Top 10 Creepy Crawlies with Way-Too-Long Lifespans


As icky and scary as that creepy crawly suddenly scurrying under your feet late at night can be, at least they only live a few months before freezing to death when the weather starts to get chilly. Or so we think. In fact, you might be surprised by just how long some of those bugs running around your house actually live for, and all of the havoc they can wreak in that time span.

10. A Single Cockroach Lives for a Year


Initially, one year doesn’t seem all that impressive in the grand scheme of things. That is, until you hear about the amount of damage a cockroach can do in that single year. Then you’ll understand just why they’re such a terrible blight on homeowners.

First, let’s talk about their mating habits. The average cockroach is ready to mate and give birth to offspring within three to four months of their life. After they start mating, they can give birth to around 400 children in their life time. And in three to four months, those children will also be ready to give birth to their own four hundred kids. Within the span of two years, you’ll be at critical mass assuming that all of the cockroaches survive to adulthood. Here’s where the next problem comes in.

Cockroaches are extremely intelligent building managers. They understand that they need to form groups in safe areas near food and water, and even more importantly they understand resource management. Fifty cockroaches were placed in a tank with three separate colony areas perfectly equipped to take care of them. The catch was each colony could only hold forty roaches each. What did they do? They split up into groups of twenty-five and made homes in two colonies, ignoring the third one altogether. Once the colonies were expanded, they all moved into one colony together to better manage things.

9. Springtails are Freaks of Nature


Springtails aren’t the longest living species on this list, not by a long shot. But they are easily the craziest thing you’ll read about in this list. First of all, there are probably some in your room with you right now. Don’t worry, your house isn’t infested, and you’ll probably never notice them, but they’re there. In fact, they’re everywhere. You will even find them in Antarctica, just chilling like it isn’t a big deal.

And when we say they’re living, we don’t mean they’re simply surviving. They’re absolutely thriving. With the ability to lower their body’s water content to 90% less than average with the help of a chemical called glycerol, they don’t freeze in temperatures that would kill just about everything else. And unlike some other bugs in this list, they don’t go into stasis when met with such hostile conditions. In only the most absolute dire situations will they fully dehydrate themselves and await more favorable conditions.

8. Mayflies Live for Much Longer than One Day


While the adult Mayfly does only live for a single day in most cases, many others do not. In fact, they can actually live for several years! Its just that those years are spent wingless in the water, eating whatever they can get their claws into. This is their childhood, which is referred to as the nymph form. A mayfly will usually spend two to three years like this, and then suddenly burst out in a cloud of copulation for a few hours before death. Their stunning life’s end has earned them the nickname “The 24-hour Fly,” a name that is commonly misused for houseflies which, in fact, live for a month or more.

7. Bedbugs Can Live Over a Year Without Eating


Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite: a common phrase used by parents getting their kids ready for bed. Of course, most of these parents aren’t actually worried about their children being eaten alive by bedbugs, and probably weren’t even aware of the fact that there was something called a bedbug. That is unless they lived in New York within the last two years or so. You probably remember reading in the news about New York being taken over by a never-ending hoard of the little bloodsuckers, but did you ever wonder how it got so incredibly bad for the state?

Well, it has to do with just how long these pests can go without eating: 18 freaking months. While it isn’t ideal for the bedbugs to not eat for so long, they can still survive and even reproduce without too much trouble, laying up to five eggs per day, less if they’re on a no-blood diet. Since these bedbugs weren’t feeding, they could just hang around stores completely unnoticed for months on end, breeding and infesting more and more products, sneaking into more and more stores. By the time it became apparent that there was a problem, hundreds of customers’ homes were already infested and the pest removal bill for the state had ballooned to an astronomical level. All because of a pest that got into the store more than a year ago and just decided to make it its base of operation.

6. The Woolly Bear Caterpillar Hibernates for Years


Most caterpillars are seasonal bugs. They’re born in the spring, turn into butterflies/moths in the summer, and then they die in the fall once the first real freeze hits. But there is one caterpillar that heard about this whole freezing business, and didn’t agree to it one bit. That would be the woolly bear caterpillar, and its life is even more insane than most of the creepy crawlers on this list.

This particular species of caterpillar can be found all around the western hemisphere, and in most climates it lives a pretty average life of predicting the weather for superstitious Canadians. But then there are those that have somehow managed to be born in the Arctic. These guys only have a week or two on average where they can plump up on greens and begin their journey to moth-hood. This isn’t nearly enough time for the poor guys, and they usually end up freezing to death before they’re even close to their goal. The crazy part though? They come back to life every year for that two-week span to feed again.

They’re not supernatural monsters. Thanks to a chemical coursing through its body, the woolly bear caterpillar is immune to tissue damage caused by the cold weather. It still freezes though, and is pretty dead for most of the year, but for two weeks it comes back. Now remember, it takes months for normal caterpillars to plump up enough to prepare themselves for their metamorphosis. This means that the woolly bear caterpillar has to die and freeze in the snow over and over again, most of them living as long as fourteen years before they finally turn into Isabella Tiger Moths. That’s right. There are teenage caterpillars out there, and they’re even more obnoxious than the human kind.

