Small Is Beautiful: Features of the Smallest Insects and Limits to Miniaturization

Annu Rev Entomol. 2015 Jan 7;60:103-21. doi: 10.1146/annurev-ento-010814-020924. Epub 2014 Oct 8.


Miniaturization leads to considerable reorganization of structures in insects, affecting almost all organs and tissues. In the smallest insects, comparable in size to unicellular organisms, modifications arise not only at the level of organs, but also at the cellular level. Miniaturization is accompanied by allometric changes in many organ systems. The consequences of miniaturization displayed by different insect taxa include both common and unique changes. Because the smallest insects are among the smallest metazoans and have the most complex organization among organisms of the same size, their peculiar structural features and the factors that limit their miniaturization are of considerable theoretical interest to general biology.

Keywords: Insecta; body size; morphology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Size
  • Insecta / anatomy & histology*
  • Insecta / physiology*
  • Insecta / ultrastructure
  • Miniaturization