"The Shocker," a paper wasp whose sting can cause anaphylactic shock and "The Stinger," a scorpion that crushes it's prey with pincers and injects them with a neurotoxic venom, are just two of the 10 contenders in this year’s Ugly Bug Contest.
The champion will be determined by how passionately the public appreciates the atrociousness of their traits and uniqueness of their attributes. The ability to inject enemies with poison, suck the blood of innocent bystanders, or crawl under the skin of unsuspecting hikers are some of the characteristics that could earn one bug the crown and title: 2009 Ugliest Bug.
Until Dec. 15, insect enthusiasts around the world have the opportunity to vote and learn more about some of the planet's most creepy creatures, including "The Hammer," a carpenter bee and "La Cucaracha," a cockroach.
To cast a vote or gain insight into the lives of these cuticle-covered organisms visit the contest's Web site at Arizona State University: http://askabiologist.asu.edu/uglybugs.
Other creatures on this year's roster of repugnant gladiators are "The Blade," an aphid; "Stretch," a snakefly; "The Ringleader," Jerdon's jumping ant; "Sweetness," a honey bee; "The Leaf Foot," a coreidae; and "The Gollywopper," a crane fly.
Each has a photo and a bio on the Web site, with details including their size, weight and Latin genus names. Most of the bugs in this year's contest weigh less than 3 grams – the weight of 10 average grains of table salt.
The images of the bugs are made possible by a scanning electron microscope, providing a view of the bugs unattainable with the human eye. The colorful close-ups allow students and teachers an intriguing new level of intimacy with creatures often dismissed as detestable.
There’s also a YouTube video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1z8cSwV6I8) that imitates an Ultimate Fighting Championship® bout, with each bug emerging into the octagon at the sound of a bell.
In addition to serving as the contest's voting hub, the “Ask A Biologist” Web site is a scientific sanctuary for students and teachers alike. Complete with downloadable wallpapers, a poster and pages to color, and inter-active reasoning modules designed to improve student's skills, the site is laden with material aimed at introducing students of all ages to the capacious field of biology.
The Ugly Bug Contest was started in Flagstaff, Ariz., by Merilee Sellers of Northern Arizona University. For 10 years, it was a local fixture – part of the Flagstaff Festival of Science and the Mount Campus Science Day.
Last year, she teamed up with Charles Kazilek to bring the contest to the Web. Kazilek, a senior research professional in ASU’s School of Life Sciences, sports the moniker “Dr. Biology” to host the popular children’s podcast “Ask a Biologist.”
In its first year on the Ask a Biologist Web site the contest accumulated more than 3,000 votes.
"We are talking about bugs here," Kazilek says when asked why kids are attracted to the contest.” You are either excited by them or scared to have one next to you. They certainly can get under your skin. It is fun to see these really tiny animals in a way that just is not possible with the unaided eye."
Last year, the winner was “The Tick” with 1,056 votes – more than twice the amount any other bug received.
"I think it was the blood sucking ability that gave it the edge," Kazilek says.
“There is a lot of science hidden in the contest, but maybe the best part is people get to participate by looking and reading about each of the bugs before they vote,” he says. “It is also a fun way to get up close and personal with the bug that might be walking, crawling or flying next to you.”
Pointing out that many of the bugs contending for the crown are far from ugly, Kazilek adds: “In fact, they are very elegant and often quite beautiful. Somehow calling it the Beautiful Bug Contest seemed contrary to most people’s idea of bugs.”
Other sponsors for this years contest include Dow AgroSciences, NAU's Imaging and Histology Core Facility, and ASU’s W.M Keck Bioimaging Laboratory and International Institute for Species Exploration in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.Arizona State University (www.asu.edu)
Charles Kazilek | Newswise Science News
Fine organic particles in the atmosphere are more often solid glass beads than liquid oil droplets
21.04.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie
Study overturns seminal research about the developing nervous system
21.04.2017 | University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...
Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.
A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy