Guiding BeeInsects in the Big Picture

The Most Successful Insects

The insects are, by far, the most successful class of animals on Earth: over 750,000 living species have been identified and the estimated total number of living species is in the millions. Moreover, this species count has been blooming since the Carboniferous at least and shows no signs of slowing. Of these, roughly three quarters belong to four orders (click on an image for details):

The beetles, Nature's most successful order, comprising over 250,000 identified species.


More than 110,000 species of ants, bees, and wasps known.


This order counts over 85,000 identified species of flies, mosquitos, and gnats.


About 150,000 species of butterflies and moths found.

Insects in the Big Picture...2, March 1996