Great insects move faster than armadillos in one study

Getty Images and amglobe Environmental & Natural Resources Research Institute reports that two species of insects moved 40 times faster than a lizard in South Africa

A South African team has found that, under optimal conditions, two of the world’s largest flying insects, the omicron species and the petiolle of the pygmy hornworm, can move nearly twice as fast as a wild armadillo and 600 times faster than an armadillo in Australia.

The omicron, which measures as tall as a living human, is an Australian native and is so elusive that some people have mistaken it for a pine tree. It can reportedly stretch up to 300m long and in densely populated areas, is especially scarce. The only known fly of its kind, the omicron is adapted to fly at night.

The omicron could conceivably serve as a travelling tool for hobbits; A study published in Biological Conservation puts the creatures’ size and speed at more than 40 times that of a footsoldier from The Lord of the Rings movies.

“This swift movement is already leading to serious problems,” said Dr Dalise Forbes, the lead researcher from the British College of Rheology and the Tresidder Institute for Southern Agriculture Research. “At times of agricultural labour shortages, farmers often use insects to transport livestock products more efficiently. At other times, insects can enable fruit farmers to travel far distances safely and efficiently, without the need for vehicles and drivers.”

Unfortunately, conditions in South Africa, where the omicron and the petiolle are most commonly found, don’t allow for sufficient movement for full capture and release. So the researchers are calling for swift efforts to coordinate efforts between conservationists, regulatory agencies and local communities to mitigate the pests’ impact on humans, wildlife and agriculture.

Read the full study on the Scientific Reports website.

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