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Really Weird Insects

Updated on May 13, 2010

Insects are the most diverse group of animals on the planet and represent more than half of all known living organisms. They can be found in every type of environment on Earth and show some unique and startiling adaptations in order to survive in such extremes. Insects can walk, swim and fly.


 

The heaviest documented present-day insect was a 70 g (2½ oz) Giant Weta, though the Goliath beetles (see photo) hold the title for some of the largest species in general. The largest known extinct insect is an ancient dragonfly, Meganeura.


 

While some may hold distaste for insects and indeed some are regarded as pests, life on Earth as we know it would cease to exist without these creepy crawlers. For example, insects such as butterflies and bees are necessary for agriculture by engaging in pollination, and insects such as silkworms and bees have been domesticated by humans for the production of silk and honey. In some parts of the world insects are even used for human food, a practice known as entomophagy.


 

Along with some insect triva, this page explores some of the more exotic and bizarre insects out there, Enjoy!

photo source:http://www.itsnature.org/ground/creepy-crawlies-land/goliath-beetle/

There are more insects in one square mile of rural land than there are human beings on the entire earth.

The Giant Walking Stick

The giant walking stick (North Americas largest insect) is one of more than 2,500 closely related species (some looks like sticks, some look like leaves) and it is the longest of all the walking sticks. The adult female, with outstretched forelegs, spans over 15 inches, the male is much shorter and thinnerThe walking stick's legs can break off easily in a predator's mouth, allowing the insect to escape and young walking sticks

are able to regenerate legs that they have lost.

Giant walking sticks are found on grape vines, grasses, oaks in New Mexico, Indiana, north to Iowa, Indiana, east to Louisiana, and Kentucky.

Many people enjoy having these giant arthropos as pets!

photo source: http://www.extremescience.com/images/walking-stick.jpg

Walking Stick in motion

A short clip showing the giant walking stick

The Bullet Ant

It might not look like a menace but watch out!

Bullet ants have a retractable syringe-like lance on their abdominal tip from which they inject a potent nerve toxin. This toxin is said to be as potent and painful as being shot by a bullet, hence the name. Acording to the Schmidt Sting Pain Index, the sting is described as the most painful of all insect stings, causing waves of burning, throbbing, all-consuming pain, tremblings, nausea, perspiration, and sometimes paralysis that continues unabated for up to 24 hours.

The bullet ant nests in underground colonies containing many tunnels and chambers and can be found in Atlantic coastal lowland rainforests from Nicaragua southward to the Amazon basin. Workers are 18-25 mm (up to 1 inch) in size. Queens are only slightly larger than workers (modified for egg production), while mature colonies (those producing reproductive forms or winged males and virgin queens) are small and at most contain a few thousand ants. Workers show a size-based division of labor, with smaller ants remaining in the nest as nursemaids and larger workers serving as nest guards and foragers.

Despite the fact that multiple stings from the bullet ant can lead to death, some indigenous people use bullet ant stings as part of their initiation rites to manhood The medicine man of the tribe first renders the ants unconscious by submerging them in a natural chloroform and then hundreds of them are woven into a glove made out of leaves (which resembles a large oven mitt), stinger facing inward. A boy then slips the glove onto his hand and has to keep it there for a full ten minutes without showing any signs of pain. When finished, the boy's hand swells up and becomes temporarily paralyzed. He may shake uncontrollably for days after the rite has passed. To fully complete the initiation, boys must go through the ordeal a total of 20 times over the course of several months or even years!

photo source: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3175/2720413145_c4393d4cea.jpg

The buzz that you hear when a bee approaches is the sound of its four wings moving at 11,400 strokes per minute. Bees fly an average of 15 miles per hour.

Totally Weird Life Cycle

The twisted winged parasite

The twisted-wing parasite (Strepsiptera) is an order of insects who display a gruesome lifestyle. The larval stage parasite will climb a flower and wait for an insect pollinator (bee or wasp) to come along. They climb aboard the bee, burrow into its body, and change into a second-stage larva. They feed off the blood and organs of the host. An adult male parasite

will emerge from the host and search for a mate -a process that takes such little time that he never develops a mouth. The adult female remains in the host's body for the rest of her life, never growing legs or wings. She mates by pushing only her reproductive organs outside of the bee's body! Her offspring will emerge and look for new hosts.


