6 Horrifying Bugs That Forgot To Follow The Rules Of Nature
The tree of life is jam-packed with sublime majesty ... as long as you don't look at it too closely. When you examine some of Mother Nature's tiniest creations under a magnifying glass, it becomes all too clear that, whereas human beings are mostly carbon and water, bugs are made of equal parts nightmares and hell-dimension rage.
"Exploding Ants" Kill Themselves To Trap Predators In Poisonous Goo
In Borneo, there is a species of ant called Camponotus cylindricus, more pronounceably known as the exploding ant. About half of these little buggers' volume is made up of a toxic, sticky substance which researchers refer to as "yellow goo," because sometimes Latin can go fuck itself (particularly when exploding ants are involved). When threatened by a predator (usually a larger ant), the exploding ant will lock onto its attacker's legs with their mandibles, flip upside-down in nature's unsexiest dance battle, and squeeze their abdominal muscles until their butts literally explode.
Touch it. Go on, we dare you.
This serves a dual purpose. First, the yellow goo is toxic, so there's a good chance it will simply kill the aggressor outright. And if that doesn't work, it's also extremely sticky -- it effectively glues the exploding ant's (now) corpse to its enemy. So even if whatever attacks an exploding ant is sturdy enough to survive being massively poisoned, it'll still have to live out the remainder of its short life in a horrific, involuntary remake of Weekend At Bernie's.
Or if the exploding ant is really sadistic, Weekend At Bernie's 2.
It sounds insane, but it's not uncommon for highly social insects such as ants to go kamikaze to protect their nest. Thing is, exploding ants will do it at the slightest provocation -- a gentle poke with forceps in a lab is enough to make them initiate ass-bursting protocol. They'll even do it hundreds of meters away from their nest, if a larger ant so much as takes a step onto their foraging grounds. That's sort of like blowing up your neighbor at the Food Lion on the off chance that they might snatch the last tub of macaroni salad.
Twisted-Wing Parasites Turn Their Hosts Into Body Horror Sex Zombies
Twisted-wing parasites start out life as tiny larvae. Very tiny. "Can crawl right inside a bee, silverfish, or cockroach" tiny. Once inside a host, their mere presence causes their host's genitals to straight-up vanish, in the most dickish magic trick since Batman drowned Wolverine. Please note that we haven't even gotten to the worst part about twisted-wing parasites yet, despite spending the previous two sentences describing how they make genitals disappear.
Once they grow up big and strong (relatively speaking), the male twisted-wing parasites leave their host and fly off to fulfill the singular mission of every single pubescent male in the animal kingdom: have as much sex as possible before they die of a spontaneous dick explosion. The problem is, female twisted-wing parasites never grow wings. For that matter, they never develop much past the larval stage, or even leave their host. So how do they bone? In the most terrifying manner possible. The females jam their backsides outside of their hosts' bodies, turning them into walking vagina bouquets, like Cronenbergian pornography.
Woo-wee, look at all them pieces of ass.
And in case you're still planning on sleeping tonight, in some species, the females have entirely given up on concepts such as "normalcy" and "the having of genitals." Among these varieties, the males are forced to impregnate the females using the old stab 'n' squirt method, better-known to science types as "traumatic insemination" and to everyone else as "the facehugger method." Then, during pregnancy, the ungrateful little shits cannibalize their mother from the inside out before emerging to start the cycle all over again.
The "Bone-House Wasp" Captures Spiders And Locks Them In A Corpse Cellar, Where They Are Eaten Alive
While a "spider hawk" might sound like a nightmare sprung to chittering life, it's actually a wasp. More specifically, it's a hugetastic wasp that plants its eggs inside of captured spiders. When the eggs hatch, the babies slowly eat the spider from the inside out while it's still alive, because the mating habits of anything with more than four legs is required to be hideous.
While the usual method of a spider hawk is to trap its paralyzed and freshly inseminated victims inside a chamber with walls made of dirt and saliva, like something straight out of an Edgar Allan Poe story, the so-called "bone-house wasp" takes this gruesome ritual one step further. It packs the walls of its incubation lair with ant cadavers, like some sort of insect John Wayne Gacy.
It skips the clown makeup, though, because it's already a terrifyingly huge wasp.
While surveying wasp nests in a Chinese nature reserve, researchers found that a subset of the nests contained an entry compartment, which in turn contained scads of ant corpses. Spider hawks don't even eat ants. So why would they murder a bunch of them and task their earthly remains with babysitting? Well, researchers posit that the smell of the ants -- as we've already seen, ants can contain some potent-ass chemicals -- can effectively ward off predators and parasites.
Think about it. If you were to round up all the stray cats in the neighborhood and nail them to your front door, we're betting there's a pretty good chance no one would ever break into your house, thus ensuring the safety of your children. That's common sense.
