The Case For Nazi Malaria Super-Mosquitoes

The Nazi Reich is basically the gold standard for evil empires. Yet despite being about as evil as it gets, its still not known whether or not they were taking a crack at biological warfare. Both the Allies and Japan had biological warfare programs, but Hitler loudly proclaimed against them. Recent evidence from Dachau concentration camp, however, suggests that the Nazis were taking an awful lot of interest in malaria-carrying mosquitoes, hereafter referred to as malariasquitoes for the sake of convenience.

More specifically, researchers at Dachau’s entomological department were looking at things like how to drop mosquitoes from a plane, which species was the most durable and how to breed them. It’s worth bearing in mind that mosquito breeding, that most noble of occupations, is significantly easier in warm places. Germany isn’t one of them. Short on warm swamps and long on cold winters, Germany’s unsuitability for the insects might have kept them from ever pursuing their plans fully.

A mosquito wearing a jacket.

A mosquito wearing a jacket.

But despite looking like a smoking gun, or dripping proboscis, if you will, none of it actually proves that the Reich was attempting to breed an army of Nazi malariasquitoes. The problem is that researching how to defend against biological weapons is almost exactly the same as looking into how to use them. You need to know how to both to do either one properly. And the Nazis definitely had an incentive to protect themselves. Both their soldiers and their captives were getting ravaged by all kinds of pests and diseases, including malaria.

In the end, historians just can’t agree on whether or not they were going for bio-weapons. Some insist that Hitler’s orders barred such pursuits. Others point out that any evidence left behind is probably the least-incriminating and that the good stuff was most likely destroyed. One historian even suggests that the Nazis went as far as flooding regions of Italy and introducing malariasquitoes to the newly created swamps.

"Hitler wants us to do what?" *sigh* "I'll get the hose."

“Hitler wants us to do what?” *sigh* “Fine, I’ll get the hose.”

In the end we just don’t know whether the Nazis were into bioweapons. Was it a line that even Hitler didn’t want to cross, or was he just trying to cover his tracks?

Advertisements

3 Bugs That Do Nothing But Decapitate Ants

Having a rough day? No matter how bad it is, there are ants having way worse days. Ants are one of the most widespread creatures on the planet, able to find a niche anywhere they go. That could be why evolution decided to make so many things that kill ants in such horrific ways. Several different flavors of decapitation, for instance.

The rainforests of South America are home to countless ant colonies fighting for territory. This means that there are always injured ants lying around the place. So naturally there is a species of fly, Dohrniphora longirostrata, that literally does nothing but find injured ants and execute them in the most brutal of ways. It’ll just buzz around the place until it finds an injured ant. Then it’ll land nearby and check to see just how injured it it by tugging on limbs, poking it in the face and the like. This is an important step, seeing as each enormous ant is about ten times the size of this type of fly. When it’s sure that the ant is in no position to fight back the fly goes to work. Ordinary houseflies have a sort of tube with a sponge for a face, but D. Longirostrata went in a significantly more lethal direction. Its face is mostly a deadly spike with serrated blades on either side. It climbs onto the ant’s back and stabs the neck with its face-spikes. From there it twists and saws until the head comes off. It’s not quick, it’s not clean and the ant is alive the whole time, helplessly flailing until it can no longer move.

It's not dissimilar to dancing at a club.

It’s not unlike┬ádancing at a club.

With its work done the fly will carry the grisly trophy away from the crime scene and slurp the insides like drinking from a coconut. After that they might lay eggs in the shell, no one’s entirely sure and a lot of people are hesitant about getting a closer look.

But that’s not the only fly with a deadly vendetta against ants. Another South American species has an even more terrifying way of dealing with their pest problem. This species will travel around the forest looking for a likely target. Upon finding one it simply pulls a drive-by, buzzing low and jabbing ants right in the back with a stinger. On doing so, it injects the target with something truly awful. Not venom, but eggs. Over time the eggs will migrate to the ant’s brain. Pretty soon they’ll eat the brain from inside, take control and ride around in their own zombie slave ant. The mind-controlling larvae take the ant away from the colony, to a nice isolated location.

At the right moment, a few weeks after the initial sting, the larvae hatch. Or to put it another way, the ant’s head explodes. Think of Alien chestbursters, but in the face. Needless to say, ants are terrified of these things. Seriously. Entire colonies will avoid the area and stop collecting food for fear of these flies. That’s why they’re being used in Texas to control fire-ants. They don’t kill many, but instead stop the spread of colonies by scaring the bejesus out of them. We’re basically controlling fire ants with terrorist tactics.

Sometimes you have to fight fire with flier.

Sometimes you have to fight fire with flier.

It’s not just flies that literally want a piece of ants. Beetles also get in on the action, but they do so in much more of a creepy serial-killery way. Like all good serial killers, Canthon Virens has a specific target in mind. These beetles will only go for a queen, nothing less. The females fly in a zig-zag pattern low above the ground. When they find what they’re looking for they land on its back and launch right into a life or death struggle. If they win, the beetle beheads the queen and rolls its prize away. That’s when things get creepy. It buries the head, along with itself and a male suitor. After that the beetles live happily together underground, just them, a severed head and countless children eating the queen’s brain from the inside out.

Sources

http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2015/01/07/theres-more-than-one-way-to-decapitate-an-ant/

http://www.hindawi.com/journals/psyche/2012/921465/abs/