Boing Boing 

Cicada hairstyle

untitledJapanese geek media celeb Shoko Nakagawa enhances her hairdo with cicada shells. (via Dangerous Minds)

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Scarab beetle armoire


Designer Janis Straupe created the BUG armoire for True Latvia. I love the way the neatly fitted boards look like a blown-up grain, making the whole thing seem like a scarab under a magnifying lens. The piece is also extremely beautiful when it is partially opened, each set of doors making it seem more like a fantasy jewel box blown up to a delightful, comic scale. And check out the detail shots for the incredible skill and thoughtfulness that went into the interior compartments!

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This Ohio cricket farm is first in US to raise 'chirps' for human consumption

YUCK2What has six legs and is a totally delicious superfood? Crickets, if you can stomach the latest nerd cuisine trend. To meet new demand for edible bugs, an abandoned warehouse in Youngstown, Ohio has been transformed into a cricket farm for startup SixFoods. The crickets will be raised to maturity, then slaughtered (imagine their high-pitched screams), then ground into nutritious high-protein "flour" and baked into cookies and chips for people other than me to eat.

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Butterflies rendered in pancake


I though making a banana slice and some raisins into a face was something. Pancake artiste Nathan Shields recreated nine of nature's most wondrous butterflies in batter, producing a carby, gluteny batterfly museum that puts my cookery to shame.

Butterflies (via Neatorama)

Sculptor collaborates with honeybees to cover statues with comb


Canadian artist Aganetha Dyck carefully coaxes bees into enmeshing tatty porcelain statuary with honeycomb, for a result that is both otherworldly and beautiful, like the remains of a long-fallen civilization on whose bones has arisen an insectoid hive-colony. She calls the bees her "guest workers." Her work will be on display at the Ottawa School of Art from March 3, 2014 in a show called Honeybee Alterations.

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Assassin bug covers itself with a meat-shield of its victims


Singaporean macrofocus photographer Nicky Bay produces wonderful portraits of insects in their natural setting. Particularly fascinating are the photos of bugs eating each other, particularly the shot above of an assassin bug (Acanthaspis sp.) which "decorate themselves with the corpses of their consumed prey," forming a protective "meat-shield" as well as offering olfactory and visual camouflage to help it infiltrate ant-nests.

Engrossingly Gross Photos of Spiders and Insects Eating Each Other [Wired]

(via WTBW)

Ancient bloodsuckers

Scientists have found ancient fleas from the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. Some are nearly an inch long — compare to modern fleas that top out around half that size — and the fleas seem to be adapted to biting through the hides of dinosaurs.

Meet the bugs we smoosh to make natural red dye

In this photo, you can see some kind of fluffy, white specks on the paddle of a cactus. Those are scale insects, microscopic bugs that like to cover themselves in balls of white wax and nibble on prickly pear. You can also see a fingertip smeared in bright red goo. That's what happens when you squish up scale insects. Humans have been doing this for hundreds of years, using the insects' bodies to create a striking, natural dye.

More commonly known as cochineal, the dye turns up in everything from sausage to yogurt. Typically, you'll hear scale insects described as "beetles". They aren't. And that had given me a totally incorrect mental image of what they looked like, so I thought it would be cool to share a couple of Flickr photos that show the insects in their natural habitat — both in their living and, er, more "processed" forms.

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Crowdfunded mosquito-confusing patch to be sent to Uganda


The Kite Patch is the subject of a very successful Indiegogo fundraiser, and holds the promise of a lasting peace between mosquitoes and humans. It bears a compound designed by UC Riverside entomologist Anandasankar Ray that confuses mosquitoes' ability to track and follow concentration gradients of CO2, which is how they locate humans. However, the product couldn't be marketed in the USA without further testing, hence the crowdfunding campaign, which will send thousands of patches to Uganda, where they will be used as part of a wider trial in fighting malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases. The actual nature of the compound is confusing: the Wired article describes it as both "toxic" and "nontoxic" and the crowdfunding FAQ calls it "nontoxic."

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Revealed: the questing, flexible, ramified business-end of a mosquito

Valérie Choumet at Paris's Institut Pasteur anaesthetized a mouse, stuck a microscope in a flap of its skin, and induced a mosquito to bite it. The result is the best footage yet of the weird, flexible, questing mouth of a mosquito, which can bend and twist and fork as it seeks out blood vessels.

