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Related to Somewhere an Ornithologist Is Crying and Somewhere a Paleontologist Is Crying, this trope covers grievous errors concerning insects and arachnids (spiders, scorpions, mites, etc.).

One common example is humans imposing inappropriate gender roles on insects. Often, the colonies of eusocial hymenopteran insects (bees, wasps, and ants) are depicted in cartoons as having male workers, whereas in Real Life, all the workers are female. (The "no male workers" rule applies only to eusocial insects in the order Hymenoptera, however. Termites are eusocial and they have both male and female workers.) Another example is the appearance a blood-sucking male mosquito. Only female mosquitoes suck blood.

Then, there is the matter of spiders being able to hiss. With some species, being able to hiss is Truth in Television, with some tarantulas (like The Barking spider). There are also varieties Trapdoor spiders that hiss. Watch the spider hiss.) but not all.

Perhaps the most Egregious example, though, is drawing insects with four legs instead of the correct six. This is kindergarten science, People! Kindergarten!

Another example is that, because of Small Taxonomy Pools and the Rule of Scary, a big arachnid that's not very dangerous in real life (such as a tarantula or an Emperor Scorpion) will be treated as if it is highly dangerous. Tarantulas, and the biggest species of scorpions, mainly have venoms that will have little effect on something as big as a human. The most venomous spiders and scorpions are typically quite small. The big ones are chosen because the little ones won't show up on a movie screen and because if an animal with weak venom did end up biting anyone on the cast or crew, it would be less of a problem than if an animal with strong venom bit them.

There's also the size issue. As in, you can't make a functioning invertebrate that is big enough for a human to ride upon/be eaten by/etc., but that never stopped anyone.

Subtrope of You Fail Biology Forever. Supertrope of Insect Gender Bender and Four-Legged Insect. See also Funny Animal Anatomy.


Examples:


General

  • Insects, arachnids, crustaceans and myriapods all do not have jaws that open and close like a vertebrate's, and they do not have teeth or tongues like we do.
  • A mosquito's proboscis is not syringe-shaped and certainly not its nose.
  • An arachnid's limbs are attached to the first of their two body segments (the prosoma) and the insect's the second of their three (the thorax). They are not proportioned or configured like anything remotely resembling a human or a dog.
  • Basically, every depiction that isn't attempting to go for scientific accuracy is abysmally, embarrassingly, very obviously wrong.
  • What most people refer to as a "wild" beehive is actually a mix between an antique bee skep and a hornet's nest. Actual wild beehives look like this or this.
  • Being arachnids, scorpions have eight legs (the pincers are pedipalps, which are closer to mouthparts than anything), but good luck finding one in TVland with the right number of legs. Made all the more grating because a simple Google search would clear up this misunderstanding immediately.


Anime and Manga

  • A filler arc of Naruto brings us "bees" that are very obviously hornets (although this is a translation error since the word 'hachi' can refer to either bees or wasps), a 12-foot beetle with a trunk (it trumpets like an elephant, too) and cockroaches which don't look or move like cockroaches.
    • Pain's "centipede" summon has what's basically a snake head with fangs tacked onto the sides.

Comic Books

  • In-story example: Spider-Man is always being called an "insect" by his foes. He always corrects them.
    • In continuties with organic web shooters, realistically Spidey should be shooting silk out of his ass since that's where spiders do so in real life -- an Acceptable Break From Reality since having Spiderman turning around, bending over and squirting silk out of his anus at his enemies wouldn't exactly fit the conventions of Superhero comics.
    • Spiders don't shoot silk out of their anuses. Real life genetic engineering has resulting in goats generating the proteins in their milk, which also doesn't fit the conventions of Superhero comics. As spinnerets don't have any strong correlations in mammalian physiology, one place is as inaccurate as another.


Film

 Mutt: I just got stung by one of those scorpions back there!

Indie: How big was it?

Mutt: Huge!

Indie: Great.

Mutt: What?!

Indie: When it comes to scorpions, the bigger the better. A small one bites you, don't keep it to yourself.

