7 Real Insect Superpowers That Put Spidey Sense to Shame
Insects and arachnids, like humans, have their superheroes with incredible powers. The only difference is that their superheroes are real, and consistently more impressive than the human version.
Just consider ...
The Spider With a Web 25 Times Stronger Than Steel
In all likelihood, the first three things you learned from Spider-Man was: spider senses blah blah blah, with great power comes yadda yadda and spider webbing is about five times as strong as high-grade steel, pound for pound. It's also waterproof and completely immune to bacteria and fungus, as if to mock us with the fact that nothing that makes up our bodies or anything associated with our lives is even close to as god-awesome-incredible as what dribbles off the backside of a spider.
And it does all of that without a cape!
Which brings us to Darwin's bark spider, a native of Madagascar and the granddaddy of all web secretors. It produces the strongest natural substance on the face of the Earth. These eight-legged bug munchers' webbing is 10 times stronger than Kevlar (the shit they make bulletproof vests out of) and a whopping 25 times stronger than steel. Oh, and it also easily beats out titanium, tungsten and pretty much any other metal around.
This is what our troops should be wearing.
We're sorry to say the reason the bark spider needs its butt-adamantium is the exact one you were secretly afraid of: it makes some of the largest webs on the planet that can reach over 80 feet in length. Bark spiders like to build their lairs above rivers and lakes where they don't have to compete with their lesser brethren.
We're pretty sure those are eagles.
They totally weave their webs from one bank to the other, too. Scientists are not sure how they manage that. Let's just assume they utilize wind or build a raft of enemy corpses or something. We mean, it's not as if spiders can walk on water or anything ...
The Spider That Walks on Water
... except, of course, this one.
Which bears a distinct resemblance to Martin Landau.
Spiders are one of the few creatures on Earth capable of turning the majority of people into screaming sacks of meat stewing in their own fear piss. Spiders are terrifying by default and (as we've shown you before) have the potential to be even more terrifying. Luckily though, spiders -- like all good supervillains -- have one major weakness: water, that wonderful substance able to turn them from a terrifying foe into a laughable mass of flailing limbs.
Got your back, bro!
And then there is the fishing spider. So named because of, no shit, its ability to fish, and by "fish" we mean "plunge its legs beneath the water's surface, grab its prey and tear it off to land." It achieves this by walking on the surface like it ain't no thing.
The fishing spider sneaks up to fish by dancing on the surface tension of water, then attacks them from above like a furry, eight-legged angel of death (the worst kind, as death angels go). More often than not, the end result is this:
If it makes you feel any better, that fish was kind of an asshole.
We never said it was a tiny spider, remember? That was just your wishful thinking.
But so what if it can swim, right? Just throw stones at it or kick it underwater or something. If you sink it, it drowns. Right?
Wrong! By trapping air in its fur, a fishing spider can stay submerged for almost 45 minutes. It is also an excellent swimmer, because fuck you, humanity. Signed, Nature.
What the hell, water? You were supposed to have our back.
Tiger Moths Create Sonic Illusions
To understand the superpower of the tiger moth, you have to understand its predator, the bat. Bats, when not striking fear in the hearts of criminals everywhere, are true marvels of nature. First, studies show that bats are actually more efficient and agile fliers than birds.
Aside from actual tigers, what can this guy blend in with?
And bats of course also have one of the most sophisticated sonic detection systems in the animal kingdom, pinpointing bugs in the pitch black of night with ultrasonic waves. It's these astounding abilities that make bats the unstoppable hunters in the night that they doubtlessly are.
They should make a superhero out of that.
Tiger moths, while potential bat prey, are one of the few creatures that can detect the high-frequency projections of bats, so they know when they're coming. But rather than go running away, they simply jam the signal. Now, if you think they're just screaming really loud so the bat can't hear, that certainly is part of it. But that wouldn't qualify as a superpower.
Though looking like a prostitute's underwear helps its case.
No, what's amazing is the moths will make fake echoes off of nonexistent objects. Basically, they can make bats see things that aren't there with sonic illusions. A bat could be flying around and then all of a sudden: "Holy shit, what is that? Break right! Break right!"
Scientists, of course, have been eager to study the tiger moth's powers. In one study they -- following the tried and true scientific motivation of "shits and giggles" -- pitted bats against moths in gladiator-style death-games to see just how good the moth really was. The outmatched bug managed to screw up the bats' sonar senses despite being tethered, crippled and pitted against three bats at once.
The Ironclad Beetle Lives Up to Its Name
What is the greatest weakness all insects have in common? They can be crushed. Bug spray might not kill everything. Some pests aren't fooled by the soft glow and relaxing hum of a bug zapper. But at the end of the day, a well-placed boot is logically pretty much the only weapon you'll ever need to defeat a raging insect.
Well, logic, you're in for disappointment when you happen to stomp on the ironclad beetle. It will scoff at your puny efforts.
"Piss off, buddy."
This slow-moving, bird-crap-camouflaged insect has two distinct powers. The first is thanatosis, which sounds like a kick-ass comic book doomsday weapon but is really just a science-y way of saying that they like to play dead. In fact, these beetles play dead so well that jewelers in Mexico decorate and sell them as living bling.
"Aww, a giant insect permanently disfigured by cheap rhinestones and a hot glue gun! He totally gets me!"
