A team of scientists has discovered the world’s largest insect, a giant grasshopper known as Romalea microptera. The discovery was made during an expedition to Gunung Palung National Park in West Kalimantan province on Borneo island. The team collected three specimens of this species, and all were at least 16 centimeters (6 inches) long and had wingspans up to 28 centimeters (11 inches). With such a large size and wingspan, these insects are capable of flying up to 200 meters per second, which is about half the speed of sound. It is unclear yet if there are any other examples or subspecies that are larger.
This discovery is significant because it highlights the diversity of life in Borneo, which is under threat from deforestation and rapid development.
Grasshoppers are herbivorous insects of the sub-order Caelifera within the Orthoptera. The species is often found in tropical and subtropical grassy fields, meadows, and forests. The role of grasshoppers in the ecosystem is to help with the decomposition of plants, some species are able to eat toxic plants, and they also spread spores of other plant life.