Monster of the Week: The Addiction Demon (AHS)

It feeds on bad Yelp reviews... FX Networks

I'm somewhat behind in my consumption of "American Horror Story: Hotel," but I'm already captivated by the show's most appalling monster: the Addiction Demon.

We first glimpse this pallid, featureless humanoid in the premier episode and it makes quick use of a metallic drill-like phallus. We can naturally attribute its color and atrophied eyes to its status as a troglobite: an obligate cave-dwelling organism. We've explored the science of such organisms before in our discussion of certain Appalachian crawlers, so let's instead focus on that murderous sex organ.

Bed Bugs and Demons

Most fittingly, this hotel horror reminds us of the common bed bug Cimex lectularius. Males of this species engage in traumatic "extragenital insemination," utilizing a specialized hypodermic phallus to pierce the female's abdominal wall and ejaculate directly into her body cavity. The sperm then migrates to her ovaries. In fact, the female's genital tract is never used for copulation; just for egg-laying [source: Stutt and Siva-Jothy].

Fortunately, female bed bugs evolved a special organ called a spermalege as a counter-adaptation. It consists of an external, grooved opening called an ectospermalege and an underlying sac called a mesospermalege to collect the seed and even weed out any unwanted contributions. When a male bed bug penetrates another male, however, there's no preexisting wound to reduce traumatic injury. As such, they produce special pheromones to ward off unwanted copulation.

So don't judge the Addiction Demon too harshly. His way is perfectly natural.

Monster of the Week is a - you guessed it - regular look at the denizens is of our monster-haunted world. Sometimes we'll focus on the cultural aspects, but mostly we'll look at the possible science behind a creature of myth, movie or legend. Be sure to explore the Monster Gallery as well as the Monster Science video series.

About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.