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    Updated on Jun 3, 2019. Posted on Nov 20, 2014

    18 Nightmare Creatures That Are Too Scary To Exist, But Do

    If you're squeamish or scared of spiders, proceed with caution.

    1. Japanese Mountain Leeches

    A leech? Big whoop, right? WRONG. This guy isn't confined to bodies of water; instead, it hangs out in trees, flailing around to reach you, and then gnawing through your clothes to get to your skin.

    2. Sprickets (aka Camel Crickets)

    Flickr: reducer / Creative Commons

    What if there was a bug that ~looked~ like a spider, but ~jumped at you~ like a cricket? GUESS WHAT, THERE IS!

    3. Japanese Giant Hornet

    4. Bleeding Tooth Fungus

    5. Bullet Ants

    Smartse / Creative Commons

    These ants, which are found through Nicaragua to Paraguay, are known by two different names. There's "bullet ant," which refers to the searing, throbbing pain caused by its sting; or there's the local term hormiga veinticuatro ("ant 24"), which refers to the span of 24 hours in which you'll be in that searing, throbbing pain. Also cool is that it can be over an inch long.

    6. Zombie Fungus

    Flickr: pennstatelive / Creative Commons

    Technically it's called Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, and what it does is infect a certain species of tropical tree ant, and then make it do its bidding. Once infected — or, possessed — the ant leaves its home, bites down on the major vein of a leaf, and then stays there until it dies and the fungus grows and flourishes. (THIS IS NOT SCI-FI. THIS IS REAL LIFE.)

    7. Goliath Birdeater Spiders

    8. Mexican Redknee Tarantula

    George Chernilevsky / Creative Commons

    You know what's scarier than a tarantula, though? A tarantula that will fling irritating bristles from its stomach and back legs at whatever or whoever disturbs it — which can then embed in the "attacker's" skin or EYES. Luckily, irritation in humans is usually minimal.

    9. Giant Centipedes

    Flickr: kateyaeger / Creative Commons

    Long like a snake, but with a crunchy exoskeleton, venomous claws, and just soooo many legs. (The Vietnamese giant centipede can grow to just under 8 inches!)

    10. Anglerfish

    Javontaevious / Creative Commons

    There isn't anything the anglerfish does that makes it particularly scary — although the filament attached to its head that glows and leads its prey directly into its mouth is pretty crazy — but the fact that it looks like a monster your brain couldn't think up on its cruelest day lands it here.

    11. Lampreys

    Flickr: usfwsmidwest / Creative Commons
    Flickr: noaa_glerl / Creative Commons

    Just a harmless eel, slithering about in the lake, right? THAT'S WHAT YOU THINK! The lamprey is hiding a nightmare mouth of concentric teeth, which they use to latch onto — and then feed on — their prey. Bonus: Their gills make it seem like they have nine eyes!!!!!!

    12. Butcher Birds (aka Shrikes)

    Pakshya / Creative Commons

    Butcher birds are sadistic little terrors, because they don't just kill their prey like normal predators: They impale them, on thorns, spikes, barbed-wire fences, or basically any sharp point. And it's not just bugs! They leave animals as big as lizards spiked on trees so that they can return to continue feasting later. NO THANKS.

    13. Red Wood Ants

    Richard Bartz / Creative Commons

    These guys shoot acid from their stomachs. It's not harmful to humans, but still. They shoot acid from their stomachs, and it's a disgusting free-for-all.

    14. Bobbitt Worm

    Some might say the Bobbitt Worm is kind of pretty (so shiny!) but in reality it is a sneaky creature of the deep. It lives on the ocean floor, hiding most of its body under the sand, and waits patiently to strike with such speed and precision that its prey can sometimes be cut cleanly in half.

    15. Titan Arum

    Flickr: kewonflickr / Creative Commons

    What a beautiful, gigantic flower, you think. I wish I were that person, taking in its majestic presence. Except you don't, because it literally smells like decomposing flesh.

    16. Rasberry Crazy Ant

    Daniel Mietchen / Creative Commons

    They're known as "crazy ants" because of their erratic movements, but that's not even the creepiest thing about them. The species is drawn to electricity, and have been known to swarm and cause electrical equipment to short-circuit, leaving a pile of ant corpses for whoever has to fix it.

    17. Flying snakes

    OK, it is technically more accurate to call them gliding snakes — the snake will slither to the end of a branch, fling itself off, and then undulate its body so that it glides down to the ground — but still: SNAKES. THAT SOAR THROUGH THE AIR. PROBABLY RIGHT ONTO YOUR HEAD.

    18. Botfly

    Flickr: dejeuxx / Creative Commons

    Ah, the botfly. The holy grail for anyone who uses the internet to gross themselves out. (Seriously, search "botfly" on YouTube, and you'll find no shortage of results.) The Central and South American fly deposits its eggs on the skin of its host (in the case of the human botfly, humans), and the larva burrows itself underneath the skin, where they live until they are pulled out — ideally with the help of a medical professional, and usually by sealing off their breathing hole. (LOL the breathing hole is your skin; everything is terrible!)

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