Male Eastern Dobsonfly
What on earth is this thing? It's huge! It has gigantic wings! It has massive... ANTLERS coming off its face! Has someone had a nightmare that's come to life or what?
What we have here is the Dobsonfly. An insect that can reach 12.5 cm (5 inches) in length, with a wingspan that can reach twice that. The most famous one is the Eastern Dobsonfly, specifically the male of the species, for it is he that has those huge, scary tusks.
Female Eastern Dobsonfly
Both males and females will raise their head and spread their jaws to deter predators. It probably works too. But it seems that males actually use those fearful tusks for the purposes of mating, like peacock feathers or deer antlers. It's weird how females are so often attracted to things that are completely useless. It is said that the male dobsonfly use their jaws not only for display, but also to fight with other males and also to hold the female during mating. So maybe they have some important function somehow. We'll have to ask the females.
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In truth, it may not be such a problem if they really were useless. Adult dobsonflies only live for about a week, it looks like they don't even need to eat. Instead, they spend most of their lives, several years, as freshwater larvae called hellgrammites. These have all the gills they need and strong (and short) pincers for eating the larvae of other insects. They are not great swimmers, spending most of their time under rocks. They also have small hooks at the tip of their tail for gripping, so that they don't get swept away in rivers and streams.
Imagine going for a stroll in the woods at night and seeing one of these monsters clambering out of the ground fangs first! Maybe you shouldn't be strolling in the woods at night?