Nature’s Spooky Stars of Halloween
19 Oct 2018
The UK is full of weird and wonderful wildlife: grasshoppers with ears in their bum and snakes that give birth to live babies. But some animals go one step further… some of them are downright spooky!
Common pipistrelle bat
This tiny bat might not weigh more than a 2p coin, but look at those nightmarish nashers! Well, they aren’t going to suck your blood or do you much damage, but for the insects it feeds on during balmy summer nights, they are the teeth of pure evil.
Want to know something else spooky? The ancient Maya people of South America are said to have worshipped a giant bat-god named Camazotz who was associated with human sacrifice.
What doesn’t have any eyes, is covered in slime and lives buried deep in the ground? Don’t worry, it’s not a zombie… it’s an earthworm!
Worms are some of the most weird and wonderful creatures living in the UK. They have five hearts, they are hermaphrodites (male and female in one body), and they breathe through their skin.
Earthworms are really important to life on earth, turning the soil, allowing it to breathe, and recycling and enriching it. They can eat their own weight in soil in one day!
A bat-sized moth cloaked in black with a skull on its back might sound like something from a horror film, but it is very real. Say hello to the death’s-head hawkmoth, inspiration for scary films like The Silence of the Lambs.
With a wingspan of around 150mm, and the ability to squeak and spurt fluid when it feels threatened (yuk!), this is one creepy insect. The skull marking on its back once earned it a reputation as an omen of death!
Death’s-head hawkmoths sometimes fly over to the UK from their home countries in Africa, southern Europe and the Middle East.
Crows used to be thought of as the companions of witches, but did you know they are actually one of the world’s smartest animals, able to solve tricky puzzles?
That isn’t to say the carrion crow hasn’t completely lost its spooky side in the modern age. Crows will gather around their dead in a kind of eerie ritual (here’s the science behind it), and don’t give a crow a reason to hate you – they can recognise faces!
Never mind werewolves, what about werespiders? Wolf spiders, to be exact. They might not transform under the light of a full moon but they do chase down their prey before leaping on top of it, just like real-life wolves.
They might look completely creepy, but wolf spiders are a dab-hand in the garden as they keep pests under control.
Dead man’s fingers
If you go down to the woods today you might be in for a bit of a fright! Luckily this isn’t the dead coming back to life, it’s just a harmless type of fungus.
Dead man’s fingers grow on rotting wood in woodlands across the UK, and it isn’t difficult to see where they get their name. Blackened, swollen and grouped in close clusters, they look just like the hands of zombies trying to claw their way back up from deep underground. Eek!
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