    • But later, the characters are attacked by a massive swarm of ants. They are Driver ants, which only live in Africa. The story is set in South America. Also, the ants are shown dragging people into their nests and even forming a biological ladder out of ants just to get to a character hanging from a tree.
      • Driver ants actually do form structures out of worker ants (like bridges or the bivouac, for instance). They just can't do it quite that fast. Dragging the Giant Mook back to the nest is pure Hollywood, but using the real driver ant method (slicing off pieces of flesh and carrying those back to the nest) would have made it rather difficult to avoid an R rating.
      • The Brazilian translation fixed the name for an actual Amazon ant -- instead of "Siafu", "Saúva" - but raised the problem of it being a leafcutter, not carnivorous like an army ant.
  • Mimic makes this a Zig-Zagging Trope. On the one hand, they correctly note that the lack of lungs limits insect size (the insect oxygenation system was better suited to the O2-rich Carboniferous, which is why bugs got so much bigger back then). On the other hand, they fail to note that the exoskeleton is the other limiter on insect size. But then they correctly state that social insects use pheromones to identify each other...and then later make the mistake of the Judas Breed colony having no queen, but they do at least show them having a fertile male (termites also have a "king", and the Judas is part termite).
  • Eight Legged Freaks: Spiders don't talk. There are a number of other aspects of the eponymous mutants that don't exactly reflect real life spiders(multiple species working together, hissing at prey, practicing kung fu), but the whole verbal expression part kind of overshadows them.
  • Surprisingly averted in the remake of The Fly involving a mutant Jeff Goldblum/fly hybrid. Like a fly he can scale walls with his hairy sticky feet and must eat his food in liquid form (as flies cannot chew) by vomiting on it.
    • In David Cronenberg's commentary, he says he was aware of the fallacies of the original movie (such as a fly's eye view being depicted as a kaleidoscope) even as a junior entomologist watching it in 1958.
  • Salt has "milking" a spider done wrong.
  • My Girl apparently featured honeybees living inside what appears to be a hornet's nest.
  • A Bugs Life featured ants being bullied by grasshoppers. Real Life ants are extremely aggressive in defending their nests, and any grasshopper dumb enough to hang around an anthill would get swarmed, dismembered and eaten. And the ants had four legs. (To be fair, the grasshoppers had six.)
  • The Mummy 1999 has huge swarms of flesh-eating scarab beetles. Real scarab beetles eat dung. They're also not so big that you have to shoot them or use a flamethrower on them.
  • Dr. No did it twice with spiders. First, Dr. No's dragon tried to kill James Bond by putting a very large tarantula in his bed while he slept. Even if it bit him (it didn't), it would've just hurt a lot. Later, Honey Ryder tells Bond that she killed her landlord after he raped her by putting a female black widow on his bed, and that it took the guy a week to die. She got very lucky: contrary to urban legend, black widow bites are rarely fatal to humans.
  • Antz has male worker and soldier ants.


Live Action TV

  • Of all shows for this to have happened on, Kratts' Creatures screwed it up by showing the view through the critter-cam goggles as a bunch of tiny pictures of the subject when set to "dragonfly". The current thinking is that the images are combined into a blurry composite image.
  • In an early episode of CSI, Catherine is crawling under a collapsed building and comes across a large (at least an inch and a half or so) cockroach crawling on a fallen beam. (Entomologist me: "Cool. Looks like a Periplaneta or a Blaberus of some sort. I wonder what this cockroach has to do with the plot?"). Fast forward to later in the episode where the insect is supposedly identified as a powderpost beetle. (Entomologist me: "Wait, what!?!"). Cockroaches and beetles are in entirely different orders and the cockroach shown on the screen was at least 10 times the size of a powderpost beetle (which is about 1/8 of an inch and much thinner). Using mammals, this would be similar to saying that a lion and a rat are comparable.
  • A suspect in Castle's season 2 finale claimed he spent several weeks in Afghanistan with fire ants crawling on his privates. Fire ants are native to the Americas, not Afghanistan. Possibly a subversion, however, as the guy was only pretending to be a spy, and probably wasn't an entomologist.


