Ann Smiley

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Love for Stinkbugs | Infested!

Brown Widow Spiders Invade | Infested!

Robber flies attack in midair, grabbing beetles (shown here), wasps, and other insects with their strong legs and injecting a paralyzing toxin. Their sting is painful to humans, and while some species prey on bees and other useful bugs, most are seen as beneficial because they eat pests.

Canadian researchers have found that two urban bee species use bits of plastic in building hives. In a display of adaptive behavior, the insects replaced plant matter with plastic in nest areas. The larvae grew normally, and the plastic may have even shielded them from parasites.

The hickory horned devil caterpillar looks fierce and can be big -- up to five inches long! -- but it's harmless. It's the larva of the regal moth, and before it burrows into the ground to pupate, it eats a huge meal. That's the last meal it ever has, because regal moths don't eat.

Japanese honeybees' stingers aren't big enough to stab the Asian giant hornet, a much larger bug that raids bee colonies. Instead, they'll swarm around the predator bug in a cluster so ferocious, the heat it generates -- up to 117 degrees Fahrenheit -- literally cooks the hornet!

Leaf insects are a type of phasmid (faz-mid), like stick insects. The name comes from the Greek word for "phantom," because they're such good hiders. These flat, mostly tropical bugs look like foliage, which helps them blend into their surroundings.

Bladderworts have no roots and float freely, usually in shallow wetlands. These carnivorous water plants have underwater leaves with small traps, or bladders, that catch tiny aquatic critters. A sweet secretion lures prey, and the trap snaps open, sucking in its meal.

One of North America's biggest insects, the giant water bug can grow up to four inches long. Its huge pincers have earned it the nickname "toe biter," because its bite can hurt. Still, it's considered beneficial because it eats other bugs, including mosquito larvae.

The Koppie foam grasshopper repels enemies by covering itself with a smelly foam squeezed out of glands along its body. The colorful South African insect is actually doing predators a favor by bringing on the stink: Its body is highly toxic, thanks to a diet of poisonous plants.

The red milkweed beetle's long antennae divide its compound eyes into lower and upper sections -- which is why its scientific name (Tetraopes tetrophthalmus) means "four eyes." Sometimes they purr while feeding on milkweed, and if you pick one up, you may hear it squeak!

Found throughout the eastern U.S., the saddleback caterpillar has an unusual, slug-like body and a bright green midsection. It's also covered in hollow spines full of seriously strong venom, so don't pick it up! Some types of saddleback even weave defensive spines into their cocoons.

A recent study found that some spiders eat fish -- often fish way bigger than they are. Some reach into water from a rock or plant, while others can lurk underwater for up to an hour! Most fish-eating spiders kill their prey with venom, then drag it to dry land to feast.

In the Arctic, woolly bear caterpillars freeze solid during winter and thaw out in spring. Because summers are short, the larvae can only feed for a few days each season. It can take years -- up to 14! -- for them to fully develop into furry yellow Isabella tiger moths.

Nature-Inspired Inventions

Share<p>Our direct relationship with the wild kingdom most likely began with harvesting for food, tools, clothing, and shelter. But while our early …

Found in tropical areas of the Americas, torchwood plants are small, sweet-smelling trees that contain a lot of resin, which makes them burn well. Many birds eat the dark, cherry-like fruit, and one Florida species is the food source for the endangered Schaus swallowtail butterfly.

Fun Facts About the World's Biggest Beetle

Fun Facts About the World’s Biggest Beetle<p>Share<p>We like big bugs and we cannot lie. Which is why we like the titan beetle (Titanus giganteus). Here …

The camouflaged looper disguises itself with its food. This tiny caterpillar of the wavy-lined emerald moth adorns its back with bits of the flowers it eats, so as to blend in with the petals. It even replaces wilted vegetation and changes outfits to match its meals!