Nature

Earth’s Biggest and Creepiest Insects

By Robin Mei - October 23, 2015
Credits: Jumping spiders aren't a big fan of web-slinging when it comes to finding a meal. Image: Shikhei Goh /Caters News

Goliath Beetle

Credits: Can you lift 850 times your own weight? Allow us to introduce you to a creature that can. Image: www.valvetime.net

An adult Goliath beetle can easily reach almost 11.5 centimeters (4.5 inches) in length and weigh in at 57 grams (two ounces). Plus, they are insanely strong creatures who can lift approximately 850 times their own weight.

Goliath beetles have been around on our planet for about 300 million years. They like warm and humid conditions of rainforests, but they can also live outside of their natural habitat and even be kept as pets!

Source: Goliath beetle

Plain Nawab Caterpillar

Credits: It looks like a dragon, but eventually turns into something much more lite and photogenic. Image: Eko Adiyanto / Caters News

This image shows one of the most peculiar caterpillars who could easily be mistaken for a whimsical Chinese dragon when enlarged through a camera lens.

However, its real-life size is pretty small so its dramatic features like horns, skin pattern and color could easily go unnoticed. Thanks to the sharp eyes of photographers, we can all marvel at the beauty and oddness of many caterpillars all over the globe.

Source: Life History of the Plain Nawab

Giant Isopod

Credits: It's big, it's ugly and it lives in the mud.

The giant isopod, or Bathynomus giganteus, is the largest of 20 known species in the same genus.

Giant isopods can reach an enormous size of 19 to 35.5 centimeters (7.5 to over 14 inches) in length. Some records suggest that these creatures can be 76 centimeters (30 inches) long, so we couldn’t help but wonder: what do they eat?

Well, we looked for the answer and found out that giant isopods are carnivores which feed on dead animals they find at the bottom of the sea and slow-moving sponges.y

Source: 18 Awesome Facts About Giant Isopods

Brazilian Treehopper

Credits: It's like an alien on Earth that no one quite understands yet.

The Brazilian treehopper’s scientific name is Bocydium globular and its habitat is not really limited only to Brazil. It can be found in other South American regions, especially under glory bush leaves.

This particular image shows a model of a Brazilian treehopper made in 1953 by Alfred Keller, the sculptor who worked for the Museum of Natural History in Berlin. They all have these funny looking antennas on their heads, but their function remains a complete mystery among scientists.

Source: The Helicopter-like Bocydium globulare

Praying Mantis

Credits: Mantises are all about the ambush attack. Image: Jim Hoffman / Caters News

The praying mantis resembles more of an alien species than an earthly creature, and sometimes even behave like one with its monstrous appetite. This incredible photo shows a mantis devouring a gecko. Even though it usually feeds on other insects, praying mantis can ambush and tackle larger prey too.

Its attack is often swift and stealthy which leaves very little chance for its intended victim to survive. Mantises use their long spiky front legs to catch and neutralize prey before eating it alive.

Source: 11 wondrous facts about praying mantises

Cook Strait Giant Weta

Credits: Don't let the grasshopper appearance fool you - this weta can't jump an inch. Image: Sid Mosdell

One of many gigantic insects with scary-looking features is the Cook Strait giant weta or Deinacrida Rugosa. Its name, when translated from Latin, literally means “terrible grasshopper” even though they are not terrible nor harmful at all. The Cook Strait weta, unlike a grasshopper, can’t jump.

It is simply too heavy both for jumping and flying, so all of these wetas are totally earth-bound. The giant weta is native to New Zealand, but it had been thought to be extinct from the mainland for over a century.

Source: 10 Intense Facts About the Giant Weta

Assassin Bugs

Credits: They're covert and smart, which is bad news for their prey. Image: Paul Bertner / Caters News

Assassin bugs have a pretty nasty name that matches their character. They are famous for their powerful hunting skills that include cunning ambush techniques and super deadly bites. One of the methods they use to set traps for their victims is with the use of the dead bodies of previous kills.

For example, some assassin bugs which feed on termites will hide among dead termites to draw new ones, while South Asian assassin bugs use tree resin to lure bees and use them as a quick bite.

Source: Assassin bug Facts

Tapeworms

Credits: Everybody has heard of them, and for good reason. They've been here for millions of years. Image: shortwhitecoats.com

Everyone has heard about it, it looks very simple and plain at first sight, it has an ordinary name, but it’s absolutely fascinating. If you’re guessing tapeworms, you’re right.

