Ugly Bugs

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Advances in macro photography and the development of the electron microscope have shown us a world nature never intended for us to see. Over the years, they've shown us how very ugly insects can be if you take a close look!
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Mosquitos are considered ugly even when we don't get a closeup view. Our model seems to have lost one antenna before posing for a portrait. This picture is from Lehigh University, where you can get a short course on electron microscopy.

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A wolf spider looks much more menacing when you stare him in the face. This image by photographer Steven Flanagan gets up close and personal. I wonder if he can see us with those eight eyes as well as the camera sees him!

Continue reading for bugs that take prizes for ugliness.

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The Oklahoma Microscopic Society has an annual Ugly Bug Contest. The contest for 2008 begins in August. This Dobsonfly, submitted by Sulphur Elementary, was featured in the Live Science article World's Ugliest Animals.

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This Carolina Sphinx Moth was one of the Grand Prize winners in the 2007 Ugly Bug Contest. This photo was submitted by Newcastle Middle School in Newcastle, Oklahoma. Note the tightly coiled tongue.
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This prizewinning photo of a Spiny Assassin Bug was submitted to the Oklahoma contest in 2007 by Community Christian School in Norman, Oklahoma.
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Screw worm larvae (Cochliomyia) burrow into any available food source, such as livestock, and cause maggot infestation. The USDA came up with a control procedure that involved breeding huge numbers of Cochliomyia that were sterile, and releasing then to compete for mates. Fruitless mating led to vastly reduced numbers of screw worms. Insert your own punch line.

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As beautiful as butterflies and moths are to human eyes, under a microscope they can scare the daylights out of you! This image of a pyralidae moth was taken with a scanning electron microscope. Note the retractable tongue.

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Male seed beetles have penises covered with sharp spikes that can cause injuries to the females. His face is probably better looking, which isn't saying much.
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Centipedes are creepy enough to a normal human eye. This microscopic picture show that no matter how small you are, you can still have crumbs on your face! This specimen was submitted to the 1995 Flagstaff Festival of Science Ugly Bug Contest.
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This enhanced photograph of an aphid was a contestant in the 1998 Flagstaff Ugly Bug contest.
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Allomerus decemarticulatus, a type of Amazon ant, builds traps to snare and then dismember other insects.

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Dust mites are normally about half a millimeter long, and can be seen with a magnifying glass if the light is right. But you don't want to see them in your home, even though you know they are there!

See also:
Delightful Insects of Summer
Honeybees: Master of Utility
Ugly Jugs

April 29, 2008 - 4:59am
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