Which bug is ugliest?

Decision 2010 -- Cast your vote for this year's creepiest insect

By | November 4, 2010

Assassin bugs inject toxic saliva into their prey. Jewel wasps lay eggs inside other insects, and the larva devour their hosts from the inside out. House flies vomit digestive juices onto their food before sucking it back up. These tiny critters are all undoubtedly creepy, but which is the scariest of all? linkurl:The Ugly Bug Contest;http://askabiologist.asu.edu/activities/ubc of 2010 is asking for your help to decide.
linkurl:Assassin bug;http://askabiologist.asu.edu/assassin-bug
Image: Therry The, Marilee Sellers and Page Baluch
"To us, it's a really playful way to engage [kids] in some science content," says linkurl:Charles Kazilek;http://sols.asu.edu/people/faculty/ckazilek.php of Arizona State University, who is helping to run the contest. "Capture their imagination and their minds will follow," Kazilek says, repurposing the motto of Ask a Biologist, the online program he started in 1997 to give people the opportunity to send biology-related questions and get answers from working researchers. linkurl:Marilee Sellers,;http://www.cefns.nau.edu/Academic/Biology/Faculty/MarileeSellers.shtml a researcher in the forestry and natural sciences department at Northern Arizona University, launched the Ugly Bug Contest in 1997, featuring high quality electron micrograph photographs of the bug contestants. Three years ago, she teamed up with Kazilek to put the competition online and share it with a much wider audience. These days, the Ugly Bug Contest makes full use of old and new modes of kid-centric communication, with call for entries announced via YouTube video , profiles of the bugs and up-to-the-minute updates on their Bugbook pages (the insect version of Facebook), coloring pages and posters, and fun insect-related activities for kids of all ages. "This seems like a pretty good idea to me," says linkurl:Donald Champagne,;http://www.ent.uga.edu/personnel/faculty/champagne.htm an entomologist at the University of Georgia. "Anything that can get people's attention, especially when they're younger, and build an appreciation for the natural world -- [help them] understand that these are not just things to be stepped on, but are actually interesting organisms in their own right -- is a good thing." In addition to bragging rights over its bug brethren, the winner, to be announced next month, will get an exclusive video highlighting some of its more fearsome qualities. Currently the assassin bug leads the way with more than 1,000 votes, but voting will remain open until December 15. And there's no limit on votes per person, Kazilek says, so "vote and vote often."
**__Related stories:__***linkurl:Bugs vs plants vs bugs;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/57635/
[26th August 2010]*linkurl:Insect gut has mind of its own;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/57568/
[22nd July 2010]*linkurl:Virus benefits insect hosts;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55900/
[20th August 2009]

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