Friends Don’t Let Spiders Do Drugs

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Darwin Awards: Arthropod Edition

I’ve mentioned before that I am arachnophobic (araneaephobic would be a little more accurate) but I’ve gotten better.  I am now the proud momma of a Rose Hair (Grammostola rosea) tarantula that I have named Chaka Khan and a baby Pink Toe (Avicularia metallica) tarantula that is as yet, unnamed.  BUT, these new adoptions into my family do not preclude me from getting severely wigged out when I see crazy sh*t go down!  So, in honor of the coming holiday, Darwin Day, I present to you a week of Darwin Award: Arthropod Edition nominees.

Let’s start with an oldie but a goodie.  Just because you own a tarantula, doesn’t mean you should.  Our first contenders demonstrate just how much common sense they are lacking.  If you owned one of the most venomous tarantulas in the world, what would you do with it?  Well, our guys think that the best thing to do before holding said terror, is to royally piss it off.  Good luck boys!

One more Bug Vid

I just couldn’t let it go.  Here’s one more that was recently brought to my attention.  This person has a number of interesting spider videos but this one is pretty unique.  Check out some bizarre (or actually quite normal) Sand Spider action.

Final Installment of Bugeo: Such a Small World After All

Here we are, our final installment of Bug Video Week and I know you’re eager to see what I’ve got for you.  Something bizarre?  Yes.  Something terrifying?  Perhaps.  Something beautiful?  Most definitely.  Today I bring you another “feature” film which is actually one of my favorites.  The world around us is so full and teeming with action and adventure.  Creatures vying for a tiny spot on a leaf can easily be picked off by the nearest predator.  Microcosmos is one of the best nature documentaries out there (IMO) because it doesn’t spend an inordinate amount of time trying to drum up some bizarre storyline for the animal in question.  It’s an insect, see what it does.  It does amazing things.  Yay!  This film is available in a variety of locations online for free and is available to stream on Netflix.  Kick back with some bug infested popcorn for an hour and enjoy.  This film is truly a beautiful way to get a glimpse into the world of arthropods.

Bugeo on the Big Screen!!!

My late night addition to Bugeo (Bug Video Week) takes the form of a few of my favorite cheesy insect and arthropod related films.  This was somewhat inspired by two wonderful occurrences today:

1) I saw a trailer for the film Antboy and fell in love

Playing at the Toronto Film Festival Sunday September 15th.

2) I saw the Rifftrax (you may remember them as as MST3K) guys take on Starship Troopers.

So how about a few more examples of insects and their buddies on the big screen?  Hollywood (and other film locales) have produced some pretty amazing and ughmazing bug films.  Here are a few to check out the next time you’re bored or avoiding your thesis like I am…I mean need a break from tirelessly working on your thesis…yeah…that’s what I meant.

1) Let’s start with every body’s favorite, Arachnophobia.  Yup.  I’m scared of spiders and you should be too.  They’re fraking terrifying and will suck your soul out your head just like those brain bugs!!!!  Run!!!

Just kidding, they’re not all bad and in fact there are no reported deaths to the CDC related to Black Widow or Brown Recluse bites in recent years.  The problems people get are from allergic reactions and, most often, secondary infection from itching and not taking care of the wounds.  But don’t let silly things like facts fool you, those suckers are creepy.  What in the name of Darwin do they need 8 eyes for anyway!?! And the Brown Recluse doesn’t even have 8 eyes!!!!!  That’s just evolution f*@king with us.

Important life lesson learned from Hollywood, never move to a “nice, quiet town.”

2) How about some cheesy sci-fi with a heavy-handed anti-pesticide message all staring Captain Kirk? Well look no further than the work of art that is Kingdom of the Spiders. Bet you didn’t know that rampant use of DDT could cause spiders to randomly switch from being solitary predators into social groups. Yeah…personally I think Shatner just has that effect on people…and apparently spiders too.

I’d also recommend the Rifftrax version of Kingdom of the Spiders.

3) Okay, that’s enough spider terror for me. How about something truly terrifying? How about insects that aren’t there (or are they)? Huh? Freaky, I know. Delusory parasitosis is something I deal with often. I get a lot of requests from people to ID things that don’t exist. I’ve received some samples that, just to be nice, I won’t tell you where they came from. And when I say “where” I’m not talking about zip code. But I digress (and feel the need to shower)….The next film was an interesting horror film that came out in 2006 with some big-ish named actors in it. Ladies and gentlemen…I give you, Bug.

4) Let’s take a trip overseas for this one. Yeah, the American’s can make some pretty good (but mostly schlocky) entomoiflms…and with Antboy it looks like the Danes can do it pretty well too. So who else is gonna step up to the all important insect plate?

India of course!!!! Who could go wrong with a dude that gets reincarnated as a fly to exact terrible buzzing revenge on the guy who killed him!?! Brilliant! I don’t care if a fly isn’t “born” as a pupa, this movie is so brilliantly cheesy and Bollylicious that it has to go on this list. **Sorry I couldn’t find one with English subtitles, but you can pretty easily figure out what’s going on**

Did that fly just go all Matrix? Ah-yeeah.

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5) And last, but most certainly not least let’s throw another one out there. Sure, there are some doozies out there, Human Centipede would be a “good” example (no, I’m not linking to it…let’s just say there are some things you cannot unsee). And there are some pretty entertaining children’s films too (as cute as A Bugs Life may have been, the bugs didn’t have enough legs so Antz gets my vote). Some great classic horror like The Fly and modernish horror like The Fly and the just flat out bizarre, like Naked Lunch but how best to end this list?

I know!!! I’m going to dig deep into the recesses of my mind for this one. Something from my childhood…lordy this is kind of painful to think back that far…but here it is, one of the most brilliant pieces of television ever concocted.! Doctor Who: The Ark in Space

This features my first Doctor, Tom Baker. You never forget your first Doctor. Never, ever. Though some of you may consider this cheating, I don’t care. I love Doctor Who and I happen to love this series.

What do you think? Do these belong on a top 5 list of bug related films? What would you like to see up there? How else can I avoid my thesis?

Bugeo Day 2: Zombies Are Attacking!!!!

Today I bring you one of my favorite parasitoids, the Jewel Wasp.  This gorgeous little wasp, also known as the Emerald cockroach wasp has a fun little reproductive method which involves using cockroaches as a host for their larvae.  Yesterdays video was of a fly parasitoid that uses caterpillars as a host for its many young; this wasp is a little different.  It will sting into a specific ganglia (nerve bundle) in the thoracic segment (where the legs and wings originate).  This first sting renders the cockroach unable to move under its own power; the second sting turns it into a zombie which is then drug around and manipulated by the wasp.