Any insect or related creature can be startling due to its size, appearance, or simply because you encounter it unexpectedly. In honor of Halloween, here are some spooky bugs that might freak you out, but that pose no threat to life and limb.
With multiple long legs and antennae, the House Centipede, Scutigera coleoptrata, looks like a creepy, animated feather. It can climb up walls and speed across your ceiling, upping the fear factor by several orders of magnitude.
The House Centipede is a venomous predator of small insects and other invertebrates, but is not dangerous to people or pets (unless you count the heart attack you can have if you see one). Centipedes are not insects, nor arachnids, but in a Class by themselves: Chilopoda. The House Centipede is found all over the world, thanks to international commerce giving them free rides everywhere.
Few insects are as spooky as Jerusalem Crickets, over forty species of which live from the Great Plains westward in North America. “Child of the Earth” is another common name, as the enormous “bald” head resembles that of a newborn.
These are large insects that live mostly underground, or under objects on the ground, venturing above ground at night. They can deliver a painful bite if handled, but are not venomous. Another alias is “potato bug,” but while they may gnaw on the odd tuber they are not pests. They are omnivores, eating a variety of living and deceased flora and fauna.
Turn on your porch light and you might find an enormous winged insect with jaws like ice tongs. The frightful insect is a male dobsonfly, genus Corydalus. Females have “normal” jaws, but can pinch a lot harder if you molest them. They are the adults of aquatic larvae familiar to fishermen as “hellgrammites.”
The larvae live under stones in swift-flowing streams and rivers where they prey on other small animals. As adult insects they do not feed, living entirely off the fat they accumulated as larvae. Found most commonly east of the Great Plains, dobsonflies just look wicked and dangerous.
These are the “camel spiders” of myth and superstition that you hear about from travelers to the Middle East. We have many native species here in North America, mostly west of the Mississippi River, and in the southeast U.S. They may look, or even act, terrifying, but they are not venomous.
The solifuge uses its massive jaws (the largest for their size of any invertebrate) to simply tear apart its prey of insects, spiders, and small vertebrates like young lizards. They are active mostly at night, digging burrows to hide in by the heat of the day.
Show Us Your Spooky Bugs
What spooky bugs have you seen recently? Tag After Bite on Facebook with the hashtag #SpookyBugs and an image of the bug for the chance to be featured!