Bizzarre Insects….Somehow Beautiful…Really

By  | September 5, 2017 | Filed under: Interesting Facts, News

There are more than one million different species of insect on the planet—that we know of—which accounts for over half the world’s living organisms.  Here are ten insects stranger than anything science fiction could ever dream up:

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The Puss Moth Caterpillar:  The caterpillars are bright green and will often have a row of white spots on either side of their body. On the head is a pair of black “eye spots”—directly above a gaping “mouth” through which the true head of the caterpillar protrudes. The effect is startling, but it’s even creepier in action: if the caterpillar is touched anywhere on its body, it will instantly turn its “face” directly towards the attacker.  And if that doesn’t work, it can always spray out a mist of formic acid from the two horns on its back.

idolomantis-diabolica-finalDevil’s Flower Mantis  Idolomantis Diabolica:  One of the largest types of praying mantis, the Devil’s Flower Mantis is also one of the strangest.  Females of the species can measure up to 5 inches (13 cm) long, and have developed a range of natural coloring that allows them to mimic the Devil’s Flower, a type of orchid.  The Devil’s Flower Mantis uses color patterns that mimic a flower to actually lure its prey within reach.

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Brazilian Treehopper:  Similar to cicadas, treehopper insects are sort of like the Addams family of the insect world. Many of them sport some sort of odd structure on their backs, and we’re still not sure what the point of most of them are. In the case of the Brazilian Treehopper, the ball-like appendages are hollow chitin, and may be for the sole purpose of making it harder to eat.

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Dasychira Pudibunda Caterpillar:  Also known as the Pale Tussock, the Dasychira Pudibunda is a moth native to Denmark. Its bright yellow caterpillars are covered in patches of spiky hair that resemble porcupine quills, and along the center of their back is another row of hair tufts, one on each segment of its body, culminating in a large black or brown spine at the rear end.

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Extatosoma Tiaratum:  The Giant Prickly Stick Insect. As the largest known stick insect, the extatosoma tiaratum can reach lengths of 8 inches (20 cm) and is usually covered with large thorny spikes, which double as both camouflage and defensive armor. If it feels threatened it will rear up on its hind legs and spread out its front legs, like a scorpion. Interestingly enough, it also releases a chemical that is meant to scare away predators. To humans, it smells like peanut butter.

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Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillar:  The Pipevine Swallowtail is a beautiful fluorescent blue butterfly that’s commonly found in North and Central America. Its larvae, on the other hand, is an armored congealed-blood-red caterpillar with tinted visor shades for eyes and a quadruple row of blunt horns running across its body.  The bright colors are a warning—Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillars feed primarily on the Pipevine, a poisonous plant, and retain the toxins from the leaves in their own bodies.

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Atlas Moth:   Atlas moths are believed to be the largest moth species on the planet. They also have a very unique trait—the front tips of their wings almost perfectly resemble a snake head poised to strike.Nicknamed the Cobra moth for obvious reasons, Atlas moths are found in Southeast Asia, where they’re farmed for their silk. The Atlas Moth has a 10 inch (25 cm) wingspan.

DSC_3159_TailedEmperorTailed Emperor Butterfly Caterpillar:   The caterpillar of the Tailed Emperor butterfly looks pretty normal—from the neck down. Its head, though, definitely secures it a spot on this list.  From a broad, armor-plated forehead extend four bizarre horns that would be more at home on a dinosaur than anything from this millenium. The butterflies lay their eggs in groups, usually on Illawarra Flame trees, and the alien caterpillars emerge sometime around late March.

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Spiny Flower Mantis  Pseudocreobotra wahlbergi:  Another incredible looking mantis, the Spiny Flower Mantis (Pseudocreobotra wahlbergi) is, again, a flower mantis, pulling its bizarre ornamentation from the appearance of a flower. This mantis is very small, measuring only 1.5 inches (38 mm) and is found in select locations in Southern Africa.  And like most mantids, the Spiny Flower Mantis is a voracious cannibal, and the older they get the more likely they will be to eat other mantids that come across their path.

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Scorpionfly:  While this insect looks like the result of some bizarre genetic experiment that spliced a scorprion stinger onto a wasp, that “stinger” is actually something much more innocuous: the fly’s genitals.  Scorpionflies, or mecoptera, can be found all over the world, and have been around since the Mesozoic age. In fact, they’re believed to have been the forerunners of most of our modern moths and butterflies, collectively grouped in the Lepidoptera order.

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