5. Cicadas are Almost Old Enough to Buy Cigarettes


Cicada are just the coolest. They’re gigantic, thousands of them seem to come from nowhere overnight, leaving only their chest-bursted carapace as evidence of their arrival, and they can scream louder than a car horn blaring right next to your head. They’re so loud in fact, that if one were to play its song right next to you, it would be loud enough to cause permanent hearing loss. They’re creatures pulled directly from an old Godzilla movie, emphasis on the “old.”

The average cicada will spend 17 whole years buried deep in the ground, feeding and waiting for the day they molt from their nymph stage to mate and pass on their genetic code. And then they die immediately afterward, content in knowing that, in seventeen years, their children will likely do the same. If they had just waited one more year, then you might have been able to witness cicada swarming gas stations by the thousands so they could look cool with a cigarette for all those cicada ladies looking for a bad boy who lived like there was no tomorrow … since there kind of isn’t.

4. A Queen Ant Lives Long Enough To See Everyone Die


Everything about the queen ant of an ant colony is just plain crazy. Her life as a royal begins with a midair battle to decide who will be the one to supply their sperm for the entire colony, a battle she is actively participating in along with all of her suitors. After a male ant successfully does the deed with her, he shrivels up and dies as if the queen ant was some sort of succubus. This is because she kind of is: the male ant’s genitalia explodes off of his body after mating, but the sperm delivered by that ant will be used for the entire lifespan of the colony. Every single ant you see will be a direct spawn from that male and be made from the sperm stored in the queen ant from that one act of mating, and that number can reach into the millions if the conditions are right.

Why is that, you ask? It’s because the queen ant has an observed lifespan of 28 years. The average lifespan of her children is usually anywhere from three months to a year. This means that she will live to watch every single one of her children die, up to and over one hundred generations of them. But don’t feel bad for her like you would a regular Mommy who just had to bury several thousand of her kidlets. Numbers like this are ideal for her; as long as she is having kids, then her colony is alive that much longer.

3. That Tarantula You Saw 30 Years Ago? It’s Still There


Hey, remember that spider you threw a shoe at in the ’80s? It hasn’t forgotten, nor has it forgiven. We are, of course, talking about the arachnophobe’s worst nightmare come true, the tarantula. This giant ball of hairy horror can live a shocking thirty years, and they spend all that time growing larger and larger thanks to the way they grow.

Much like snakes, a spider will molt its skin and leave behind a terror peel of itself just to let people know that it is lurking somewhere nearby, and is even bigger than the molting you had just found. Also like snakes, a spider will continue growing in size until it dies. This means that the humongous spider currently hiding in the left ear of your headphones is actually an elderly spider, and has lived through worse terrors than you can possibly fathom.

The reason we bring this up is because tarantulas are bonafide giants, but they didn’t start that way. They had to grow for a very long time. So long in fact, that the tarantula from Home Alone is likely still alive today. There are spiders out there older than the average person reading this article. Just think about that the next time you kill a spider. There is a chance that it lived a better, fuller life than you.

2. The Termite Queen Can Live for Over 45 Years


The queen ant may live for 28 years and give birth to as many as 1500 children a day, but she has absolutely nothing on the queen termite. While the average span of a termite queen is only 15 or so, a queen living in safe conditions can continue on for a solid 45 years just popping out babies nonstop, her body extended several times its regular size due to her perpetually pregnant body. But instead of giving birth to 1500 larva a day, she can push out as many as 30,000.

With numbers like that, the termite queen can’t just mate once. That is where the King termite comes in. From the moment they first meet in the skies, the King will stick by his Queen and help raise the children for the rest of his life, sometimes even living the full 45 years with his Queen. Kind of romantic if you think about it. Most people who make it that long end up hating each other.

1. The Splendor Beetle Can Sleep for Half a Century


A spider that can live for a third of a century and a termite that teeters just on the edge of half a century old? What could possibly be next? A beetle that can sleep for fifty one years with no ill effects? Well, yeah. That’s exactly what is next.

Now, this isn’t the average age of the splendor beetle. Usually they’ll spend a few years at most buried in a piece of wood in their nymph form before they molt into a splendor beetle, but on more than one occasion the splendor beetle has been observed burrowing itself out of furniture that was manufactured over fifty years ago.

One such case occurred during the 1980’s when a beetle emerged from a staircase built in the 1940’s. In other words, a beetle older than the Beatles was just hanging around in some lady’s house, and it wasn’t even the oldest one found. More than once, the beetle has been found alive in furniture made more than fifty years ago! Just think about that the next time you step on a bug. There’s a chance that you just wasted fifty years of preparation for that bug’s big moment in the sunshine. Now who’s the monster?

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1 Comment

  1. And so many of these long lifespans could be cured with a can of “Raid”. Or a shoe.

    Or fire.