These parasitic worms owe their name to their super thin, flat tape-like look and research suggests that tapeworms were around millions and millions of years before the dinosaurs. Yet they are still here today, living inside both animals and humans with no signs of going anywhere.

Source: 14 Surprising Truths About Tapeworms

Giant Katydid

Credits: The giant katydid has long legs and a lovely mating call. Image: usamantis.com

The giant katydid can reach 15 centimeters (six inches) in length (which adds to their slightly scary look), but they are actually very gentle creatures.

Like the rest of the katydid’s relatives, the giant version also has incredibly long antennae which they use to find food and, when the time is right, attract a mating partner. The males also have specific sound organs for emitting a mating call, just like crickets, which they also use to lure females.

Source: Giant Katydid – Long-Legged Green Leaf Imitator

Asian Giant Hornet

Credits: It's got a stinger that never quits.

The Asian giant hornet is the largest and the most aggressive species of hornets on our planet. These hornets are called “giant” for a reason — they can be up to five centimeters (two inches) long with a 7.5 centimeter-wide (three inch) wingspan.

And that’s not the scariest part. The Asian giant hornet’s stinger is over half a centimeter long (about a quarter of an inch) and can be used more than once to inject incredibly strong venom into its victim.

Source: Asian giant hornet Facts

Scarabs

Credits: The scarab is a poop connoisseur.

The scarab was once a holy beetle of Ancient Egypt, the embodiment of Kherpi, God of the Rising Sun that represented renewal, spiritual wisdom and even immortality. In reality, the scarab is a beetle that rolls in poop all day long and eats it.

It turns out that most scarabs are actually very picky poop eaters. Different kinds of scarabs feed on different dung and refuse to feed on unknown feces. They also only like it while it’s fresh and packed with nutrients, but also easy to roll into a ball that they’ll keep moving around.

Source: 10 Fascinating Facts About Dung Beetles

Jumping Spider

Credits: Jumping spiders aren't a big fan of web-slinging when it comes to finding a meal. Image: Shikhei Goh /Caters News

The name of this species reveals how it hunts its prey, usually other insects. Instead of the typical web technique which most of the other spiders use, this one jumps, literally.

Unlike other leaping insects like grasshoppers, this little guy doesn’t really have leg muscles to help it jump. Instead, it uses blood flow to extend its legs to leap up to 50 times its body length. That might also explain how this baby spider ended up on its big brother’s head.

Source: Jumping Spider Fun Facts

Elephant Beetle

Credits: This male of this species is horned and dangerous. Image: entomologymanchester.wordpress.com

The elephant beetle’s notable characteristic that also contributes to its size is a huge horn on this beetle’s head that can reach up to 5 centimeters (almost 2 inches) in adults. The largest size the elephant beetle can reach is up to 13 centimeters (just over 5 inches).

The horn can be found exclusively on the heads of the male members of this species, and they use it to fight with other males.

Source: Ox Beetle / Elephant Beetle

Snake Caterpillar

Credits: When you're not a fighter in the animal kingdom it's best to look like something that is. Image: Daniel Janzen / Caters News

At first glance, this amazing creature looks like a snake — it has that typical snake-shaped head with a facial expression that says “I’m ready to attack!”

If you take a closer look, you may notice that its body is pretty short for a snake. That’s because this cunning creature is not a snake at all, but a caterpillar that is a keen mimic in order to scare its potential predators. It even knows how to imitate a snake’s body language, minus the fangs or venom.

Source: Nature Blows My Mind! Caterpillar mimics snake behavior to scare predators

Thorn Bug

Credits: This bug has camouflage working for it. Image: Malcolm Manners / Flickr

Thorn bugs are another brilliant creature that has mastered the art of camouflage. Their bodies look exactly like the spiky parts of plants (like the thorns we can see on a rose stem), so when they climb a plant to feed on leaves they can avoid predators.

Thorn bugs use not only their shape but also colors to improve the deception. They use matching colors to blend in as much as they can with the plants they eat the most.

Source: Thorn Bug Facts: Lesson for Kids

Giant Wood Moth

Credits: This moth spends more time in its larvae stage than it does flying around afterwards. Image: RespectMyAuthoriteh / reddit

The giant wood moth of Australia is a really impressive being with an amazing weight of up to 30 grams (one ounce). You have to admit, that’s pretty big for a bug.

How does this creature get so large? Thanks to an excellent appetite in its larvae stage that lasts for about a year, the adult giant wood moth reaches its incredible size even though it doesn’t feed at all during its rather short lifespan of only a few days.

