Pests that Put the Pedal to the Metal

Pests that Put the Pedal to the Metal

Fast Flyers

Have you ever been walking outside, seen a small dark flash across your vision, and suddenly a bug has smacked run full force into your face without you even having a chance to react? Well, flying pests can reach amazingly rapid speeds. Try to watch out for these fast flyers next time:

  • Dragonfly (Anisoptera)

Clocking in as the fastest known flying insect, the dragonfly can maintain a speed of 35 mph, which means they can even outrun a car if it is traveling slowly and safely on backroads or through a neighborhood.

  • Hawk Moths (Sphingidae)

These months are known as the second fastest in flight, achieving a speed of 33.7 mph.

Rapid Runners

There is actually a bit of debate as to which bug is truly the fastest on foot on Earth, and for good reason. It is difficult to pit these pests against one another when each species is vastly different from one another. Some have more legs than others and yet other bugs move considerably faster when factoring in their size ratio. Here are some of the top contenders for the title of the Fastest Running Bug Alive and why they are considered for the title:

  • Tiger Moth Caterpillar (Apantesis vittata)

Originally, Tiger Moth Catepillars were considered for the title as a few individuals achieved shocking maximum speeds. However following the requirement that the bugs had to be consistently clocked in at a speed in order for it to be considered in the race, virtually eliminated this contender, as they only reached an average of 3.1 mph.

  • American Cockroaches (Periplaneta Americana)

When they really get going, cockroaches can actually run on their hind legs, reaching a speed of 3.4 mph, making them the fastest bug on two legs.

  • Australian Tiger Beetle (Cicindela hudsoni)

Both Species of Australian Tiger Beetle are exceedingly quick. The Cicindela hudsoni clocks in at an average of 5.6 mph and can sprint up to 8ft per second. This is so fast that their eyes actually cannot process the fast-moving images in tandem with their speed, and they have to slow down to actually be able to see their surroundings.

  • Australian Tiger Beetle (Cicindela eburneola)

The Cicindela eburneola clocks in at only 4.2 mph, but when taking size into consideration, these stats seem a little less significant. Tracking their speed relative to their size, scientists found that the Cicindela eburneola travels at171 body lengths per second. This is very impressive when compared to the 120 body lengths per second of the Cicindela hudsoni and 50 body lengths per second for the American Cockroach.


Fleming, N. (2014) The Fastest Insect in the World, BBC. Available at: (Accessed: June 2020).

The Most Incredible Insects (N/A) The Smithsonian Institute. The Department of Systemic Biology and Entomology for the National Museum of Natural History. Available at: (Accessed: June 2020).

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