Will you pick “Sweetness” or “The Gollywhopper?” “The Hammer” or “Stretch?” Those are all nicknames for some ugly insects. And by choosing, you’ll help Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University crown the ugliest insect in the world. Now in its second year online, the contest pits ten unattractive insects against one another.
Amazing up-close mugshots come with informational tidbits like “sucks plant juices” and “stings can be fatal.” The Ugly Bug contest is hosted by A.S.U.’s “Ask A Biologist” program, which attempts to get the university’s science out into the world. But not so far that you’d need an exterminator.
The roundup of rogues includes an ant that snags prey by leaping into the air and leaf-footed bugs that secrete nasty juices to ward off predators. In 2008, the lowly tick won by a landslide. This year it appears that “Stretch” the snakefly is running away with the competition. But polls are open until December 15th and nothing is final until all the votes are in. Memo to the snakefly—don’t count your larvae til they’ve metamorphosized.
To cast your vote for the ugliest insect, go to askabiologist.asu.edu/uglybugs
[The above text is an exact transcript of the audio in the podcast.]