Source: Giant Wood Moth

Amazonian Giant Centipede

Credits: What has 23 body sections and a really bad temper? Image: Katka Nemčoková / Wikimedia

The Amazonian giant centipede, also known by its Latin name Scolopendra gigantea, can grow over 30 cm (about 12 inches) in length. Its body is divided into 21 to 23 sections, and each section has its own pair of legs specialized for super-fast attacks.

The lethal weapon of this bad-tempered centipede is placed on its head in the form of a couple of antennae and a pair of extra legs with poisonous claws.

Source: Amazonian giant centipede (scolopendra gigantea)

New Guinea Spiny Stick Insect

Credits: We're hoping the spiny stick insect never gets this close to your face.Image: Camastergardeners.ucdavis.edu

The New Guinea spiny stick insect is one more example of a bizarre bug that lives on our planet.  The spiny stick insect often looks more like a branch of a tree than a beetle, with its elongated dark brown body and thick, thorny legs.

The adult males are particularly famous for growing the thorn-like features on their hind legs that contribute to the woody appearance. The weird thing is these insects don’t even live on trees or branches, but on the ground.

Source: New Guinea Spiny Stick Insect

Japanese Giant Hornet

Credits: This hornet is a honeybee's worst nightmare.

The Japanese giant hornet, or Vespa Mandarinia Japonica in Latin, is a subspecies of the Asian giant hornet (Vespa Mandarinia), the largest hornet in the world. These huge insects don’t just look scary, they also have a horrible reputation of being a vicious killer of honeybees.

Sources state that a single Japanese giant hornet can kill approximately forty honeybees in just one minute, so we can only imagine what a whole group of these exterminators can do.

Source: These Bees Protect Their Nest From Giant Hornets By Cooking Them Alive

Madagascan Giant Water Bug

Credits: This giant water bug actually has relatives in its family that are even larger.

The Madagascan giant water bug belongs to a genus of Lethocerus, a family of giant water bugs which can be found in many tropical, subtropical and other warm areas of our planet, but mostly in the Americas.

They can vary in length, from an impressive 12 cm (4.7 inches) in South America to a bit more modest size of only 4.5 cm (less than 2 inches) and up to 9 cm (3.5 inches) elsewhere.

Source: The Attack of the Giant Water Bug

Robber Fly

Credits: This sneaky fly doesn't mind taking on prey of any size. Image: Tan Tian Ching / Caters News

The robber fly is also known as an assassin fly due to its intimidating killing skills. This fearless predator is known for its fast flying speed and great vision that allows it to catch its prey mid-flight.

The robber fly family consists of approximately 5,000 different species whose size can vary from 0.5 cm (0.2 inches) to an impressive 5 cm (2 inches). These killers often attack larger insects than themselves. Their favorite treats include bees, wasps and dragonflies, which they neutralize with their poisonous sting.

Source: Robber Fly

Ticks

Credits: The common tick, nature's tiny vampires.

Ticks are clearly not the biggest insects on the planet, but they are definitely some of the creepiest ones. They belong to the arachnid family, along with spiders, mites and scorpions.

Here’s what ticks undoubtedly also are — real little vampires who gladly suck the blood of every living being they end up on, even humans. Once they find their meal ticket, they tend to stay for days, firmly attached with their teeth deeply stuck in the host’s skin.

Source: Interesting Tick Facts

Doodle Bug

Credits: Doodle bugs like to eat ants and they've developed the trap-building skills to get the job done. Image: Joseph Berger / Wikimedia

The antlion is generally known as the doodlebug, but the fact is it’s not really a bug. The antlion is a group name for the larval forms of over 2000 distinct species that belong to the Myrmeleontidae family. The name antlion comes from their tendency of feeding on ants.

They build traps in the ground by digging pits in the shape of a funnel where they sit at the bottom waiting for prey to fall in. Once it does, the antlion grabs it and sucks the life out of it.

Source: Antlion (doodlebug)

Horsehair Worm

Credits: These worms eat their host from the inside out.

Horsehair worms are one of the most frightening types of parasites from the Nematomorpha family that can be found across the globe. They usually live inside other insects, like crickets or grasshoppers, until they completely suck the life out of them before they move on to another host.

That’s not even the creepiest part. These hair-raising worms attack the brain of their hosts too and zombify them to act at “worms’ will”, especially in seeking out water which they need to lay their eggs.

