The 13 Oldest Insects Still on Earth Today

Image of an opadometa fastigata spiders(Pear-Shaped Leucauge) on the spider web. Insect. Animal
yod 67/Shutterstock.com

Written by Patrick MacFarland

Published: April 20, 2024

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Scientists have determined that planet Earth is billions of years old. And in that time, there have been creatures that roamed this Earth that no longer exist. Wooly mammoths, dinosaurs, and saber-tooth tigers were ferocious creatures that lived millions of years ago. As humans started to evolve, so did other animals. Some animals do not exist and others are fairly new — only a few million years old. But some animals have existed for hundreds of millions of years. For the most part, these creatures are insects. So the question remains, which are the oldest insects? Let’s take a look at the 14 oldest insects still on Earth today.

13. Lice

There are about 5,000 species of lice in the world.

Lice are pesky creatures. If they ever end up on your child’s hair, it becomes a CODE RED. They have existed on this planet for about 120 million years. They need a host to survive out in the wild, and the Monarch butterfly is its victim.

12. Termites

There are more than 2,000 species of termites in the world.

These creatures may be known for destroying your balcony or wooden fence, but did you know that they have been around for over 120 million years? These small creatures are also responsible for causing agricultural headaches to farmers.

11. Cockroaches

Cockroach Insect

There are more than 4,500 species of these creatures out there.

We all dread these creatures. And we all think they’ve lived forever, and guess what? The answer is nearly. Cockroaches have lived for over 120 million years. They are everywhere (except Antarctica). And you should read up on them, so you know how to keep them away from your home.

10. Bees

Florida wildflowers with honeybee

There are a whopping 20,000 species of bees.

Scientists have stated that a world without bees is a world that will crumble. Besides producing honey, bees are important for humanity and nature. They have also been around for 130 million years.

9. Ants

Driver ants or safari ants (Dorylus sp) in Zambia

Scientists have determined that there could be 20 quadrillion ants alive in the world.

Ants are some of the most annoying creatures on the planet (since they go after your food and sweets). They have also been around for about 150 million years. They live everywhere (except Antarctica). Lastly, there are about 12,500 species of ants in the world.

8. Earwigs

Earwig, Animal, Zoo, Animal Wildlife, Biology

There are around 2,000 species of earwigs throughout the world.

These little creatures have been around for around 208 million years. They are known for having little Pincers and are, like many insects, nocturnal creatures. They exist all over the world but are usually pests.

7. Mosquitoes

macro normal female mosquito isolated on green leaf

There are around 3,500 species of mosquitoes.

Mosquitoes are extremely annoying and if they bite you, you are in for an itch.  According to scientists, they’ve been around for about 225 million years. The oldest fossils though are from 79 million years ago. Mosquitoes, apart from being annoying, also carry several diseases like malaria and the Zika virus.

6. Wasps

Wasps

There are a whopping 30,000 species of wasps throughout the world.

You should be careful when you’re around a wasp because you don’t want to get stung. Apart from that, they usually control the insect and spider population. Lastly, wasps have been around for 240 million years.

5. Grasshoppers

leaf grasshopper. eating insects animals various types of green leaves

There are more than 4,500 species of these creatures out there.

Grasshoppers are known to be a conscience for humans like it’s depicted in the story Pinocchio. In reality, these creatures are insects that hop, and they cannot fly. They have been around for about 240 million years and are incredibly adaptable to their surrounding environment.

4. Silverfish

Silverfish insect, Lepisma saccharina, walking on a white wall

There are about 120 different types of silverfish.

Have you ever opened your t-shirt drawer and found a silverfish scuttling about? These creatures have been around for nearly 400 million years. These creatures, which can live without any food for a year, are found throughout the entire world.

3. Dragonflies

The American Emerald dragonfly, Somatochlora_viridiaenea

Dragonflies are usually green or blue and you can find them in many types of environments.

These fascinating creatures have been around for over 400 million years. Their amazing wings make them one of the fastest insects on this planet — flying around 30 miles per hour.

2. Spiders

Southern Black Widow spider babies climbing on their web, with their mother guarding them farther behind

There are about 45,000 species of spiders that exist throughout the world.

Spiders – though technically not an insect but rather arachnids – have been around for about 500 million years, making them one of the oldest creatures on this list. These creatures are carnivorous and will trap prey with their webs. There are venomous spiders out there, but there are also non-venomous ones.

1. Mites

Up Close Photo of a Spider Mite

Mites are usually less than half an inch long and have eight legs.

Existing for more than 570 million years, mites, like spiders, are technically not insects. These creatures are extremely small arachnids, but we still decided to include them on the list. Mites are parasitic creatures that feed on plants and destroy them.


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About the Author

Patrick Macfarland is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering travel, geography, and history. Patrick has been writing for more than 10 years. In the past, he has been a teacher and a political candidate. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from SDSU and a Master's Degree in European Union Studies from CIFE. From San Diego, California, Patrick loves to travel and try new recipes to cook.

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