While nature is often beautiful, it can also be downright disturbing. Look under a log, search around a shed, or check out your bathroom, and you’re bound to find a few creepy-crawlies lurking about. Eerie insects, awful arachnids, and parasitic pests are everywhere, and if you’re carrying a camera, you might just a capture a scene straight out of a horror movie.
Warning: Most of these videos are truly not for the faint of heart.
10The Freakishly Big Spider-Worm
It’s an undeniable fact that spiders are eight-legged demons from Hell. It’s also a fact that parasites are disgusting monsters that need to be wiped off the face of the Earth. And when the two get together, you end up with a YouTube video that’ll make the staunchest of animal rights activists reach for the nearest rolled-up newspaper.
In January 2013, Brent Askwith found a disproportionately large arachnid crawling around his home. Instead of going for his shotgun (like a sane person would), Askwith grabbed a can of spray and killed the creature . . . well, at least one of the creatures. Suddenly, a disturbingly long worm started unspooling from the spider’s abdomen. Appropriately describing it as a “fricken alien worm,” Askwith videoed the parasite as it writhed on the floor before finishing it off with a final blast of spray.
So what was Askwith’s mystery monster? Well, in an interview with The Huffington Post, Harvard entomologist Dr. Brian Farrell explained the spider was host to a parasitic nematode or, more specifically, a roundworm. Listverse readers are no stranger to this nasty beast, a creature that often shows up in uncooked pork. So the next time you’re frying bacon, just remember what came crawling out of that spider and make sure you do a thorough job.
9The Toad-Killing Beetle
Beetles are everywhere. According to the University of California Museum of Paleontology at Berkeley, there are over 350,000 known species. That’s a whopping 22 percent of all species described by man! With so many sheath-winged critters running around, it should come as no surprise that scientists are learning new things about our six-legged neighbors every day . . . and some of these discoveries are pretty gruesome.
Take for instance the Epomis beetle, bane of frogs and toads everywhere. In 2011, researchers from Tel Aviv University discovered that from the moment they hatch, Epomis larvae are driven by a serial killer urge to murder amphibians. In fact, it’s all they eat. Frogs and toads are attracted by movement, so the larvae lure their prey by performing a ritualistic dance, swaying their antennae while opening and closing their mouthparts. The excited frog moves in closer and closer as the larva moves faster and faster. Then the frog shoots out its tongue, expecting an easy snack, only the larva dodges and springs onto the frog’s face. The little Dracula starts draining the frog of its precious bodily fluids, and once it’s quenched its thirst, the larva eats skin, flesh, organs—everything but bones.
These battles are staggeringly one-sided. The Tel Aviv researchers were shocked to find out that, out of 400 tests, the Epomis larvae almost always won. Once, a toad managed to swallow the bug and keep it down for two hours . . . before throwing it back up and being killed by its dinner, a lovely scene you can watch here.
When larvae grow up, they learn to appreciate other delectable creatures but still have a fondness for a fine frog filet. In the above video, the adult Epomis beetle takes on a toad, and things don’t end well for our amphibian friend. Oblivious to the danger, the toad nears the insect, and suddenly, the beetle is all over him. The Epomis is like a deranged bull rider, holding tight as the toad bucks and jumps in vain. The insect uses its powerful jaws to slit open the toad’s back, severing the muscles attached to the toad’s rear legs, paralyzing it. The beetle then helps itself to the toady smorgasbord, taking hours to devour the entire amphibian. And yes, as the great Alan Grant once said, “You are alive when they start to eat you.”
8The Worm-Eating Snail Of New Zealand
New Zealand is home to all kinds of weird creatures like giant wetas, takahes, and hobbits, but none are quite so tarrying as the Powelliphanta snail. The giant gastropod grows up to 9 centimeters (3.5 in) across and spends its days lurking under leaves and logs. When the sun finally sets, the snails creep out of their hiding places for a night of sex (which is pretty easy considering they’re all hermaphrodites) and food. And while it’s one big, slimy party for the snails, it’s pretty terrifying for earthworms.