 

photo source: http://pharyngula.org/images/strepsipteran_male.jpg

Share Insects With Children

Children naturally want to learn and explore their world and do not fear insects until they are taught to. Cultivate and encourage this desire with some excellent books and learning tools.

See the brutal bullet ant ritual, explore a cave full of wetas and see a wasp infected parasitized caterpillar

A typical bed usually houses over 6 billion dust mites.

The Cave Weta

The cave weta is a nocturnal, omnivorous insect found throughtout caves and other dark places throughout New Zealand.

Although they look terrifying, It turns out that they are actually harmless, deaf and probably more scared of you than you are of them.

The cave weta is one of 70 different species of weta found in new Zealand, 16 of which are threatened or endangered. This large insect has the physical appearance between a cockroach and a cricket with large legs. They are grouped in the family with cave crickets, camel crickets and sand treaders.

The cave weta is unique among weta species in that it can jump great distances and have extremely long legs. Its body is dwarfed by its incredibly long antennae. All told, the length of body plus legs and antennae can be 350 mm. Like crickets, the weta has ears on its knee caps. The female weta will lay between 200 and 300 eggs in one sitting. These eggs hatch 3-5 months later. The Cave Weta can live up to seven years.

photo source: http://www.ryanphotographic.com/images/JPEGS/Gymnoplectron%20edwardsi%20Cave%20weta.jpg

The Cave Glowworm

None of the world's glow-worms are true worms. In New Zealand and Australia, glow-worms are the larvae (maggots) of a special kind of fly known as a fungus gnat. They look like mosquitoes, and most feed on mushrooms and other fungi. However, a small group of fungus gnats are carnivores, and the worm-like larvae of these species use their glowing lights to attract small flying insects into a snare of sticky threads. One species, Arachnocampa luminosa, shown here is found throughout New Zealand.

The glow-worm's tail-light shines from an organ which is the equivalent of a human kidney. All insects have this organ but the glow-worm has a unique ability to produce a blue-green light from it. The chemical reaction that produces the light consumes a lot of oxygen. An airbag surrounds the light organ, providing it with oxygen and acting as a silvery reflector to concentrate the light.

Hundreds of these glowing sticky threaded larvae hang side by side on the roofs of caves throughout New Zealand. Their glowing lights resemble a stary nights sky and tourists from around the world take cave tours in order to see them.

photo source: http://clickmejs.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/glow_worms.jpg

See Some Of These Insects Up Close And Personal

Planet Earth: The Complete BBC Series [Blu-ray]
Planet Earth: The Complete BBC Series [Blu-ray]

This amazing series with unique, never seen before footage of hundreds of different animals, highlights all ecosystems on plant earth. The caves episode is my favorite and it highlights some pretty interesting insects, including fascinating footage of the cave glowworms.

 

Aphids are born pregnant without the benefit of sex. Aphids can give birth 10 days after being born themselves.

The Jungle Nymph

The jungle nymph, native to Australia, is a fascinating sight to behold. It's long body measures well over 6 inches and it has a nasty looking array of thorny spikes on its body, which is bright neon green in color. The spines can be a half inch long, and stand straight upright. On the head are twelve spines in rows of three, while two rows are on the very top of the head. The long antennae, (ove 3 inches in length) also has row of spines on it.

Jungle Nymphs have a wide and flat body that looks like a leaf if seen from a distance. They are bordered in brown or tan, at the edge of each body segment. The female is much larger than the male and is a more lime green colour. The male is winged and can fly, however the female has stubby, rounded wings and is unable to take flight. Their legs are very broad and sturdy and are also covered in spines.

The Jungle Nymph has an interseting life cycle. They lay eggs on trees which are about ¼ inch in size. The eggs may take up to a year, sometimes even as long as 15 months to go into the nymph stage. During this time, it will shed its skeleton 5 or 6 times and each time it does its called an instar stage. Then, once it is an adult, it will no longer gorw any more and will no longer shed its skeleton.

