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Disturbing image shows beetle larva eating a live toad from the inside


Beetle larva
(NaturalNews) In a surprising twist of nature, a fascinating photograph has emerged of a particularly ferocious beetle larva eating a living toad from the inside out.

The image reveals how larvae of beetles from the genus Epomis have become specialized at killing frogs, salamanders and various other amphibians.

Meanwhile, the adult beetles are extremely skilled at hunting amphibians, although they eat a slightly more varied diet than their larvae who survive entirely on unsuspecting frogs.

Juicy but deadly

Larvae of the Epomis beetle are big, fat and juicy – an enticing meal for the unsuspecting frog. They lure the frog by wiggling around and patiently wait for it to strike out with its sticky tongue – at which point the larva dodges the frog, whips around and sinks its huge, double-hooked jaws into the frog's tongue.

There is no escape for the frog, and these terrifying larvae have an almost 100% success rate, despite being only a fingertip in size in contrast to the much larger bodies of their amphibian prey. After just a few hours, the frog is reduced to a pile of bones, with the larva sucking it dry whilst it is still alive.

In a few studies, the amphibian actually managed to capture a larva in its mouth; however, on the rare occasion that this happened, the frog quickly spat it back out before losing its life, as the larva recovered, latched on and consumed it.

Adult Epomis beetles hop onto the back of their amphibian victims before delivering a surgical bite that is able to totally paralyze the victim. The beetle then leisurely consumes its prey whilst it is still alive but unable to escape.

Strange predator–prey relationships

In approximately 10% of predator–prey relationships, that happen in nature, the smaller animal consumes the larger one. There are several weird and wonderful predators that are able to take down prey several times their size, using a variety of techniques.

The king cobra, for example, is the world's largest venomous snake at up to 5.6 meters in length. It is an active hunter that is capable of taking down small mammals and even elephants with its deadly bite, despite weighing far less than its prey.

However, this terrifying snake is prey to a cute, fluffy creature that looks a little bit like a ferret mixed with a dog – the mongoose. This rodent is agile enough to take down the cobra, while also using special chemicals to block its venom.

Another sneaky predator is the alligator snapping turtle, which can weigh up to 300 pounds or more and is armed with powerful, sharp jaws. It cannot chase prey at high speed, so it has found a more intelligent method for finding its next meal.

Like the Epomis larvae, it lures its unsuspecting prey by sitting motionless in the water and using a fleshy appendage on its tongue to tempt its prey, giving the appearance of a tasty worm. Small fish, frogs and even other turtles are fooled into thinking they've found their next meal – but once they get close enough to the "worm," the turtle snaps its jaws closed, instantly killing its prey.

Nature has created some fascinating predator–prey relationships. In most cases where the smaller animal is the predator and not the prey, they actively attack the larger animal. So it seems that this particular larva is a unique enigma, luring its prey in a passive attack and being almost 100% successful.

Sources included:

Bogleech.com

Wired.com

FascinatingEarth.com

MentalFloss.com
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