Sunday, January 15, 2017

Bugs that stare back

There’s a new man in town, at the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium of New Orleans. The man-faced stink bugs, otherwise known as Catacanthus incarnates, will have visitors doing a double-take. Their colorful patterns resemble a human face.

"We are excited to have these large and beautiful stink bugs – there’s a phrase you don’t hear every day – to show our guests," said Zack Lemann, Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium’s Curator of Animal Programs. "Only a few zoos or museums in the U.S. have ever imported man-faced bugs up until now."

Man-faced bug nymph "babies" were born from eggs on Dec. 22, 2016, followed by an even larger set on Jan. 3 this year. Man-faced bugs have never been successfully raised in human care, and Audubon is hoping to be the first to do so. 

"It's a huge testament to the expertise of Audubon's entomologists that we could be the first in the world to rear such an incredible insect," said Ron Forman, Audubon Nature Institute president and CEO. "We hope these rare bugs will act as remarkable ambassador animals to educate our visitors about the diversity of wildlife and the importance of protecting it."

Man-faced bugs range from India east into most of southeast Asia. They are akin to large stink bugs and come in four different colors: red, orange, yellow, and cream. Man-faced bugs produce foul odors for defense like other stink bugs. Also, the bold colors are likely a defense mechanism, warning predators that it is bad-tasting or poisonous.

Wanna see more? Check out this cool video.

Note: Most of the information for this post was derived from an Audubon Institute press release.

Cheré Dastugue Coen is a food and travel writer living in South Louisiana who is the author of several Louisiana romances under the pen name of Cherie Claire and the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at

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