This Halloween, Bone Up on Animal Superstitions
From the "death-watch beetle" to the albatross, humans have always attached magical meanings to the natural world.
We attach supernatural powers to all kinds of objects, numbers, and frequently, animals. Some superstitions we’re all familiar with—like lucky rabbit’s feet (very unlucky for the rabbit) and unlucky black cats.
Here are some animal superstitions that have either always been, or have become, obscure. Knock on wood that only the good ones happen to you. (See: “Bad Omens: Animal Superstitions.")
Jonathan Swift waxed poetic about the death-watch beetle (Xestobium ruffovillosum) in the 1700s. And the critter had a more modern moment in the pop cultural sun in Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic, where it made a maddening tapping noise foreshadowing a character’s death.
It’s easy to see why disembodied tapping could freak people out if they didn’t know