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Thread: World’s Smallest Insects

  1. #1 World’s Smallest Insects 
    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Never realized just how small an insect can get. The one pictured in the link is only the third smallest.

    How tiny wasps cope with being smaller than amoebas - Not Exactly Rocket Science : Not Exactly Rocket Science

    The three smallest are all wasps. Some interesting evolutionary adaptations have occurred for these wasps to get so small, particularly with the brain/central nervous system. I’m posting ithis more as an FYI and nature never ceases to amaze me.

    Is there a smaller flying insect?


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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    would, at this size, flight even count as flying rather being carried by viscous air movements ?

    also, quite interesting to read about neurons without nuclei - the article doesn’t say how it’s done


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    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Maybe it was more economical to keep the wings instead of developing a means of leaping into the breeze. Nuclei sacrificed for wings? Seems like an odd direction for evolution to take but I guess a small head can only hold so much.
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    I suppose wings, however small, will always come in handy to control movement in the air to some extent
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  6. #5  
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    Never realized just how small an insect can get. The one pictured in the link is only the third smallest.

    How tiny wasps cope with being smaller than amoebas - Not Exactly Rocket Science : Not Exactly Rocket Science

    The three smallest are all wasps. Some interesting evolutionary adaptations have occurred for these wasps to get so small, particularly with the brain/central nervous system. I’m posting ithis more as an FYI and nature never ceases to amaze me.

    Is there a smaller flying insect?
    This is new to me. Thanks for posting
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  7. #6  
    Time Lord Paleoichneum's Avatar
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    Wings at that size are much more important for direction and travel control rather then lift.
    If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. -Thorin Oakenshield

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    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    I would think an insect this size would find ample room flying around in a cereal bowl. You might think that they would be dodging wind blown debris constantly or risk being smashed up against something. A hurtling grain of sand probably looks like an asteroid coming at them. So I tried to find some information as to what affect wind has at the microscopic end of ground level with little luck. The surface friction creates drag but not sure if the effect at the microscopic surface level severely reduces wind speed or by how much. Anybody ever studied that?

    Don't think they would have to fly very high. Seems to me that at the scale these insects are living, just holding on in any kind of breeze might prove risky. Perhaps the wings are a sexual attractant? Evolving sexual attractiveness isn't out of the ordinary.
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    In warm conditions I often observe small swarms of quite small insects, about 2mm long - which somehow manage to stay grouped together despite the wind. Not in strong winds, yet with gusts still stronger than I would expect such small insects to be able to compensate for or regroup from, yet they do. I have wondered how they recognise each other and stay together - visual and/or pheromones? They are not random movements or not entirely random - in the way butterflies can appear to move randomly, yet end up landing precisely on a particular flower; a 'sense' of orientation and location seems necessary.

    I'm inclined to think that even such very small insects would have that sense of where they are and where they are going and be capable of homing in on a scent or find and follow potential mates and suitable locations to lay eggs etc.
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    In warm conditions I often observe small swarms of quite small insects, about 2mm long - which somehow manage to stay grouped together despite the wind. Not in strong winds, yet with gusts still stronger than I would expect such small insects to be able to compensate for or regroup from, yet they do. I have wondered how they recognise each other and stay together - visual and/or pheromones? They are not random movements or not entirely random - in the way butterflies can appear to move randomly, yet end up landing precisely on a particular flower; a 'sense' of orientation and location seems necessary.
    M.mymaripenne has one of the smallest nervous systems of any insect, consisting of just 7,400 neurons. For comparison, the common housefly has 340,000 and the honeybee has 850,000. And yet, with a hundred times fewer neurons, the wasp can fly, search for food, and find the right places to lay its eggs.
    Even such very small insects would have that sense of where they are and where they are going and be capable of homing in on a scent or visual cue and find and follow potential mates and suitable locations to lay eggs etc.
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  11. #10  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    In warm conditions I often observe small swarms of quite small insects, about 2mm long
    I'd like to know how they were discovered. I mean who would go looking for them and what evidence of their existence can be found (do they build nests?). I figure it must have been an accidental discovery. Even an insect 2mm long is 10x the size of these wasps. They must be able to crawl into any multitude of small cavities available at ground level, I'm thinking they wouldn't need much room to get out of the wind. Is the wind any different at ground level as opposed to being above it?
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  12. #11  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    Is the wind any different at ground level as opposed to being above it?
    probably depends on the substrate, but generally speaking if you stay within the boundary layer of a substrate wind conditions will be different (closer to laminar flow) than in free-flowing air
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