Large Fire Ant colonies can contain up to 100,000 individuals.

link to to videolow(111k) | high(1129k)
Tree Ants Green Tree Ants
link to to videodownload windows media


There is an extraordinary diversity of bugs on Earth. The numbers of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and plants are relatively well known, but scientists can only guess at the number of species of insects and other invertebrates.

Bugs Rule!

There are about 36,000 species of vertebrate animals in the world, of which 9,040 are birds and 4,000 are mammals. By comparison, estimates of the number of species of invertebrate animals range from 1.5 million to 10 million, and even up to 30 million.

Scientists generally agree that the number of species yet to be described and named is greater than those that have been named so far. Many species are yet to be discovered, while others are in museum collections waiting to be catalogued.

Insect orders

Insect species make up the largest group of arthropods. In fact, they are the largest of all animal groups. Of all the animal species on Earth that scientists have named and described, 75% are insects.

Entomologists, or scientists that study insects, divide the insect world into smaller and smaller groups according to similarities. The class Insecta is divided into 30 groups, called ‘orders’. Insect species sharing the same order may be similar in body shape, types of mouthparts or wing structures. Australia is home to insect species from 26 orders.

The order Coleoptera, containing beetles, is the largest group of insects. There are estimated to be about 500,000 different species of beetles, making up about a quarter of all animal species.

Another large insect group is the order Hymenoptera. This diverse order contains wasps, bees and ants, and comprises more than 115,000 species. Though termites are often called 'white ants', they actually belong to the order Isoptera. The vast number of insects from these two orders accounts for more than half of the total weight (or biomass) of insects in the world.

The number of individual insects estimated to be alive in the world at any one time is 10 quintillion, or 10,000,000,000,000,000,000. It is figured that for every human being on the planet there are about 200 million insects.

Wasps, Bees & Ants
Link to Printer Friendly Page

link to larger Versionview large image

Goliath Beetle, link to large image Goliath Beetle

link to larger Versionview large image

Sugarbag bee, link to large image Sugarbag Bee

link to larger Versionview large image

Winged termites, link to large image Winged Termites

© Museum Victoria Australia