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Archive for the ‘Nasty Animals’ Category

[Via io9] This is a picture of an ant stinging a centipede. The stinger isn’t just randomly inserted into the centipede’s head. These ants are specialist predators of centipedes, and its venom paralyzes the centipede’s brain. The ant will then drag the centipede back to its nest where ant larvae can eat it.

I can’t help but be reminded of my young-earth-creationist upbringing; which taught that everything on earth was created “good” by God 6,000 years ago. There was no death and no predators; animals simply adapted to predatory roles after Adam sinned. As for the existence of venom – I don’t remember that ever being discussed.

One other thing to notice about the picture is how much the ants look like wasps. I’d read in the past that ants were evolutionarily closely related to wasps. These ants look an awful lot like wasps without wings.

To see a few more pictures of ants and other bugs, go here.

And if you’re not too squeamish:

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Over the past month, I’ve had the unfortunate experience of discovering what bedbugs are like. These little bugs hide near your mattress and come out at night to suck your blood. They look a little like ticks (but they aren’t closely related to ticks at all). They have a hypodermic-needle like proboscis, and when they suck your blood, they inject their saliva into your body. Their saliva contains both anticoagulants (to keep your blood flowing) and anesthetics (so you don’t realize you’re being bitten). Within a few hours, those bites develop into itchy red welts. You want to scratch at them so badly, but if you do, they become even more itchy. Those bites persist for around a week. To make matters worse, the bedbugs tend to bite, move a few inches, and then repeat. So, you end up with three or four bites in one night from a single bedbug. And, if the bites weren’t bad enough, you have this anxiety about falling asleep, and think that any tiny movement on your skin might be a bedbug. Even on nights where I wasn’t bitten at all, I’d wake up tired because I would wake-up during the night and have trouble falling back to sleep for fear of getting new painful bites. And, because the itchy bites persist for around a week, I sometimes wake myself up at night while I scratch old bites.

Once you have a breeding pair of bedbugs, they multiply like rabbits – essentially, turning your own blood into painful parasites who feed on you. They’ve also been evolving a resistance to pesticides, and can survive (dormant) for 18 months without feeding.

They are evil, vile little creatures.

Fortunately, I might have only a single bedbug. I caught one a few days ago, and the bite patterns seem to indicate that I only had a single bedbug. It’s amazing how much pain and sleeplessness a single bedbug can inflict. I feel really bad for anyone who has a bedbug infestation. I can’t imagine how awful it would be to have a colony of them. (Coincidentally enough, a few weeks ago, This American Life had a segment where they talked to a woman who has an infestation of bedbugs. She’s too poor to move away, and too poor to actually do anything about it. An mp3 is available here.)

There are a lot of things about the world that indicate that earth is not the product of a benevolent, loving creator. And this is one of them. Personally, I think anyone who believes the ‘loving god’ hypothesis is practicing selective vision. And the characteristics of bedbugs (including anticoagulants and anesthetics) would – according to Intelligent Design advocates – require the intentional creation of a ‘designer’ – aka the loving, benevolent God of the Bible. The bug’s method of reproduction – “traumatic insemination” – which involves the male punching a hole in the carapace of the female, causing severe trauma while inseminating her – sound like something a demon would invent. But, hey, what do I know? Behe already admitted that malaria was invented by God, so why not this? If Intelligent Design was the correct explanation for life, then I think the Christians, Jews, and Muslims will have to admit that the God in their holy books isn’t the one who actually exists.

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I’ve attached a picture of the bedbug I caught. It’s about a half a centimeter long, and still alive inside a plastic bag. I’m keeping it for the exterminator, but really hate the vile creature. The picture in the upper right shows a bedbug in approximate ‘real life’ size.

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