This Terrifying-Looking Horned Spider Is Actually Quite Harmless

Macracantha arcuata, aka the horned orb-weaver spider or the wishbone spider, have a pair of intimidating long horns growing out of their abdomen.

Although both male and female Macracantha arcuate spiders feature spines on their abdomens, it’s the females that stand out. They have three pairs of spines coming out of their abdomens, but it’s the middle one that immediately catches your attention, as the spectacular horns that project upward and then curve toward each other are roughly three times longer than the spider itself. The other two pairs of spines are short and relatively inconspicuous in comparison. If you’re afraid of spiders in general, a female Macracantha arcuata is a terrifying sight to behold, but you should know that the species is actually harmless to humans.

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These Silver, Reflective Beetles Look Like Living Jewelry

Chrysina limbata is a species of beetle native to the tropical rainforests of Central America known for its metallic reflective silver color which makes specimens look like living pieces of jewelry.

Chrysina limbata is regarded as one of the most beautiful insect species on Earth, and for good reason. These beetles have a reflective silver metallic appearance that is so clear one can actually see their reflection in them. According to Wikipedia, this stunning visual effect “is achieved through thin film interference within layers of chitin. These layers of the chitin coating are chirped (in layers of differing thicknesses), forming a complex multilayer as each layer decreases in depth; as the thickness changes, so too does the optical path-length. Each chirped layer is tuned to a different wavelength of light”.

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‘Door Head Ants’ Use Their Large Flat Heads as Doors to Shut Down Their Nests

The workers of several ant species have large, flattened, and slightly concave heads that they use as plugs to block entrance to their colonies’ nests.

The so-called ‘door head ants’ are soldier ants with armored heads that match both the size and the shape of the entrance to their colonies’ nests almost to perfection. They function as living doors, using their heads to plug shut the nest and only allow access to other members of the colony while keeping unwanted guests out. Door head ants can be found in several ant genera, including Cephalotes and Carebara. How these species developed the exact size and shape as the entries to their nests is the result of millions of years of evolution.

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Vulture Bees Feed on Dead Flesh Rather Than Nectar, Still Produce Sweet Honey

While the vast majority of bee species rely on the pollen and nectar of flowers for nutrients, a few so-called “vulture bees” have evolved to feast on carrion, just like vultures or hyenas.

It was only a few decades ago that entomologists made the rather staggering discovery that not all bees feed on pollen and nectar. Deep in the rainforests of Costa Rica they found three bee species that seemed to prefer dead flesh to flowers. In a recently-published study, scientists revealed that these “vulture bees” had gut bacteria that appeared to thrive in acidic environments, just like the bacteria found in the guts of other carrion-loving creatures, like vultures and hyenas. Another surprising discovery was that, despite their unusual diet, the vulture bees still produced sweet honey.

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This Giant Wasp Is Just a Harmless Moth in Disguise

The European Hornet Moth (Sesia apiformis) looks terrifying at first glance, but its uncanny resemblance to a giant wasp is just an elaborate disguise meant to keep predators at bay.

The hornet moth is a prime example of Batesian mimicry, a form of mimicry where a harmless species has evolved to imitate the look and/or behavior of a harmful species in order to protect itself from predators. In this case, the yellow and back combination, the shape of the abdomen, and of the see-through wings do a great job of creating the illusion of a menacing wasp. It’s only on closer inspection that you notice the insect’s lack of a clearly defined, wasp-like waste, a furry body, and two uncharacteristically small eyes.

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Devious Parasite Grants Host the Gift of Eternal Youth, But For a Price

Scientists have discovered that Temnothorax ants infected by a certain tapeworm parasite can live at least three times longer than their uninfected peers while maintaining a youthful appearance and getting special treatment.

A multi-year scientific study published in May of this year has revealed a phenomenon worthy of a science-fiction or fantasy blockbuster – a parasitic tapeworm that grants its host eternal youth while making them irresistible to their uninfected peers, who work harder just to bring them food and fulfill their every wish. It sounds unreal, but scientists at the  Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Austria have studied colonies of Temnothorax ants and found that when they are infected with the tapeworm Anomotaenia brevis, they become virtually immortal.

Temnothorax-nylanderi is a relatively common species of small ants that live in forests throughout Central Europe. They form small colonies on the forest floor, inside acorns or wooden branches, and most importantly, they serve as an intermediate host for the tapeworm Anomotaenia brevis. Up to 70 parasitic larvae can survive in the hemolymph, the body fluid of insects, but instead of competing for resources with their hosts and slowly killing them, the parasites appear to extend their lives considerably, possibly even indefinitely.

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The Brazilian Treehopper – The Most Alien-Looking Creature on Earth

The Brazilian treehopper, a pea-sized, rainforest-dwelling insect that spends its days munching on treetop leaves, is almost certainly the most otherworldly-looking creature on our planet.

From the double-nosed Andean tiger hound, to the painting-like “Picasso fish“, we’ve featured our share of strange-looking creatures on Oddity Central, but none of them come close to the bizarre Bocydium globulare or the Brazilian treehopper. This tiny, solitary insect looks like something out of a sci-fi/horror film, featuring a headdress made up of four spheres of chitin covered in many bristles, which suggests they have some sensory purpose, but scientists have no idea what these weird balls actually do.

