June 2023 Horrorscopes: The Creatures that Skitter in the Night!
Here in the Northern hemisphere, summer is upon us. Picnics, gardening, and, of course, up close and personal encounters of a whole range of terrifying insects! I, personally, love insects and arachnids, and nothing says summer more than the wonderfully atmospheric call of the cicadas. Yet, even in winter, these amazing life forms persist and survive. Sadly, as potentially “spooky” as many of these skittering creatures are for people, they are the ones that are more impacted by the activities of people, with large numbers of these species listed as threatened or endangered.
So, break out the citronella candles, put away the pesticides, and try to make peace with the legions of bugs all waiting to welcome you back to the great outdoors!
Disclaimer: As always, these are mock “horrorscopes” and should not be considered as predictive or indicative of any specific person or persons. The insects, bugs, and arachnids are very real, however.
Gemini (May 21—June 20). Okay, I’ll preface this by stating that this particular insect is my favorite among all the insects/arachnids/bugs out there—so much so, I wanted to claim them for my own zodiac sign (Virgo). But it didn’t quite fit, so I’m giving them to you, Gemini. It’s an insect that’s sadly much defiled by people—cockroaches! But they are an intelligent, fascinating species who embody the adventurous and mutable Gemini spirit; an insect who displays amazing democratic and gregarious trends in their society.1 Also, recently, an extinct (in their original island habitat) species of cockroach called the Lord Howe Island Wood-feeding cockroach has been rediscovered.2 Watch Where You Step: The typical habitats for cockroaches is as dynamically different as the Gemini character. They can be found all across the world, ranging from damp, moist environments in the tropics to arctic and desert regions, and even dwelling in aquatic environments. Invasive species like rats and nonnative plant life, as well as habitat destruction due to development and fires, also impact two other endangered species of cockroach, the Delosia ornata and Nocticola gerlachi.3
Cancer (June 21—July 22). The arachnid that best represents Cancer is the shy, rare, and elusive Seychelles forest scorpion. It’s thought to have gone extinct in other geographical areas, and it now only exists on Silhouette Island in the Seychelles. Like a Cancer, scorpions are fierce hunters, and also dedicated parents, if a touch temperamental.4 In addition to the venomous stinger the scorpion is typically armed with, the cool thing is that scorpions glow at night (or by aid of a black light).5 Overall, though, they are a gentle species, and are often kept as pets. Watch Where You Step: This ecologically sensitive species was made extinct on nearby islands by invasive ants and plants, and they are still being impacted in their last remaining location by the invasive plants that caused the scorpion’s extinction on other islands.6
Leo (July 23—August 22). For Leos, I picked the very chatty cicadas. Although cicadas exist around the world, their signature droning noise was the quintessential musical soundtrack for a summer in the Southern United States. And, much like a Leo, cicadas are often the headlining act for the natural landscape, as the songs of a cicada can get so loud that they can damage the hearing of people, and there are certain varieties in Australia that are showstoppers with their vibrant blue, green, yellow, or red hues.7 Even their eyes can take on unusual hues.8 Cicadas have also taken center stage in various areas of creative expression—storytelling, art, sculpture, plays, and even mythology and folklore.9 Watch Where You Step: Although they are usually listed as not threatened, cicadas do have a number of risks that they face, such as predators (birds, nonhuman animals, people), fungal infections, and deforestation/habitat destruction can take their toll on the widespread cicadas.
Virgo (August 23—September 22). Yes, Virgos are industrious, and they will quietly go about their business in what they perceive as the most efficient way. Which, of course, is the way things “should” be done—because Virgos really do long to be in charge, however subtly they express their ambition. They prefer to demonstrate how hard they are working, and expect to be acknowledged and rewarded automatically, rather than step up and ask for the promotion they deserve. So, for my fellow Virgos, I chose an insect society where authority is cooperative and communicative and yet unalterably woven into the entire societal structure as governed by one, or more, queens—specifically, the Nothomyrmecia genus; otherwise known as the dinosaur, or dawn, ant of South Australia.10 According to the Wikipedia article, these particular ant workers are more active in colder temperatures, and are solitary and nocturnal.11 Watch Where You Step: This single ant species is potentially threatened by agriculture, development, land clearing, bushfires, and climate change.
