After several months of grueling tests and trials, scientists have finally declared a winner in the search for the world's strongest insect -The Onthophagus Taurus, also known as, the male horned dung beetle, an insect that spends its entire life inside cattle dung!
The research, carried out by a team of scientists, led by Dr. Rob Knell from the University of London, involved testing the strength of an array of insects by sticking threads on their backs with the help of superglue and placing them inside artificial tunnels. The loose end of the thread was attached to a pot and hung off a pulley. Water was then allowed to slowly drip into the pot, until each insect reached its maximum pulling capacity.
The male horned dung beetle was able to pull 1,141 times its body weight or the equivalent of a 150lbs human, lifting 80 tones of weight (the equivalent of dragging six, fully-laden double decker buses!). In comparison, a leafcutter could only drag 50 times its own body weight.
However, like humans, in order to be at optimal strength, the beetles also have to eat well - poorly fed beetle were weak and were unable to pull the same amount of weight.
While dung beetles are native to Africa, they can be found everywhere in the world except Antarctica. These tiny insects, which can range from less than 1/8 of an inch to about 1 1/4 of an inch, have a lifespan of 3 years. The brown or black insects are extremely popular in farms, since they not only consume large amounts of animal dung, but also, aerate the soil and help fertilize it!
sources:sciencedaily.com, insects.tamu.edu, ncstate university.