In our most recent podcast I boldly asserted that there was an insect so fast that it goes (temporarily) blind. Turns out that I wasn’t lying. The insect in question is the tiger beetle.
These silly little critters apparently run in a series of fits and starts because they actually move so quickly that their eyes do not collect enough light to create an image of what is around them. They sprint, they go blind, they stop, look around, repeat.
All of this at an amazing 4.1 miles per hour. Fine, don’t be amazed. That doesn’t seem very fast. It’s only 171 body lengths per second. WHAT!? Usain Bolt manages just over 6 body lengths per second when he is at top speed. If he were covering 171 of his own body lengths every second, he’d break the sound barrier! (That is not hyperbole, people; Bolt would be running at a stupid fast 748 miles per hour.) People think ants are awesome because they can lift 8 times their body weight, but the tiger beetle is the scale equivalent of an insane rocket car.For more information about these silly little speed demons and for the sources for the above image and statistics, check out Goodheart’s Extreme Science Blog.