For the most part we humans think of vertebrate animals (animals with a spine) as being the ones that eat invertebrates (animals without a spine). That’s why it is particularly disturbing when we see smaller invertebrates eating large vertebrates such as a snake chomping down a whole rabbit or…human. Well, the insect world has quite a few invertebrates that break the rules and eat animals that seem way too big for them to choke down. And some of these vertebrate-eating insects have been breaking records with the large-sized meals they’ve been eating lately.
This past April some dragonfly larvae in Brazil surprised scientists around the world by being the first ever seen eating adult frogs. These voracious larvae are known for being aggressive predators of tadpoles, but no one ever thought they would also go after the adults. The story is just as terrifying as it sounds too. These hungry tots climb all the way out of their ponds and onto water plants, where they then lay in wait for an adult frog to come walking by, and then jump on them and immediately begin eating them alive.
Those baby dragonflies aren’t the only vicious predators of vertebrates. The Scolopendra centipede, which can grow to over 30 centimeters long, are known for the powerful set of fangs called forcipules at the front of their bodies, which are actually modified front legs. These guys go after cave-dwelling bats, scuttling onto the ceiling of the caves they hang from and latching onto a dozen bat’s legs while they’re hanging upside down. Now that is something that would terrify even the manliest of men.
What is the most terrifying insect you know of that can eat vertebrate animals?