Dec 31, 2010

Time for me to move on

UPDATE: To those that are missing it, there are a few writers for this blog. Just because I'm leaving, doesn't mean the others are. Ugly Overload continues. You just won't have my posts on here anymore.


Hey there Ugly Overloadians. Sadly, I won't be able to update this blog anymore. My schooling is absorbing almost 100% of my time, now. That's not unexpected with the degree I'm working toward, though.

That said, I still maintain a Tumblr blog with neat photos of entomology as well as other little critters I find fascinating. Feel free to find me there, if you are so inclined.

Thank you to everyone that encouraged me to start contributing to this blog so long ago. I'm glad you all enjoyed my wonderful pet bugs :)

Also, to keep in theme with Ugly Overload (which is still one of my favorite blogs ever), I'll leave you with some of my newest bug photos:

The spider in these pictures was a gift from my wife. It's an adult female Avicularia versicolor (Antillies pinktoe tarantula). Versies are my favorite animal, hands down. Ironically, as sweet natured as they are, it's the only species of spider ever to bite me in my 14 years of working with bugs– and to top it off it was a baby that bit me.

When I got her, I told my better-half that I wanted a picture of her on my face. Being such a sweet spider, we didn't anticipate any difficulty with this idea. We sat down to do the photo, I put her on my face, and she quickly climbed onto the top of my head. The Mrs. snapped a quick photo before the spider jumped off and onto the floor. When I picked her up, she freaked out, locked her legs, and extended her fangs as if she was ready to bite. I calmly held my hand by her enclosure to let her walk off on her own. It was a ten minute stare down, where one slight move would have caused me to be bitten. Thanks to one of the photos taken, I got to see just how bad a spot I was in, as venom was dripping off her fangs (third photo). After around ten minutes passed, she calmly walked into her enclosure, and I stopped sweating.

After the fact, I had time to figure out what happened. I finally realized it was my shampoo. I'd just taken a shower a few minutes before we went to take the picture. Spiders taste through special receptors in their feet, which means that some chemical in my shampoo caused my little girl to freak out like none-other. Needless to say, I won't be attempting this right out of the shower ever again.


Dec 22, 2010

Growing up ugly

As I've mentioned before, birds just can't seem to get the hang of the concept that babies are supposed to be cute. Most of them start out horrendously ugly and gradually grow into those lovely, graceful creatures that so many people love.

This picture of three young Black Palm Cockatoos from the Jurong Bird Park in Singapore demonstrates the process - sort of. We've got a three week old baby in the middle with a two month old on the right and a three month old on the left.

But the black palm cockatoo is definitely a bird after our own hearts here at Ugly Overload because although it does get less ugly as it ages, it never entirely grows out of it:

Someone get that poor bird a hairdresser!

Wombat (No Relation)

Babies from the Globe and Mail/AFP and adult from Flickr user Puppies are Prozac.

Dec 18, 2010

No Dissection Needed

If, like me, you're a veteran of the US educational system, you've probably had the "educational" experience of dissecting a frog (for those of you that haven't, that's where you take a perfectly good frog, kill it, and cut it open to see what's inside). Well, today, I'd like to suggest an alteritive way for students to learn about frog innards (assuming you need to know about frog innards), the glass frog.

Glass frogs have little to no pigmentation in their skin, meaning you can frequently see the internal organs on a perfectly healthy frog. They're fairly small species of frogs, (the largest only grow to about three inches (7.5 cm)). Most species to have green pigment in most of their skin, leaving only the underbelly transparent.

Glass frogs are native to South and Central America, and are mostly arboreal. Several species lay their eggs out of water, on leaves hanging above a lake or stream. When it's time to hatch, the tadpoles just fall in.
Now just think, wouldn't this be a better replacement for dissection? No need to hurt the frog, just let it hop around. Let's you see the frog and see it in action. Let's see if we can get schools to keep tanks of these instead.

Pictures courtesy of Time,, and wikipedia

Dec 15, 2010


Oh hi. The part of my brain that constructs interesting sentences is temporarily out of commission, having been worn out by the push to meet a book deadline. But I decided that this creature was too wonderful to miss just because I have nothing to say about it. It's the Antsingy leaf chameleon of Madagascar, and I don't think we've seen it before.

You can learn more here.

Photos from Flickr user David d'O and thanks to @Speciesoftheday for introducing me to this critter.

-Wombat (No Relation)

Dec 9, 2010

Solar Powered Hornet

Our topic today is the Oriental hornet, Vespa Orentalis. For some time, scientists had know that the workers of this species were most active towards the middle of the day. It was only recently that they confirmed that they are capable of directly harvesting solar power. Under very close examination (on the nanometer scale), the brown segments of the hornet's abdomen are a series of reflective mirrors. They reflect the sun's energy onto structures on the yellow part of the abdomen, which contains a pigment with photoelectric properties, thus turning the light into electrical energy, which the hornets then use for their activities.

Story and picture courtesy of the BBC. Plenty more details, including microscope scans of the hornet's skin.

Dec 4, 2010

Killed by Behavior-modifying Parasite Fungus

There has been a rise in our fascination in zombie fiction and movies lately. I think such tales strike a deep chord in our psyche. But for much of the animal kingdom, such tales aren't fanciful. They're an everyday occurrence.

Take this poor yellow dung fly (Scathophagia stercoraria). It's been infected by a previously unknown (yet to be described) species of Entomophthora fungus. This parasite fungus causes its host to climb up a grass blade, stick it wings out, and position itself so that its abdomen is in the air, and then die. All of this is accomplished so the fungus' spores are better dispersed.

I'm assuming that zombification (a new word?) is more readily found in the insect kingdom because their nervous systems are more easily hijacked than those of higher order animals. Nevertheless, I've purchased a large supply of fungicide, and my wife has instructions to spray me down should she find me climbing up to the roof to stick my butt in the air.

Thanks for the fantastic photo, Dave. It's entomologists like you that show us how ugly and fascinating this world can be. I'm glad to be human.

Dec 3, 2010

The power of Ugly

Get the holiday season off to an ugly start by checking out this video of an electric eel that supplies the power for a Christmas tree at an aquarium in Japan.

Dec 2, 2010

Marine Life Census, Part 2

As promised, I've got another collection of creatures from the census of marine life for you. Let's start with the aptly-named Terrible Claw Lobster, Dinochelus ausubeli. It should be obvious where the name comes from

Next up, we have an as-yet unnamed snail, found on a submarine volcano off Japan.

We also have a jellyfish, Bathykorus bouilloni, that appears to have gotten his appearance from Star Wars, judging from his Vader-like shape.

Next, is the Bearded Fireworm. Those bristles are venomous, causing an "intense burning irritation". Don't touch.

And last up, here's another plankton-sized baby for you, this time for the Slipper Lobster. While he's transparent now, when he grows, he will have a full shell.

Pictures courtesy of National Geographic