7 fastest flying insects in the world you might not know

Some of the fastest flying insects in the world can reach speeds of up to 30 miles an hour. These speedy creatures are found all over the world, from North America to Asia and Africa. They are the most popular insects. Let’s find out what are they!

1. Dragonfly

The king of the list of fastest flying insects is dragonflies. It is believed to be the fastest flying insect all over the world. With magical wings, this species is unstoppable. Normally, it can fly at a speed of 30 miles per hour (48 kilometers per hour), but when necessary, it can reach a speed of up to 96 kilometers per hour. And this record belongs to a Southern giant darner (an Australian dragonfly).

Due to its unbelievable flying ability, it can easily escape from predators and catch prey. Compared to sharks and lions, dragonflies have a higher success rate when catching prey (up to 95%).

Dragonflies are the fastest flying insects on earth

Dragonfly is not only fast, but it can also fly like a helicopter. This means it can fly back and forth, up and down, or even sideways. Its wings can move independently and can destroy bacteria (Escherichia or Bacillus subtilis) to keep it healthy.

To know more about this insect’s flying ability, you can read our “16 Facts about Dragonfly” article.

2. Horsefly

Speaking of the top fastest flying insects in the world, we can’t miss horseflies. Some rankers even believe that this insect is even quicker than a dragonfly, especially when a male is chasing a female. 

Hybomitra hinei wrighti – a male horsefly was believed to reach the fastest speed when pursuing a female, 90 miles per hour (145 kilometers per hour). This event broke the record of the Australian dragonfly above. However, others said that its speed is not that fast, just about 37 miles per hour (60 kilometers per hour). No matter which speed it reaches, the horsefly is still a fast insect. 

And you should be careful with this little devil because it will suck your blood and transfer diseases. The paint will come after that immediately, as well as the redness, itches, or swelling. To know more about what a horsefly bite can do to you, you can read our guidelines. 

3. Ladybug

Among many fastest flying insects out there, the ladybug is not thought to be one of them. It seems big, clumsy, and slow. However, despite the look, this insect still earns its spot on the list. 37 miles per hour (about 60 km per hour) is the speed that a ladybug can reach. It can also fly as high as the Ben Nevis mountain. 

In case you wonder, the red thing with black spots is not their wings. It is an exterior shell called elytra. Their forewings are protected by it and their hidden wings are folded beneath it. When necessary, the hidden wings will unfold and beat at the rate of 85 beats per second.  With these wings, a ladybug can fly a journey of 74 miles in one flight and it can hover nonstop in the air for 2 hours. 

Ladybug is one of the fastest flying insects in the world

Ladybug is a good insect that helps you to eliminate mites, aphids, and whiteflies. However, there is also a bad type of ladybug – the Asian Lady Beetle. It looks similar to the good one. To differentiate them and remove the bad ladybug, read our Ladybug article. 

4. Skipper Butterfly

Skipper butterfly is a cousin of butterfly and moth. They all belong to the Lepidoptera family. It is usually mistaken for a moth, especially its appearance. To know more bout skippers’ look and their interesting facts, you can read our article.

Like the ladybug, the skipper deserves to be named one of the world’s fastest flying insects with a speed of 37 miles per hour (60 kilometers per hour). Furthermore, it is also the insect having the fastest reflexes. It can react twice as fast (or more) as humans do. This, as well as the fast flight speed, helps them survive in the dangerous world. 

However, they are not so good at travel on long journeys. Its shorter and rounder wings are fitter for short and fast flights.

5. Hawk moth

Besides skippers, another member of the Lepidoptera family also joins the list – the hawk moth. The insect mostly flies and feeds at night. Its average speed is 12 miles per hour (19 kilometers per hour) and the fastest speed is about 35 miles per hour (56 kilometers per hour)

Like other members of the family, the hawk moth feed on the nectar of flowers. At night, it visits from flower to flower to eat frequently, which helps it to maintain its energy to fly at that speed. Asides from flying quickly, the hawk moth can also twist its body in the air and fly sideways. 

Although being underestimated as a pollinator, the hawk moth still does a wonderful job for many native plants. This species has many unique ways to defend itself from its predators. To learn more, you can read more Facts about Hawk moths.

6. Hornet

Next is the hornet. This insect is often mistaken for a wasp, however, they are different. In spite of having an unfriendly look, the hornet is very shy, it is not hostile as you thought and only attacks when it feels threatened and needs to protect its colony. And the hornet can sting you multiple times.

When talking about hornet flight speed, we usually talk about an Asian giant hornet speed. This is the biggest, the fastest, and the most dangerous hornet in the world. It has a length of 5cm, a wingspan of 7.6cm, and a stinger of 6cm. The large body and the long wings help it reach the speed of 25 miles per hour (40 kilometers per hour).

Hornet is one of the fastest flying insects on earth

Because the Asian giant hornet is big, the amount of venom when it stings can be more dangerous and can cause you very bad symptoms. So, stay away from this hornet and don’t make it angry. Poorly, honey bees cannot do the same. They and their honey are hornet’s favorite food. With just one Asian giant hornet, 40 bees can be killed in a minute. That’s why this hornet is also known as a bee killer. 

However, Japanese bees know how to fight against this killer. To how Japanese bees can defend and kill the hornet, you can read out article. 

7. Monarch butterfly

Like birds, monarch butterflies migrate to warmer places in winter. And they’re the only known butterfly species to do this.  Unlike other cousins, they can’t stand the harsh winter in the north.

Like all of the insects in this list, monarch butterflies are one of the fastest flying insects on earth. When fleeing from a predator, they may flap their wings up to 12 times per second. They can fly at speeds ranging from 4 to 12 miles per hour (6 to 19 kilometers per hour). But they can go much faster, approximately 25 mph (40 kilometers per hour) if they take advantage of available wind currents.

Another special feature of this butterfly is that it’s toxic. During their larval development, monarch butterflies consume deadly milkweed and store it in their bodies. The cardiac glycoside toxin protects them from predators by causing them to vomit.

8. Honey bee

The last one on the list of top fastest flying insects is honey bees. This is one of the fastest flying insects in the world. A honey bee can flap its four wings at the rate of 240 times per second, which explains why you can hear its sound when it’s near you.

So how fast is a bee?

The average speed of a worker bee is about 15 miles per hour (21 kilometers per hour), its fastest speed is recorded to be about 20 miles per hour (32 kilometers per hour). However, it will be slowed down when carrying pollen on its pollen sacks up on the rear leg, about 12 miles per hour (17 km/h).

Besides being good at flying, the honey bee is also competent at other things. You should read our Honey bee facts to know how smart it is.

Light rain is not a problem for the honey bee. It can fly in such weather, but it doesn’t like to. Sunny days are better since it relies on the sun for navigation. Not to mention that a light rain can turn into heavy rain which can slow it down and break its wings.

9. top fastest flying insects

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Above are the top 7 fastest flying insects in the world. Some insects can fly faster than you can see. Some of these insects, like monarch butterflies, can flap their wings up to 120 times per minute! So which is your favorite? Let us know in the comment below!


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