Ugly Bugs

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!
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.


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.


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.


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.

This prizewinning photo of a Spiny Assassin Bug was submitted to the Oklahoma contest in 2007 by Community Christian School in Norman, Oklahoma.

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.


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.


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.

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.

This enhanced photograph of an aphid was a contestant in the 1998 Flagstaff Ugly Bug contest.

Allomerus decemarticulatus, a type of Amazon ant, builds traps to snare and then dismember other insects.


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

College Board Wants to Erase Thousands of Years From AP World History, and Teachers Aren't Happy

One would be forgiven for thinking that the Ides of March are upon us, because Julius Caesar is being taken out once again—this time from the Advanced Placement World History exam. The College Board in charge of the AP program is planning to remove the Roman leader, and every other historical figure who lived and died prior to 1450, from high school students’ tests, The New York Times reports.

The nonprofit board recently announced that it would revise the test, beginning in 2019, to make it more manageable for teachers and students alike. The current exam covers over 10,000 years of world history, and according to the board, “no other AP course requires such an expanse of content to be covered over a single school year.”

As an alternative, the board suggested that schools offer two separate year-long courses to cover the entirety of world history, including a Pre-AP World History and Geography class focusing on the Ancient Period (before 600 BCE) up through the Postclassical Period (ending around 1450). However, as Politico points out, a pre-course for which the College Board would charge a fee "isn’t likely to be picked up by cash-strapped public schools," and high school students wouldn't be as inclined to take the pre-AP course since there would be no exam or college credit for it.

Many teachers and historians are pushing back against the proposed changes and asking the board to leave the course untouched. Much of the controversy surrounds the 1450 start date and the fact that no pre-colonial history would be tested.

“They couldn’t have picked a more Eurocentric date,” Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, who previously helped develop AP History exams and courses, told The New York Times. “If you start in 1450, the first thing you’ll talk about in terms of Africa is the slave trade. The first thing you’ll talk about in terms of the Americas is people dying from smallpox and other things. It’s not a start date that encourages looking at the agency and creativity of people outside Europe.”

A group of teachers who attended an AP open forum in Salt Lake City also protested the changes. One Michigan educator, Tyler George, told Politico, “Students need to understand that there was a beautiful, vast, and engaging world before Europeans ‘discovered’ it.”

The board is now reportedly reconsidering its decision and may push the start date of the course back some several hundred years. Their decision will be announced in July.

[h/t The New York Times]

North America: East or West Coast?


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