Takeshi Yamada’s

Museum of World Wonders

New York City Giant Subway Bugs

Other Common Name(s): Subway Bugs, Tailed Spiders, Rats Eaters, Tailed Devils

Latin Name: (left) Phidippuslus audarexnata (middle) Brachypelmaria megavagans (right) Avicularimulus versicolor

Size: 6 to 8 inch (full grown size)

Location: Manhattan Borough of New York City, New York, USA

Description of the specimen: The photographs of three animals shown above are three major species of large arthropods indigenous to New York City today. These are specimens of pesticides-resisting monstrous large bugs breeding comfortably in the sub-tropical environment (high temperature & humid) of subway stations/tunnels of New York City (mostly in downtown and midtown Manhattan). 


Their outbreak in August and September in 2001 caused panic among people who commutes by using subways there. (Unfortunately, the news was quickly taken over by even bigger news - the Middle Eastern terrorists’ vicious attack on the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers in New York City; the killers smashing two hijacked air plains and savagely murdering 3,000 civilians on September eleven – now it is called Nine Eleven. The savage terrorists were later identified as “Islamo Fascists” by the president of the United States, George W. Bush. It was the beginning of the World War Three.)    


From 1960 to 2000, the New York City Department of Sanitation used insecticides composed of an insect juvenile hormone (threonine) to treat cockroaches and water bugs in subway tunnels and stations. The insect juvenile hormone is an extremely unique substance which affects organism dramatically; it could help bugs grow healthy/bigger or it could exterminate them depending on how we use upon them. Today, threonine is highly effective substance used as an insecticide even commonly used in American homes to control flea of cats and dog. The threonine is completely harmless to mammals, and it only wipes out insect species (ticks and fleas) by preventing them from becoming egg-laying adults by affecting their biology when used consistently. Nevertheless, in the past, the same chemical was implemented intentionally for increasing their body size. Specifically, the insect juvenile hormone was used for increasing the size of silkworms in the silk factory to increase the yield of silk threads they produce in the form of cocoons. In this case, the silkworm actually became nearly twice bigger than the one without chemically treated.



34th Street (34 St Herald Square) subway station in Manhattan (9:30 pm, August 12, 2001)


These large NYC subway station’s arthropod specimens show very unique reproductive pattern unlike normal arthropod species. According to the reports produced by the pest control division of United States Department of Agriculture, these animals are egg-laying juveniles. It appears that these animals somehow succeeded controlling the harmful effects of the pesticide unlike commonly recognized arthropod species.


The existence of large juvenile arthropods with reproductive abilities has not been well researched nor recognized in the science community in North America. Nevertheless, in recent years, Glenn Gauvry, the president of the Ecological Research & Development Group, Inc. (The largest non-profit horseshoe crab conservation organization in America) and Dr. Carl N. Shuster in Delaware stirred the scientific community by publishing a scientific paper featuring their newly discovered mating behaviors of juvenile Atlantic horseshoe crab females by analyzing dozens of cast-off molts with “spawning scars” and live specimens. Gauvry is hoping to inspire the science community to look into this aspect of the horseshoe crab because this is the most medically valuable animal in the world today; the horseshoe crab blood is used worldwide to test injectable drugs (all the vaccines including AIDS vaccine, antibiotic drugs, and biomedical devices) for human and animals. Horseshoe crabs’ closest relatives, trilobites and sea scorpions extinct many millions years ago. Today, horseshoe crabs’ close relatives are spiders, scorpions, mites, and ticks. The most of NYC subway bugs are more closely related to spiders than insects; they have additional pairs of legs than insects. 


It appears these omnivorous hideous-looking creatures store nutrients in their tails just like the beaver. Their bodies are all covered with fine Velcro-like bristles to gather dirty substances around them to camouflage their appearances and body scents from notorious NYC’s giant subway rats which are their only known enemies. These arthropods eat smaller arthropods such as cockroaches, spiders, termites, ants, mites, ticks, earthworms, and carcasses of rats who share the same habitat. Their interactions with humans are not well studied, and their biology in the natural environment is virtually unknown.  




All rights reserved by Takeshi Yamada. October 2006. Museum of World Wonders in Coney Island. 1405 Neptune Avenue,

Brooklyn, New York 11224, USA.  

Phone: 718.714.6434.        

E-mail: Yamada108@aol.com.


Special thanks to Eriko N. Bond, Diane M. Taros, Glenn Gauvry, and Ecological Research & Development Group, Inc. in Delaware (http://horseshoecrab.org/)


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