10 of the Weirdest Looking Bugs on Earth

Over 1.5 million species of insects have been identified on our planet, and entomologists believe millions more are yet to be discovered. This amazing diversity has given rise to all sorts of weird and wonderful creatures. Check out the following examples of particularly eye-popping insects from around the world.

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Photo credit: Pavel Kirillov, via Wikimedia Commons

1. Branch-Backed Treehopper

Treehoppers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, including the branch-backed treehopper from Ecuador pictured above. Their bizarre appendages typically mimic their favorite host plants, where they may set up and feed for up to a month. Treehoppers are sap-feeders. Their mouthparts have two sharp tubes that can penetrate a tree’s bark. One tube is for sucking the sap, and the other tube injects saliva, which contains a compound that prevents a tree from closing up the bite area.

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Photo credit: Frank Vassen, via Wikimedia Commons

2. Giraffe Weevil

This species of weevil lives in Madagascar, an island off the east coast of Africa. Many unique species have evolved on this isolated island that are found nowhere else in the world. The male giraffe weevil’s neck is three times longer than the female’s, and they use it to fight off other males for mating privileges. They only eat leaves and spend most of their lives on one type of plant known as, not surprisingly, the giraffe beetle tree.

Hercules beetle

3. Hercules Beetle

Native to the jungles of South America, the Hercules beetle spends most of its time foraging through leaf-litter on the forest floor. It primarily eats decaying plant matter and the occasional small insect. The fallen debris also helps to hide this enormous insect from potential predators, which include bats, rats, reptiles and birds. The Hercules beetle is the largest beetle in the world, due to the long pair of horns extending from the front of its body. Large males can reach up to 17 centimeters (7 inches) long. The beetles get their name from their ability to carry 850 times their body weight.

Orchid mantis

4. Orchid Mantis

Orchid mantises live in the rainforests of Southeast Asia. At first glance, it looks like orchid mantises mimic orchids so they can easily hide in the flowers to catch prey. But, research has found these insects are actually far more advanced. Instead of hiding in flowers, orchid mantises tend to sit on leaves out in the open, often near orchid flowers. And when insects are faced with a choice between landing on a flower or a mantis, they go for the mantis. It seems the mantis actually mimics the color and shape of orchid flowers to lure insects into its clutches.

Related: 7 Strange Facts About Praying Mantises

Jewel Caterpillar
Photo credit: Andreas Kay, via Flickr

5. Jewel Caterpillars

Jewel caterpillars are the larvae of the Dalceridae family of moths. About 84 different species of Dalceridae moths have been identified, primarily in tropical regions in Central and South America. The larvae come in all sorts of bright, eye-catching colors. They are also called “slug caterpillars” because they’re covered in gooey segments that will break off when attacked. Scientists believe their goo is designed to make them unappetizing to predators. The caterpillars’ bright colors also make them look poisonous, when in fact, they aren’t. Their tactics seem to work, as they’re often seen slowly cruising around out in the open, unbothered by predators.

Leaf Insect

6. Giant Leaf Insect

The giant leaf insect is native to tropical forests in Asia. Its remarkable leaf-like appearance keeps it safe from most predators. Giant leaf insects remain motionless for most of their lives. When they have to walk, they gently rock back and forth to mimic a real leaf being blown by the wind to further camouflage themselves. In 2006, a 47-million-year-old fossil of a prehistoric ancestor of leaf insects was discovered in Germany. It bore a considerable resemblance to modern leaf insects, showing they have changed very little over time.

Wheel bug
Photo credit: Andy McLemore, via Flickr

7. Assassin Bugs

Around 7000 species of assassin bugs live throughout the world. They all have a formidable, curved proboscis they use to inject a lethal saliva into their prey. The saliva liquifies the insides of their victim, which are then sucked out. Assassin bugs primarily feed on other insects, although some species suck blood from vertebrates, such as humans, and can spread disease.

Scorpion Fly

8. Scorpion Fly

This type of fly is common around the world. What’s uncommon is how male scorpion flies’ enlarged genitals look like a scorpion’s stinger. But luckily, they can’t actually sting. Scorpion flies also have an unusually long beak they typically use for feeding on decaying vegetation and dead, soft-bodied invertebrates. Although, forensic scientists have discovered scorpion flies can also feed on dead human bodies. They found that scorpion flies are often the first scavengers to arrive on a corpse, and they’ll stay for about a day and a half. So, if forensic investigators see scorpion flies at a crime scene, they know a body is still fresh.

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9. Cecropia Moth

The cecropia moth is the largest native moth in North America, with females reaching a wingspan of 160 millimeters (6 inches) or more. The adult moths’ only purpose is to reproduce, so they don’t have functional mouthparts or a digestive system. The males have large, feathery antennae that can detect a female’s scent from over a mile away, although they may fly up to 7 miles (11 kilometers) to find a mate.

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Photo credit: Gilles San Martin, via Wikimedia Commons

10. Sycamore Lace Bug

Native to North America, the sycamore lace bug has also spread to Europe. This delicate bug is only 3 millimeters (0.12 inches) long, with ornate, white patterns along its wings, back and head. Despite its attractive appearance, this bug is actually a pest that feeds on the leaves of sycamore trees. Heavy infestations can completely defoliate trees, and extended infestations have been known to kill trees.

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96 comments

Jim Ven
Jim V13 days ago

thank you

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Jim Ven
Jim V13 days ago

thank you

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Jerome S
Jerome S13 days ago

thanks

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Jerome S
Jerome S13 days ago

thanks

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Glennis W
Glennis W14 days ago

Very informative Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis W14 days ago

Great information and advice Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis W14 days ago

Some of them are beautiful Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis W14 days ago

Very interesting article. Thank you for caring and sharing

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Leo C
Leo C14 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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David C
David C16 days ago

cool, thanks

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