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This Wasp’s Sting Is So Excruciating You can’t Help but Fall Down and Start Screaming

The Tarantula Hawk is a type of wasp with an excruciatingly painful sting that lasts only three minutes, but feels like a lifetime. The pain, rated four (highest) on the Schmidt sting pain index,  is best described as “fiercely electric”. Bug experts and people who have been stung claim the pain is a lot like getting electrocuted. And the best strategy to deal with it is – get this – to lie down and start screaming!

According to a report in the Journal of the Kansas Entomology Society, “Tarantula hawks produce large quantities of venom and their stings produce immediate, intense, excruciating short term pain in envenomed humans.” The report adds that “the instantaneous pain of a tarantula hawk sting is the greatest recorded for any stinging insect,” but “the venom itself lacks meaningful vertebrate toxicity.” In other words, the wasp’s sting isn’t deadly, but it’s so painful that it’ll make you want to die.

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Mexican Artist Recreates Classic Paintings on Real Butterflies

After experimenting with candy and toothpaste paintings, Mexican artist Cristiam Ramos is now working with preserved butterflies. He spends several hours pouring over each wing, painstakingly decorating them with detailed replicas of classical paintings.

Butterfly wings don’t naturally make for good canvases – they’re small, and the texture isn’t altogether right for painting. They’re each about 12 cm in length, so Ramos has to use a magnifying glass to get the intricacy and details right. He spends a good 56 hours painting each wing, meticulously applying one brushstroke at a time.

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Anty Gin – World’s First Gin Made Using Ants

True to its name, ‘Anty Gin’ is literally made from red wood ants. British distiller Will Lowe collects thousands of ants from the forests of Kent and prepares the gin at his lab-style distillery in Cambridge. The bizarre concoction is the world’s first gin to be made from insects, so naturally, it doesn’t come cheap. Each 70cl bottle costs £200 ($313), and contains the essence of 62 ants.

The idea for Anty Gin came about when Danish organisation Nordic Food Lab contacted Lowe, who makes custom gins for a living. “We were approached by a company from Copenhagen called Nordic Food Lab who explore the culinary qualities of insects and argue for the eating of them in western cuisine. They asked us to come up with a gin where the typical citrus flavor came not from lemon or lime peel, but from ants.” Lowe said.

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30 Days of Bugs – Student Goes on Insect Diet for a Whole Month

We’ve heard people going on all sorts of crazy diets, but this one is a first – an American student recently went a 30-day bug fest! Throughout  the month of February, Alabama student Camren Brantley-Rios ate insect-laced meals three times a day.

The 21-year-old, who documented his bug-eating experience on a blog called ‘30 Days of Bugs’, believes that traditional meats such as pork and beef are unsustainable as sources of protein. He considers insects to be the diet of the future, so he’s experimenting with creepy crawly ingredients to make delicious dishes.

There was a time when Camren himself was repulsed by the idea of consuming insects. But now that he’s actually done it, he says it hasn’t been too difficult to get used to. “I’m mainly sticking to three species,” he said. “Mealworms, waxworms and crickets. Those are definitely the bulk of my diet. But I’m trying here and there to incorporate things a little bit more exotic.”

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Guy Claims He Has Tamed a Japanese Giant Wasp, Keeps It on a Leash

The Japanese giant hornet is known as one of the world’s largest and most aggressive insects. It is two inches long with a quarter-inch stinger, can fly at speeds up to 25 mph, and is feared for its powerful, poisonous stings that claim at least 40 lives in Japan every summer. So when a Japanese man made an outlandish claim that he had actually tamed a hornet, no one really believed him.

But Twitter user Mikuru625’s has been trying to convince everyone that he actually has a pet giant hornet by posting photos of it. He said that he had captured the hornet with a butterfly net and held it with tweezers while he removed its sting and poison sacs. He then put a string around its thorax, so that the insect follows him wherever he goes. “He does bite occasionally but it doesn’t hurt,” the owner says.

Dead Stinger For A Pet Causes Debate in Japan

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80-Year-Old Woman Dedicates Her Life to Swatting Flies, Kills Up to 1,000 Per Day

When 80-year-old Ruan Tang had retired, around 14 years ago, she wanted to spend her time doing something useful for her community. And when she realized how much the flies were bothering people during the summer, she decided to do something about it. Tang is now a woman on a mission – to swat as many pesky flies as possible.

“I decided that killing flies was the best way for me to be useful – and I’ve been doing it now every day since,” she said. Tang, who belongs to the Changmingsixiang Community in eastern China’s Hangzhou City, has made it her full-time hobby – for the past 14 years she has spent eight hours a day, seven days a week, killing flies.

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This Collection of Bat-Eating Spiders Is Probably the Scariest Thing You’ll See Today

It’s hard to imagine a fragile spider killing and eating a full-grown bat. I mean there’s no way a tiny spider could have any sort of muscle power over a fully grown bat, right? Believe or not, there are eight-legged bugs out there that can pounce on bats and eventually devour them. And when they can’t, they rely on their superior web-spinning skills to get the job done.

