The praying mantis is so-called due to the position of its forelegs, held up in an attitude of prayer. They're fascinating insects, not least because of their fearsome fighting prowess. They are very skilled hunters and can grab anything up to the size of a small lizard and promptly devour it - but that's not all. They have 180 degree vision (unique among insects) and the females tend to eat the males after mating, head first!
As you can see, this weevil is head and shoulders above the rest! But you'll never guess what its neck is used for! Not feeding or looking out for predators - its long neck is used for fighting! During mating season, two males will lock necks and grapple for the favour of the female. The lady bug meanwhile will construct an origami shape from a nearby leaf using her shorter neck. She will fold the huge leaf into a small package in which to safely lay her one egg.
"Don't let the bedbugs bite!" You'll have heard that old-fashioned phrase before, but it has some bearing in modern life still. Bedbugs love to lurk in the nooks and crannies of bedsteads to get closer to humans. They are about the size of an appleseed and feed usually at night - unless they are starving!
Don't let their mundane appearance fool you. Bullet ants release some of the most painful venom known to man, often stinging many times per second and releasing a pheromone to other ants nearby to sting too. The pain felt by humans stung in this manner is akin to being shot, hence the name. Some tribes in the Amazon use bullet ants woven into gloves for their initiation ceremonies!
Although not technically an insect, we couldn't leave this guy of the list! This clever creepy crawly is a master of deception. It creates a hollow burrow to lie in and covers it over undetectably with bark and foliage. Once it feels the vibrations of nearby prey, it leaps out at lightning-fast speed and snatches the unlucky passerby into the hole, where it feeds.
Puss Moth Caterpillar
The puss moth caterpillar has developed bright markings to scare off predators... and anything else it bumps into! Take a look at its red markings - don't they look like lipstick? It has two black markings above to simulate eyes, so the entire head looks like a screaming mouth. Creepy! But that's not all! If you so much as gently brush the caterpillar's skin, it spins its head to stare straight at whatever has disturbed it!
The long-legged centipede is a terrifying example of a brutally evolved killer. Existing in the dark, this centipede uses its long legs to tap on cave walls to figure out where it is. It's also astonishingly light on its many feet and can outrun most prey. If that wasn't enough, it has a vicious sting!
So we've had a couple of vicious stinging creatures, but what makes the bombardier beetle so special, you may ask. Well, this beetle has a powerful defence mechanism you wouldn't want to mess with! They detonate controlled explosions within their bodies if threatened and spray out hot chemicals that could scald you!
One of the most deadly spiders in Australia, it beat the black widow to the list due to its unusual hunting techniques. The redback builds an untidy web with many supporting lines gummed to the floor or walls, acting as spring trap mechanisms. Once an insect or even small lizard blunders into this line, they are trapped and the web springs, suddenly pulling the prey closer to the spider.
Treehoppers are masters of disguise, kitted out with odd back protrusions that can look like all kinds of thorns or leaves. When gathered on the stem of a plant, they are virtually indistinguishable from the flora that surrounds them. The thorn on their back can also work as a predator deterrent, as it would not be easy to swallow.