5 Ways to Scare Beasts Who Otherwise Know No Fear

Get out your explosives, and also your weaponized bees
5 Ways to Scare Beasts Who Otherwise Know No Fear

Step outside your door, and you will be instantly surrounded by animals who want to kill you. Does that mean you must surrender to fear and refuse to ever leave your bed? Never! You just need to make fear work for you, so you can scare these animals into leaving you alone. Through such creative solutions as...

Fighting Elephants with the Power of Bees

If an elephant stops by your small Kenyan farm, disaster follows. That one animal can eat your entire crop and ruin you. Pointing a gun at the offender does nothing to threaten it; elephants laugh at guns. Even a gun large enough to kill an elephant won’t deter an elephant, so you can kill an elephant, but then you have a dead elephant on your hands, and no one wants that.

Charging elephant

Rad Dougall

It’s the second-most unwelcome kind of elephant.

Farms everywhere use fences to keep animals out, but elephants trample right through fences, even barb wire ones. Elephants do have one fear, however: bees. Bees will sting an elephant’s eye and the sensitive inside of its trunk, so elephants turn tail when they see an angry swarm. 

Responding to this observation, Kenyan farms set up hives along their fences. The sight of a hive alone does not scare elephants. But when a trespassing elephant activates an initial electrical fence — which lacks enough power to affect the giant beast — the current stirs up the hive, making the bees swarm madly. 

save the elephants bee hive fences

Kengee8/Wiki Commons

The fence looks slightly lower-tech than it sounds. 

Now, the elephant spots the danger and nopes out of there. The system works well, and as a plus: hey, free honey

Trip Mines and Explosives Keep Away Polar Bears

You can’t use bees to scare off every kind of beast. When a bear sees bees, they think of the honey within and move closer. No, with bears, your trip fence must use other tools.

If you find yourself visiting Svalbard in Norway, the locals warn you to prepare for polar bears, who have a few deadly encounters with humans every year. Most often, these encounters are deadly for the bears, but every so often, it’s the human who dies. Either way, you must prepare yourself. 

male polar bear

Andreas Weith

Prepare, pre-bear

When you sleep, encircle your camp with a tripwire. A bear who breaks this wire will set off a shotgun, which shoots (a blank) downward. This discharge then sets off a black powder explosive, and the polar instinctively flees the blast.

Don’t cheap out with your alarm system. One British teenager made headlines when his shoddy system used paperclips instead of a proper trip wire, and a polar bear mauled his head off. Svalbard also recommends that you employ a polar bear guard at your camp. Sadly, it turns out this refers to a person who watches for bears, rather than to a polar bear who joined your camp to protect you against its brethren. 

Keep Away Sharks with an Electromagnetic Shark Shield

Australian surfers don’t want to be killed by sharks, because Australia has so many other murderous animals that they’d rather be killed by. For this reason, they turn to a variety of commercial tools that claim to keep sharks way. For example, you can coat yourself with wax. This wax is filled with essential oils and spices, and it’s sold under the name “Chillax,” which gives you an idea of whether this is truly a serious solution. 

Chillax wax

Surfer Today

It makes you smell delicious, to other humans.

You can also buy any of several bracelets embedded with magnets. Magnets, claim these inventions, screw with sharks, who use magnetic fields for navigation. You can also try a more active electrical solution. Other anti-shark tools create electrical fields, using either a direct or alternating current. 

In 2018, researchers tested these various gizmos by attaching them to surfboards loaded with shark bait. Hundreds of shark encounters later, they concluded that the cayenne pepper and citronella wax did absolutely nothing to keep sharks away. The magnetic bracelets also do nothing, whether you wear them on your wrist or get really kinky and place one around your neck. Even the direct current electromagnetic shark shield failed to deter sharks to any measurable degree.



This stuff MIGHT work, but it didn’t work in this test

But the final tool, the alternating current EM shield? Quite effective, reducing shark passes to less than half what the control or other products did. Wear one of these shields, and you can swim with confidence — particularly if you follow other advisories about shark sightings, in which case you’ll likely never get bitten, whether you use a deterrent or not. 

Komodo Poop Stops Komodo Cannibalism

Many readers have been writing to us lately, complaining about Komodo dragons eating them. This saddens us, particularly because these readers are all Komodo dragons themselves, baby Komodo dragons.

Komodo dragons are cannibals from time to time, gobbling up dragon babies. Cannibalism rarely benefits a species with a reproduction rate like the Komodo dragon. Evolution can still train animals to eat young that aren’t their own offspring, hurting the species but boosting each one’s own genes. 

Baby Komodo dragon

via Wiki Commons

Worryingly, cuteness is no defense.

The dragons have also evolved a mechanism to avoid being eaten. Young dragons will roll in feces, ruining the appetites of hungry older cannibals. Smearing themselves with poop has proven effective so far, at least until the adult dragons decide they’re into that. 

Spiders Scare Predators Using the Threat of Bigger Spiders

Some people fear spiders. Some people find them adorable. Some people find tiny spiders adorable but recoil at the sight of larger spiders, the ones with fangs. One little spider in the Amazon exploits this. 

The tiny spider — whose species has not been named but is in the genus Cyclosa — has natural predators who, of course, don’t fear it but might fear a spider several times as big. So, the spider constructs a decoy, much larger than itself. The decoy is made from leaves and from body parts of insects that the spider has slain. Here’s a photo of one such decoy:

Decoy spider

Phil Torres

This spider is a predator, too, remember. That’s why it has a web. 

If the spider is intelligent, marvel at the artistry expressed by this creature. If the spider isn’t intelligent, that’s possibly even more impressive. That would mean the spider has instructions buried in its genome telling it to make a giant effigy with eight legs, without any understanding of what it’s doing, without being aware of possessing eight real legs itself, and indeed while not being aware at all. If a spider’s genes made it spin a web spelling out English words (say, the words “some pig”), that would be only marginally stranger. 

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