Scientist Lets Thousands of Mosquitoes Bite His Arm in the Name of Science

An entomologist from the University of Melbourne lets thousands of mosquitoes bite his arm regularly in order to keep them fed for research on eradicating Dengue fever.

Dr Perran Stott-Ross has been involved in mosquito research at the University of Melbourne for many years now, trying to find effective ways of curbing the spread of the Dengue virus, passes between humans via mosquitoes. One of the most promising strategies has been infecting swarms of mosquitoes with Wolbachia, a bacteria that naturally blocks the transmission of dengue fever and is passed on over generations of mosquitoes. But in order to further this research, Dr. Stott-Ross has to monitor thousands of blood-sucking bugs, and as part of that monitoring he offers his own arm as an all-you-can-eat buffet…

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Tiny Assassin Bug Wears the Bodies of Its Victims as Camouflage

The assassin bug is a fascinating insect for many reasons, but the one that really stands out is its gruesome camouflage, which consists of the carcasses of its victims glued to its back.

There are around 7,000 known species of assassin bugs in the world, ranging from 4 to 40 mm in length and sharing the same formidable weapon – a sharp, curved, needle-like structure called a “rostrum”. It’s this rostrum that they use to stab their prey – usually other insects – and inject them with a poisonous saliva that liquifies their innards. When the victim stops moving, the assassin bug will start slurping away at its inside, until only the shell remains. That shell is used by some assassin bug species as camouflage, and some specimens have been observed walking around with a mound of insect carcasses glued to their backs.

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Orchid Bees – The Living Jewels and Expert Perfumiers of the Insect World

The Euglossines, aka Orchid Bees are often described as the world’s most flamboyant bee tribe, and looking at their brilliant metallic coloration, it’s easy to see why.

Orchid bees are probably the closest thing to real living jewel. Sporting bright metallic colors – with green, blue and gold being the most common – and very few hairs compared to other families of bees, these pollinators really stand out as some of the most visually striking insects on Earth. But it’s not just their bright, shiny exterior that sets them apart from other bees. Euglossines don’t make honey, they don’t build hives, most species of the tribe are solitary, and perhaps most fascinating of all, males collect and mix fragrances which they then use to impress females.

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This Remarkable Beetle Can Somehow Survive Being Eaten by Frogs

Scientists recently discovered that a species of tiny water beetles can live through being eaten by a frog by somehow surviving a journey through its gut and simply exiting through the butt hole.

Until this week, Regimbartia attenuata was just another species of water beetle, but ever since a study on its astonishing survival skills came out on Monday, it’s been making headlines in mainstream media outlets around the world. And for good reason, as there aren’t many creatures on this Earth that can survive being swallowed alive, journey through their predator’s digestive system, simply crawl out the “back door” and go on with their lives as if they didn’t just pull off a Houdini-like magic trick.

Regimbartia attenuata were the subject of an unusual study carried out by Shinji Sugiura, an associate professor in the department of agrobioscience at Kobe University in Japan. He put the tiny beetles in the same laboratory bin with specimens from five different frog species, and the little bugs managed to crawl out the frogs’ “vents” in the vast majority of experiments.

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Russian Far East Region Experiences Particularly Bad “Mosquito Tornadoes”

Villages on the east coast of the Kamchatka peninsula, in the Russian Far-East are experiencing scenes that seem taken out of an Alfred Hitchkok movie. Only instead of birds invading their community, it’s billions of mosquitoes swirling into visible “tornadoes”.

Villages like Ust-Kamchatsk are used to being invaded by large number of mosquitoes every summer, it’s normal for this insects to swarm near bodies of water, but this year it’s much worse than usual. Because of an unusually hot summer, the number of mosquitoes is much larger, making them an even bigger nuisance than they usually are. Window and door nets do little to keep the pesky buzzers out of people’s homes, as they seem to get in through the smallest of cracks, and going outside means dealing with large swarms of mosquitoes that seem to reach the sky when seen from afar.

