ADVERTISEMENT
  About the SA Blog Network













Compound Eye

Compound Eye


The many facets of science photography
Compound Eye Home

13 Horrifying Ways to Die (If You’re an Arthropod)

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


Email   PrintPrint



Scared of insects, spiders, and other leggy arthropods?

It could be worse. You could be one of them. At that size you face an array of dangers unlike anything you know from your comfortably large human existence. Here are just a few of the many perils you worry about as an arthropod.

1. Your guts are impaled on spiky ant teeth.

Odontomachus coquereli trap-jaw ant with cricket prey (Madagascar).

2. Your innards are suddenly sucked out by a predatory maggot.

Schlorp! An Aphis nerii milkweed aphid meets an end at the suction-mouth of a hover fly larva (Arizona).

3. Your brain is invaded by a zombie fungus that directs you to an ideal spot for your parasite to release spores.

A cricket has succumbed to a insect-eating fungus (Belize).

4. One of your friends turns out to be a giant hungry spider.

Betrayal! An Aphantochilus rogeri ant-mimic spider feeds on the turtle ants it resembles. Like most spiders, Aphantochilus dissolves the tissues of the prey with injected venom and sucks up the slurry (Ecuador).

5. Wasp larvae eat you alive while you can’t move.

This spider is alive but paralyzed. She will make a tasty, days-long meal for the young wasp that hatches from the egg. Paralyzed prey doesn't rot as quickly as dead prey, so this seemingly morbid scheme has reason (Victoria, Australia).

6. Your head takes a direct injection of Dracula Ant venom.

Ouch! This earth centipede is the preferred prey of the Stigmatomma oregonense dracula ant. It will be paralyzed with this sting and fed alive to piles of hungry ant larvae (California).

7. You are pulled from your comfortable house by ravaging hordes of army ants.

This termite is being drawn, quartered, and stung in the head by a passing raid of Eciton army ants. If there were one general rule of rainforest ants, it's that everything likes to eat termites (Ecuador).

8. Your body is slowly weakened and destroyed by wasp grubs feeding on your insides.

A tomato hornworm carries pupae of Cotesia wasps that have emerged from its body (Illinois).

9. That swelling in your belly? Turns out you were pregnant with a parasitic worm that kills you when it breaks free.

A mermithid nematode worm breaks free from a trap-jaw ant (Belize).

10. You fall into a pit with a voracious predator at the bottom.

An antlion hurls sand at a Camponotus ant attempting to climb out of the trap (Florida).

11. A fly lays an egg in you that causes your head to fall off.

A pair of female ant-decapitating flies close in on a carpenter ant. Their larva will eat the insides of the ant and crawl into the head capsule to pupate, causing it to fall off (Illinois).

12. Your corpse is dragged around as a trophy by a giant, leggy predator.

Bittacus chlorostigma hangingfly with carpenter ant prey. The hangingfly will present his capture as a nuptial gift to potential mates (California).

13. A giant hand mashes you to the wall.

This mosquito wasn't fast enough to avoid a swat (Paraná, Brazil).

Actually, that last one doesn’t seem so bad compared to the others. At least it’s fast.

Happy Halloween!

[note: our post is an update from last year, now with 10% more parasites!!]

Alex Wild About the Author: Alex Wild is an Illinois-based entomologist who studies the evolutionary history of ants. In 2003 he founded a photography business as an aesthetic complement to his scientific work, and his natural history photographs appear in numerous museums, books, and media outlets. Follow on Twitter @myrmecos.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





Rights & Permissions

Add Comment

Add a Comment
You must sign in or register as a ScientificAmerican.com member to submit a comment.

More from Scientific American

Scientific American Holiday Sale

Give a Gift &
Get a Gift - Free!

Give a 1 year subscription as low as $14.99

Subscribe Now! >

X

Email this Article

X