Tiny Flies Behead Ants And Live Inside Their Severed Craniums
While human post-sex behavior typically consists of things like sleeping, eating, or pretending all of your roommates couldn't hear you through the paper-thin walls, the Dohrniphora fly prefers to follow up a hearty bone session with some good old-fashioned ritualistic decapitation. Tiny copulating pairs of these flies will swoop in on injured ants. Then, after the male has reached his climax, he disembarks and watches as the female uses her "long, sawlike proboscis" to hack off the ant's noggin before she hauls it away to a safe spot for brain-eating. Here are some of the minuscule decapitators in action:
You can't really see what they're doing, but when the head comes off, you get the idea.
Scientists believe this objectively psychotic behavior is in fact a necessary component of the fly's reproductive cycle. The immediate infusion of proteins from the ant brains is vital for fueling the development of the female's newly fertilized eggs. And believe it or not, this isn't even the most disturbing fly reproductive cycle involving ant decapitation. Dohrniphora's itsy-bitsy cousin, the phorid fly, also beheads ants ... from the inside.
Adult females dive-bomb living ants and use their needle-like ovipositors to ram their eggs deep inside the ants' bodies. As the maggot develops, it gradually works its way up through its host into the head, where it hijacks the ant's brain, using mind-controlling chemicals to keep it from acting suspicious. After it's had sufficient time to grow, the maggot then directs the ant to find somewhere moist and sheltered, where the ant at long last receives the sweet release of death as the larva dissolves the tissue linking its head to its body. The separated head becomes a crib for the developing hellspawn, until finally, a new adult fly emerges from the ant's mouth parts to perpetuate its hideous parody of the miracle of life.
Quick, someone spank it. With a shoe.
There is good news, however: Their preferred target for carrying out this abomination is the fire ant, which you may recognize as an invasive pest that has spread across massive swaths of the southern United States. Texas ranchers are hopeful that they can battle the scourge by using phorid flies, because countering an invasive species by introducing yet another invasive species is something that has never gone wrong ever.
Borneo's Giant Red Leech Is A Carnivorous Tube Sock
Home to exploding ants and gigantic stick bugs and titanic prehistoric river rays, Borneo is not only full of biological monstrosities, but also apparently a phantasmagorical laboratory constantly churning out new horrors, including an enormous, two-foot-long earthworm that looks like a disembodied intestinal tract brought to life via witchcraft. The good news is that, while these worms might look extremely disgusting, they don't really harm anything. The bad news is that this entry isn't about them.
It's about what hunts them.
One day, God drank too much whiskey and decided to find out what a sentient carnivorous prolapsed rectum would look like. The result was the Giant Red Leech, found exclusively in the region of Borneo's Mount Kinabalu.
We've watched this a dozen times and still can't decide if it would be worse to be eaten face-first or ass-first.
Discovered a mere two years ago, the Giant Red Leech slips across the forest floor with shocking speed, sniffing out the trails of mucus left behind by its massive earthworm prey. When it finds one of said worms, it slithers its obscene mouth parts along the length of the worm's body in a deeply uncomfortable display, at which point it proceeds to slurp up its prey like a fat, slimy spaghetti noodle. Look at this shit. Look at it.
Do you see?
Considering its relatively recent discovery, scientists are only starting to learn the horrifying ins and outs of this simultaneously wondrous and dismaying creature. Until they're able to quantify its full appetite for flesh and/or banish it to the far moons of Jupiter, it's probably best to stay the hell away from Mount Kinabalu.
Flesh-Eating Bees Make Meat Honey
If we were to ask you to list three things that bees do, your answers would invariably be 1) sting, 2) make honey, and 3) occasionally sell cereal. Vulture bees, however, don't get their protein from pollen and nectar like most other bees. As their name suggests, they live on the flesh of the dead. Equipped with sharp jaws for butchering meat, the bees rally their carnivorous kin using trails of pheromones, and then, working with bee-like efficiently, they burrow into animal corpses, stripping away skin and feathers and turning carcasses to skeletons in mere hours.
Of course, the whole reason bees make honey is that they don't eat all their food right away -- their survival depends on their ability to store it for both themselves and their developing children. That's why honey basically has a shelf life of forever. Therefore, until the day insects invent tiny refrigerators, vulture bees have a big, stinky problem: meat has a tendency to rot. So how do these flying affronts to natural order stave off starvation?
Simple. They do what all bees do: They make honey. Meat honey.
"Don't mind us; we're just doing the most awful thing you can imagine."
Vulture bees harvest and consume corpses using a meat-dissolving solution secreted from their jaws. Then, their guts sufficiently full of flesh smoothies, they fly back to the colony and puke up the revolting concoction of half-dissolved carrion for their pals. Said pals slurp up this gruesome juice and transform it into a nutrient-rich secretion that can be stored indefinitely. You know, like honey.
You probably don't want to put any of this into your tea.
Sean is a parasite on society. You can subject yourself to more of his shenanigans on Twitter @bbbbeannnn.
For more creations of Mother Nature that are straight from the bowels of hell, check out The 7 Most Terrifying Mouths In Nature and 13 Real Animals Lifted Directly Out Of Your Nightmares.
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