The ugliest insect in the world?

For anyone who missed it, the blobfish has, apparently, been voted the ugliest animal in the world. I can’t work out whether I’m frustrated or relieved that this accolade didn’t go to an insect.

There are plenty of contenders. In Extreme Insects, I put forward the caterpillar of the lobster moth, Stauropus fagi, for this title. Imagined, by the ancients, as being half scorpion, half spider, it presents a truly gothic appearance. This, of course, is part of its defence against predators. It doesn’t look like an edible morsel. It doesn’t look like anything, actually.

Lobster moth caterpillar. Ugly.

Lobster moth caterpillar. Ugly.

But then marine biologist Maya Plass helpfully pointed out that, in her opinion, head lice could have out-done the blobfish:

“Nits are as close to ugly as I can imagine…Although [I’m] still impressed at their ability to cling to hair with their evil little limbs.”

16. Hooke

Yuck. Even in Hooke’s Micrographia, 1665.

She’s right, of course. ‘Cadaverous ashy-white’ is the best description of a head louse that I can find, from Denny’s Monographia Anoplurum Britanniae, published in 1842.

Maybe I should make a real push and get the head louse nominated next year.

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