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Scary Insects for Kids

 

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Click on a scary insect below to learn more and watch videos!

       
       
       
 

Giant Walkingstick

Largest of all North American walkingsticks and one of the longest insects in the world. It can measure up to 15 centimeters in length. Despite its size its camouflaged appearances makes it easy to overlook on tree trunks, branches, and logs. It also tends to be more active at night than during the day. Giant Walkingsticks cannot fly or jump and rely on their protective coloring to avoid predators.

Giant Walkingsticks are usually brownish, reddish, or green. Purely herbivorous, Giant walkingsticks feed on leaves and grasses. Giant Walkingsticks are completely harmless to people and usually live no more than a few months.

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Madagascar Hissing Cockroach

The Giant Hissing Cockroach is one of the world’s largest species of cockroach, measuring up to three inches in length. Found exclusively on the island of Madagascar, the Giant Hissing Cockroach is often kept as a pet. These hearty insects have been known live for up to five years in captivity. They feed on grass and vegetable matter.

Giant Hissing Cockroaches "hiss" by forcing air through their spiracles (breathing holes located in the abdomen). Male cockroaches "hiss" to attract female, or, during fights with other males.

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Dung Beetle

Dung Beetles are beetles that feed largely on dung (the waste products of other animals). They are found on every continent except Antarctica. Different kinds of dung beetles interact with dung in different ways. "Rollers" will roll the dung into a ball to be used as a food source later. Such dung beetles can roll dung up to ten times their own weight. "Tunnelers" will bury dung where they find it for consumption later. A final group of dung beetles is called dwellers. These beetles neither roll or tunnel, but rather, live within the dung. Dung beetles get all of their nutrients from dung and do not need to eat anything else or drink water.

Dung Beetles are the only insects known to navigate using the Milky Way as a guide. In addition, Dung Beetles are extremely important in agricultural habitats where they help to release nutrients back into the soil, as well as eliminate dung piles, which would otherwise attract a wide range of pests.

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Giant Weta

Giant Weta (and all 70 species of Weta) are found exclusively in New Zealand. When an animal is found exclusively in one location, we say it is "endemic" to that location. Weta are thought to have originated over 190 million years ago, nearly three times as long ago as dinosaurs. Today, Giant Weta, known technically as wetapunga, are threated by rats and other mammals. The nation of New Zealand has launched a large conversation program aimed at educating the public about these ancient creatures and preserving habitat.

Weta are nocturnal and are found in caves, logs, forests, and grasslands. They dig burrows under rocks, in rotting logs and in trees. Male Giant Weta have two noticeable "tusks" which are used to batter other males. A Giant Weta recently found by a park ranger on Little Barrier Island (New Zealand) was measured as the largest insect ever discovered. It weighed more than three mice and boasted a wingspan of more than seven inches. Weta are harmless to people.

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Asian Tiger Mosquito

Although the Asian Tiger Mosquito is native to southeast Asia, in recent years, it has been accidentally introduced to other parts of the world (including the United States, South America and southern Europe) most likely by international travelers. Unlike many mosquitoes, the Asian Tiger is equally active during the day and at night. It gets its name from its striped appearance. The proliferation of this species is particularly alarming because it transmits several dangerous illnesses to humans such as Yellow Fever and Dengue Fever.

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Japanese Giant Hornet

The imposing Japanese Giant Hornet can reach lengths of up to four centimeters. It is characterized by its massive yellow head, large eyes, and yellow and brown banded abdomen. It is endemic to the Japanese islands. While the Japanese Giant Hornet is not usually aggressive unless threatened, its quarter-inch long stinger can inject victims with a substantial amount of venom. The venom from a single hornet is extremely painful and can cause human victims to be hospitalized. Multiple stings from the hornet can cause anaphylactic shock (life-threatening allergic reaction) and kidney failure in humans. In Japan, thirty to forty people each year are killed after being stung by the hornet, making it the most lethal animal in Japan. The similar Asian Giant Hornet killed 141 people in China in 2013.

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Africanized Honey Bees

The Africanized Honey Bee, also known as the "killer bee," is not a natural species. It came into existence by the cross-breeding of the African Honey Bee with European bees. The resulting bee is far more aggressive than a typical bee. When such bees perceive a threat to the hive, they attack relentlessly and in much greater numbers than typical bees, and can cover a greater distance as well. Individual bees and small swarms may attack perceived threats over a quarter mile away from the hive. Several documented humans deaths have occurred from Africanized Honey Bees in the United States in recent years. Although their venom is no more toxic than that of typical bees, unwitting humans who happen upon a hive can quickly become overwhelmed by the bees. In June of 2013, a Texas man was killed when he accidentally disturbed a hive containing at least 40,000 Africanized Honey Bees. He was stung several thousand times.

Africanized Honey Bees are now well established in South America and southern parts of North America, including the southwestern United States.

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Hercules Beetle

Native to Central and South America and the Caribbean Islands, the Hercules Beetle is the largest of the Rhinoceros Beatles. The largest specimens have measured in at nearly seven inches in length (about the size of a cardinal), though most are much smaller. They can be brown, black, white, green, bluish, or combinations of colors. The defining feature of the Hercules Beetle is its amazing horn-like pincers, which are only present in males. In some cases, these pincers are longer than the beetle’s actual body. The pincers are used primarily by males to fight other males.

These beetles are harmless to humans. Their diets consist mostly of rotting vegetation and wood. The larval stage of the Hercules Beetle can last from one to two years. Larva can grow to the amazing length of four and a half inches! The beetle stage lasts from three to five months.

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