When you think "fairies," what comes to mind? You probably picture an adorable and sparkly creature akin to Disney's Tinker Bell, a lovely - and above all, friendly - presence. Unfortunately, glittering humanoids with butterfly wings are the stuff of children's stories. Retrace faerie folklore, and you'll discover their secret scary origins.
Cultures all over the world put their own disturbing spin on the fay. In Wales, faerie folk steal away babies and leave their own twisted offspring in their place. Scottish Kelpies, meanwhile, are known for their cannibalistic appetites - and taste for human flesh. As for Icelandic Huldufolk and Filipino Berberoka, you'll have to keep reading to discover just what makes them so chilling.
Just because they're mythological doesn't mean that faeries are any less frightening. Here are a few of their darkest attributes - just remember to shut your windows tight before going to sleep tonight.
Their Screams Mean Death
The Banshee, also known as "woman faery," originated in Ireland and is said to be most active at night before a death. In some folklore, she even comes to the door of those who are expected to die. She looks like a full-sized human female, and though her appearance varies by region, her hair is always stringy and she always wears a white gown or shroud. She frequently appears covered in moss as well.
The Banshee is recognized by her loud, mourning wails, which are said to be a harbinger of death.
They Drown Children
Bean-Fionn faeries are also known as "drowning faeries." They're said to pull children to their underwater deaths. If you're searching for a Bean-Fionn fairy, you're advised to look around dark waters where drownings have occurred.
These creatures were likely created by parents looking to keep their kids from playing in the water, but that doesn't make them any less creepy.
They Claw You To Pieces
Typically illustrated as haggard and old, Red Caps are said to be armed with razor sharp teeth and claws, which they use to eat humans and faeries alike. Their name hints at their violent nature - Red Caps mop up their victim's blood with their cap after they commit a murder.
They're Babies Back From The Dead
Utburds are faeries that are believed to be the revived spirits of babies that passed during harsh winters. They tend to haunt anyone who hangs around the sites of their deaths - misery is their mission.
Utburds are even known to transform into large and terrifying owls that prey on night travelers.