Source: Horsehair Worms Are Real, Horrifying Parasites, And They’ve Evolved To Attack Humanity

Huntsman Spider

Credits: These spiders have some of the longest legs in the arachnid family.

With their outrageously long legs, huntsman spiders are a pretty terrifying sight to see. The average size of a huntsman spider is about 2.5 cm (1 inch) in length, but its leg span can reach almost 13 cm (5 inches).

Some of the giant types can even spread their legs up to 30 cm (12 inches) in diameter which officially makes them the biggest spiders on the planet, at least diameter-wise.

Source: Giant Huntsman Spider: World’s Largest Spider By Leg Span

Leucochloridium Paradoxum

Credits: The reproductive strategy of these things sounds like complete madness. Image: Thomas Hahmann

Meet Leucochloridium Paradoxum, a parasite known for turning its victims into zombies. This horror-inducing creature usually invades a snail through tiny bird poop bites full of Leucochloridium Paradoxum’s eggs that garden snails like to eat.

Soon the eggs become larvae that take over the snail and head for its eye tentacles, but only to attract the attention of a bird to eat the snail. The bird becomes a living host for another round of Leucochloridium Paradoxum reproduction and then poops the resulting eggs, ensuring a new cycle.

Source: Nature’s Zombies: Mind-Altering Infections from Snails to Humans

Atlas Moth

Credits: It's call Atlas for a reason. This moth is huge.

The Atlas moth is another fascinating insect famous for its stunning multicolored wings that can reach up to 30.5 centimeters (12 inches) when fully spread. Even its cocoon is so big (over seven centimeters, or three inches long) that people in Taiwan use them as purses or wallets.

There are several theories about the origin of their name, including its wings patterns resembling geological structures or the Greek god Atlas, whose formable size had him carrying the weight of the world.

Source: 5 Awesome Facts About the Atlas Moth

Giant Prickly Stick Insect

Credits: These are native to Australia, but you can find them in homes around the world. Image: Stephan M. Höhne

This weird-looking being is native to Australia, but due to its very exotic appearance, the prickly stick bug can be found all over the world living as pets in terrariums.

Females are almost twice the size of males and grow deadly thorn-like spikes to defend themselves from predators. On the other hand, the much smaller male stick bugs lack the spikes but have a pair of beautifully long and completely functioning wings.

Source: Extatosoma Tiaratum (Macleay’s spectre / Giant Prickly Stick Insect) Care Sheet

Wheel Bug

Credits: When it comes to the wheel bug, there's a definite 'no touching' rule in place.Image: Audrey /Wikimedia

It might look frightening, but the wheel bug actually does humankind some favors by feasting on other bugs that can run afoul of us. This member of the unofficial ‘assassin’ insect gang uses a sharp beak to punch a hole into its victim’s body and releasing its saliva that eats its guts.

Plant lovers look to the wheel bug as a glimmer of salvation, at least in the garden, since it preys on insects that usually feast on whatever it might be they’re trying to grow.

Source: Wheel Bug

Hercules Beetle

Credits: It looks big and nasty, but this beetle's favorite food is rotting wood. Image: Novita Estiti

Native to Central and South America, the thirteen varieties of the Hercules beetle stick close to rainforests and jungles where it can use the forest floor as camouflage as it searches for food.

As to expected, this beetle is big. Some have been spotted as large as 18 centimeters (seven inches) in length, and that combined with a substantial set of pincers sticking out of its head makes it a little intimidating to get close to.

Source: Hercules Beetle

The Praying Mantis Bird Attack Phenomenon

Credits: They often feed on slightly smaller prey, but over the past 100 years documents show mantises have been attacking small birds, usually hummingbirds. Image: Tom Vaughn

We already know that praying mantises are very voracious predators, but an image of one devouring a hummingbird is still a disturbing sight. Mantises usually feed on other insects, but when the opportunity presents they will attack much bigger prey including frogs, snakes and smaller bird species.

This surprising phenomenon has been recorded in many parts of the world ever since 1864. There were 147 documented cased of similar attacks in 13 different countries.

Source: Praying Mantises Are Killing Birds And Devouring Their Brains All Over The World

Centipedes

Credits: Centipedes aren't unusual to stumble across, but finding a scene like this definitely is.

There are approximately 8000 different species of centipedes living all over the world, even in regions near the Arctic Circle. Most can be found in shady, moist places deep in forests or in the savannas and prairies, but some centipede species occupy urban areas too.

