We know Mother Nature is not all fuzzy bunnies and wildflower meadows. Anyone whoâ€™s met up with stinging nettles or a rabid raccoon can testify that thereâ€™s some nasty stuff out in the wild, which is why most of us live cities and experience nature via the Discovery Channel.
Every bit of flora and fauna seems to find its niche, and for the ones that made this list, that niche is horrifyingly explicit. Theyâ€™re out go maim your manhood in terrifying ways.
Penile Mylasis: Penis Parasites
So youâ€™re on vacation in Mexico, relaxing and enjoying everything that the warm southern climate has to offer. When you get back home everything seems fine, but then this weeping sore appears on your favorite bit of anatomy and panic sets in. Was it that girl you met in the bar? Have you acquired some tropical dick rotting disease? No, youâ€™ve just met Dermatobia Hominis; the Human Bot Fly.
The larvae of these ugly bugs have disturbingly specific needs when it comes to a place to grow up. They like to burrow into the subcutaneous layers of human skin and hang out for about 8 weeks before wriggling out of their burrows and departing without so much as a thank you card.
Sometimes the larvae pick an alarmingly intimate location for their home, and wind up setting up camp inside the scrotum or glans of some unsuspecting human host. Once ensconced, they can be removed by slicing open the infected area and squeezing until the critter is evicted from your man meat, leaving you with nightmare fodder for the rest of your life.
Urethal Hiriduniasis: Leech Infestation
Itâ€™s a hot summer day and you and your friends are headed down to the lake for a refreshing swim. You dive in and enjoy yourself, until a horrible moment comes when you feel something slithering far too close to mini-me. Next thing you know youâ€™ve got a leech up your penis and a hell of a problem on your hands.
The thing about leeches is that they want to fill up on blood before they move on, and the average leech can consume enough blood to swell it up to several times normal size. Thatâ€™s an issue when the slimy little vampire in question is feasting in a confined space surrounded by very sensitive tissue.
Removal is usually done by dosing the hapless victim with painkillers and then using a forceps to rip the little blood sucker loose, then applying force via manual squeezing to eject the invading invertebrate out of the urethra and out into the open so it can face its victim before being executed for its heinous crimes.
Lyngbya â€“ Algae With an Attitude
So youâ€™re enjoying the sand and surf of the Southern Pacific Ocean, braving the seas despite the fact they are teaming with sharks, stinging jelly fish and various other carnivorous critters. As you go about your swimming you start to feel an odd heat in your groin, and soon youâ€™re an itchy, blistered mess not even a shark would want to snack on.
Known as Stinging Limu in Hawaii and Fireweed in Australia, this blue-green algae usually grows in clumps, looking like dark, matted masses of hair or felt. Like everything else on this list, itâ€™s not friendly to humans and causes nasty rashes and blisters on countless swimmers every year.
The symptoms that arise after coming in contact with this sadistic flora include itching, a burn like rash, blistered skin, and dermal peeling. This delightful gift basket of misery is often accompanied by a headache just for good measure.
Thatâ€™s a lousy list of symptoms youâ€™re thinking, but why is it on this horrific list? Iâ€™ll tell you why. For some reason known only to the jokers in the Universeâ€™s R&D lab, the rash most commonly manifests in the anal and genital areas of its victims. In the case of male victims they are further cursed by the added discomfort and humiliation of scrotal swelling, inflating the area until it resembles a beach ball with a case of leprosy.
Vandellia Cirrhosa – Candiru Catfish
So the leeches and seaweed havenâ€™t dampened your enthusiasm for aquatic sports? If you find yourself in South America you could meet another natural born nightmare, the Candiru. Candiru are catfish that live in the Amazon river. They are usually less than an inch long, scaleless, translucent and look more like an eel than a fish. They spend their lives feeding off the blood of other fish, usually hitching a ride in their gill cavities. If that blood sucking bit sounded disturbingly like the description of the leeches listed earlier, youâ€™ve got good instincts.
Candiru have been reportedly attacking human bathers for years, though the first modern and fully documented incident occurred in 1997. It swims right up the urethra and settles in; holding itself firmly in place by erecting a set of short spines that drive into the surrounding tissues and serve as an anchor while it sets about opening up a drive-thru window into your blood supply. According to the good folks at Encyclopedia Britannica once the Candiru is wedged in, it can go on to cause â€œcause inflammation, hemorrhage, and even death to the victim.â€
The only modern way to remove a Candiru is surgically, slicing and dicing until the unhappy (and usually very dead) fish is pried loose. A traditional local cure involves the extract of the jagua plant and a buitach apple. The concoction is stuffed up into the urethra as it is believed that together the two plants will kill and then dissolve the fish. No mention is made of what this does to the victimâ€™s already traumatized anatomy, but I canâ€™t imagine itâ€™s as bad as having a fish jammed in there and pinned in place.
Fireweed photo courtesy of Cameron Coates