Perhaps more importantly, though, the ironclad beetle has what amounts to the hardest exoskeleton of any arthropod in existence. They are, for all intents and purposes, the tanks of the insect world. And yes, you can literally step on one and the damage you do is likely to be precisely jack shit. So it'd be like if a person was strong enough to withstand being stood on by Godzilla.
It took a whole platoon of U.S. Marines to bring this guy down.
And get this: you know those insect collectors who like to impale things with pins and put them in little display cabinets? Those guys have to use drills on ironclad beetles, because you can't get a pin through them without power tools.
Oh, and they also have grittier cousins called, no kidding, diabolical ironclad beetles, whose appearance is not unlike a demonic murderer's black heart set on six legs.
"I am the last thing you see before you die."
Flies Live in the Matrix
With all our advanced technology and opposable thumbs, a human killing a fly should be a breeze. Anyone who's tried it, though, will know that it is no easy task. No matter what angle you use to sneak up on one, no matter how fast and stealthy you may be, the fly usually manages to, well, fly away, happily giving you the insect equivalent of the finger the entire time.
You son of a bitch!
There's a reason that Mr. Miyagi is always trying to catch one with chopsticks, because it turns out flies have abilities that make Neo look like your drunken dad. First up, see those weird eyes? They give your average fly 360-degree vision, meaning sneaking up on one is next to impossible. Then, after the fly swatter comes into view, it takes it just 100 milliseconds to spot and calculate the exact escape route needed to get away. That's quicker than you can blink.
How is this possible, science? What's that? You don't know?
Yes, all science is able to tell us is that a fly just seems to know exactly what it needs to do to escape, instantly. The reaction is so quick scientists believe it borders on instinct as opposed to any sort of active choice made by the fly. Which is sort of good news, since we definitely wouldn't want it to use that time to think about all the ways it could use our blinking time to, say, call its friends over to take a group dump down our throats.
Dude, it can hear us -- don't make eye contact.
Heyyy ... wait a minute. So, flies can see the world in slow motion, sensing danger coming long before it strikes and move instinctively out of the way? Yes the bug known for spitting up on everything and getting bullied by spiders are the ones with the real world spidey sense! Damn you, flies. Now every Spider-Man comic that has ever existed has been a lie.
Mosquitoes Know Your Blood Type from Across Your Yard
Ah, mosquitoes, the scourge of summer! Mosquito bites are a minor -- if awfully itchy -- annoyance to most of you, but a bit more of a pressing problem for all the people that have gotten sick and died because of them. So what we're basically saying here is, screw mosquitoes.
And while the worst thing about them is the bite, the most annoying thing is how they always, always manage to find you and know exactly when to strike to cause maximum annoyance.
There's a reason behind this: they can sense your presence. Like a much creepier version of Professor X, mosquitoes have the innate ability to sense where people are. Through a complicated combination of smell, sight and heat detection, mosquitoes are able to pinpoint your exact location from over 100 feet away. If that doesn't sound impressive, bear in mind that a mosquito is usually less than an inch long -- that's like you being able to detect dinner from a mile away.
"Hope you don't need this blood, jerkface. Heh. Heh. *slluuuuurp*
But wait, there's more: they can also detect your blood type, again from 100 feet away. Even if you stand next to other people with different blood types, the mosquito will home in on the ones it finds tastiest (sucks to be you, people with type-O blood).
Even the most advanced mosquito repellents are just able to mask your smell, making you sort of invisible to the mosquito. Yes, the best defense we have against one of man's deadliest enemies is to hide and hope they don't accidentally bump into us as they lazily buzz around.
Oh, and don't wear a hat. Mosquitoes love hats.
The Termite With a Gun for a Face
As we have mentioned before, ants are a terrible force hellbent on conquering the world and we should totally cower in fear before them. However, there is one group of insects that does not fear ants at all, but instead fights their evil empire at every opportunity like an army of small, disgusting Luke Skywalkers. That group is called termites.
*VRRRWOM VVVRWOM CSHH!*
Termites tend to get a bad rap because they eat houses and are really just pretty much a bunch of super-organized roaches. Be that as it may, termites are kick-ass bugs that should not be underestimated. In fact, a certain species of them is in possession of one of the most advanced weapon systems in the animal world. Every soldier of the Nasutitermitinae termite has something called a fontanellar gun -- in its face. The gun shoots projectile glue (glue being a pretty good defense against insects, as every fly that has ever made acquaintance with fly paper will testify) at its opponents.
Imagine being an ant soldier and going up against a termite in a territorial battle. You're pretty evenly matched and similar in size, but you're confident because you're a freaking ant and he's not. That is, confident right up until he shoots you in the face. With the gun he's got built into his face. No flailing mandibles, no spraying toxins from his butt. He doesn't need that shit, because he already has a goddamn gun face.
Every termite mound is a giant middle finger, taunting every ant within miles to come get some.
And they don't keep it one-on-one, either -- when the termite colony is threatened, soldiers gang up to mow down their ant foes with a barrage of their adhesive ammunition. Which, as it happens, is also lethally poisonous.
And just to really rub it in the ants' faces, the termites fire their formidable faceguns blind ... not that they have a choice, seeing as they have no eyes.
A true ninja needs no eyes.
You know your weapon's alright when mother nature has to step in and take your eyes away just to level the playing field.
For more creatures that scare the shit out of us, check out 7 Terrifying Creatures You'll Never See Coming and The 5 Most Horrifying Bugs in the World.
And stop by LinkSTORM to learn how to arm yourself against the insect and arachnid uprising.
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