Category:
Insects and Spiders

Follies of the Madmen #594

Squished passenger and allusion to an insect's posterior: winning strategy?

Posted By: Paul - Tue Apr 30, 2024 - Comments (1)
Category: Insects and Spiders, Mental and Physical Unease and Discomfort, Advertising, 1960s, Cars

Stocking-Repairing Beetle

The "Aprilscherz" (April Fool) of an unnamed German magazine, as reported in Life (Apr 4, 1938):





Posted By: Alex - Mon Apr 01, 2024 - Comments (1)
Category: Holidays, Insects and Spiders, 1930s

The Princess Who Was Murdered by a Moth

The story goes that Princess Caravella of Italy was found dead in her bed, shot through the heart. Her husband was accused of her murder, but during the trial a police investigator convinced the jury that the Princess had actually been killed by a moth that singed its wings on a candle in her room, then fell onto a pistol lying on her bedside table, thereby causing the weapon to fire, shooting her through the heart.

I doubt any part of this story is true. After all, I can't find any historical references to a "Princess Caravella" other than the ones about her strange death. But the story was printed repeatedly in newspapers during the first half of the twentieth, always presented as an odd but true tale.

The earliest account of the story I can find dates to 1895, where it was credited to the New York World. I assume a reporter for the New York World made it up.

Chicago Chronicle - Dec 29, 1895


Here's a slightly shorter version of the story from 1937.

Tunkhannock New Age - Feb 18, 1937


I can't find the story in papers after the 1940s, but it did continue to pop up in books about odd trivia and weird deaths. For instance, below is a version that appeared in the 1985 weird-news book Own Goals by Graham Jones. Note that Jones identified Princess Caravella only as an "Italian wife," making the story seem more contemporary.

Posted By: Alex - Thu Mar 14, 2024 - Comments (2)
Category: Death, Insects and Spiders, Nineteenth Century

Anting

A strange behavior engaged in by birds. From wikipedia:

Anting is a maintenance behavior during which birds rub insects, usually ants, on their feathers and skin. The bird may pick up the insects in its bill and rub them on the body (active anting), or the bird may lie in an area of high density of the insects and perform dust bathing-like movements (passive anting).

Posted By: Alex - Sat Jan 27, 2024 - Comments (6)
Category: Animals, Insects and Spiders

Ill-Treating Prawns

We've previously posted about a British case involving cruelty to goldfish. Here the British courts took up the question of whether it's possible to be cruel to prawns (aka shrimp), but dropped the case when it decided that prawns were insects and so not covered by anti-cruelty laws. They're actually crustaceans, but close enough I guess.

Feb 28, 1974 - Minneapolis Star

Posted By: Alex - Mon Sep 25, 2023 - Comments (2)
Category: Insects and Spiders, Law, Sadism, Cruelty, Punishment, and Torture, United Kingdom

Hitler Species

There are two species of insects named after Hitler. The mystery, however, might be why more creatures weren't named after Hitler by German scientists during the 1930s, as a way to curry favor with him. The answer, surprisingly, seems to be that requests were made, but Hitler would always ask for his name not to be used. (The insect researchers never asked for his permission). Text from The Art of Naming by Michael Ohl (2018 translation):

In 1933, German coleopterist and civil engineer Oscar Scheibel, residing in Ljubjana, Slovenia, then part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, purchased from a Slovenian biologist several specimens of an unknown beetle that had been found in the caves near the city of Celje. In 1937, Scheibel published in Entomologische Blätter a description of a light-brown ground beetle a mere five millimeters long under the name Anophthalmus hitleri. After the war, Scheibel is supposed to have claimed that naming the beetle in honor of Hitler had been a subversive act: after all, this was an unlovely species of brown, blind cave beetle that lived hidden from view. This defense must be squared with the original description, the final sentence of which reads, "Dedicated to Reich Chancellor Adolf Hitler, as an expression of my reverence." No official response from the Reich Chancellery was documented in this case.