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Parasitic Wasp Turns Its Helpless Host Into a Bodyguard for Its Eggs

Thyrinteina leucocerae, the caterpillar of the geometer moth, is targeted as a host for a species of parasitoid wasp that can lay up to 80 eggs inside its body. The caterpillar’s reward is a job as bodyguard for the very parasites growing inside it and a slow, agonizing death.

The Glyptapanteles wasp is one of nature’s most fascinating and, at the same time, terrifying body-snatchers. Not only does its lay dozens of eggs into caterpillar hosts, but scientists claim that the insect can somehow change the behavior of the host, turning into a mindless bodyguard whose only mission is to protect the wasp’s eggs against predators. Once the wasp grubs hatch out of its body and begin to spin their pupae, the caterpillar stops moving, stops eating, gets on its hind legs and goes into statue mode. But at the slightest threat for the wasp “babies”, it starts swinging its head violently to drive predators away.

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Man Complaining of Earache Had Whole Family of Cockroaches Living in Ear Canal

A 24-year-old Chinese man who visited a hospital to complain about sharp pain in his right ear was shocked to learn that he had an entire family of cockroaches living in his ear canal.

Identified only as “Mr. Lv”, the young man arrived at Sanhe Hospital, in Guangdong Province, southeast China, last month, complaining of sharp pain in his right ear, and a sensation like something was crawling and scratching in his ear. Dr. Zhong Yijin, an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist at the hospital examined the man’s ear canal and was shocked to see a full-grown German cockroach and over 10 of its offspring running around.

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This Asian Moth Is Probably Nature’s Ultimate Camouflage Master

We’ve seen plants and insects posing as something else entirely in order to confuse their natural predators, but Macrocilix maia, a moth native to Southeastern Asia, takes mimicry to a whole new level by literally painting an entire scene on its wings.

Looking at a Macrocilix maia moth, it’s impossible to ignore the scene painted on its wings – two flies feasting on some brown spots that could be mistaken for fresh bird droppings. It’s a pretty disgusting picture, and apparently we’re not the only ones who think so. Many of this moth’s predators tend to skip on insects feasting on bird droppings, associating them with potential disease, so the natural pattern acts as a defense mechanism for the otherwise helpless insect. And as if this visual representation of flies eating bird droppings wasn’t impressive enough, the moth reportedly also gives off a pungent odour that could be mistaken for actual bird droppings.

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Living Jewelry – The Shiny Cocoons of This Exotic Butterfly Look Like Gold Jewels

Butterfly pupae are easy targets for predators in search of an easy protein-rich meal, and one would think that the flashier the cocoon, the higher the chances of being spotted and eaten , but the Mechanitis polymnia, aka the orange-spotted tiger clearwing and its shiny, gold-like pods are proof that the opposite is true.

The orange-spotted tiger clearwing butterfly lives in the jungles of Central and South America, from Mexico all the way to the Amazon rain-forests. It’s a colorful little thing, with a wingspan of 65 to 75 millimeters, but it’s not exactly the most eye-catching of butterflies. Its pupae however are pure gold, literally. Well, not really literally, but they look just like elaborate gold jewelry hanging on the back of plant leaves, and even on the walls of houses in rural areas. But unlike actual gold jewels, these shiny, metallic-looking chrysalises are not meant to draw attention, but distract predators and even discourage them from getting to close. It’s a natural defense mechanism, and a very effective one at that.

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Russian Village Invaded by Apocalyptic Swarms of Flies

The Russian village of Lazorevy, in Russia’s Urals region, has been invaded by giant swarms of flies after a local farmer allegedly used chicken droppings as natural fertilizer in his fields, which acted as a perfect breeding ground for the insects.

Imagine Albert Hitchcock’s “The Birds”, only on a much larger scale and with flies instead of violent birds. The roads of Lazorevy have become living carpets of flies that rise into horrific swarms every time they are disturbed, locals sweep buckets of dead flies from their homes every day, and some people are even afraid to go outdoors because the tiny insects are virtually everywhere. The recent fly invasion has been described by most as a living nightmare, and despite the best efforts of residents and local authorities to wipe out the unwanted guests, the flies are breeding so fast that humans can’t keep up.