Libra (September 23—October 22). As Libras are the most balanced sign of the zodiac, I chose a “true bug” family, Gerridae, that typically keeps their population numbers in balance, generally by flying off to new locales, or by means of a more terrifying method, cannibalism, which could also be a practicality that could appeal to the Libra’s likewise practical side.12 With this lethal exception, water striders are fairly cooperative, banding together to hunt and feed.13 And, one genus in particular may even be more appealing to water-loving Libras—the sea skaters (Halobates), some of which actually live way out on the oceanic surface. Watch Where You Step: Members of this scientific family are not listed as threatened or endangered, as far as I can tell, though the Wikipedia article did mention that the temperature of the water had an effect on the development of the young.14 In regards to the Halobates, it seems that oceanic plastic waste provides them with additional places to lay eggs, which, in turn, could create an overpopulation issue that might negatively impact other oceanic life forms.15
Scorpio (October 23—November 21). Much like cockroaches, wasps and hornets often get a bad rep, but they are an essential form of pest control out in nature, keeping other insect populations in check. Scorpios are passionate and curious, and they’re not afraid of the darker side of humyn nature, which allows them to build a greater range of experience and knowledge. And, during my research for these horrorscopes, I discovered a wealth of information about wasps that would be perfect for my fellow horror writers. For example, the solitary emerald cockroach wasp turns a roach into a zombie in order to provide food for their babies, 16 and the likewise solitary cicada killer wasp acts as a population control for cicadas, which they hunt for food for themselves and their babies.17 Watch Where You Step: Some wasps have stings that can negatively impact people, but overall wasps are a benign species, and are rarely aggressive except as a matter of self-defense, or in cases of direct invasive contact by people. Wasps can actually be a benefit to local ecosystems, as well as in agriculture, and, like with the zodiac counterpart I assigned them, it’s best to leave them undisturbed in their nests or burrows.
Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21). I had something else in mind for you, Sagittarius, but the promptings from the universe were whispering at me: “desert” and the “Sinai baton blue”. This teeny butterfly lives only on a certain patch of Sinai thyme, which is also equally as rare, and both exist only in a certain area on the Sinai Peninsula.18 I think this rarity will appeal to the discriminating Sag, as they like to explore rare corners of the world that are off the beaten path. And, they’d probably love the chance to be the protector of this lovely winged creature. Watch Where You Step: This fragile butterfly cannot exist without the Sinai thyme…which is also in high demand among the people that live in the area.19 Find what you can’t live without, Sagittarius, and keep hold of those wonderful standards of yours.
Capricorn (December 22—January 19). Capricorn likes stability, and so does the giant carrion beetle. Like their common name suggests, they not only eat carrion; dead and decaying things are essential for them to have babies.20 This sign, like the giant carrion beetles, never shirk their responsibilities, especially towards their families. And, while the food of choice of this beetle may be a little gruesome, they definitely provide a practical service to the local ecosystem, which will definitely also appeal to the logical Capricorn. Watch Where You Step: The more fixed a species is, in terms of ecosystem and such, the harder it is to evolve quickly enough to meet a changing world. In some cases, species just can’t adapt at all due to the invasive activities of people in the current world. And the giant carrion beetle is particularly hard hit, faced with habitat destruction, pesticides, pollution, climate change, and yet-to-be-determined causes.21 Efforts are being made to preserve this endangered species as much as possible, however.
Aquarius (January 20—February 18). What could be more appropriate for the enigmatic Aquarius than the equally enigmatic and mysterious black witch moth? This gentle, vegetarian moth is sometimes viewed as a bad omen,22 and has appeared in not only literature, but a certain well-known fictional book as well. (I’ll give you one guess on which one that was. Yep, you are correct!) Like a restless Aquarius, this moth is migratory within a certain geographical region,23 but no word on whether it can fly into other dimensions like their zodiac counterpart. Watch Where You Step: Mostly, the black witch moth’s mythology is worse than their (nonexistent) bite!
Pisces (February 19—March 20). A fly that doesn’t fly? Makes complete sense for the watery Pisces, who is comfortable with the fluidity that flows from emotive, intuitive places. And the fact that the Mount Donna Buang wingless stonefly has babies that grow up in watery environments is even more appealing to a Pisces, as they, themselves, move from water to land with ease.24 Despite the restrictions on the species imposed by the narrow swath of landscape where this particular stonefly lives, Wikipedia states that it can adapt to periods without water.25 Watch Where You Step: Still, despite the Mount Donna Buang stonefly’s ability to adapt to small shifts in geography,26 they are still listed as critically endangered because of the “usual suspects” aka the typically destructive activities of people (pollution, pesticides, development).
