Here's Why Insects Evolve Faster
Insects. These creepy crawlies come in all kinds of shapes and sizes.
From the long centipedes to killer Asian hornets, and massive spiders to little ants, there is sure to be one insect that particularly “eeks” you more than the rest, if not all of them.
As brainless as these creepy crawlies are, they do have one special ability that sets them apart from all other creatures on Earth.
The special ability of insects is the ability to evolve at an unusually fast rate. In fact, insects are evolving so fast it’s likely impossible to keep track of all the insect species!
Within just a hundred years it’s possible under the right circumstances to get an almost new species of insect created.
But how is this possible? How can insects evolve at such a rapid pace?
In today’s post, we’ll be covering exactly why and how insects can evolve at an extraordinary rate, and what this means for us.
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Evolution at Supersonic Speeds
Insects as a whole evolve at supersonic speeds compared to us mammals. In fact, they can evolve thousands of times faster than humans.
This means that in the same time it would take for humans to evolve just a bit, thousands of insect species could be created and then go extinct.
It’s for this reason it’s unlikely that all life could go extinct on Earth. Sure, we humans may do a fine job of wiping ourselves out, but there will most certainly be ONE insect species to survive and with time re-evolve into all life on Earth once again!
But why - and how - can insects evolve at supersonic speeds compared to most other creatures here on Earth?
And what does this mean for Earth and humanity?
Examining Insects’ Special Abilities: Evolution 101
Understanding why and how insects can evolve so quickly requires a basic understanding of how the theory of evolution works.
Every “generation” of a creature is slightly different genetically than their parents. These changes are so small that it’s unlikely for you to notice them, except in extreme cases of mutation.
Even these sudden mutations can assist with evolution. Most of the time they will harm the creature, but in some rare cases it will provide a better chance of survival.
Creatures with “better genes” are stronger, faster, smarter, and healthier. Because of this they are more likely to survive and then reproduce.
Creatures that are weaker or slower are more likely to be killed off by the harsh environment that is mother nature, and so they are then less likely to reproduce and pass on their genes.
This process of evolution is ever-constant, and happening every time a new creature is born into Earth. But it’s not that noticeable except over very lengthy periods of time, in most cases.
Insects: How To Increase The Rate of Evolution
Humans will take millions of years to evolve. This is because, on average, we have a new generation every 2 or 3 decades.
Humans live relatively long lives compared to many other creatures, and we also have fewer offspring than other creatures.
In order to increase the chance of evolving quickly, there are two things you can do:
The first is to have more offspring. The more offspring you have, then the more genetic diversity will be created and thus more chances of mutations!
The second is to reproduce more quickly. This allows small changes to occur faster.
Insects Do Both.
Insects reproduce in extremely high numbers, and also very rapidly. In the case of mosquitoes, they can have hundreds of offspring and reproduce every few weeks!
What this means is that many insect species are able to evolve at unprecedented rates, creating new species before we even realize it.
For example, in the case of mosquitoes, there is already a unique London Underground mosquito species that is specially evolved for living underground. It can’t mate with above ground “normal” mosquitoes!
Let’s put this into numerical perspective. As a rough example, let’s say that every new “generation” brings about a 1% change in evolution.
Assuming - again, as a statistically inaccurate example - humans create a new generation every 20 years, this would mean that it would take 2,000 years in order to achieve a 100% change in evolution.
Let’s say that your typical insect species - such as a mosquito - can create a new generation every 2 weeks.
This means that insects could achieve the same 100% change in evolution within 200 weeks, or 3.84 years.
Now, these particular numbers of “percentage change of evolution” are NOT accurate. But the comparison example still stands true.
In other words, the same evolutionary changes that would take place in humans over a 2,000 year period is the same change that could take place in an insect population in under 4 years.
The truth of the matter is that insects can evolve at a rate of roughly 500x faster than us humans - in some cases faster or slower, depending on the particular species!
Danger: What This Means For Us
The unprecedented ability of insects to evolve at extremely rapid rates means that they can overcome barriers we have put up to keep insects out.
Over the decades and hundreds of years, insects have gotten better and better at living in our urban cities and adapting to the challenges we have created.
Whereas some mammals - that evolve much slower than insects - have gone extinct or struggled in this new human-owned Earth, insects have continued to thrive and adapt at unprecedented levels.
For example, did you know it’s believed some species of mosquitoes actually evolved alongside humans, learning how to drink our blood for survival?
Further compounding the problem is the continued adaptation that is taking place every single day that comes by from these creatures.
The pest control of last year may not be the same pest control that is effective this year.
This is because the insects that died from the previous pest control did not reproduce, but those that could escape it or stand it reproduced, causing insects to get stronger, faster, smarter, and better at infesting our homes.
Pest infestation is becoming an increasingly huge problem in the United States and around the world.
To make matters worse, the problem is not likely to go away anytime soon. Kill off one species, and another species will evolve to take its place.
This is an ongoing evolutionary battle that is likely to continue for as long as humans exist.
For right now, we at Wildlife x Team International have suitable methods to keep wildlife and pests away from your home - permanently.
If you think that you have a wildlife or pest infestation, we specialize in safe and responsible removal of the wildlife and pests.
Please call us at 855-WILDLIFE or visit www.wildlifexteam.com for more information. Let the experts handle the problem!
-Wildlife x Team International