Contest on ASU's Ask a Biologist website highlights visually striking insects
Update: Voting has ended. See the winners here — did your favorite win?
Life as an insect can be tough. Everyone wants to squash you, you're blamed for the spread of diseases, and then to top it off, someone nominates you for an "ugly bug" contest.
Except that these bugs are really sort of beautiful.
Each year, Arizona State University's Ask a Biologist — a learning resource for students, teachers and lifelong learners started in 1997 in the School of Life Sciences The School of Life Sciences is an academic unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.— hosts the Ugly Bug contest. This year's theme is choosing the insects for a space travel team that will search for life elsewhere (and, one presumes, intergalactic picnics to invade).
Bark Mite Flies; common name: Soldier Flies
This scavenger fly lives on many kinds of decaying organic matter and will often eat what a housefly will not. The larvae develop through the winter under the bark of decaying trees.All photos courtesy Ask a Biologist
Airglow; common name: Glow Worm Beetle
Females can produce light from internal organs. Because these patches of light look like little windows in a train car, they are sometimes referred to as "railroad-worms." The males are not as colorful, but they have elaborate antennae that are used to find females.
Gand Minutus; common name: Smaller Sand Cricket
Though they are called crickets, these insects are not actually true crickets. They feed on plant material and like sandy areas common to the Western United States and other dry climates.
Luminosity Ligulata; common name: Metalic Wood-boring Beetle
These bugs are metallic in color and break down the tissues of distressed or dying trees with their sharp jaws. They have large eyes and bumpy wings. They create oval burrows in the bark and wood that is packed with sawdust and other waste.
Pris Finalis; common name: Sunflower-Seed Maggot
The adults have wings with a lacy pattern and look similar to a fly. They are called Sunflower-Seed Maggots because the small brown pupae can be found on the face of sunflowers, though damage to sunflower crops is rare. Females can produce two generations of offspring per year.
Silver Moonhopper; common name: Gray Lawn Leafhopper
Often found in groups, these insects deposits their eggs in the outer layers of leaves. They are mostly found in warm weather and can easily hop from leaf to leaf. Although they can do damage to corn crops, their eggs are a food source for parasitic wasps and can be controlled without using insecticides.
Starkiller; common name: Parasitoid Chalcidid Wasp
This insect is part of a larger group of wasps that lay their eggs inside other insects. This particular wasp lays its eggs in moth or butterfly cocoons.
Tusken Sand Dweller; common name: Robber Fly
They are known for their predatory behavior, super-fast flight and exceptional vision. When hunting, they will sit on a flat surface and then "rush out" to attack victims (often larger insects), catch them midflight and inject them with nerve toxins. They prefer sunny, warm weather and help control other insect populations.
Water Atraxi; common name: Water Strider
Water striders walk on the top of the water and communicate with one another by sending ripples along the water surface. They climb into a plant stem when the weather gets cold, and they like to eat mosquitos, injured dragonflies, beetles, and worms that fall into or come too close to the water's surface.
Whirl Hazard; common name: Whirligig Beetle
They swim in circles when alarmed and have a water-repellent, waxy coating on their bodies and short plump antennae. Their eyes are split into two parts each: one for below-water viewing and one for above water. Waves created by insect prey that have accidently fallen into the water informs this beetle it's time for dinner.