That’s Not Mud, and You Should Run If You See It
Well, it’s that time of year again: Spring cleaning! Making your way outside, you grab the duster and broom to get rid of all those cobwebs on your windows. They don’t stand a chance this time! Removing one cobweb after the other, you suddenly notice some weird shaped mud stuck under the eaves and porch! What’s this?
It suddenly dawns on you: these have to be Mud Dauber Wasp nests! You’re probably thinking there’s a swarm of them around with so many nests being side by side! Luckily, Mud Dauber Wasps are solitary insects. Phew! All those little mud huts are filled with paralyzed spiders. Sometimes, even up to 500 spiders can be trapped in these lockers, just waiting for the wasp young to hatch.
If the nest has holes, it may indicate the nest is inactive or old, as mud dauber wasps create holes when they leave the nest. If you’re going to remove them, it’s best to wait till nighttime when they’re not as active. While they’re pretty placid, if they feel threatened, they won’t hesitate to sting!
Looking like someone got halfway through building one insect and forgot what part came next, the Mole Cricket is one insect that really looks out of this world! With claws like a mole, a body of a cricket and the head of a shrimp, this critter is like the platypus of the insect world!
They’re not venomous and will only bite if you trap them inside your hand. And if you really annoy it, it’s got something else up its sleeve: the wings. They can spit a foul smelling brown liquid from their body, just like a skunk!
So, just let them leave your home and there will be nothing to clean up! Rock pools are teeming with all sorts of plant and animal life! Sea creatures such as starfish, seagrass, hermit crabs, tiny fish, and all types of octopuses!
If you come across this tiny blue-ringed octopus, it’s best to leave it alone! It’s flashing neon blue at you for a reason. This miniature octopus has a venomous bite that’s 1,000 times stronger than cyanide, with no antidote available!
Don’t poke it with a stick or try to pick one up, it’s not worth the trip to the hospital! Or the morgue. Snakes on land are scary, but sea snakes are on an entirely different level! Found in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, there are about 50 different species of sea snakes, and they’re beautiful as much as they’re dangerous. Luckily, they don’t seem to worry about us too much!
The Dubois (doob-WAA) sea snake is arguably the most venomous snake in the ocean, with the beaked sea snake not far behind! Their venom makes a cobra’s bite seem like a walk in the park! The venom of both these snakes is extremely dangerous! Good thing for us that their venom can take hours to cause any symptoms in humans. If they can bite through your wetsuit, that is.
If this fly lands on your arm outside, you might just scream a little — I wouldn’t blame you! The scorpionfly, as its name suggests, has a curved tail that looks just like a scorpion’s stinger. But you can breathe a sigh of relief, this is only used for mating!
It also has a long, beak-like head that’s used to feed after stealing insects from spiders’ webs! To find the perfect partner, they love to give the equivalent of a box of chocolates and flowers, except theirs is saliva. Mm, how romantic!
If you happen to be in Africa, you might just miss this large bird if you’re not paying attention. The Shoebill will just casually stand still as you walk right on by. Growing up to 5 feet tall, with an 8-foot wingspan, the Shoebill sounds like an Apex predator, though it’s anything but!
Known as one of the most slow-moving birds, almost statue-like, the shoebill just eats fish near the surface of the water, without a care in the world! This bird isn’t afraid of humans at all. While they won’t naturally come over to talk about the weather, they’ll allow us to get close enough for some photos.
Now, if you hear a small squeaking sound while you’re in the garden, it could be a mouse, squirrel, or... A Rhinoceros beetle is letting you know that you are too close! They love to make a racket when bothered!
With a giant scary horn on top of their head, they might seem like they’re able to defend themselves with it — but that’s not possible at all. That’s only to move leaves and sticks out of their way, and to stop other males from coming into the female beetle’s area!
Not only have they got a horn on their head, but they’ve also got Herculean strength — able to lift 850 times their own weight! That’s like you or me lifting 65 tons — or 11 elephants! Hey let’s try it. Nah.
Found mainly in China, the small tufted deer looks adorable with its tuft of hair. That is, until it turns around! Oh, no! It’s a vampire deer! Luckily, this animal doesn’t want to taste your blood or wear a cape! Only males grow these during the mating season rather than antlers to fight over territories and female tufted deer.
These fangs are more like elephant tusks than sharp teeth. Not only do they have fangs, but they’re also known to bark like a dog and flee like a cat when they’re scared! ‘Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in the morning, sailor’s warning.’ No-one said anything about a red tide though!
The Red Tide is a toxic algal bloom that rises up from the seafloor after particularly bad storms. This algae looks a lot like spilled ketchup or rust in the water, but it’s much worse for the life around it! Fish and marine life will try to escape once exposed to the toxic algae in their water.
It’s not particularly harmful to humans who are exposed to it, but if you eat seafood contaminated with its toxins, things can become a bit more serious! So, if the sea is red, just stay out of the water! Some spiders love to show off with bright colors to show they’re dangerous. Not the Sydney funnel-web spider of Australia!
This glossy black spider doesn’t need theatrics to prove it’s tough. These bad-tempered crawlers cause serious alarm when they decide to bite us! It can shut down our entire nervous system in as little as 30 minutes! Making their web in any shelter, like old logs, shoes, or even garden gnomes, the funnel web spiders like to live close to our surroundings for easy food!
When they get tired of an area, they just leave their web behind and wander off to find somewhere new. Perfect! Some say honey badgers don’t care, and I think they might be right! When you’re brave enough to take food away from a Jaguar, Lion or Hyena, hey, what have you got to fear?
These tough relatives of the weasel aren’t just ferocious, they’re super smart! Known to even use tools to escape from enclosures! Objects like rakes, stones, and mud just become things to climb for freedom! Aside from their physical similarities to the skunk, the honey badger also boasts a dangerous gland in its tail containing a powerful stink machine!
So, they’re tough, stinky, have extremely stretchy and strong skin, and to top it all off, they’ve got a strong immunity to scorpions and snakes. The best thing to do if you walk into a Honey Badger is to leave it alone. What chance do we have!
Ever heard of the fungus strawberries and cream? No? What about its other name: The bleeding tooth fungus? This Fungus isn’t toxic, but tastes so bitter that you might think twice about trying some! When young and growing, this white mushroom appears to have red jelly coming out of its pores! This sticky liquid is sap that’s pushed up from taking on too much water.
The adult mushroom is just a boring beige compared to this! Underneath the mushroom cap where its spores are produced it has a tooth-like structure, just to make it even weirder! Tasmanian devils have a reputation for being bad-tempered when threatened by a predator, fighting other males, or getting a place at the table for dinner!
They’re dubbed “devils” because of teeth-baring, lunging, and one of the scariest shrieks you’ll ever hear in the middle of the night! They’ll also eat pretty much anything they can get a hold of too!
They don’t habitually go for people, although they will defend themselves if they’re cornered. With such a powerful bite, you wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end! Good thing the Tassie devils would much rather escape as well!