running with sharks

where animals and people meet. usually for the worse.

Assassin Bugs: An arachnophobe’s best friend 

Dr. Anne Wignall and a team of researchers from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, have discovered some fun bizz about the assassin bug. Apparently, this brave little arthropod waits for a breeze before walking on to a spider’s web. Even then, it skulks in a stranger manner, mimicking the movement of the swaying structure to remain undetected. Because web-building spiders have such poor eyesight, the spider isn’t even aware that its nemesis has entered the arachnid home base. Once it’s in stabbing distance, the assassin bug shanks the spider with some sort of insect shiv.

Read about it here.

Invasive beetle discovered in Montreal 


Beetles for hire 

Well, you learn something new every day! While I’m well aware that rotting corpses are riddled with bugs, maggots, worms, and other flatmates of the dead, I just learned that some insects actually get hired to do this sort of dirty work. Dermestid beetles, otherwise known as skin beetles (never a good sign….) are often used by museums and taxidermists to scour tissue from bones and other dead things. In fact, should you so desire to start up a taxidermy business in the immediate future, you can order your very own dermestid beetle start kit here.

Image from here.

Consumer Buzz 

Shoppers in North Versailles, Pennsylvania found themselves in a sticky situation when a swarm of bees made its temporary home in a K-Mart parking lot. Bee careful! Yes, I’m trying to see how many bad puns I can jam into one post.

Read about it here.

Many thanks to our friend Jojo for bee-ing (heyo!) so thoughtful as to send us this news.

Image from here. (Please note: I chose this image due to its hilarity. However, I think picking a thing, in this case a bee, and then putting “sexy” in front of it, does not constitute a good Halloween costume. In fact, I think the thing/sexy combo costume should be a criminal offense.)

Getting wood 

Whenever I read about insects and spiders, it’s always awe-inspiring to note that regardless of what humans have built, critters are often way more industrious. I’m in the midst of reading Richard Conniff’s Swimming with Piranhas at Feeding Time: My Life Doing Dumb Stuff with Animals, which includes a chapter about termites. It’s common knowledge that you want to avoid these ravenous little titans at all costs due to their destructive capabilities. However, snubbing these wood enthusiasts can sometimes be next to impossible. Apparently, some species are so hell-bent at congregating around light that even a household hunkered down in total darkness to avoid the plaguing pests will find termites swarming through any available crack towards a single, flickering television set. When discussing a particular form of termite in the fields of Botswana, Conniff proclaims the insects to be master builders.

If termites were the size of humans, according to an estimate by the entomologist P. E. Howse, the largest Macrotermes mounds would be 5 miles wide at the base and a mile high, more than triple the height of our greatest skyscraper.

In addition, Conniff states that “there are about a thousand pounds of termites for every man, woman, and child on Earth,” which is a bit disheartening, seeing as termites not only eat each others’ regurgitation, but they also feast on their collective waste. It’s like Human Centipede, only with more termites and less Udo Kier look-a-likes.

Image of termite head from here.

The most horrifying animal ever.  

Dear friend, Running With Sharks has brought you its fare share of ickies, yuckies, and maybe even some pukee-pukes. However, nothing can prepare you for the following text which details the unspeakable horror of the botfly maggot. I’ll be quoting from Gordon Grice’s amazing book Deadly Kingdom. But if you’ve got a weak stomach, move on!

Once inside the human body, the maggot makes itself at home. It forms a cyst within which it can grow. It dines on the flesh and fluids provided by its host. The host is not, at first, aware of this unwanted guest. He notices a carbuncle slowly growing on his skin. At some point, he’s startled by pain. Some victims, without even knowing what their affliction was, have described a sensation of being chewed. Eventually, the maggot falls into the sleep of pupation, and the victim’s pain subsides. Then there’s an eruption of pus and blood. An adult fly emerges, dries its wings for a few seconds, and flies away.

That, at least, is what happens when the botfly happens to burrow into an uncomplicated patch of human skin. Sometimes it invades a delicate area, such as a nose or an ear. The victim may actually hear it chewing into his brain before he dies.

There you have it folks. The most horrifying animal ever.

Seriously, don’t even try to Google image this brute. I just did, and nearly hurled.

Crickets teaching Robots: The future is now! 

There’s this cave-dwelling cricket that communicates not by rubbing its legs together (as most boring, uncreative crickets do), but by using its wings to launch vortex rings of air. Badass! And apparently, this is inspiring new means of communication between robots, which makes sense, as robots often have communication issues, in addition to a lot of emotional baggage.

Read about it here.

Image from here.

Nature’s most goth insect? 

The lachryphagous moth survives off of a diet of tears. Does anyone know if there’s a goth band out there named Lachryphagous? I can only assume yes.

The moths feed out of the eye sockets of large mammals, and sometimes humans. The animal/person is never harmed, and in the grand scheme of animal carnage, the above image is pretty low-key. Nonetheless, I find it all to be completely horrifying.

Nothing says love like a tongue probing around in your tear duct.

Image from here.

If it doesn’t have bones, is it meat? 

Do your part to save the planet: start eating insects. According to Dutch scientist Arnold van Huis, this rock we live on will be way better off if we eat bugs instead of cows. Read about it here.

Also, on an unrelated topic, Eric Roberts will do ANYTHING for a film credit.