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Sabethes – The World’s Most Beautiful Mosquito

I can think of a few adjectives to describe mosquitoes, but ‘beautiful’ is definitely not one of them. However, there is one notable exception – Sabethes cyaneus, a tropical breed of mosquito that can certainly be called eye-catching.

Found in the tropical forests of central and South America, the Sabethes mosquito is an elusive breed famous for its iridescent blue color and feather-like paddles formed by elongated scales, located on the tibia of each middle leg. The two hind legs arching over the body of the mosquito as it is feeding are also impressive and help build the Sabethes’ majestic appearance. Marveling at its beauty is a privilege, as this breed is well-known for being extremely skittish and difficult to photograph well.

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Perfectly-Camouflaged Moth Looks Like a Twig Fragment

Tsumaki Shachihoko is a rare Japanese moth that features impressive natural camouflage which allows it to perfectly mimic small twigs in order to avoid predators.

We’ve always found natural camouflage fascinating here at Oddity Central, and simply searching the term in our search box will yield over a dozen amazing examples of natural mimics. Today we are adding yet another master of camouflage to our ever-growing collection – Tsumaki Shachihoko, a moth found in various forested areas of Japan, where it manages to keep itself safe by mimicking a small twig fragment. Seen from afar, the moth is virtually impossible to tell apart from an actual twig, complete with imperfections such as chipped bark and brownish “broken” ends.

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Man Sees Injured Cockroach on the Street, Takes It to the Vet for Emergency Treatment

A Thai doctor recently took to Facebook to share photos of a rather unusual patient – a cockroach that someone spotted on the side of the road after being stepped on.

Last week, Thanu Limpapattanawanich, a veterinarian from Krathum Baen, in Thailand, found himself having to save the life of a very special patient. A person came in one day with an injured cockroach that they had witnessed being accidentally stepped on by someone else. Unable to let the insect die on the side of the road, the person took it in the palm of their hand and brought it to the Sai Rak Animal Hospital. Instead of laughing at the person who brought in the bug, Dr. Limpapattanawanich took the case and treated the cockroach for free.

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This Spider Masquerades as a Fallen Leaf to Avoid Predators

Poltys mouhoti, aka the Rolled-up Leaf Spider, is a fascinating arachnid that uses incredible camouflage to protect itself from predators during the day.

Native to Vietnam, but also spotted in other Asian countries like Cambodia, Thailand or Malaysia, the aptly-named rolled-up leaf spider is part of the Poltys genus of spiders, which numbers 43 known sub-species, most of which have this amazing ability to mimic plant parts as a self-defense mechanism. They accomplish this by tucking their legs in towards their abdomen, and extending a long, stem-like appendage outward. Even their body has a brown and green coloration and a shape reminiscent of a broken branch, which enhances the camouflage even more.

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Thousands of Cockroaches Released in Restaurant to Settle Debt Dispute

Patrons at a restaurant in Taipei, were recently shocked to see cockroaches crawling all over the place after thousands of them were released on the premises by two masked men.

On May 4th, two masked men entered the G House Taipei restaurant holding large bags filled with over 1,000 cockroaches, which they simply released at the reception desk on the second floor of the establishment, before fleeing the scene. Roaches started crawling on the floor, walls and furniture, and it wasn’t long before patrons enjoying their meals there started noticing them as well. Among the diners were policemen Taipei Police Department who were attending a banquet there, and they immediately created a task force to catch the perpetrators.

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This Caterpillar Mimics a Scary Skull to Keep Predators at Bay

The caterpillar of the rare pink underwing moth has a very peculiar defense mechanism. When disturbed, it suddenly arches its back to reveal a pair of large, frightening eyes and what looks like a two rows of barred teeth.

The pink underwing moth is a rare and enigmatic insect found from subtropical New South Wales through Queensland and New Guinea. It feeds on rotting fruit and, although nocturnal, doesn’t seem to be strongly attracted to light. The moth’s name was inspired by the bright pink bars on its hidden hind underwings, which some experts believe act as a defense mechanism. The theory is that a sudden display of color can startle or surprise a predator for long enough to let the moth escape. But that defense strategy pales in comparison to that used by the pink underwing moth in caterpillar form.

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Golden Tortoise Beetles – Nature’s Living Jewels

Ever seen a tortoise the size of a fly? How about a golden one that can actually fly? Well, today’s your lucky day, as you get to discover one of nature’s shiny treasures – the golden tortoise beetle.

Before you open a fresh tab to search if these adorable critters are real or just the result of digital editing, make sure you use the species scientific name, aspidimorpha sanctaecrucis, as “golden tortoise beetle” is a really common name shared by a number of beetles, like charidotella sexpunctata, among others. What makes this species of beetle special is that the gold pattern on their transparent protective carapace actually makes them look like tiny tortoises.

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Australian Woman Photographs Moth Larger Than Her Hand

An Australian woman recently took to Facebook to share photos of a giant moth she stumbled across in outside of Brisbane.

Pam Taylor posted the first photos of the frighteningly large insect on the Amateur Entomology Australia group, on February 23. The pics showed a huge grey moth clinging to a tree branch. To show just how large the moth really was, the woman also photographed it next to her open palm. Obviously, the photos got a lot of attention from the other amateur entomologists, many of whom recognized the insect as a specimen of Endoxyla Cinereus, or the Giant Wood Moth.

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