What Insect Lives The Longest?

Creepy crawlies and flying beasties are loved by some, although most of us recoil in horror when we’re confronted with them. This is especially true if you have spiders, stink bugs, termites, cockroaches, or bed bugs that share a space with you!

But it is fair to say many insects are quite fascinating!

What insect lives the longest?

It’s hard to say which insect lives the longest because lifespans vary. But female tarantulas are currently known to hold the top spot for lifespan! Perhaps they stick to the Paleo Diet?

Although most bugs on our planet have relatively short lifespans when compared to human beings — for example, fruit flies will live for up to two months, while the mayfly can only survive for less than 24 hours (the Dolania Americana only lives for five minutes!) — there are some that can give us a run for our money in the longevity stakes!

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the top three insects with the longest lifespans.

What Insect Lives The Longest?

Most of the insects that you come across on a daily basis don’t live for very long — especially if you zap them, swat them, or squish them dead!

However, there are some bugs that will live for many years, sometimes even decades.

And while this news might not make you want to jump for joy, you’ve got to admit that it’s quite impressive that the following insects live as long as they do.

So, let’s take a closer look at these long-lasting creepy critters…

1. Tarantulas

Most people are terrified of spiders, and this fear seems to be embedded in our DNA. However, unlike the daddy’s long legs that creep around on your dusty windowsill, tarantulas are actually quite fascinating creatures.

Although they are venomous, these hairy eight-legged and eight-eyed beasts are basically quite placid, so will only attack when they feel threatened. Plus, if on the off chance that you do get bitten, their venom is not very toxic to humans.

Tarantulas don’t spin webs like other spiders, and spend most of their time hanging out near their burrows, and munching on crickets and grasshoppers.

During mating season, however, male tarantulas will walk long distances in order to find a mate, and this is the time when people will encounter them.

Perhaps because of their travels, male tarantulas will generally live for between seven and eight years, while females have been known to survive for up to 35 years.

2. Cicadas

If you live in the eastern side of the United States, then you’ll no doubt have heard periodical cicadas at some point, even if you’ve never seen one. Cicadas are also quite impressive because they’ve been around for about five million years.

The males of this species sound like a shrill musical chorus that can be heard during the summer months in rural areas, but they only do this after having hung out for 17 years underground under tree trunks.

When they emerge towards sunlight after this very long hibernation, they hang out on trees to feed on the sap, and make their presence known by making a lot of noise. Scientists believe this is a mating call for females.

But this singing insect choir doesn’t last for long, because once they come to the light after their 17-year slumber, once they mate, they only live for about five weeks.

The females will lay the eggs in the trees, and when the nymphs hatch, it falls to the ground and buries themselves so that the 17-year cycle starts all over again.

There are about 100 species of cicada found in North America, and about 800 species found worldwide.

However, the 17-year periodical cicada, which is unique to the United States, is the longest-living of all species.

3. Queen Ants

Bigger than your average ant, the queen ant can sorta be considered the head of any ant colony, because she is the one in charge of the growth of the population. However, perhaps a better way to understand a queen ant is to think of her as the ovaries of the colony.

All the other ants are in service to the queen, and they will live up to 10 times longer than other female workers because they’re the only ones that reproduce.

Most ant colonies only have one queen), although it’s not unknown that some will have more than one. A queen ant can lay millions of eggs during her lifetime, and one scientist recorded his queen living for almost 30 years while controlling her colony.


So what insect lives the longest? The female tarantula takes the gold medal for lifespan!

If you ever come across one of the long-living critters that we’ve taken a look at here, then you can either run away in fear or cultivate your fascination muscle and study the creature in awe. Nature is full of many wonderful things, including long-lived insects!