#3. Lucihormetica luckae (Going as a Jawa from Star Wars)
This cockroach is operating on a very mistaken assumption: It thinks it can throw on a bathrobe and some custom LED goggles and coast off the inexplicable cuteness wave of the Jawas from Star Wars.
Vršanský et al., Naturwissenschaften (2012)
It's only adorable because you can't smell pictures.
To its credit, the roach almost pulls it off: If it weren't for the disturbing pockmarked surface of the mask and haphazard "mouth line," it would be a pretty sweet costume. It's even sort of got that adorable little pouch/bandolier running across the torso that all Jawas have.
But if you're still a little queasy about it, don't worry: Lucihormetica luckae is a bioluminescent roach found only on the slopes of Ecuador's Tungurahua volcano. But this roach isn't satisfied with simply glowing, as it is also the "first documented case of asymmetrical bioluminescence" ever found. This is science-speak for "weird, creepy face that glows in the dark." It's sort of like when your mom said she had eyes in the back of her head, only in this case the eyes aren't functional, but merely a defensive pattern to deter predators, and oh -- also your mom is a roach.
Fortunately for you, if you hate and fear roaches (or unfortunately for you, if you're trying to put on an all-insect Star Wars revue), that Ecuadorian volcano is the only place where these roaches have been found, and it kinda blew up a few years ago. No living specimens have been found since, and science is not optimistic that they ever will again. Serves the bastards right for foisting off all those faulty droids on naive farm folk.
#2. Death's-Head Hawkmoth (Going as the Grim Reaper)
Low self-esteem? Overcompensation? Sons of Anarchy fan? Who knows why the death's-head hawkmoth wears the reaper on its back. All we know is that, despite the desperate transparency of a full-back skull tattoo, the little bugger is actually pulling off "don't mess with me" pretty well. It couldn't be more terrifying if the skull was actually made up of naked dead girls, a la its guest appearance on the poster for The Silence of the Lambs. (Have you ever looked really closely at it? Zoom and enhance, friends.)
Ah, its natural habitat -- some broad's face.
There are actually a few species called death's-head moths, but by far the coolest, and most famous, is Acherontia atropos. Not just because they're born with club colors already inked up, but because they barge into hives and steal honey from bees. Usually, this is a horrible idea. Bees are formidable adversaries and do not generally enjoy being home-invasioned. Even the Asian giant hornet, which is capable of destroying hundreds of bees single-handedly, won't try to force its way into the hive while there are guards on duty. It's suicide.
But the death's-head moth doesn't give a happy damn about any of that. They have thick body armor, are mostly immune to venom, and produce a scent very similar to a bee's. In addition, some researchers think that spooky skull marking is actually designed to resemble a bee -- if you squint real hard, and are as stupid as a bee.
If you are as stupid as a bee, please avoid driving or voting.
But, much like Mike Tyson, the death's-head moth loses a little of that street cred when it opens its mouth:
That's right: This skull-covered, armor-plated avatar of death ... squeaks like an adorable little dog toy when you poke at it.
#1. Common Awl Skipper (Going as a Jack-o'-Lantern)
D'awww, wook at dat widdle guy. If we weren't such firm believers in the extinction of all insect-kind, we'd almost want to keep this tiny fella as a pet. This is the caterpillar form of the common awl skipper butterfly, a native of Southeast Asia. Its perfect little smiling jack-o'-lantern of a face might be unnerving on, say, a giant spider or some sort of parasitic devil-wasp, but slapped atop that goofy, roly-poly fuzzy body?
It's like the Headless Horseman, but with the body of a furry condom.
Pure cuteness. It's even a little clumsily done, like letting a kid apply her own costume makeup on Halloween night.
But, as we've mentioned before, ladybugs are red with black spots in order to let predators know that they're poisonous. More than likely, the awl evolved its perversely adorable look in order to trick others into thinking the same thing. And if that doesn't work, the fact that they EAT POISON might. Their favorite food is Derris elliptica, a toxic plant that doubles as an insecticide, a fish-stunner, and a core ingredient in poison-tipped arrows.
So, y'know, try not to snuggle too close.
Related Reading: Animals may be great at dressing up, but they're decades behind us in terms of traumatizing children via costumes. Look at that almost-naked Na'avi costume and argue with us. If your Halloween goals are more along the lines of "telling everyone you suck", try this ball pit costume. Close your Hallo-reading with these extremely regrettable sexy costumes.