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Family Discover Colony of 80,000 Bees Living in Their Bedroom Wall

A family in Granada, Spain was shocked to discover that the constant buzzing coming from behind their bedroom wall turned out to be a massive bee colony numbering over 80,000 honey bees.

Spanish social media has been buzzing with the news of a couple in Pinos Puente, Granada, who recently asked a local beekeeper to investigate the increasingly loud buzz sound coming from behind their bedroom wall. They had been hearing it for a while and had long come to the conclusion that it must be caused by bees, but it wasn’t until the buzzing got so loud that they couldn’t sleep at night that they decided to get professional help. Beekeeper Sergio Guerrero had helped remove bee colonies from their properties before, but what he found behind the wall of this particular house left him speechless – a hive of over 80,000 bees and honey combs over a meter long.

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Giant Honeybees Use Shimmering “Mexican Waves” to Repel Invaders

The giant honeybees of East Asia can build impressive open nests measuring a few meters across. The fact that they are always exposed makes them vulnerable to predators, particularly large wasps and hornets that love nothing more than invading hives and stealing grubs. Luckily, the bees have a secret weapon that is as visually mesmerizing as it is effective.

Called shimmering, the unique defensive strategy of giant honeybees involves large numbers of workers raising their rear-ends by ninety degrees and shaking them in unison, creating an effect similar to the well-known Mexican waves seen at stadiums across the world. How hundreds of bees are capable of communicating and producing this highly coordinated response to threats remains unknown, but after 15 years of studying the behavior in the wild, scientists are now convinced that shimmering is a defense mechanism.

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Crazy “Cockroach Challenge” Has People Taking Selfies with Roaches on Their Faces

We’ve seen some crazy internet challenges go viral in recent years, but this latest one takes the cake as the most disgusting of all. The Cockroach Challenge has people putting live cockroaches on their faces, taking a selfie and sharing it on social media.

It’s hard to say for sure how and when the Cockroach Challenge came to be, but according to several sources, the craziness began last month, when Alex Aung, a young man from Myanmar, posted a photo of himself with a large cockroach on his face to his Facebook account, captioning it “new challenge, Can you do this?”. The photo quickly went viral, and at the time of this writing, it has over 5,600 reactions and 18,000 shares. But most importantly, people in Myanmar, the Philippines and Indonesia started sharing their own selfies with creepy crawlies on their faces, and the Cockroach Challenge was born.

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The Elusive “Scorpion Beetle” – The Only Known Insect Capable of Inoculating Toxins Through Its Antennae

Beetles are generally regarded as harmless to humans. Out of the over 350,000 documented species of beetle, only three are actually known to bite people, and only if they feel threatened. However, there is another species that few sources mention. Onychocerus albitarsis, aka Scorpion Beetle, is the only known insect capable of stinging humans with its antennae and delivering a painful toxin.

First described in 1859 by famous English entomologist Francis Polkinghorne Pascoe, the scorpion beetle is considered by many experts a fascinating case of convergent evolution. While all other known insects deliver venom or toxins by biting with fangs or stinging with a structure used exclusively for this purpose, e.g. a bee’s stinger, the scorpion beetle does it through its two long antennae, which research has shown have evolved to closely resemble a scorpion’s segmented tail.

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This Dead Leaf Is Actually a Live Moth Mimicking a Dead Leaf

When it comes to the art of camouflage, few creatures can match Uropyia meticulodina, a small moth capable of mimicking a dead, curled up leaf almost to perfection.

From a mantis that mimics a harmless orchid to attract prey, to a caterpillar that looks like a snake to fend off predators and birds camouflaged as toxic caterpillars, we’ve featured some truly impressive natural mimics in the past, but the Uropyia meticulodina moth may just be the best one yet. Its resemblance to a dead leaf curled round in on itself complete with tiny leaf-like veins is just uncanny. If not for video evidence that this moth is real, I could have sworn it was just the work of a skilled image editing artist.

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