One of the earliest sightings of bat-eating spiders occurred way back in 1941, when Indian scientist G.C. Bhattacharya (of the Bose Research Institute) walked into a cowshed in a village near the city of Calcutta. In a letter to an unknown publication, he wrote a detailed account of his experience: “Entering into the cowshed, I noticed a pipistrelle bat struggling to drag itself out of a crevice between two bamboo strips of a wall and a big house-spider was seen firmly gripping the former by the neck with its powerful mandibles.” No matter how much the little bat kicked, and screamed and flailed, the spider held on with a death-grip. “There was intermittent gasping and screaming of the bat,” Bhattacharya wrote.

Eventually, he focused a torch on the spot and as soon as the light fell on the pair, the bat screamed loudly and managed to drag itself through a certain distance on the matted shed wall. About 20 minutes later, the bat, thoroughly exhausted, stretched out its wing and gave in.   Bhattacharya then captured both victim and predator in a glass jar and took them home for closer observation. The next morning, he found the spider resting peacefully at the top of the jar, while the bat lay dead at the bottom, untouched. It had visible injuries to its neck and had died sometime during the night.

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Hemeroplanes Triptolemus – The Creepy Snake That’s Actually a Harmless Caterpillar

Looking at a photo of Hemeroplanes triptolemus, nine out of ten people would swear it’s a snake. But look closer, and you’ll realize there’s something peculiar about it – the body is unusually short and ends abruptly with a large reptilian head. The truth is, it’s not a snake at all. The Hemeroplanes is actually a caterpillar pretending to be a snake. And it does a darn good impression of the deadly creature, often fooling curious travelers and predators alike.

Hemeroplanes are moths of to the Sphingidae family, found in many parts of South America, Africa and Central America. In the larval form, they are capable of expanding their anterior body segments to closely resemble a snake, complete with reptilian scales and scary eyes. To make their mimicking act even more believable, the harmless caterpillar will sometimes even snap at potential predators. Of course, they have no real fangs so they can’t really do any serious damage, but their appearance is convincing enough to scare even humans away,

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Meet Steven Kutcher – The Guy Who Gets Insects to Act on Camera

Have you ever wondered how the insects in movies do exactly what they’re supposed to? How do they know they’re even in a movie scene and play along with the plot? Like the spider that bites Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) in Spiderman. The bees that swarm Matt Damon in We Bought a Zoo. The spider that walks four feet and slips into a slipper in the cult classic, Arachnophobia. Or the giant mosquitos in Jurassic Park.

It turns out that there’s actually a person behind all these shots, manipulating the insects to do his bidding. That man is Steven Kutcher, 69, an entomologist who has been working in Hollywood since 1976. He has been a part of over 100 feature films, numerous commercials, music videos and TV movies.

“I think of myself as a bug wrangler, a consultant. I’m not the cheap guy who trains dogs and chickens and happens to have a tarantula,” he said. “I’m both a scientist and an artist. I think Steven Spielberg said I was the first entomologist in the film industry. I brought the science of insect behavior to the film industry.” It’s pretty obvious that Mr. Kutcher takes immense pride in what he does.

Steven-Kutcher

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Fascinating Orchid Mantis Mimics Flowers to Attract Unsuspecting Prey

The orchid mantis, named after the flower it strikingly resembles, fools prey and predators alike. Its imitation of orchids is so convincing that insects are more attracted to it than the real deal.

Camouflage isn’t a strange concept; many animals and insects adopt clever disguises to avoid predators. But orchid mantises are unique. They stand out instead of blending in, beating orchids at their own game.

Most people find insects gross and disturbing. I must confess, I’m one of them. But I caught myself admiring pictures of orchid mantises. They are such beautiful creatures with their petal-shaped legs and rich pink, white and purple bodies. These features create a “tantalizing lure” for insects, says James O’Hanlon from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia.

orchid-mantis

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Bugs the Size of Your Hand – The Titan Beetle

As its name suggests, the Titanus giganteus, or Titan Beetle, is a giant of the insect world. Adults can grow up to 6.5 inches (16.7 cm) long and have incredibly strong jaws that can snap wooden pencils in half, so just imagine what they could do to your fingers. Luckily, these scary-looking bugs are quite harmless to humans.

The Titan beetle is one of the most mysterious creatures on Earth. It lives unobtrusively deep in some of the South America’s  hottest tropical rain forests and only ventures out when seeking out mates. The larvae of this amazing insect have never been found, but judging by the large boreholes found in dead trees in their natural habitat, scientists believe Titan beetle grubs feed on decaying wood below ground for several years before reaching maturity. The size of these holes suggests the grubs are around two inches in diameter and up to a foot long. Just like the Atlas Moth, the Titan beetle doesn’t feed during its adult life cycle, using the reserves gathered in its pupa stage to fly around long enough to find a mate. Because they mostly sit around waiting for males to seek them out and fertilize their eggs, females have rarely been spotted.

