Best job ever

Holly’s post about woolly bears reminded me of something that I can’t believe I haven’t made an entry about yet.

You’ve been great sports in putting up with my bug-related posts, so you might be glad to know that I’m not entirely insane; Bugs are my job here at Wesleyan. I work in Professor Michael Singer’s lab, and sometimes I putter around doing whatever needs to be done, like washing glassware, data entry, labelling specimens, and so on.

Mounted specimens ready for labeling

Trays and trays of caterpillars

However, my main task is rearing Grammia caterpillars. Think woolly bears, but meaner. As you can probably tell, this is something like my perfect job.

The terrifying Grammia caterpillar, and the adult moth emerging from its pupae

A male Grammia sitting on my fuzzy hat

Mike Singer is kind of a badass. For instance, he was in South America or something once, and made friends with some botflies. Four of them, in fact. For those of you unaquainted with this charming insect–This is the human botfly, Dermatobia hominis.

This is its larvae:

It lives inside you. Eating you. For eight weeks. After which the adult flies burrows out of your skin and flies away.

Anyways, as I was saying, Mike had four of these guys living in his body. Or should I say, he reared four botfly babies in his body. And took pictures throughout the entire thing. For those of you who are interested, he’s telling his botfly infestation story in his BIOL261: Ecology course on October 19th. Bring popcorn.