While most snails prefer chomping on veggies, the Powelliphanta is a major carnivore who likes its food a little more wriggly. This stealthy hunter slowly—very slowly—tracks down earthworms and slugs, and when it finds an unsuspecting annelid, it sucks the worm up like a long, slippery noodle. Death by Powelliphanta is pretty unpleasant, akin to ending up inside a Sarlacc. The snail’s mouth is full of tiny, backward-facing teeth that latch onto the poor worms while digestive enzymes dissolve their flesh. Spaghetti, anyone?
7Ants Mate With Eaten Queen
Drone ants have one purpose in life: As the only males in the colony, their sole job is to mate with the queen (after which they kick the bucket). To get the guys in the mood, the female releases chemical stimuli that drive the dudes wild. And once they’re turned on, the drones can only focus on one thing. In fact, they’re so stirred up they’ll even copulate with a corpse, something Adrian Skippy Purkart found out first hand.
The Slovakian wildlife photographer took the above video, which involves a group of amorous winter ants, one dying queen, and a rather menacing crab spider. During the mating ritual, the arachnid snared the female and starting sucking out her innards. But as the predator drank her head dry, the queen continued releasing pheromones, encouraging the drones to keep on at it. Totally ignoring the spider just a few centimeters away, the ants carried on with business as usual, all while their lady fair was having her brains slurped up. Talk about twisted.
6Praying Mantis Hunts Hummingbird
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Hummingbirds might look like they haven’t a care in the world, but in reality, their lives are scarier than a Wes Craven slasher flick. While they hover from flower to feeder, they’re constantly watching their backs, keeping their eyes peeled for predators. Not only do they have to worry about run-of-the-mill meat eaters like cats, hawks, and snakes, but thanks to their diminutive size, they have to worry about creatures like frogs, spiders, and fish. Even wasps can deliver a sting powerful enough to kill a full-grown hummer. When you’re the smallest bird on the planet, the world is full of dangers.
However, there’s one hummingbird hunter that’s particularly unsettling. Enter the praying mantis. We’ve already read quite a bit about this meditative monster and know it’ll eat just about anything, from bugs to lizards. Still, the idea of a bug devouring a cute bird is a tad upsetting, especially since mantises are so calculating. Like an assassin stalking a victim, mantises will stake out flowers or feeders where they’ve spotted a lot of hummingbird activity. Like the hunter in the above video, they’ll patiently wait for a hummer to get too close and then snag the bird with Jedi-like reflexes. Their spiked foreclaws impale the poor bird and, assuming no nosy humans get involved, they’ll spend up to two days munching on their feathery snack.
The mantis in the video isn’t quite strong enough to score a meal, but at least you can admire its patience and speed. If you want to see a luckier mantis chowing down, you can check it out here. Be warned. It isn’t for bird lovers.
5Feeding The Bedbugs
Ever heard the old expression “sleep tight and don’t let the bedbugs bite”? Well, Louis Sorken certainly hasn’t. Or maybe he just doesn’t care. An entomologist at the American Museum of Natural History, Sorkin is particularly fond of bedbugs, the blood-drinking vampires that turn hotels into all-night buffets. While there are quite a few critters that prefer dining on bats and birds, Cimex lectularius only craves Homo sapien hemoglobin. Lurking in mattresses, slippers, or any crack they can find, they wait for their dinner to fall asleep (night or day) before moving in for the main course.
Unless, that is, they’re trapped inside a jar. Sorkin has at least two collections of the six-legged Nosferatus and—well—somebody has to feed them. Since you can’t run down to the local pet store and buy a bag of bedbug treats, Sorkin supplies the meals himself. Once a month, the scientist takes an insect-filled jar, tilts it over, and places it on his arm. The voracious bugs rush toward the opening, stick their little mouthparts through a mesh cover, and drink their fill. Sorkin says it doesn’t hurt, although afterward there’s an enormous red lump on his arm. Now, imagine if someone poured that jar onto your bed and let those things feed all night long. Better check your sheets tonight.
4A Mosquito In Action
While we’ve all encountered mosquitoes before, we usually only get an outside glimpse of what’s going on when they stab us with their nasty needles. However, researchers at the Pasteur Institute in Paris decided to change that. With the help of an anesthetized mouse and a high-powered microscope, they watched as several malarial mosquitoes (it was a study on malaria) bit the rodent and searched for blood. The resulting video is pretty darn creepy.
