Bugs are scary enough at face value. There’s a reason many of us are squeamish when it comes to crawling or flying insects. We all have that friend that goes into full-on panic mode when something as innocuous as a butterfly flits its wings near them. That’s because, through time and evolution, we’ve learned not to trust the insect world. Think about it; they’re tiny, they bite, and there are more than 200 million insects per person on the planet. Let that sink in.
In honor of Halloween, we thought we’d dive a little deeper than our innate distrust of our 6-legged friends and show you some truly scary bug facts; the kind of stuff that’ll make your skin crawl as you try to sleep tonight. Keep reading if you dare!
Running like a…roach with its head cut off?
The dreaded cockroach isn’t just a pervasive and disgusting bug that infests our homes (after taking a jaunt through our sewers.) The insect is also extremely hardy, more so than you might even imagine. A cockroach is such a durable specimen of life that it can live for up to a year with its head cut off.
Certain species of cockroach, when they lose their head, will simply seal the wound off. Many of its functions require no brain activity, so it’ll continue to breathe and move (living off of simple reflexes) even when its head and brain are missing.
Some wasps can turn bugs into zombies
Since we’re on the subject of roach brains, there is a wasp known as the “jewel wasp” that will push its stinger into the head of a cockroach, piercing its brain in a specific zone that controls its escape reflex. From there, the wasp will use the cockroach’s own antennae as rudimentary handlebars and lead the roach to its burrow.
The roach, suddenly indifferent to the need to escape the burrow (thanks, stinger) will remain inside the burrow where the wasp lay its eggs inside the roach’s guts, providing the emerging baby wasps a protein-rich meal as they wriggle outward.
Ladybugs can bite and practice cannibalism
When you see a ladybug the impulse to let it crawl on the tip of your finger and make a wish as it flies away is high. However, did you know a hungry ladybug will in fact use its powerful mandibles to bite you, and if left alone, it will happily feast on your blood for nourishment? Maybe think twice the next time one lands on you.
Beyond that, freshly hatched ladybugs will immediately begin feasting on their less-equipped siblings as a first meal. Ladybug hatchings are less of a beautiful example of mother nature, and more like a survival of the fittest bloodsport.
Tarantulas turn their prey into milkshakes
As if the hairy, eight-legged, creepy, crawling, and bitey spiders that can grow to be the size of your fist aren’t terrible enough, you might be surprised to learn what happens when they bite their prey. A tarantula is well-known for having large, black fangs, which they use to penetrate the flesh or exoskeleton of their prey after an ambush.
Those fangs will then inject a neurotoxin into their prey which effectively liquefies the animal’s innards. After some time, the tarantula’s food is a glorified milkshake in the world’s most horrifying container. Can a tarantula do this to us? No; the average tarantula bite is no worse than a bee sting (assuming you aren’t allergic.) The liquification action of a tarantula’s venom is reserved for much smaller animals.
Nearly every time a housefly lands, it poops or pukes
“Don’t leave the screen open! You’re lettin’ flies in!” Chances are that someone’s dad is probably yelling this right now. While you might think it’s annoying to get yelled at for forgetting to shut a window or door, your father has good reason to keep houseflies out, even if he doesn’t know it.
Did you know that when a housefly lands for any extended period, it’s doing one of two things; regurgitating a meal, or pooping it out? If you haven’t seen The Fly starring Jeff Goldblum, then you might not be as acquainted with the digestive stylings of the housefly. They rely on regurgitative action to digest their meals, which means they eat, puke and then eat again before their food is at a consistency that they can digest. If they’re not puking, then they’re going number 2 on your foot or kitchen table.