6 Animals That Look Like They're Dressed Up for Halloween
Halloween is that one time of year when you can dress however you want -- scary, silly, sexy, chillingly unsexy -- and nobody will judge you. (Unless you enter some sort of contest, in which case you're really just bringing it on yourself.) Candy binging, alcohol poisoning, questionable hook-ups -- truly, Halloween is a magical day. Which is why some animals choose to celebrate it 24/7 ...
Pink Underwing Moth Caterpillar (Going as a Voodoo Warrior)
Pink underwing moths come from the subtropical rain forests of Australia, and even though they aren't poisonous and lack ravenous fangs, they still found a way to be horrifying and do their native land proud. In its earliest larval stages, the caterpillar relies on crypsis to avoid predators, which basically means that it impersonates a dead leaf. But as the moths mature, they develop into what we see here, because hiding from your enemies isn't nearly as fun as scaring the crap out of them, Scooby-Doo villain style.
"Look, gang, Old Man Fetal Butterfly was the monster all along!"
It really is a mask, too: The whole thing is part of the creature's dorsum, and its actual head is shielded underneath. When threatened, the caterpillar raises its dorsum like a dog raises its hackles. The big, black, vacant "eyes," plus the chattering skull markings that surround them, create a nightmarish face that warns any would-be predators that they might want to back the hell away so quickly that their legs spin comically in place.
The voodoo caterpillar better thank its lucky stars that everybody's afraid of it, because it can't actually hurt anything except Carronia multisepalea, a rare type of vine that is literally the only thing it eats. Also, the vine is disappearing, and thus so is the caterpillar, implying that perhaps their mojo is not so powerful after all.
Spiny Orb Weaver (Going as a Skulltula from The Legend of Zelda)
Meet the spiny orb weaver. Now, good ol' Spiny up there doesn't need to dress up as anything scary; it's a spider. Just by existing, it has already made the world a slightly worse place. Instead, SOW likes to dress up in a fashion that honors its nerdy Nintendo fandom:
We checked three times to make sure this wasn't a portrait of Michael Fassbender.
That's a Skulltula from the Legend of Zelda series. If you don't recognize the character, try picturing it dropping down from the ceiling right as you prime yourself for a difficult jump, causing you to clumsily fall down a pit and start over from a checkpoint 20 minutes back. Although Skulltula is its technical name, you may know it better simply as "You rotten bastard!"
Or maybe we're giving it too much credit. Maybe the orb weaver doesn't have much of an imagination and it's just going as some lame regular skeleton, like the guys who go to Halloween parties as "a mummy" or "a Dracula." Maybe it's a Misfits fan. Heck, maybe it digs the prequels and just screwed up the Darth Maul makeup:
This is the one living creature who appreciated George's vision.
Whatever the case, it's still a spider with a skull on its back, which is one more thing than it needed to be terrifying. Oh, and don't try to console yourself by pretending that the spiny orb weaver is some rarity that you will never come across. In truth, they can be found grinning it up in bushes all over the globe, dropping down at the last second and causing you to miss your bus.
"Jason's Mask" Harvestman (Going as Take a Wild Guess)
Say hello to the "Jason's mask" harvestman (actual name), the only known species of daddy longlegs to resemble a crazed serial killer from a horror flick. You can "thank" the Brazilian Amazon for introducing this skittering atrocity to the world. It was only discovered this past January, so researchers haven't even had time to think of a decent scientific name for it, hence the clumsy but unerring pop culture reference.
It seems to be more or less a regular, harmless old daddy longlegs ... at least until some clueless teenage spiders start boning near its resting place and awaken its wrath. Then the only way to stop it will be via lightning strike, or a disappointing sequel where it gets sent up to space, underperforms at the box office, and overstays its welcome as a franchise.
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.
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.
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.
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.