When I was trawling through the internet for some taxonomy fails to feature I came across some in the flickr stream of bug girl (from bug girl’s blog) – specifically these cases where an incorrect insect was used to illustrate an article on the insectoid origins of carmine, a common dye that can be used in foods (the article made mistakes beyond just the wrong picture – read at bug girl).
At the time I decided not to run them on the blog. I mean identifying insects is tough work. They are the most diverse group of animals on the planet. I got a migraine trying to wrap my head around the 50-70 marsupials of Dasyuridae which fit into the category “oversexed hoppy rat-like thing which may or may not have a pouch” – differentiating 1,000s of species, when your samples are usually smaller than your fingers – that’s hardcore. So, in my ignorance I was willing to forgive a news editor who uses a relatively unknown insect to represent another relatively unknown insect*.
Scientific American is slightly less easier to forgive when they use the same beetle with the incorrect story. It then gets a little bit crazier as editors decide to use their own stock imagery – any old insect will do, even a freaking ladybug.
This is not a once off. Bug girl highlights another capture of “bugs are bugs” in which stinkbugs are used to represent bed bugs (though, while they may only drink plant sap, I still would not want the former in my hotel room).
Or there is this epic taxonomy fail Alex Wild at myrmecos blog spotted on iStock Photo – either that or someone mutated a Drosophila a bit too much.
And to leave you with a picture to round things off:
see more Fail Blog
*Before entomologists send me hate mail – after my scale insect mimic identification, I now kow how different a carmine scale insect differs from the beetle pictured, so I can understand your frustation better. But hey, whatever, they’re still just bugs. Hate mail can be directed to zayzayem [at] hotmail [dot] com.