As someone who has a childlike fascination with insects — tempered with a tendency to scream like Ned Flanders when they come anywhere in my vicinity — I have very mixed feelings about the 17-year cicadapocalypse that will soon be taking place. Friend or foe? In my mind, they’re like tiny, determined zombies, crawling out of their holes to fulfill their existential crisis before dying a stinky, crunchy death — but the 17 year cycle is very Sleeping Beauty, no?
Needless to say, I’m captivated by the cicada’s invasion of our collective imagination. And as far as the 24 hour news cycle is concerned, I’d much rather hear about cicadas than Kim Kardashian’s pregnancy. (Though her floral gown from the Met Gala was pretty boss.) Here are a few stories I’ve been reading.
Believed to be a new species in the genus Cyclosa, the arachnid crafts the larger spider from leaves, debris and dead insects. Though Cyclosa includes other sculpting arachnids, this is the first one observed to build a replica with multiple, spidery legs.
Scientists suspect the fake spiders serve as decoys, part of a defense mechanism meant to confuse or distract predators. “It seems like a really well evolved and very specialized behavior,” said Phil Torres, who described the find in a blog entry written for Rainforest Expeditions. Torres, a biologist and science educator, divides his time between Southern California and Peru, where he’s involved in research and education projects.
“Considering that spiders can already make really impressive geometric designs with their webs, it’s no surprise that they can take that leap to make an impressive design with debris and other things,” he said.
I feel like the entire blogosphere has been talking about Amy Merrick’s new website, and for good reason: it is ungodly beautiful. However, more to the point: If you haven’t had the pleasure of encountering one of Amy’s wild-yet-composed floral arrangements, you’ve been missing out. As a florist and photographer, her aesthetic eye is unparalleled (those black backgrounds: like a gorgeous Flemish painting!), and her new website reflects her talent. I hope to one day have an occasion that necessitates on of her bouquets.
This fascinating scientific short, made in 1909, demonstrates how a spider (in this case, mechanical) spins its threads to create a web. Director Percy Smith believed he could cure people of their arachnophobia with his short films showing enlarged replicas of spiders, and it seems certain that most viewers would be more amused than frightened by the mechanical little guy in this short. (But wait for the ending…reality strikes!) As Alvy Singer once said, “Honey, there’s a spider in your bathroom as big as a Buick.”
The creatures that ooze, float and pulse near the ocean’s floor are a rarely viewed breed unto themselves. Magnhild Disington, along with fashion designer Emma Jorn, created this collection of ramshackle textile, yarn and fur abstract objects, loosely inspired by deep sea creatures, sensations and atmosphere of life down in the dark waters. These creatures are equal part imagination and possibility. See more deep sea creatures in the video.
New Year’s resolution for 2011: learn the shapes and locations of the constellations. This star identification film from 1942 should help (things haven’t changed in the sky since the ’40s, right?). Now to get a clear view of the stars in the city! Telescope, perhaps?
What’s your resolution for 2011? I know that’s like, two months away, but I’m a planner so I’m making my list already.
What a terrible, saddening sight. These baby albatross, photographed by Chris Jordan, died from choking on the thoughtfully-retrieved plastic pieces fed to them by their parents. As you can see, the plastic wrappers, bags and lighters remain long after the baby birds have decomposed. According to Jordan,
“These photographs of albatross chicks were made in September, 2009, on Midway Atoll, a tiny stretch of sand and coral near the middle of the North Pacific. The nesting babies are fed bellies-full of plastic by their parents, who soar out over the vast polluted ocean collecting what looks to them like food to bring back to their young. On this diet of human trash, every year tens of thousands of albatross chicks die on Midway from starvation, toxicity, and choking.
“To document this phenomenon as faithfully as possible, not a single piece of plastic in any of these photographs was moved, placed, manipulated, arranged, or altered in any way. These images depict the actual stomach contents of baby birds in one of the world’s most remote marine sanctuaries, more than 2000 miles from the nearest continent.”
Oh, bedbugs. Which is worse: enduring knife penises or stuffing all of my thrifted clothing in the freezer? (Does anyone else do this to avoid the nasty little things?) Bedbugs are less insects than mass hysteria. Seriously, I’ve had them. Horrifying.
Thank you for making me give bedbugs a chance, Green Porno. But I still shrivel in fear at the very thought.
My name is Alison and this is where I obsess // muse // and drop all of the curious, obsolete, eccentric and otherwise noteworthy things I come across on the weird, wide expanse that is the Internet. Also, cute cat posts.