In a world of 7 billion people, we are vastly outnumbered by arthropods. Occupying every niche in our world, from the the bottom of the ocean to the freezing arctic, there is no denying the proliferation and success of these organisms.
A major hurdle that arthropods must overcome is how they are perceived by the public. A very small percentage of arthropods on a global scale pose a serious threat to humans. Many major news outlets use insects as a prop to pump up the 'freaky factor' and sell their information in the sensational, sexualised way, typical of today's media culture. Does anyone remember all the fear-mongering 'false widow' stories in the news this past autumn?
Sara Mapelli - the artist featured in this story, uses honeybees as a 'living blouse', and dances with thousands of bees covering her body. She uses her art to represent the connection between human and nature, and as a platform to share her passion for the conservation of bees; a group of insects suffering from severe global declines caused by a variety of anthropogenic causes.
This story frames Mapelli's work using adjectives including 'stomach-turning', emphasizing 'naked' in the headline. Props to the Daily Mail for eventually mentioning several pieces of information about the decline of bees, but I'm left wondering if selling this story as 'freaky', or 'sexy', is doing anything to help the work of Mapelli, the perception of insects in the media, or more importantly the global decline of bees.
Stomach-churning photographs show a woman with 12,000 bees crawling on her naked chest. But not to fear, this is something 44-year-old Sara Mapelli likes to do on a regular basis. The self-proclaimed 'Bee Queen' from Oregon let photographer Holly Wilmeth capture her indulging in her quirky passion, with the close-up shots set to make the hardiest viewer wince. In the images Ms Mapelli is seen calmly wandering around outdoors, with thousands of hairy-bodied insects covering her torso up to her neck, in turn creating a 'natural blouse'.