Regardless of where you live, a sight like this one with a huge centipede and its babies curled up in a bucket is not something you should expect to see every day.

Source: Fascinating Facts About Centipedes

Wolf Spider

Credits: It might look like a mob attack, but this is actually a wolf spider and her hatchlings.

Wolf spiders are pretty terrifying-looking creatures that can be found in remote regions all over the world. Still, they are not an unusual sight in urban areas too, especially in Australia where this photo was taken.

It shows a huge female wolf spider and her offspring living in an electricity meter. Female wolf spiders carry their eggs on their abdomens until the spiderlings hatch and then move onto their mom’s back for another few weeks before they start hunting for themselves.

Source: Wolf Spiders

Trapdoor Spider

Credits: Trapdoor spiders have earned their name for a very good reason.

Trapdoor spiders are nocturnal insects that spend most of their time hidden in the soil, building traps for their prey. Unlike many other spider species, this one doesn’t shoot a web but instead digs holes in the ground to wait for other creatures to crawl in before they stab them with their sharp fangs.

They usually feed on other insects, but if a frog, baby bird, mouse or even a snake find their way into a trap they also make an excellent meal for these predators.

Source: Trapdoor Spider

Millipedes

Credits: It always seems that the insects that have been around the longest always seem to find their way into homes, like millipedes.

These long black insects known as millipedes are some of the oldest creatures Earth. Fossilized remains indicate that the species can be traced upwards of 420 million years ago. It’s absolutely fascinating that these creatures are still around, fulfilling their role in breaking down animal and plant waste.

Their natural surroundings are dark, damp places like leaf piles and compost, but sometimes they find their way in into our homes too.

Source: 10 Fascinating Facts About Millipedes

Scorpions

Credits: While other insects are usually relying on eggs for their offspring, scorpions push everything out live. Image: greatscottbatman / Imgur

Scorpions are notorious for the potent and often deadly venom they use either to paralyze and kill their prey or to defend themselves from other predators, but that’s not the only thing that makes these creatures fascinating. The way they hatch their offspring is also intriguing.

Rather than producing eggs, female scorpions deliver their babies live. Some scorpion species actually develop within a membrane and live on their mother’s back, where they remain protected and safe until they molt.  

Source: 10 Fascinating Facts About Scorpions

The Botfly

Credits: Botflies take no prisoners when it comes to finding a suitable host for its larvae. Image: u_agentgrove / reddit

The botfly is a parasitic fly that cannot complete its life cycle without a suitable host for its larvae, and the images of their victims can be both alarming and disturbing. This one shows a poor little bird affected by these parasites.

Botflies, also known as warble flies, are recognizable by their hairy, striped bodies. They look like a flying robot hybrid of a house fly and a bumblebee because of their reflective hairs that give them a metallic-like appearance.

Source: Fascinatingly Gross Botfly Facts

Paristoid Wasp

Credits: An unlucky beetle being eaten alive from the inside out by a parasitic wasp larva.

With over 100,000 different varieties wasps are a very important species in many of our planet’s ecosystems. That doesn’t make them any less of a frightening predator, especially those which lay their eggs inside of other insects.

This image shows a cereal leaf beetle, an unfortunate victim of a parasitoid wasp. Eggs were laid inside this bug and when they hatched they started feeding on the still-living beetle before they burst out and killed the poor thing.

Source: Paristoid wasps may be the most diverse animal group

Titan Beetle

Credits: The titan beetle holds a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's largest beetle.

Living in the Amazon rain forest, you might be forgiven if you went on a trip in search of the titan beetle and missed it, considering the amount of cover it has in its natural surroundings. When uncovered, it’s impossible not to take your eyes off it.

Considered to be the world’s largest beetle, the titan can reach lengths of up to 16.7 cm (6.6 inches). It’s intimidating-looking, emits a loud hiss and there are reports of them being able to snap pencils in half with their mandibles.

Source: 10 of the largest insects in the world

Tarantulas

Credits: Everything tarantulas do seems to creep people out. Why? Image: Smccann / Flickr

It is estimated that of the roughly 44,500 spider species on the planet, tarantulas make up only two percent of their numbers. So why is it they stand out for so many people?

It doesn’t help their case that some tarantulas, like the Goliath birdeater, has a leg span of 30 centimeters (almost 12 inches). They also liquify their prey in their stomach, throw the pasty mixture up and then suck it down again, just to help push the gross factor.

Source: Ten Things to Know About Tarantulas