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The man who lives in a roach motel

Meet Kyle Kandilian, a 20-year-old University of Michigan-Dearborn student who raises tens of thousands of cockroaches, in his apartment, for fun and profit. Depending on the species, Kandilian's roaches can be had for as little as a dime a dozen, or as much as $200 for a very special individual bug. He's using the money to help pay for college.

Cochliomyia hominivorax thinks you look delicious

Meet Cochliomyia hominivorax — a delightful insect that manages to me more horrifying that even Mark's favorite Central American friend, the botfly. How much more horrific? Check out the name. Roughly translated from Latin, "homnivorax" means "eater of man".

Bug-embroidered coat


This smashing, insect-embroidered coat is part of the Valentino Fall 2013 couture line.

Valentino fall 2013 couture details (via Crazy Abalone)

Meet the "Mad Hatterpillar"

This is Uraba lugens, a caterpillar that wears a bunch of its old heads on top of its current head like the world's most ridiculously macabre hat. The part of this photo where the otherwise horizontal caterpillar goes vertical? That's a pyramid of exoskeleton head capsules, stacked in descending order from smallest to largest.

The venerable Bug Girl has some better shots of this phenomenon at her blog, along with lots of great information explaining how the heck Uraba lugens ends up making this questionable fashion statement. She also offers this helpful advice:

If you do happen to see one of these, you should not touch it! Apparently these caterpillars are covered with highly itchy and irritating spines–which seems to make their chapeau of old heads a bit redundant.

Image: Uraba lugens, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from dhobern's photostream

How Bugs Bunny saved Mel Blanc's life

In 1961, Mel Blanc, the voice of Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Barney Rubble, and literally a thousand other cartoon characters (see vide above), was in a terrible car crash that put him in a coma. Nothing could rouse him until his surgeon addressed him as Bugs Bunny. Of course, Blanc's response was: "What's up, Doc?" Here's a 2012 short episode of Radiolab where they interview the surgeon, a neuroscientist, and Mel Blanc's son, Noel.

"What's Up, Doc?" (Radiolab)

A children's guide to splattered bugs

Childrensssss

Excellent signage at a 76 gas station, via Telstar Logistics' Instagram. It's a few years old, but part of a brilliant larger campaign by Venables Bell & Partners.

Shell's racist pesticide ad, 1957


From 1957, a disturbing, patronizing, racist Shell ad for pesticides, selling the superiority of big agribusiness.

Weekend Event - White

It's time to eat insects

Not only are insects a more resource-efficient food source than meat (and more nutritious, to boot), you're also already eating them, writes Mary Hall at Mind the Science Gap. Insect parts are considered unavoidable, natural "defects" in foods and the FDA makes allowances for them, including up to 30 insect parts per average chocolate bar, up to 10 whole aphids for 2.5 cups of spinach, and up to 10 fly eggs (or, if you prefer, 5 eggs and one maggot) per serving of tomatoes. It all sounds gross, but when you consider all the benefits of bug eating (and the fact that many, many reviews proclaim them to taste delicious) it might be best to think of this news as a wakeup call. You're eating bugs already. Why not do it intentionally?

The power of the swarm

At Wired, Ed Yong has an incredible long-read story about the researchers who are figuring out how and why individual animals sometimes turn into groups operating on collective behavior. That research has implications far beyond the freakish, locust-filled laboratories where Yong's story begins. Turns out, bugs and birds can teach us a lot about the brain, cancer, and even how we make predictions about our own futures.

Amazing LEGO insects and arthropods

NewImage

NewImageSean and Steph Mayo created an exquisite series of LEGO bugs for the "Creepy Crawly" category in the 2013 MocAthalon building competition. See them all in this Flickr set. (Thanks, Jake Dunagan!)

Teacup, spoon and saucer made from cicada body-parts


Carrianne Bullard made this teaset out of the wings and legs of cicadas. It's got a lovely Silence-of-the-Lambs meets Tinkerbell vibe.

Carrianne Bullard (Object Cicada wings, legs) (via Bruce Sterling's Tumblr)

Who benefits if pubic waxing is an environmental catastrophe for crab-lice?


The crab-louse is in apparent decline, a situation that some doctors and entomologists attribute to widespread Brazilian waxing. Though, as Skepchick points out, there's a huge industry that stands to make a lot of money from this claim, and not a lot of evidence to back it up:

“Pubic grooming has led to a severe depletion of crab louse populations,” said Ian F. Burgess, a medical entomologist with Insect Research & Development Ltd. in Cambridge, England. “Add to that other aspects of body hair depilation, and you can see an environmental disaster in the making for this species.”