Tabletop Games

  • An aversion occurs in Rifts. The Coalition States, as part of its doctrine of making all of its war machine look scary as hell, employs a number of Spider Tanks called Spider-Skull Walkers. There are currently three different varieties of Spider-Skull walker, and all three have six legs. A Running Gag for them is an editor's note appearing right after said description which states "Yes, we know spiders have eight legs." One type is built to look like a scorpion, and it has six legs, plus the pincers, suggesting that the designers were aware that a scorpion's pincers aren't really limbs (as mentioned above, in General).


Toys

  • Skansen Beanie Kids (not to be confused with Beanie Babies) released a Beanie Kid called Sting the Mosquito Bear. Aside from the fact that Sting looks absolutely nothing like a mosquito and more like an acid trip fairy, mosquitoes don't sting, they bite and suck blood (though a case can be made that 'Bite the Mosquito Bear' sounds more like an instruction than a name, and 'Suck the Mosquito Bear' just sounds wrong).


Video Games

  • Fallout: The series features various insects and arachnids growing to sizes that would not be physically possible, regardless of their amount of radiation exposure, along with gaining magnificent superpowers, such as being able to breathe fire. Of course, Fallout is supposed to be a parody fueled by radiation.
    • The fire ants are an accidental mutation via meddling by Mad Scientist. It is explained away with the venom glands producing flammable venom that is spark-ignited by the ant clicking its mandibles together. Since when do biological exoskeletons produce sparks by friction? Even more amusing, the Mad Scientist calls the process pyrosis--that is to say, the medical term for heartburn.
    • This is lampshaded early on in the first game, when a character notes that the giant scorpions should have their venom greatly diluted, but he is puzzled as to why it seems to remain just as potent.
  • The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim has Giant Spiders. That in itself is not that unusual in fiction, but we're talking spiders the size of a small house in some cases. And they spit poisoned webbing at you. And they have an additional pair of legs they melee you with. If you're going to make Giant Spiders, could you at least get the shape right?
  • Oh, god, Pokémon. Out of at least two dozen arthropod-based Pokémon (as of Generation IV), exactly two even have the right number of limbs (ladybug-based Ledyba and Ledian have six, the rest of the insects have four, and arachnid-based ones have six). But then, real arthropods don't generally grow to human size, either (I'm looking at you, Scyther), nor can they shoot their stingers at you (Beedrill). Nor do their shed shells come to life (Shedinja).


Webcomics


Western Animation

  • One episode of Batman the Brave And The Bold has Batman trapped in a tank with giant Atlas moths which have mandibles... and are trying to attack/eat him. In actuality, Atlas moths not only do not have mandibles, they have no mouths. At all. Because when they are in the moth stage they don't feed. They survive off the fat reserves they built up as caterpillars and die when it runs out.
    • And no adult moth eats fabric. They lay their eggs in closets (or did, before the invention of mothballs), and the larval moths chewed on the fabric.
  • In the "Turner Classic Birdman" episode of Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, a Reducto-shrunk Birdman contends with "a spider... with only six legs!" When he gets a call from Falcon 7 that Vulturo has stolen a hydrogen bomb and feebly insists he has to deal with this emergency first, Falcon 7 isn't sympathetic. "Let's see, hydrogen bomb... gimp spider. Hydrogen bomb or gimp spider, ooooooh...."
  • Munya is supposed to transform into a spider/human hybrid, but looks much more like a red Incredible Hulk with fangs, claws and four tiny legs poking out of his back.
    • Fridge Brilliance, when one acknowledges the arguments often used against the existence of giant spiders. He wouldn't be able to function if he had a more spiderlike frame, so his design instead focuses on the spider's main strengths.
  • One scene from Disney's The Mad Doctor involves Mickey Mouse running into a skeletal spider. In real life, spiders, like all arthropods, have exoskeletons, and therefore do not have bones.
  • Averted in Winnie the Pooh where we actually get to see Pooh being stuck inside what appears to be the only accurate depiction of a wild beehive (a wall of honeycombs dangling over a pool of honey inside a hollow tree trunk) at the end of The Honey Tree. Played straight in later stories, however, where all of the bees are now shown to be living in hornet nests.
  • The second episode of Dink the Little Dinosaur had a fully-grown insect hatch out of a clearly-reptilian egg.
  • Cleanly averted in the bees episode of The Magic School Bus: the hive is shown correctly. Of course, the show being what it is, they would've had no excuse for getting it wrong.
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