Creepy Insects

Insect illustrations taken from antique textbooks and dictionaries:



1. American cockroach
Not actually native to the Americas, these big roaches may have arrived on slave ships.


2. Crab louse (pubic louse)
Pubic lice pass between people during sexual contact and occasionally spread to infest the eyelids, lashes, and brows. An infestation with pubic lice is called Phthiriasis or, informally, crabs.


3. Death's-head moth
"Moths are the ghosts of the insect world. It may be the manner in which they flutter in unheralded out of the night that terrifies us. They seem to tap against our lighted windows as though the outer darkness had a message for us. And their persistence helps to terrify. But they are most terrifying of all if one suddenly sees their eyes blazing crimson as they catch the light. "--Robert Lynd




4. Jerusalem cricket (potato bug)
See this earlier post about Jerusalem crickets.


5. Toe-biter (giant water bug)


These bugs use their venom to paralyze prey and liquefy its innards, which they then drink. I once measured a three-inch giant water bug, and specimens exceeding four inches are on record. The largest can take fish, frogs, and other sizable prey. They usually expend their venom on people only when they are handled. The result, usually, is a painful but not serious bite



6. Bed bug
See this earlier post about bed bugs.


7. Predacious diving beetle with its larva (the larvae are called water tigers)


"Everything was astir with life in that scummy little corner. There was frog spawn adrift, tremulous with tadpoles just bursting their gelatinous envelopes; there were little pond snails creeping out into life, and under the green skin of the rush stems the larvae of a big Water Beetle were struggling out of their egg cases. I doubt if the reader knows the larva of the beetle called (I know not why) Dytiscus. It is a jointed, queer-looking thing, very muscular and sudden in its movements, and given to swimming head downward with its tail out of water; the length of a man's top thumb joint it is, and more, and it has two sharp jaws that meet in front of its head--tubular jaws with sharp points--through which its habit is to suck its victim's blood."--H. G. Wells



8. Death-watch beetle


“The church was very cold, with a scent of candle-wax and ancient dust. It was a large church, much too large for its congregation, and ruinous and more than half empty. The three narrow islands of pews stretched barely half-way down the nave, and beyond them were great wastes of bare stone floor in which a few worn inscriptions marked the sites of ancient graves. The roof over the chancel was sagging visibly; beside the Church Expenses box two fragments of riddled beam explained mutely that this was due to that mortal foe of Christendom, the death-watch beetle.”--George Orwell



9. Tsetse fly
The vector of African sleeping sickness. Victims begin with a scabbed sore at the site of the tsetse bite, then develop fever, headache, and malaise. Eventually, they progress to personality changes, lethargy, coma, and, if untreated, death. Fifteen to twenty thousand people a year come down with this illness. An outbreak occurred in the eastern African nation of Uganda from 1901 to 1905, killing 200 thousand people. One theory holds that the disease was accidentally imported a few years earlier by the Stanley expedition (of Stanley and Livingstone fame), which traced the course of the Congo River from the west.

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