Males take about twelve months to become adults while female nymph sticks will wait until they are about 16 or 18 months old before they are ready to mate.

The females are very aggressive. When threatened, they will hiss and attempt to thrash the aggressor with her legs. The male is the only insect which will play possum, or that is, fall down and pretend to be dead to evade the predator. They will also sometimes pinch to defend themselves.

Jungle nymphs are herbivorous and enjoy branches, leaves and flowers of all sorts.

photo source:http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Malaysian.giant.jungle.nymph.arp.jpg

It is estimated there are 1.5 million to 30 million insect species on our planet. However, we have only

identified approximately 750,000 so far.

Insects Are Fascinating - Learn More

The Queen Must Die: And Other Affairs of Bees and Men
The Queen Must Die: And Other Affairs of Bees and Men

This is one of my favorite books. Its a fascinating journey into the private lives of bee's told by a bee keeper. After reading this you wil have a new love and affection for that buzzing pollinator we cannot live without.

 

The blood of mammals is red, the blood of insects is yellow, and the blood of lobsters is blue.

Thanks For Visiting - I would love to hear from you

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    • Digory LM profile image

      Digory LM 3 years ago

      Super lens. Thanks for a very interesting read.

    • Anthony Altorenna profile image

      Anthony Altorenna 3 years ago from Connecticut

      Very interesting! And I'm glad that bullet ants only live very far south of us!!

    • goldnumbat profile image

      goldnumbat 5 years ago

      i love the really weird animal series!

    • Steph Tietjen profile image

      Stephanie Tietjen 5 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico

      So extremely interesting, esp. the bullet ants and the story of initiation into manhood.

    • profile image

      I001l01I02l 6 years ago

      when i was a kid, i tried befriending an ant

    • itsmuzza2011 profile image

      itsmuzza2011 6 years ago

      great lens as usual wow on the photos, i once woke up with a camel spider about an inch from my face!!! but it was outside my mozzy net thank goodness, i was in the marines in iraq at the time

    • Ben Reed profile image

      Ben Reed 6 years ago

      A great lens. Wonderful pictures.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I like the pictures in this lens. Nice lens

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 7 years ago

      this is very interesting and a great lens...it makes you think how intricat life is...well done and a ~"Squid Angel Blessing"~

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      @joecentipede: wow this is screwed up

    • profile image

      joecentipede 7 years ago

      Haha I love these insects, looking great!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Great lens!

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 7 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      These are some really weird and interesting insects. I know a spider is not an insect but am lensrolling to my Writing Spider lens.

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 7 years ago from New Zealand

      Well Done! We have taken cave tours to see the glow worms before we know we can see them with about a 30 minute walk from our front door! Blessed by a Squidoo Angel (if you want, you can add your link at Angel Blessings from Pukeko)

    • spunkyduckling profile image

      spunkyduckling 7 years ago

      I don't find these animal weird but interesting. I don't think I've encountered a glow worom but that might be nice. The aphid nymph is the most interesting of all. They are born pregnant you say? Wow. Happy for them hehe..As for those cave weta why do they have ears on their legs if they can't hear? Guess we'd better start researching what other purposes ears are for. That ant sound dangerous...but that giant walking stick..people have them as pets?! You've got to be kidding..how they do that and its sounds so fragile and so large 15 inches? Wow! Thanks for the thumbs up and for educating me a little more about my weird friendly environment

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 7 years ago from United States

      Totally awesome lens! These are really weird insects! I used to see Walking Sticks often. Seeing you lens has reminded me of them. I don't believe I have seen one in years. More results of insecticides no doubt.

    • FlynntheCat1 profile image

      FlynntheCat1 7 years ago

      Fantastic :D And blessed by an Angel!

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 7 years ago from La Verne, CA

      Beautiful work on this lens.

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 7 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      Fascinating! And rather spine-tingling for me at the same time. I don't know if I could ever bring myself to have that humongous beetle on my hand. **shiver**

    • luvmyludwig lm profile image

      luvmyludwig lm 7 years ago

      great job on this, my son is going to love it!

    • ZenandChic profile image

      Patricia 7 years ago

      I had never heard of some of these insects like the giant walking stick. Interesting!