Insects

The 12 Ugliest And Creepiest Bugs In The World

The 12 Ugliest And Creepiest Bugs In The World With Pictures


Insects can be found on every continent on Earth, even Antarctica.

They can be found lurking under leaf litter or within cave systems, at the bottom of lakes, or high up in the tree canopy.

Their presence is unavoidable. Many are probably eyeing you up right now.

Here are the 12 of the ugly insects we share our planet with.

12) Titan Beetle

Titan Beetle
 Getting personal with giants. Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History

The titan beetle is huge.

In fact, it is one of the largest extant insects alive, measuring a whopping 6 inches in length.

Their jaws are so strong, they can snap a pencil in two.

Titan beetles tend to live in the rainforests of South America and are generally considered non-aggressive toward humans (unless you start waving pencils in their faces).

Despite their scary armored façade, titan beetles have more to fear from us humans, as deforestation threatens their population.

11) Antlion

The antlion larva is covered in sensory hairs to detect vibrations. Photograph by James Castner, University of Florida.

Whoever thinks all babies are cute, think again.

Antlion larvae are aggressive and formidable hunters; how do you think they got the name antlion?

And they’re very ugly.

The larva has a plump abdomen and a small head, complete with long, grasping jaws. Their jaws are laced with an enzyme that aids in prey digestion.

The antlion larva reside in funnel-shaped pits, which are found in dry, sandy regions across the globe.

When the antlion senses passing vibrations, it will throw sand at the victim, causing the insect prey to tumble down the sandy pit walls and into the clasping jaws of the antlion.

Did you Know?

Antlion larvae are also referred to as doodlebugs in the United States.

10) Human Botfly

 

Human Botfly
A side-by-side comparison of a botfly larva and an adult botfly.

Resembling a bumblebee, but without the charm, the human botfly can be found in Central and South America.

Similarly to the antlion, it’s the larva of the botfly that will haunt you in your sleep.

An adult botfly will lay a single egg upon the skin of a mammalian host, often humans. The hatched larva buries deep within the host’s skin, where it develops.

The larva is a grotesque white maggot, adorned with backwards-facing black hooks across the thorax. These hooks prevent the botfly larva from being removed from the wound site.

A simple surgical procedure will be required to remove the botfly larva from the skin. Yikes!

9) Baphomet Moth

Baphomet Moth
A male Baphomet moth expanding its coremata to attract a female.

A would-be simple moth, the Baphomet moth could easily go unnoticed in its day-to-day life, if it wasn’t for the bulging, tentacle-like appendages protruding from the abdomen.

Often mistaken for the cordyceps fungus, a parasitic fungus that takes over a host’s body, the tentacles are, in fact, specialized organs known as coremata, or hair-pencils.

The coremata can be as long as the moth’s abdomen, and they have one function: to release pheromones to attract a mate. Only males possess the creepy-looking coremata.

8) Giant Prickly Stick Insect

The giant prickly stick insect is a large stick insect endemic to Australia. Photo by Rosa Pineda.

If you look close enough at the foliage in Northeast Australia, you may spot, suspended motionlessly, the giant prickly stick insect.

These creepy bugs are experts in camouflage.

Covered in thorn-like spikes, females effortlessly mimic thorny twigs.

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Males lack spikes. However, unlike females, they possess a pair of wings that help them seek out females.

If threatened, both males and females adopt a scorpion-like pose. Small pincers are capable of tearing human flesh. Best to avoid these prickly sticks.

7) Kissing Bug

Kissing Bug
 Chagas disease is spread through kissing bugs.
Photo courtesy of Arkansas department of health

Romantic, right?

Wrong!

Not only is the kissing bug one ugly insect, it is also one of the deadliest.

Using their modified mouthparts, they feed primarily on the blood of other animals, including humans.

Unfortunately, they can spread a disease known as chagas disease. This happens when a kissing bug, infected with the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, bites a host (normally on the face). 

Found across all the Americas, kissing bugs are typically brown or black, with an elongated body.

6) Giant Water Bug

Giant Water Bug
A male giant water bug catching a tadpole. Developing eggs are on the back.
Photo by Wolf Avni.

Journey into the depths of lakes and ponds across the globe, and creepy insects can be found lurking in the shadows.

Meet the giant water bug; a member of the true bug family.

These scary predators, which can grow up to 4 inches, prey on species (tadpoles, fish, insects) many times their own size.

They strike prey, grasping onto it with their hook-like front legs, and inject a cocktail of venomous saliva. The giant water bug uses its sucker-like mouthparts to slurp up the liquified remains of its prey.

Did you Know?

In the giant water bug world, males are the ones to look after the developing offspring. A female will lay up to 100 eggs on the back of the male.

5) Cave Weta

Cave Weta
 A group of cave wetas. The long antennas help pick up frequencies. Photo courtesy of Massey University.

