You might think of insects as gross or scary, but you probably don't think of them as evil. After all, they're too stupid for that. Insects just trundle along and eat whatever they can find; it's not like they go out of their way to be sadistic about it.
Actually, upon closer examination, we're pretty sure they do.
#6. Allomerus Ants Build Elaborate Torture Towers
In the past, we've given you plenty of reasons to be afraid of ants: They are intelligent, organized, adaptable and probably two-thirds into their world domination plan already. And while most of them appear content to survive on picnic scraps and discarded party food (for now), others are way more ambitious. In 2005, scientists discovered the first known traps made entirely by ants with the specific purpose of catching bigger bugs, and they look like this:
Via Alain Degean
It's basically a hundred glory holes with a mousetrap inside each.
Yep, those holes are constructed to trap insect legs so that the ants can race out and slowly rip apart the victim.
That is Allomerus decemarticulatus, a species of ant in the Amazon, and their elaborate trap system is possible thanks to their relationship with a certain kind of tree. The tree provides a good habitat for the ants, and the ants keep larger insects away from the tree by tearing the shit out of anything that touches it.
The ants get to work cultivating a special type of fungus, all by themselves, and then use it to build large, hollow platforms that big insects can easily climb (otherwise, they'll just slide off the surface). These structures are dotted with hundreds of tiny holes -- and inside each hole hides an ant, waiting for an opportunity to do this:
As soon as a bug steps into their fungus trap, ants will begin grabbing its limbs and pulling them in opposite directions as they sting it to death (which, oh yeah, is a thing ants can do). Small bugs are snatched away in seconds -- the bigger ones can stay up there for hours, slowly being torn into more manageable chunks. Eventually these contraptions look like miniature versions of a medieval torture tower.
Via BBC News
Awesome, it's whack-an-eldrich-horror-from-beyond time!
Knowing how dedicated these little bastards are, we fully expect human-sized versions of these things to start cropping up in our backyards overnight. Just know that we're on to you, you little shits.
#5. Tiger Beetles Are Living Land Mines
Tiger beetles are exactly as badass as the first part of their name implies -- they run so fast after their prey that they're literally blinded by their own speed, moving too quickly for their eyes to gather photons. They don't just eviscerate their prey, but also the laws of physics. But those are the adult tiger beetles; we're here to tell you about their even more terrifying offspring.
Instead of chasing their prey, tiger beetle larvae take a much more subtle approach: They hide in holes in the ground and wait, essentially forming whole minefields filled with tiny versions of the sarlacc from Return of the Jedi.
There's a little regurgitated Boba Fett somewhere in there.
And then, when another insect approaches, this happens:
If ever there was a time for the sound effects guy from America's Funniest Home Videos, this is it.
They erupt from the sand like a jack-in-the-box from hell and snatch up the prey at the speed of light, dragging far bigger insects than themselves below the ground to be devoured. These things are so hardcore that they can stay down there for weeks without eating and are able to survive floods.
Oh, and just in case a bigger prey tries to drag them both away once its been locked in the beetle's jaws, the young tiger beetle also has hooks on the sides of its abdomen that anchor it to the walls of its little death hole. It's basically a living, meat-eating manhole cover that eventually grows up into the Flash, if the Flash had bones on the outside and chewed people's heads off.
Sorry, but if we had to see it, so do you.
#4. Mantidflies Eat Spider Babies, Secretly Replace Them
Imagine you're having a child, and after taking care of its gestating form for the amount of time required by your species, it's finally time for it emerge into the world -- but when the moment arrives, a horrible mutant bug comes flying out instead, thanking you for the meal. Luckily for you, in this scenario you're a spider, so we're pretty sure you're immune to fear.
What we just described is the modus operandi of the mantidfly, which at first glance looks like the insect equivalent of a centaur or something:
Via Wikimedia Commons
And at second glance looks like a sadistic third grader glued a mantis to a wasp.
The mantidfly combines the raptorial forelegs of a mantis with the aerial hunting technique of a wasp and the utter terror of your worst nightmare. While strictly a hunter as an adult, a mantidfly begin its life as hairy, wingless grub that survives by attaching itself to a female spider where her fangs can't reach, sucking just enough blood to keep both of them alive.
Via Discover Magazine
Wow, it's like having an agent, only ... well, actually it's exactly like having an agent.
Oh, but that's just the beginning. The spider herself is only a stepping stone in the mantidfly's twisted life cycle; its true goal is to get its slimy claws on some succulent spider eggs, and it's willing to wait as long as it needs to to get to them (here's one that ended up waiting 44 million years). Some mantidflies even attach themselves to male spiders, wait for them to have sex, jump into the female like some sort of sentient STD and only then get to the eggs.
And then, when the spider is wrapping her offspring in a thick cocoon of silk to keep them safe, the parasite will sneakily get in there and allow itself to be wrapped with them. Once inside, the mantidfly larva mutates into a different form that feeds by sucking the unborn arachnids from their protective shells. The spider, meanwhile, has no idea that she's taking care of a baby-eating atrocity and is in for a huge surprise.
Via Discover Magazine
"Hi, Mom. Come give me a hug."
When it's eaten its fill, the mantidfly undergoes one final transformation into a scythe-armed terror of the skies and emerges from the cocoon. And in case you were feeling bad for the spider, the next one should help you get over that ...