While the likelihood of otherworldly aliens is still up in the air, we humans need to take a closer look at all of the creatures that we share the planet with. Amongst all the lions, tigers and bears that live out in the deep, dark woods are the itty-bitty bugs that are probably more terrifying than all of those furry creatures together, even given their significantly smaller size. While most of us will agree that bugs are absolutely disgusting, this particular group of bugs are nightmare worthy. From shooting vomit at predators to eating their own to weighing as much as three house mice, some of these insects are plain old terrifying—never mind the fact that a couple of them are house pests.
As creepy as bugs are, it is important to remember how essential they are to the planet—especially considering their position on the food chain. So before you decide to whack one of these into the next world, try encouraging the little creature to exit the premises, as some of these bugs are close to being on the endangered species list.
Here is a list of some of the freakier bugs on the planet (and try not to take a look at this before you go to sleep):
10. Giant Walking Stick
The longest insect in the world, the female Walking Stick (Phasmatodea) grows to be about 12 inches in length. Found mostly in warmer climates, these insects, which look like giant branches with legs, have evolved to camouflage perfectly with their surroundings. While they vary in their appearance, the creepiest of the stick bugs seems to be the plainest version. The loveliest part? If you happen to startle one, the creature may squirt you with its poison of choice—vomit, poop or blood. Awesome, right?
9. The Giant Burrowing Cockroach
Native to Australia, the Rhinoceros Cockroach (Macropanesthia rhinoceros), or as they are more commonly called, litter bugs, weigh a little over an ounce. They also happen to look like armoured alien soldiers, growing a little over three inches in length. Another common name for the insect is the Giant Burrowing Cockroach, since they tend to make their homes deep in the earth. With a lifespan of about 10 years, we’re thrilled to learn that they don’t like burrowing in houses.
8. European Earwig
While drying your clothes outside on the clothesline is a totally wonderful and environmentally friendly idea, the downside is that you’ve probably found these little creatures lingering inside your damp clothes—especially if you’ve left them outside overnight. Originally named after an old wives’ tale, it was thought that European Earwigs (Forficula auricularia) had a thing for crawling into human brains via the ear. This belief, thankfully, has been debunked. Which is fantastic, considering the pincers that these insects carry around on their rear ends.
There is no end to our level of amazement when it comes to ants. With a lifespan of about 30 years, these little creatures can lift about 100 times their body weight, and survive for about 24 hours underwater. While what your conception of what an ant looks like is probably pretty standard, consider the fact that there are around 12,000 different species of ant—one of which is the Antlion (Myrmeleontidae).
This little guy, however, stands out with its fuzzy skin and gigantic pincers. Not to mention how the larvae hang out just under the sand or earth, popping up to murder their prey.
6. Brazilian Treehopper
First, just check out what is happening on the Brazilian Treehopper’s (Bocydium globulare) thorax. While they look like eyes, they aren’t—they are actually just for decoration. Found pretty much everywhere with the exception of a few crazy cold places, this little insect just looks like he’s headed out to a party. Part of the thorn bug family, these wacky bugs are totally harmless. Just instead of screaming when you see one, get your giggle on because they are pretty much harmless (and kind of adorable).
5. The Mantis: Specifically, the Devil’s Flower Mantis and the Wandering Violin Mantis
Since every single mantis on the planet is super terrifying, it makes sense that the Devil’s Flower Mantis (Pseudocreobotra wahlbergii) and the Wandering Violin Mantis make this list. The former, found mostly in South Africa, sports flamboyant spiky headgear that serves as camouflage so that it can hide amongst the flowers and scare the s#@$ out of its prey (and simultaneously conceal itself from its predators). The latter (Gongylus gongylodes) is largely found in India and Sri Lanka. Unlike its spiny little cousin, the Wandering Violin Mantis, also known as the Indian Rose Mantis, grows to about 11 cm in length. It also looks like a bunch of dried leaves sewn together, making for a fairly odd appearance. And also, mantids eat each other—in case they weren’t scary enough. On the upside, they are fairly friendly towards the humans who keep them as pets.
4. The Puss Moth Caterpillar
While these brilliant caterpillars metamorphose into the furry Puss Moth (Cerura vinula), their caterpillar form is far more brilliant than the moth version. A vivid green with a cherry coloured circle surrounding its head, the vulnerable caterpillar uses its bright colours to ward off prey. Another defence is the pair of black markings on its back to serve as “eyes” to add to its fearsome demeanour. As for the two stingers protruding out of its back, those are handy for spraying determined attackers with formic acid—a carboxylic acid also found in ant venom.
3. Scorpion Fly
So terrifying. The scorpion fly (part of the Mecoptera family) is like a wasp ran into a scorpion and they were both like “let’s make little baby scorpions with wings that will just scare the s#@$ out of everyone.” A fairly ancient species, the creepy fly dates back to the Mesozoic age. The females don’t generally have the terrifying hardware—those stingers are just male genitals, so try not to worry when you see one. And these guys can be found all around the world.
2. House Centipede
This nocturnal yellow and grey invertebrate has 30 legs (which it uses to scuttle about your house when you’re sleeping). The House Centipede (Scutigera coleoptrata) is a home dweller, feeding mostly on the other pests in your house. Here are some other creepy facts: the creature is born with four legs, gaining new pairs every time it sheds its skin—until it gets up to 15 pairs. To the untrained eye, the centipede can be confused with fellow house dweller, the silverfish, who actually is a pest, since it likes to munch on wallpaper. Luckily, the centipede likes to eat silverfish, so you can cross that off your worry list if you find them both in your home. But the idea of one snacking on the other is nothing short of disgusting.
1. Giant Weta
This insect is so large that the person who discovered it (Mark Moffett) decided that a carrot was a pretty accurate snack choice for the 71-gram creature (according to iflscience.com, this means that the largest Weta is three times the size of a mouse). Typically found in New Zealand, the insect usually weighs in at about half that size (with the females being the largest). Part of the genus Deinacrida, the cricket-like Giant Weta is a vegetarian. Thankfully.