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Man Has Eaten Over 5,000 Bug Species in the Last 11 Years

David Gracer is an entomophagist, which means he consumes insects for sustenance and flavor. During the last 11 years, he claims he has munched on countless creepy crawlies from 5,000 different species.

Eating bugs may seem disgusting to a lot of people, but mankind has been doing it for most of its existence. The Greeks and the Romans loved them, and many cultures throughout Asia, Africa and the Americas actually raise insects for food or gather them through foraging. It is estimated over half the world’s population regularly feasts on a variety of flying and crawling bugs, and entomophagy experts advocate that they are almost as nutritious as beef, contain considerably less fat and have a low impact on the environment. 47-year-old David Gracer, from Providence, Rhode island has been living on bugs since 2001, while trying to convince others that it’s the sustainable way to go. His basement freezer is constantly packed with over 12,000 insects from 20 different species, but the convinced enthomophagist claims he has eaten over 5,000 kinds of bugs during the last 11 years. He consumes them sautéed, filleted and roasted, and says he is working hard on making insects taste more appealing.

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Insect Body Snatchers – How the Jewel Wasp Turns Cockroaches into Zombies

If you’re a Harry Potter fan, I don’t need to tell you what the Imperius curse is. For the rest of you, it’s a spel used to control people’s minds. Now, if you thought something like this was possible only in J.K. Rowling’s world, well here’s some news for you. Nature’s obviously one step ahead. The Jewel Wasp or ‘Emerald Cockroach Wasp’ is actually able to control the mind of its prey, the cockroach, by injecting venom directly into its brain.

The secret to the Jewel Wasp’s ‘captivating’ abilities lies in a neurotransmitter called octopamine in the cockroach’s brain that contols its movements. The wasp’s venom blocks the octopamine, literally converting the cockroach into a zombie. This ‘zombie’ cockroach is completely unable to fight back as it is pulled by the wasp into its underground lair. If you’re wondering why the wasp would go through all this trouble to just eat a cockroach, here’s the really weird part – the cockroach is meant to unwillingly play the part of surrogate mother. The wasp lays an egg into the cockroach’s abdomen, and the larva later hatches and eats the live cockroach from inside out. It takes 3 or 4 days for the larva to hatch, after which it slowly feeds on the roach’s internal organs, keeping it alive the whole time. This process takes about 7-8 days, during which the meat needs to be fresh for the larva. And because a dead cockroach rots within a day, the wasp prefers the ‘stun’ method. Once the roach is eaten up completely and it dies, the larva forms a cocoon inside it. A fully-grown wasp emerges from the cockroach carcass a month later.

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Controversial Artist Unveils Work Created with Hundreds of Dead Insects

Damien Hirst is known as one of the most controversial artists of our time, and his latest work only adds to his reputation. Capaneus, part of the ‘entomology‘ series that hirst has been working on since 2009, features hundreds of insect species placed in intricate geometric shapes and fixed in place with household gloss paint.

Considering many people find insects, spiders and scorpions disgusting or even frightening, it’s fair to say Capaneus is not an artwork for the faint of heart. However, considering Hirts’s past “masterpieces” include a diamond-encrusted baby skull, and an installation where maggots hatched, developed into flies and feasted on a severed cow’s head in a glass box, I’d have to say his latest creation is one of the least controversial. According to the English artist’s website, “this work’s title derives from Dante’s ‘Inferno’ which recounts how the warrior king Capaneus is struck down with lightening and thunder bolts by the angered deities whom he has held in contempt. Dante’s account originates from the Latin epic poem ‘Thebaid’ in which it is described how, body and helmet aflame, Capaneus falls from the walls to the ground below where he lies outstretched, ‘his lifeless body as immense as that of a giant.” Like the rest of the artworks in the “entomology” series, Capaneus alludes to Hirst’s long time interest in the nineteenth century fascination with natural history and the irony involved in having to kill something in order to look at it.

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Jeweler Creates Mechanical Creepy Crawlers from Watch Parts and Light Bulbs

JM Gershenson-Gates is a Chicago-based jeweler who creates unique accessories from discarded watch parts, in a bid “to show the beauty of the mechanical world, a place generally hidden from the public behind metal and glass.”

On his website, Jason Gershenson-Gates says he has always been fascinated with mechanical things. The son of a “gearhead”, and the grandson of a railroad man, he used to always take apart his toys to see how they worked, but never seemed to be able to put them back together again. Nowadays, he takes apart old watches collected from all over the world and rearranges their parts into fantastic designs. Although his Mechanical Mind jewelry series is nothing short of awe-inspiring, in both size and design, it’s his latest series of mechanical insects that caught my eye. The idea of making miniature arthropods and insects out of watch parts and dead automotive light bulbs apparently came to him recently, after a jewelry show this past summer. He was experimenting with watch part anatomy when he decided to create fragile spider and insect legs. One thing led to another, and now Jason has an entire menagerie of incredibly detailed mechanical creepy crawlers.

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