As we've shown in the past, the only safe course of action when dealing with the outdoors is to hole up in your bedroom forever, only occasionally looking at pictures of animals on your phone to remind yourself of what you're hiding from. You just can't trust nature. You're out on a hike and you bend down to help a wounded bird? Whoops, that's really a snake in disguise. You let a pretty butterfly alight on your finger? Fuck you, that's a venomous super-wasp. You grow woozy from the toxins devouring your veins and go to sit on a rock -- boom, it's a mountain lion. Think we're overreacting? Just look at stuff like ...

They mostly prefer the taste of bees and wasps, so some species of robber fly have evolved thicker bodies and colored fuzz to look exactly like bees:

5 Disguised Animals That Must Be a Mind F#@k to Get Eaten By
Bob Peterson

Unlike you, who have a thicker body and fuzz because you prefer the taste of Doritos.

This is the animal equivalent of murdering a teenager and wearing their skin in an attempt to convince the other kids at the food court that it's totally safe to get in your "rad van of safety and not dismemberment."

The Wyliea mydas species of robber fly not only pretties itself up like a wasp, it mimics that real-life Fallout enemy, the tarantula hawk. It isn't called a "tarantula hawk" because it kind of looks like a tarantula or because it loves the work of Portuguese metal band Tarantula -- it fucking eats giant spiders.

The Wyliea mydas, aware of the hawk's terrible reputation, isn't stupid enough to go after one itself. But it does make itself look almost exactly like one in order to keep predators at bay -- it even has the same toxin running through its body.

5 Disguised Animals That Must Be a Mind F#@k to Get Eaten By
Anne Reeves

"Just like you all now have the same pee running down your underpants."

Jesus, Wyliea mydas, chill out. There's "putting on a biker jacket to look tough" and then there's "standing at the bus stop with a doll mask and a running chainsaw so people don't try to make small talk."

A native bird of the Amazon forest, the cinereous mourner has long realized that the place is a goddamn death trap. So they made like that kid in your fifth-grade class who told all the bullies he knew karate and started imitating something dangerous:

5 Disguised Animals That Must Be a Mind F#@k to Get Eaten By

Donald Trump: the most dangerous predator of all.

That's a megalopygidae caterpillar, and that ridiculous toupee it's sporting is mighty toxic. They lurk around the same areas as mourners, and are roughly the same size as a baby bird. Through millennia of evolution and centuries of just straight-up frontin', mourner chicks managed to grow elaborate plumage for the express purpose of mimicking the poison wig monster.

5 Disguised Animals That Must Be a Mind F#@k to Get Eaten By
Gustavo A. Londono/The American Naturalist

To ruin the illusion, say, "Who's a cute little birdie?" and see if they raise their head.

Mourners instinctively know how caterpillars wriggle and squirm, and they emulate them perfectly. The mourner chick doesn't break character for anyone, not even its own mother. After she returns home with a delicious maggot, the mother has to give a special call -- a sort of safety phrase -- so that the chick is completely confident she isn't really a tarantula that evolved to look like mom. Deception is a double-edged sword, after all.

Leaves and Twigs That Are Actually Mantises

5 Disguised Animals That Must Be a Mind F#@k to Get Eaten By
Elroy Serrao

Stick insects are great at disguises, and a bunch of slow-motion bumbling stumblefucks at everything else. The African stick mantis is a different story. Also known as Popa spurca, this mantis expertly blends in with trees, not to escape predators but because it is one.


The African stick mantis, pictured here alongside the elusive Ecuadorian battery mantis.

Then there's the wandering violin mantis, also known as Gongylus gongylodes.

5 Disguised Animals That Must Be a Mind F#@k to Get Eaten By
Jayendra Chiplunkar

Also known as the word-salad bug.

If you saw that on the ground and it started moving, you'd have to assume that you took acid and got so high that you forgot you were high. It looks exactly like autumn foliage, and it will hide quietly among the leaves for hours, just waiting to strike at passing prey. Objectively, we know that nature doesn't play by any set of rules. But still, this has to be cheating, right? It just doesn't seem fair.


A Grotesque Mockery of a Tarantula That's Actually a Hag Moth Caterpillar

5 Disguised Animals That Must Be a Mind F#@k to Get Eaten By
USDA Forest Service

Naturally, the hag moth caterpillar can't just look like a regular old tarantula -- Wyliea mydas already brought a tarantula-eater to this nature fight. It has to up the ante. That's why the hag moth looks like the alien from The Thing trying to absorb a tarantula. It's just a mess of stubby, wriggling flesh that vaguely resembles horrific spider legs. But they're not spider legs. They are, impossibly, worse than that: They're venomous flails. The little hairs protruding from their un-legs are actually needles designed to attack predators.

5 Disguised Animals That Must Be a Mind F#@k to Get Eaten By
Sckel/Project Noah

"K-kill me. Kill me! Before I kill you!

Somehow, possibly because life has offended God in a deep and personal way, the hag moth gets even worse:

See, unlike most caterpillars (who have the common decency to cover themselves in comforting skin), the monkey slug is also transparent. Just to fucking freak you out even further.

Spiders That Look Exactly Like Wood and Hide in Trees

5 Disguised Animals That Must Be a Mind F#@k to Get Eaten By
Noel Buensuceso

That is not a vaguely spider-shaped stick. That is a vaguely stick-shaped spider. That is Poltys laciniosus. That is proof that love is a lie made up by madmen who faced the cold void that lurks behind the universe and turned away.

5 Disguised Animals That Must Be a Mind F#@k to Get Eaten By
Daintree Rainforest

Here is a stump-shaped spider. Prepare for stump-shaped fingers.

By night it's an ordinary mundane horror of a spider -- it makes webs, it captures insects, it devours their insides and shits out hope -- but come daybreak, it draws up its legs and morphs into a piece of bark, just waiting for you to accidentally touch it so it can permanently ruin your ability to trust.

If you're lucky, you'll come across a tree bearing Poltys illepidus. This variation is so dedicated to its disguise that it won't move at all, no matter how you poke or prod it. You won't have to deal with the trauma of the world coming to life and revealing itself to be a spider -- you will simply have to live with the knowledge that you are probably touching spiders all the time and don't know it. But if you happen to lay a finger on a Poltys laciniosus, it will jump to life, and the flimsy illusion of your own personal safety will be shattered forever.

5 Disguised Animals That Must Be a Mind F#@k to Get Eaten By
Daintree Rainforest

5 Disguised Animals That Must Be a Mind F#@k to Get Eaten By
Graham Wise

We've changed our mind about lumberjacks and forest fires. All trees must go.

These spiders can't actually harm you physically -- they're limited to psychological and spiritual damage. But any time you find out that something is a spider, when you did not initially think it was a spider -- that's a betrayal that is hard to forgive. After an encounter with a tree stump spider, you'll forever be wondering what else in your life is actually spiders. Flower spiders? Definitely. Leaf spiders? Probably. Keyboard spiders? Not yet scientifically proven, but that could just mean they're really, really committed.

E. Reid Ross is a columnist at Man Cave Daily. He's hiding in plain sight on Twitter here.

For more reasons it's time to go to war with Mother Nature, check out 5 Animals That Could Take Over the World (If They Wanted To) and 5 Animals Who Taught Themselves Eerily Human Skills.

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