Not only does the blood squirting confuse predators, but the blood allegedly tastes pretty gross which makes the lizard appear unappetizing. The foul flavor can only be detected by feline and canine predators, however. So if the danger posed to the lizard comes in the form of a bird, the lizard might utilize another of its tricks to make a smooth getaway.
Other than camaflogue, the horned lizard might puff up its body to appear larger -- and more intimidating -- than it actually is. It almost might it might elevate its head so that the sharp horns on its cranium are aimed at the would-be attacker, or run in short bursts and then stop in order to confuse the predator's visual acuity.
Photo: The Horned Jack Lizard
Cereal Leaf Beetle Photo:Ken
So the above beetle looks like a nice enough insect, right? It's sort of attractive with its iridescent blue wing plates and red body and at only 3/16 inch in length how bad could it be ... right?
Well, to start, these cereal leaf beetles (Oulema melanopus or Lema melanopa) are major agricultural pests. They decimate crop populations of wheat, oats, barley, rye and other grasses. Serious eradication efforts didn't begin in the United States until 1960s when entire oat fields were being destroyed. To stop the bugs from completely ruining the crop population, parasitic wasps were introduced in an attempt to have them feast on the insects and bring them into submission. Insecticides were also employed. While the fact that it's a major nuisance to farmers is upsetting, nothing is quite as disturbing as the defense mechanism employed by the larvae of the cereal leaf beetle.
What you see above is the larvae of the cereal beetle... covered in its own feces. Let us let out a collective "eww." The larvae will coat themselves in this jelly substance that contains expelled poop.
Photo:Giles San Martin
This particular larva shown above has another hitchhiker -- other than the load of poop fastened to its back: a baby parasitic wasp. You can see it if you look closely; it's right in the front between the last two legs looking like a tiny worm. The wasp larva will ultimately eat the beetle larva and emerge from its skin once its done with its pooptastic meal. Mmmm... delish!
These photos show what the larvae look like without the jelly poop casing across its back. It still looks slug-like, but no where near as stomach-churning as the top left photo of the series (the poop master).
So there you have it. Six of the most disgusting animal defenses in nature summed up just for you. Hope you enjoyed! If so, please take a moment to share with your friend who could use a good "I think I'm going to throw up" moment. I know we're all always lusting after those, after all....