by a predator, the wheel spider flips on its side and rolls to escape by performing a "cartwheel" using all eight of its legs. With the ability to roll at about 44 turns per second we think that this spider would receive a perfect ten from the judges!
The Gold Medal for the Best Swimmer goes to the whirligig beetle. Not surprisingly the whirligig beetle can be found in aquatic habitats including ponds, streams and lakes. The eyes are divided making it possible for them to see both in the air above and the water below at the same time. Eighty-four percent of the energy that the whirligig beetles devote to swimming is used for thrust. This efficiency is the highest thrust apparatus in the animal kingdom.
The athletic ability of the bugs on this list has allowed their respective species to survive for thousands of years. As we enjoy watching the 2014 Winter Olympics, we are reminded that the Olympians of nature could be living in our own homes or backyards!