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Meet Your Creepy But Beautiful Bug Neighbors


With distinctive “blackberry” eyes and darkly iridescent batwingsWith distinctive “blackberry” eyes and darkly iridescent batwings, the male strepsiteran has only hours to live, almost all of it devoted to a bizarre mating ritual. The equally doomed female burrows into a wasp's abdomen, leaving a trail of pheromones for the male to follow. He pierces his mate's body below her head to inseminate her. The resulting larvae feed upon, and ultimately consume, their mother's body from the inside out. This carnage unfolds, unseen, in areas including Mid-Wilshire and Silver Lake. As BioSCAN says, “Nothing says 'love' more than hypodermic insemination.”

BioSCAN, a biological sleuthing effort conducted in the backyards of 30 Los Angeles–area homes, is discovering bizarre new species of elegantly beautiful flies and unearthing exotic insects that go unnoticed here. Some of these creatures consume their own, eat each other's heads, kill their parents, imprison other species and commit other mayhem seemingly borrowed from an episode of Game of Thrones. Luckily, little of the violence is directed at L.A. County's 10.1 million people, who provide these insects with a vast urban playground. BioSCAN is a project of biologists at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. Microscopic photography is courtesy of Kelsey Bailey, a senior political science student at USC minoring in photography and social change, who hopes to become a photographer for National Geographic. -Erin Behan

LA Weekly