The largest spiders in the world are South American Goliath Tarantulas with legs that can span a dinner plate.

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Stag Beetles Stag Beetles
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Bug bodies are particularly well adapted to the environments in which they live, and they have evolved many clever methods for getting themselves about. Bug appendages may be specially adapted for running, jumping, flying or swimming.

Running and Walking

The thorax of an insect, immediately behind the head, is packed with muscles that assist legs and wings in their work. Insect muscles tire less quickly than human muscles. This is not because they are stronger, but because insects are small and their muscles are strong in relation to their body weight.

Having six legs is a very big advantage for insects. They walk by moving three legs at time, making alternate tripods of two legs on one side with the middle leg on the opposite side. This gives insects great stability. Many smaller insects are able to distribute their body weight evenly across their six legs and can literally walk on the top of water.


Insects evolved on land, so those that adopted an aquatic lifestyle had to develop new ways of moving through their environment. Many aquatic insects have evolved middle and back legs that are flattened and look like paddles to meet this specific need. Other insects have developed their own unique swimming styles. Dragonfly nymphs move by sucking in water through their rectum and then pushing it out with great force. This jet propels them rapidly over short distances.


Insects were the first animals to fly. Monster-sized dragonflies 70cm across flew 300 million years ago—before even dinosaurs existed. Insects were also the only animals to develop wings from scratch. Flying birds and mammals all modified their front limbs into wings.

Insects can hover, fly backwards, accelerate suddenly to over 150 kilometres per hour, and perform amazing acrobatics. Their flying skills enable them to escape predators, to take advantage of seasonal food sources in distant locations, and to migrate to new areas.

The best fliers are house flies, which have only one pair of wings. Their back wings have reduced to tiny knobs and are used as stabilisers. House flies have special muscles that allow them to beat their wings 200 times a second, which is why they make a buzzing noise during flight.

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Grey Tiger Beetle, link to large image
Grey Tiger Beetle

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Backswimmer, link to large image

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Jewel Beetle, link to large image
Jewel Beetle
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