To date, Anophthalmus hitleri has been found in but a handful of caves in Slovenia. Particularly after the media discovered and circulated the Hitler beetle story in 2000, interest in this species has been rekindled. A well-preserved specimen of Anophthalmus hitleri can fetch upward of 2,000 euros on the collectors' market; among the bidders, certainly some wish to add the Hitler beetle to their collection of Nazi memorabilia. . .

At least one other species has been named after Adolf Hitler: the fossil Roechlingia hitleri, which belongs to the Palaeodictyoptera, a group of primitive fossil insects. Roechlingia hitleri was described in 1934 by German geologist and paleontologist Paul Guthörl. . .

Extensive research has failed to turn up any other species named in honor of Hitler. This seems surprising, as this form of salute could have proven quite expedient to aspiring German scientists from about 1933 until 1945, at the latest...

The likeliest explanation is that when Hitler patronyms were planned, approval was sought in advance from the Führer (by way of the Reich Chancellery), whether out of respect or perhaps fear of potential consequences. In 1933, for instance, a rose breeder submitted a written request to the Reich Chancellery for permission to introduce to the international market one of his best rose varieties, bearing Hitler's name. Similarly, a nursery owner from Schleswig-Holstein hoped to name a "prized strawberry variety" the "Hitler strawberry," in honor of the Reich Chancellor. They already had a "Hindenburg" strawberry variety in their catalog, he added. In reply to both cases, Hans Heinrich Lammers, Chief of the Reich Chancellery, sent almost identical letters, in which the inquiring parties were informed that, "upon careful consideration, [the reich Chancellor] requests that a name in his honor most kindly not be used." . . .

Perhaps this fundamental rejection of honorary names is the reason that so few hitleris exist.

Anophthalmus hitleri
source: Wikipedia

Posted By: Alex - Fri Sep 01, 2023 - Comments (1)
Category: Dictators, Tyrants and Other Harsh Rulers, Insects and Spiders, Odd Names, Science

M&M Honey

I read this story upon its appearance, and for some reason it recently returned to the forefront of my mind. It seems that someone would have subsequently produced this intentionally.

When I was in Sicily, I got to sample the light-green pistachio honey produced there.



NBC video report here.

Whole article and more pics here.




Posted By: Paul - Thu Jul 20, 2023 - Comments (2)
Category: Food, Insects and Spiders, Europe, Twenty-first Century

Tortured by Ants

This isn't a type of crime one hears about very often:

they tied the two youths to the trunk of an ant-infested tree and said, "These ants can eat you to the bone within a few hours." . . .
the boys were strapped to the tree for more than an hour, suffering the painful bites of thousands of ants.

On this subject, the Fossil Hunters site has an interesting article about forms of insect torture throughout history, including the gruesome ancient Persian practice of "scaphism," and the "Bug Pit" of Nasrullah Bahadur-Khan.

Alexandria Daily Town Talk - Aug 8, 1978

Posted By: Alex - Mon May 15, 2023 - Comments (1)
Category: Insects and Spiders, Torture, Sadism, Cruelty, Punishment, and Torture, 1970s

Using gnats to predict the weather

[Harry Boon] says that he can always tell what the weather outlook is going to be by watching the gnats and the birds. When the swallows fly low to catch the gnats, it means a heavy atmosphere and that rain is on the way. When the swallows fly high for the gnats, according to Harry, then the sun will shine all day. . .

Birds, insects, and reptiles provide a host of minor prophets, most of them with a gloomy message to proclaim. The noisy quacking of ducks and geese, the croaking of frogs, the loud singing of the missel-thrush, and the crawling of the toad across the road at dusk are one and all harbingers of rain.

The spider is the most interesting barometer. She prepares for wind by shortening the main filaments of her web. When these are unusually long, fine weather may be expected to last for 10 or 12 days. Very rarely is the web left alone for more than 24 hours. Complete cessation of work is said to be a sign of wet, but if activities are resumed during the rain it is an indication that the shower will not last long and will be followed by a spell of settled weather.

Nottingham Evening Post - July 23, 1956
click to enlarge

Posted By: Alex - Thu Feb 16, 2023 - Comments (3)
Category: Insects and Spiders, Weather

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