To the depths of the Earth itself, this next creepy insect means “god of ugly things” in Māori and can be found skulking within caves.  

The cave weta.

Endemic to New Zealand, it is found nowhere else on Earth.

With humped backs, spindly legs, and long antennae, you do not want to come across a cave weta in the gloom of a cave.

But whilst we may shudder at their appearance, they are completely harmless.

They tend to stay in family groups and eat plant matter.

If spooked, they avoid confrontation and jump to safety.

Did you Know?

The cave weta can jump up to 3 meters in a single leap!

 

4) Giraffe Weevil

Giraffe Weevil
 A male giraffe weevil

The giraffe weevil is weird.

Found only in the Eastern rainforests of Madagascar, the weevil boldly stands out.

Jet black and bright red colors ward off predators.

But the main reason the weevil stands out is due to its exceptionally long neck.

At 25cm, the neck of the giraffe weevil can be three times as long as its body. Males use their long necks to fight other males to win mating rights with a female.

3) Hissing Cockroach

Hissing Cockroach
 The hissing cockroach is one of the largest cockroach species in the world.
Photo courtesy of Louisville Zoo.

Cockroaches have gained a bad reputation for themselves. After all, they look ugly and can carry diseases.

However, many play a vital role in the health of our ecosystem as nutrient recyclers and soil mixers.

The Madagascan hissing cockroach is no exception.

Found in the decaying leaf litter of the Madagascan scrub, they are important decomposers and food sources for other animals.

Not only are these cockroaches ugly bug they also make a creepy hissing noise. This noise is used to scare away predators and for courtship purposes.

Did you Know?

The hissing sound made by the hissing cockroach is made from the cockroach expelling air through specialized spiracles.

 

2) Scorpionfly

Scorpionfly
A male scorpionfly. Photo by Richard Bartz.  

The scorpionfly is the insect equivalent of Frankenstein.

With a tail like a scorpion, wings like a dragonfly, and head like a weevil, it’s hard to know what you’re really looking at.

But despite the creepy appearance, scorpionflies are completely harmless to both humans.

But what about that scorpion-like stinging tail?

Well, fear not. What appears to be a stinger is simply enlarged male genitalia.

Scorpionflies are found across the globe, and they actually have some surprising benefits for humans. Welcome to the unique world of forensic entomology.

Scorpionflies are one of the first insects to arrive on a fresh corpse. So, although they cannot help the deceased, they allow forensic experts to gauge an idea of how fresh a corpse is.

1) Dobsonflies

Dobsonflies
Adult male eastern dobsonfly. Photograph by Lyle J. Buss, University of Florida.

Scary, creepy, huge, and ugly are just some of the words that may come to mind when describing dobsonflies.

But what are they?

Found across the Americas, Africa, and Asia, dobsonflies are some of the largest flying insects, with wingspans reaching close to 9 inches!

Their most frightening characteristics, however, are the formidable-looking mandibles. Curved and sharp, they can reach lengths of up to 2 inches.

Fortunately, the mandibles are too long for the dobsonfly to bite. Instead, they use these long jaws as fighting tools to impress females. They may also be inspected by a female when she decides who to mate with.

Conclusion 

Wherever you venture on this planet, there’s a high possibility that you will come face to face with some scary insects. Whether in your home or in the darkest depths of a rainforest, they are everywhere.

But remember, looks are deceiving.

So next time you go to squish a bug, just remember, not every creepy crawly is out to get you.

References

  • Smithsonian, Smithsonian Snapshot, May 2011
  • Galveston County Master Gardeners, 2005.
  • University of Florida, Featured Creatures, Reviewed April 2018
  • Journal of Entomology and Zoology Studies, 2020
  • The complete field guide, Phasmatidae, 2009
  • CDC, Parasites, Reviewed April 2022
  • ResearchGate, Heteroptera, Mar 2019
  • Science, Biology, June 2017
  • Nature, Diversity with a difference, April 2004
  • University of Kentucky, Department of Entomology, Dec 1995
  • University of Minnesota, Small Wonders, Nov 2022
  • University of Florida, Featured Creatures, Reviewed Feb 2019

Disclaimer

Earthlife.net does not provide medical advice. We do our best to help users understand the science behind living beings; however, the content in the articles and on the website is not intended to substitute for consultation with a qualified expert. By interacting with the website and/or our email service, you agree to our disclaimer. Remember that you must consult a specialist before using any of the products or advice on the web.

Jack Emery

Jack is a zoologist and author from the UK. After graduating from university, he moved to Costa Rica to study sea turtle nesting behavior. He quickly fell in love with the country and soon began to work at a rescue center for native Costa Rican wildlife. He specializes in human-wildlife conflicts and how humans can sustainably coexist with nature. He has rescued and raised orphaned monkeys, sloths, and coatis.
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