This is some horrific insect behaviour! From flesh eating ants to bot flies that burrow into your skin, we take a look at 10 insects with horrific behaviour that will make your skin crawl.
10. Exploding Termites
There are many different species of termites, but a tropical termite has evolved to explode when threatened. When the termite ages, they started to develop blue bands around their bodies. These bands are filled with chemicals secreted by the termite that are copper-rich and extremely toxic when exposed. These aging workers are used as a weapon against enemy termites and, when they explode, the blue chemicals inside them immobilise the enemy termites, so that the other younger, healthier termites can kill the paralysed invaders.
9. Burrowing Botflies
These things are a nasty breed of fly that have parasitic larvae that burrow into skin to gestate.
Bot flies look a bit like bumblebees, but they are way more disgusting. A mother bot fly will literally inject her eggs into a mosquito that’s flying past – mid-flight! Once the eggs are in the mosquito, they will get into the bloodstream of whatever animal the mosquito feeds on next and hatch. And yes, there are species of botfly larvae that will survive if injected into a human.
The newly-hatched larvae will either burrow under the skin or grow in the guts of the host until they are fully formed. They’re also covered in spikes, so that when they’re fully formed and ready to go out into the world, it’s not a problem for them to rip through skin.
A known remedy for a bot fly larvae infestation is to cover the entrance to the wound with nail polish so as to suffocate the larvae. Then as they try to escape the wound, you can then pull them out with tweezers. I think I just vomited a little in my mouth.
8. Ant Traps
Allomerus decemarticulatus is a species of ant that lives in the Amazon. The ants work together as a team to build a trap for other jungle inhabitants using twigs and leaves, and then one ant will stay behind and wait for another insect to stumble into the trapdoor. Once the insect does, the ant lying in wait will jump out and latch onto one of the insect’s legs. Once its grip is secure, it releases a pheromone signalling to the other ants that an insect has been captured. When the other ants arrive, they begin to rip the insect limb from limb and take their newly caught food back to the nest.
7. Flesh Eating Ants
Army ants detect their prey by movement. When they find a creature that looks suitable to eat, they start to swarm. Army ants range from 3 to 12 mm in size which isn’t really that big, but when they start to come out in swarms of hundreds they can strip an animal down to its bones. They have paralysing agents in their mandibles, so after enough of the ants bite the prey, it stops being able to move. Then they move in and leave nothing but the bones.
If an army ant hill is disturbed up to 100,000 ants or more can spew forth, covering any incapacitated human or animal. Studies have shown that a swarm of army ants can strip a frog, flesh from bone in a matter of hours. This is where myth and reality start to blur. Stories tell of babies or injured adults left near army ant nests dying not of bites but of asphyxiation. The ants swarm the body so badly that they enter any orifice they can find, crawling down the throats of victims entering the lungs where they begin shredding the soft connective tissue, choking them to death.
6. Cannibal Crickets
The Mormon cricket is a type of cricket that lives in the southwest US. These crickets travel in swarms and can destroy entire crops. While that can be devastating to the farmers, the way the crickets interact with each other is disturbing. Because these swarms are so large, often the crickets at the front will get to eat the delicious crops, but by the time the crickets in the back get there all the food has been eaten and there’s nothing left. So the crickets in the back turn to the closest other source of food: each other. The swarms have to keep moving to keep eating, but also to outrun the possibility of being cannibalised.
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