The eeriest part is how the mosquito’s mouthparts can bend back and forth. According to science writer Ed Young, the mosquito’s “needle” is actually made up of six parts, some of which you can see in the video. There’s a set of mandibles and a set of maxillae that are clearly visible at 0:24. Actually, the maxillae are quite sharp and sink into cells like cleats digging into a soccer field. They allow the mosquito to push deeper and deeper as its needle hunts around like the NTI probe from The Abyss.
On an interesting side note, the scientists found that malarial mosquitoes had a harder time finding blood vessels than healthy ones. They theorize the Plasmodium parasites might have hijacked the insects’ nervous systems or altered genes in the mosquitoes’ mouthparts. Either way, infected mosquitoes take a longer time looking for food, which gives the malaria parasites plenty of time to invade a new host. However, when the mosquitoes do find a blood vessel, it’s amazingly disgusting.
3The Man With Mites In His Ear
Pray you never suffer from otoacariasis. It’s not life threatening. It’s just incredibly gross. The condition involves mites . . . camping out inside your ear.
For those of you brave enough to click “play,” the above video shows a Taiwanese doctor performing an otoscopic examination on a 70-year-old man. The septuagenarian gentleman claimed he’d been experiencing “a sense of fullness” in his right ear for about two months. As the camera probed deeper, the doctor eventually discovered an entire colony of house-dust mites crawling around his ear canal. As mites tend to do, these guys were munching away on the elderly man’s skin. And when they weren’t dining on his derma, they were getting it on with other mites and laying lots of eggs. That’s right. His ear canal had become an incubator for an entire family of arachnids.
Fortunately, doctors prescribed an anti-mite medicine that worked wonders, wiping out the little arthropods in about two months. And don’t worry. That “fullness” you’re feeling in your ear right now is probably just wax. Probably.
2The Goliath Birdeater vs. The Fer-De-Lance
Ladies and gentlemen, this is the main event of the evening. Introducing first, we have Bothrops asper, aka the fer-de-lance. The deadliest serpent in South America, this sharp-nosed reptile is responsible for 50 percent of all snakebites in Costa Rica. And now, introducing the champion, we have the Goliath birdeater, an arachnid that’s already appeared in several Listverse lists. The largest tarantula on the planet, this beast can have a leg span of 30 centimeters (1 ft) and eats a lot more than just birds.
In this unsettling showdown, the spider uses its incredible speed and agility to pounce on the pit viper. Despite the snake’s best efforts to wriggle its way free, the birdeater has a firm grip and won’t let go. While the tarantula’s bite can’t harm a human, its venom is more than adequate to murder a snake. Using 1.2-centimeter (0.5 in) fangs, the spider penetrates the reptile’s scaly skin and injects a deadly mixture of venom and enzymes that turns the serpent’s innards into oatmeal. It just goes to show that eight legs are better than none.
1The Worm In The Eyeball
Ever had a speck of dust stuck in your eyeball? Or ever suffered from that notorious ailment known as “pink eye”? Then you know how irritating it is when your eye starts itching. Blink and rub all you like, but it only gets worse. That’s probably how PK Krishnamurthy, a 75-year-old man from India, felt back in 2012. His right eye was giving him quite a bit of trouble, and no amount of scratching or pawing could soothe the dreadful itch.
Frustrated, he visited Fortis Hospital in Mumbai and had doctors take a peek at his peeper to see what was going on. They were probably shocked to see something long and threadlike slithering just below the sclera. Fifteen minutes later, a doctor armed with a pair of tweezers managed to pull a 13-centimeter (5 in) worm out of Mr. Krishnamurthy’s eyeball. How had the parasite gotten there? Well, doctors aren’t sure. Somehow, the worm entered the elderly man’s bloodstream and swam its way into his eye. Perhaps it’d entered through a cut on his foot or sneaked in aboard an improperly cooked piece of pork. Either way, doctors said Krishnamurthy was lucky the parasite didn’t work its way into the brain. He really wormed his way out of that one.