It takes all kinds, they say, and in nature, some attractions are more unusual than others.
Take the black fire beetle, Melanophila acuminata, for example. While most of us high-tail it away from forest fires, plenty of insects like this beetle run toward them. Adult fire beetles can detect flames from more than 80 miles away, using infrared pit sensors tucked around their bodies.
They like to lay their eggs in charred, smoldering wood. With the competition burned off the map, their babies can reap the benefits of a quiet forest, free of predators.
Then there are the guerrilla butterflies, who prefer bomb ranges to placid fields. The endangered St. Francis’ satyr, Neonympha mitchellii francisci, a butterfly once thought to be extinct, turned up on an artillery range at an army base in North Carolina. An artillery range offers the habitat disruption that used to occur naturally which this fragile flyer needs to hang around a little longer.
Some of us might prefer the war zone to sweaty, stinky toes, but a host of creatures seem to love the smell of human feet. In addition to your natural, lush forest of bacteria, fungi, viruses and mites, two outsiders especially want to snuggle up between your people paws: mosquitoes and the vampire spiders who eat them.
We’ve mentioned vampire spiders (Evarcha culicivora) before. They love to eat human blood—as long as it’s in a mosquito’s belly. It turns out that stinky feet are super attractive to mosquitoes, and particularly attractive to malaria-infected mosquitoes. What better way to find your favorite food than to hang out at the source? Like the mosquitos they love, vampire spiders are lured by your odiferous tootsies, where they lurk around your toes, waiting for a blood-fat mosquito to fly past.
Written by Roar. Illustrated by Larry Williams, an LA-based creative director for San Francisco Symphony and the Wright Creative Agency. He has a passion for type, music, pop culture and a strong cup of coffee.