Aries (March 20—April 19). It’s the middle of the night, and the house is dark and quiet. You can’t sleep, and you head to the kitchen for a snack, flicking on the light, only to see a creature with too many legs skitter across the floor. You barely just manage to hold in the bloodcurdling scream that would wake up your entire family, but don’t reach for that broom-turned-lethal-weapon just yet, Aries! You’ve just encountered a house centipede, aka a Scutigera coleoptrata. Just dim the lights, kick back with a beverage of choice, and watch one of nature’s top hunters in action. Watch Where You Step: They may not be an endangered species, en masse (except by homeowners and pesticides/traps), but they still evoke hostility, as you’ve experienced yourself. In actuality, they are a great roommate—free pest control—and they prefer to flee rather than sting a person; said sting is generally very mild.27
Taurus (April 20—May 20). The Taurus is best represented in the insect world by the rusty patched bumble bee. Like other bees, the rusty patched bumble bee is known for their eusocial society, meaning that they are organized by high levels of cooperation in order to maximize their survival as a species, and tasks such as brood rearing are communal activities within the bee community.28 Disruptions to this communal, extended family unit can strain the relationship between the queen and her workers, and it could be said that adopting a more cooperative approach between people and bees is also essential, as people rely on them to pollinate crops grown for food.29 Watch Where You Step: Literally, in this case, as the rusty patched bumble bee colony typically lives underground. These bees (and other bee species) are listed as critically endangered due to a number of people activities: mining, agriculture and ranching, pesticides, pollution, wildfires and controlled burns, development, invasive species, and climate change/inclement weather.30
1Cockroach, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cockroach, Wikipedia.
2Fertina, Nergus, “A student accidentally rediscovers an extinct cockroach after being seen 80 years ago,” Interesting Engineering (online), October 3, 2022.
3Cockroach, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cockroach, Wikipedia.
4Scorpion, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scorpion, Wikipedia.
5Scorpion, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scorpion, Wikipedia.
6Afrolychas braueri, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afrolychas_braueri, Wikipedia.
7Cyclochilia australasiae, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclochila_australasiae, Wikipedia.
8Eye Color (website category), https://www.cicadamania.com/cicadas/category/cicada-anatomy/eye-color/, Cicada Mania.
9Cicada, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cicada, Wikipedia.
10Nothomyrmecia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nothomyrmecia, Wikipedia.
11Nothomyrmecia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nothomyrmecia, Wikipedia.
12Gerridae, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerridae, Wikipedia.
13Gerridae, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerridae, Wikipedia.
14Gerridae, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerridae, Wikipedia.
15Halobates, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halobates, Wikipedia.
16Emerald Cockroach Wasp, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emerald_cockroach_wasp. Wikipedia.
17Sphecius speciosus, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sphecius_speciosus, Wikipedia.
18Pseudophilotes sinaicus, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pseudophilotes_sinaicus, Wikipedia.
19Pseudophilotes sinaicus, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pseudophilotes_sinaicus, Wikipedia.
20Nicrophorus americanus, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicrophorus_americanus, Wikipedia.
21Nicrophorus americanus, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicrophorus_americanus, Wikipedia.
22Ascalapha odorata, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ascalapha_odorata, Wikipedia.
23Ascalapha odorata, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ascalapha_odorata, Wikipedia.
24Riekoperla darlingoni, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riekoperla_darlingtoni. Wikipedia.
25Riekoperla darlingoni, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riekoperla_darlingtoni. Wikipedia.
26Riekoperla darlingoni, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riekoperla_darlingtoni. Wikipedia.
27Scutigera coleoptrata, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scutigera_coleoptrata, Wikipedia.
28Eusociality, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eusociality, Wikipedia.
29Bombus affinis, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombus_affinis, Wikipedia.
30Rusty Patched Bumble Bee, https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/44937399/46440196, IUCN Red List.
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“Bringer of Nightmares and Storms.” Horror writer Willow Croft is usually lurking deep in the shadows of her writer cave, surrounded by formerly feral (but still fierce!) cats for company. Visit her here: http://willowcroft.blog, or check out her other services here: https://kirsten-lee-barger.mailchimpsites.com/.