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A Praying Mantis Has Become the Kansas City Royals' Good Luck Charm

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Good luck charms come in many forms, and for the Kansas City Royals, that form is currently a giant insect.

It all began on August 6, when a praying mantis made its way into the team’s dugout. At the time, the defending World Series champs weren’t doing so hot, and their hopes for another postseason run were fading fast. But that night, they beat Toronto and then won five of their next six games.

Sadly, the so-called “Rally Mantis” soon died (the bug was reportedly in rough shape upon arrival). The Royals lost that night, but it wasn’t the end of the magical praying mantis run. Another soon appeared when the team was playing in Detroit, and was scooped up by shortstop Alcides Escobar and pitcher Edinson Vólquez, along with the help of a fan. The appearance of Rally Mantis Jr. coincided with the team’s first three-game series sweep against the Tigers since 2008, and the uptick in wins has continued ever since. Fans have latched onto the surprising good luck charm, and are now dressing up like the Rally Mantis, and even getting tattoos. He's even being thanked for home runs

Spare outfielder Billy Burns is Rally Mantis Jr.’s primary caretaker. "I think the only reason I'm taking care of him is I actually care about him not dying," he told the Associated Press. "So people are like, 'You can take care of him.' I spent one night researching how to take care of him, so hopefully we can keep him alive."

The insect now travels with the team and feeds on a diet of crickets, moths, and other bugs the players pick up. Regardless of what happens as the baseball season draws to a close, we can’t argue with a mantis as a charm and pseudo-mascot: They are truly terrifying and awesome creatures. Sorry, Sluggerrr.

[h/t Business Insider]

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Noriyuki Saitoh
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Art
Japanese Artist Crafts Intricate Insects Using Bamboo
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Noriyuki Saitoh

Not everyone finds insects beautiful. Some people think of them as scary, disturbing, or downright disgusting. But when Japanese artist Noriyuki Saitoh looks at a discarded cicada shell or a feeding praying mantis, he sees inspiration for his next creation.

Saitoh’s sculptures, spotted over at Colossal, are crafted by hand from bamboo. He uses the natural material to make some incredibly lifelike pieces. In one example, three wasps perch on a piece of honeycomb. In another, two mating dragonflies create a heart shape with their abdomens.

The figures he creates aren’t meant to be exact replicas of real insects. Rather, Saitoh starts his process with a list of dimensions and allows room for creativity when fine-tuning the appearances. The sense of movement and level of detail he puts into each sculpture is what makes them look so convincing.

You can browse the artist’s work on his website or follow him on social media for more stunning samples from his portfolio.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

[h/t Colossal]

All images courtesy of Noriyuki Saitoh.

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Live Smarter
A Simple Way to Prevent Bed Bugs: Do Your Laundry While on Vacation
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Bed bugs are perhaps nature's worst house guests. Not only do they, y'know, feed on your blood while you sleep, but the critters also mysteriously sneak their way into our abodes without warning, only to turn around and invite all their friends over for a slumber party. Since they won't be dissuaded by an empty fridge or an expired HBO subscription, what steps can one take to ensure their home stays free of these dreaded visitors?

For starters, do your laundry while traveling, according to a new study spotted by Gizmodo. Published in the journal Scientific Reports, its authors found that bed bugs are twice as likely to convene on and inside tote bags with dirty clothes as those containing clean clothes. They discovered this after creating a mock bedroom with cotton laundry bags—one filled with "dirty" worn clothing, the other with clean items—and observing which of the two a cageful of unleashed bed bugs preferred.

Researchers know that bed bug populations have surged around the world thanks in part to the rise of cheap air travel. They also have theorized that they're attracted to human scent, which can linger on clothing for at least a few days. Still, they didn't quite know how, exactly, the critters make the jump from the outside world and into our abodes—especially since these insects are relatively sedentary and rarely leave their feeding places. These new findings suggest that the bugs could be stowing away in attractive-smelling suitcases—which after traveling through hotels, airports, and taxis, end up right back in our bedrooms.

Since some bugs, like mosquitos, are attracted to carbon dioxide (it indicates the exhalation of a nearby animal or human—a.k.a. a food source), researchers checked to see if increases of the gas made bed bugs more or less likely to congregate on the dirty laundry bags. This ended up prompting foraging behavior, but the insects weren't any more prone to hanging out on the soiled clothing heap than they were before. 

Keeping your luggage free of bed bugs while traveling can be relatively simple, study author William Hentley, an entomologist at the UK's University of Sheffield, told Science. Since not everyone has ready access to a washer and dryer on vacation, avoid the bugs in the first place by placing your suitcase atop the metal luggage racks commonly found in hotel rooms, even if you've already given the room a precautionary sweep. (Bed bugs can't climb up smooth surfaces.) If your room is sans rack, seal your dirty clothes inside an airtight bag to keep the insects from getting a good whiff, or wrap up your entire suitcase if it's frequently been home to unwashed garments in the past.

That said, not all is lost if you arrive home from a long vacation with a bag full of well-worn outfits. Take your clothes immediately to a washer/dryer and run them through a hot cycle. That should be enough to kill invading bed bugs before they've even had the chance to learn how comfortable your couch is.

[h/t Gizmodo]

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