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picture of a queen termite

Which insects have the longest lifespan?

Most insects live only for a short span of time compared to other living creatures on earth. Do you know which insects have the longest lifespan?

The longest living insects are the Splendor Beetles (Buprestidae), some of which remain in the larva stage for more than 30 years. They pass through a complete metamorphosis. In the young larval forms they are very varied and include some of the largest and smallest of all insects. The largest is 'Hercules Beetle' of South Africa which in 15 cm long. The smallest is only 0.05 cm. Queen termites (Isoptera) previously thought to live 50 years or more, are now known to have a maximum lifespan of 15 years.

Apart from these two insects, there is one insect called cicada, that actually lives for 17 years. Its lifecycle is very interesting. The female cicada lays eggs on the twigs of trees. When the young one (nymph) hatches, it drops down to the ground. Then it burrows itself into the ground and attaches itself to the roots of plants and trees. Here it remains motionless for about 17 years, sucking at the sap of the roots. After this long burial, it is driven by some mysterious instinct towards light. It climbs the trees trunks and its skin splits open and the mature cicada emerges.

For about five weeks, it leads an active life in the sunlight. After this it just dies. So it takes 17 years to develop for just five weeks of active life.

The male cicada makes a shrill sound which can be heard in the countryside. It is well known for the monotonous, whining songs of the males. This sound is probably a mating call. According to scientists, the noise-producing organ of the cicada is probably the most complicated musical organ to be found in nature. The male cicada has little drum-like plates which constantly vibrate by muscles that never seem to get tired.

There are more than 800 species of cicada and 100 of these are found in North America. But the 17 year cicada is found only in the United States. Most of the other species...

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