Illustrated image of locusts swarming and peasant farmers fighting them to save their crops

A big problem getting to grips with insects is that there are just so many of them. The total number of individuals has to be described with numbers that have the distinct air of the ridiculous about them. A quintillion (a 1 followed by 18 zeros) anyone? We may as well stick to “lots” and give up for all the everyday use numbers like a billion billion are.

Even the number of different species is vast – some people estimate as many as 30 million, though most estimates tend to cluster south of the 5 million bracket. In the UK alone though there are more than 7000 different types of flies! Daunting barely begins to describe it.