...“We put the flag out, so to speak, if we see a case of pubic lice nowadays,” [Janet Wilson, a consultant in sexual health and HIV] said in an e-mailed response to questions. “The ‘habitat destruction’ of the pubic lice is increasing and they are becoming an endangered species.”

Brazilian Bikini Waxes Make Crab Lice Endangered Species [Jason Gale & Shannon Pettypiece/Bloomberg]

(via Reddit)

(Image: Crab Louse (Phthirus pubis), a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from euthman's photostream)

Man dies after eating roaches and worms

Edward Archbold, 32 had just competed in a roach and worm-eating contest at a south Florida reptile store when he keeled over and died. (The video above shows the contest in progress.) Archbold was hoping to win a python. Not surprisingly, Ben Siegel Reptiles has retained lawyers who are waving waivers. From CNN:

Archbold swallowed roach after roach, worm after worm. While the store didn't say exactly how many Archbold consumed, the owner told CNN affiliate WPLG that he was "the life of the party."

"He really made our night more fun," (store owner) Ben Siegel told the station…

Luke Lirot, who says he is legally representing the store, said in a post on the store's Facebook page that all participants "signed thorough waivers accepting responsibility for their participation in this unique and unorthodox contest."

"The consumption of insects is widely accepted throughout the world, and the insects presented as part of the contest were taken from an inventory of insects that are safely and domestically raised in a controlled environment as food for reptiles," Lirot said.

"Florida man dies after winning roach-eating contest"

Peacock spider shakes it for the ladies

Male peacock spiders are fuzzy, strangely adorable, and boast a brilliantly colored abdomen that they flip up and use as a prop for an elaborate (for a spider) mating dance.

In this video, the mating dance of the peacock spider has been helpfully set to music, so you can really see why his abdomen makes female spiders wanna shoop.

This particular specimen is apparently a representative of an as-yet-unnamed species of peacock spider. You can read more about this species, and what makes it different from its cousins, in this paper by Jürgen C. Otto and David E. Hill, who also made the video.

Via Bug Girl

Ballad of the Scutigera coleoptrata

Longtime readers will remember my morbid affection for Scutigera coleoptrata—aka, the house centipede—a species of oddly adorable, 30-legged, mostly harmless arthropods that frequently set up housekeeping in bathrooms and basements*. Originally native to the Mediterranean, they now live ... everywhere. (And please, feel free to imagine these buggers speaking in comic, stereotypical Italiano-Greek accents from now on. God knows I will.)

Now, YouTube musician Pink Torpedo has created a song dedicated to promoting peace and understanding between humans and Scutigera coleoptratas. I dig it!

*Side note: Scutigera coleoptrata do not always live in your house. But, when they do, they prefer to live in damp places. Thus, their affinity for bathrooms. Why? Because they don't actually breathe through their mouths. Like many arthropods, Scutigera coleoptrata get their air intake via little valves all along their exoskeleton. These valves are called spiracles. In most species that have them, spiracles can be opened and closed.

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Rare photo of honeybee leaving its stinger behind

Kathy Keatley Garvey has won the Association for Communication Excellence gold medal for her rare photo of a honeybee leaving behind its stinger in an unfortunate (but now immortalized) human. Ms Garvey comes from a line of California dairy farmers who have kept bees since the mid 19th century. She is a communications specialist at UC Davis in the Department of Entomology. Andrea Gallo reports in the Sacramento Bee:

Garvey recognized an opportune time to capture this photo when she was walking with a friend. A bee came close to him and started buzzing at a high pitch. She said that's normally a telltale sign that a bee is about to sting, so she readied her camera and snapped four photos.

The images showed the progression of the sting, but the most interesting part was that the bee's abdominal tissue lingered behind, she said.

"As far as I know, nobody's been able to record anything like this," Garvey said. She said the only time she's seen it illustrated was in a textbook.

UCD worker wins award for rare photo of bee sting in action (via MeFi)

(Image: downsized thumbnail from a larger photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Tarantula with strange, antler-like fungal appendages


This unhappy fellow is a tarantula that has been colonized by cordyceps, a fungus that "invades and eventually replaces the host tissue." Paging Mr Mieville, your subconscious mind is manifesting again.

Tarantula infected with Cordyceps (i.imgur.com) (via Super Punch)

Step Gently Out: kid's poem illustrated with gorgeous macro-photo portraits of backyard bugs

Step Gently Out is children’s picture book in which poet Helen Frost’s verse accompanies the incredible garden insect photographs of artist/photographer Rick Lieder.

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