Bugs in the news
Man dies after poisonous beetles ‘snack’
A Thai man has died after eating poisonous insects.Health officials say Pitak Chanchai died on his way to hospital after eating fried fire beetles.They are a popular snack in north-east Thailand, but some are poisonous. Sutai Limtoptasert, a health official in Ubon Ratchathani near Bangkok, warned people not to eat bugs unless they are sure they are edible.
Ananova Story filed: 12:42 Friday 5th October 2001
Snack-hunting man stung to death by wasp swarm
A man has died after being stung by wasps in Thailand while raiding a nest for an afternoon snack.Nor Jaiprom and his friend Somboom Jaiwong went into the forest after work, to look for wasps nests and remove larvae to roast as a snack.The men disturbed a nest and a swarm of angry wasps emerged and attacked them.Mr Jaiprom had found the giant nest in a tamarind tree and poked it with a stick, while Mr Jaiwong shook the tree.The Thai Rath newspaper reports 49-year-old Mr Jaiwong ran away screaming in pain from the stings but his friend was overcome.His bright red and swollen body which had been stung dozens of times was found near the tree.Mr Jaiwong, who is recovering in hospital, said they had collected wasp larvae many times before and the insects usually flew away without attacking.
Ananova Story filed: 09:00 Friday 21st September 2001
Hot cockroach poo ‘can cure babies’ ulcers’
Cockroach poo can cure babies’ mouth ulcers, a Thai doctor claims.Dr Kanvee Viwatpanich has scoured ancient texts and spoken to healers about insect-based remedies.He has been told to heat the poo, and rub it into the sores of new-born babies.Dr Viwatpanich, of the National Institute of Thai Traditional Medicine, thinks cockroaches have the most medicinal potential.”It was very distinctly used in the past, has survived for thousands of years and has some very good properties,” he told the Straits Times.”I have talked to village doctors and they seem to have real confidence in cockroach poo.” Dr Viwatpanich also met monks, who fried a cockroach with seven centipedes and pepper, crushed it with honey, and used it to treat sore throats.In some parts of Thailand insects are even used to make jewellery or children’s flying toys.The group of researchers hope to get funding next year for clinical trials and toxicity tests.
Ananova Story filed: 10:29 Monday 2nd April 2001
BANGKOK, MAY 29, 2001 (Xinhua via COMTEX) — Thailand’s Kasetsart University is going to launch an Ant Museum this Thursday to further promote studies on the tiny creature, the Thai News Agency reported Tuesday.
Asian Bugs in the news
An album of buzzing noises made by insects mixed with elevator music is selling in downtown Hong Kong. I suspect they’d be better off selling it in rural Thailand, where at least it would remind people of their favourite snacks. (Far Eastern Economic Review)
“Insects can do many things that people can’t,” Assistant Professor Isao Shimoyama told a press conference in Tokyo, “such as being able to lift hundreds of times their own weight. The placement of the electrodes is still a very inexact science, but within a few years we’ll have electronically-controlled insects carrying colour mini-cams with surroundsound stereo microphones, and equipped with hi-tech backpacks. The potential applications of this work for mankind could be immense.”
Professor Shimoyama was explaining why the Japanese government had just awarded a $5,000,000 grant to his bio-robot research team at Tokyo University. “We envisage insects crawling through earthquake rubble searching for victims, or being slipped under doors on espionage surveillance, in suspect restaurants for example. At present, we’re experimenting with the American cockroach, Perplanta americana. We remove the wings and antennae, then equip them with tiny microprocessors, and fit pulse-emitting electrodes where the antennae used to be. That way, researchers can control them remotely by sending signals to the backpacks, making them turn left or right, scamper forward, or spring backward. The technology isn’t so difficult. The real problem is understanding what’s happening in the nervous system.”
Raphael Holzer, a Swiss researcher on the team, added: “We breed them by the hundreds in plastic bins, and they are not nice insects. They stink, and there’s something nasty about the way they move their eyes and antennae. But they look nicer when you put a little circuit on their backs, and remove their wings.” (Associated Press, 23/9/01)
Insects thwart Thailand’s AIDS efforts
As part of the general effort to increase condom use the government plans to subsidise the cost of condoms as well as selling them in vending machines. Their sale through vending machines will save shy Thais the embarrassment of a visiting a shop such as a supermarket or drug store, where most shop assistants are women. The government has said that in 2001 they will start selling subsidised condoms at five baht ($11 cents) for a pack of two, compared with the usual price of 20 baht. The subsidised condoms will be sold in public facilities, such as factories, police stations and military barracks, but good spots to install the vending machines will have to be found, as otherwise the condoms will loose their quality or be destroyed by insects.
Aids in Thailand Avert
Thais warned against keeping giant cockroaches as pets
People in Bangkok are being warned against keeping giant African cockroaches as pets in case they become a health risk if let loose. Businessmen are reported to have imported the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach from Africa and are selling them as pets for the equivalent of 77p.The government’s public health minister says their main worry is that the cockroaches breed quickly producing as many as 60 offspring in a 60-day gestation period.They grow up to 6.35 centimetres compared with the 4-centimetre average length of cockroaches found commonly in Thailand.And they can live for up to three years making them very difficult to control if they escape.Sudarat Keyuraphan is urging vendors to stop selling the insects, although their sale is not banned by law.She said: “We shouldn’t be raising them as pets especially because they can thrive on anything, all kinds of foods.”Cockroaches carry bacteria and viruses on their bodies, but it is not proven they transmit disease.When feeding, they walk, spit and defecate on the food. Some people are allergic to the droppings or remains of dead cockroaches.
Ananova Story filed: 10:44 Thursday 22nd August 2002
Villagers urged to cash in on fireflies
Residents of a village in Phetchaburi province renowned for its huge population of fireflies have been told to cash in on the ubiquitous insects by banding together and setting up a group to manage eco-tourism in the area.
Anguan Liewwanit, a senior entomologist from the Thailand Research Fund, said residents of Samaechai village in the Ban Laem district of Phetchaburi should seek to earn extra income by organising trips to observe the fireflies in the natural surroundings of the province’s abundant mangrove forests.
“Most of the villagers are living in poverty,” she said. “They want to earn extra income to support their families, but they don’t know who to manage their natural resources.”
Many tour groups in the area were currently paying local residents a pittance to accompany tourists while observing fireflies on boat trips along the community’s canals, she added.
Ms Anguan urged the villagers to learn more about fireflies and river conservation before venturing into eco-tourism.
Thai woman covered in scorpions for world record attempt
A Thai woman has draped herself with scorpions in an attempt to enter the Guinness Book of World Records.
Kanchana Ketkeaw will aim to spend the next 32 days covered in 3,000 scopions to break a world record.
She began her stunt at Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum in Pattaya, east of Bangkok.
The scorpions are non-venomous and only eat insects.
Of 1,500 species of scorpions worldwide, only about 20 to 25 are regarded as dangerous.
iled: 15:04 Saturday 21st September 2002
|‘I’d do it again’ says a young Thai woman who spent 32 days with over 3000 deadly scorpions and claimed the world record.|
|Feature and photography, Andrew Woodley.
Kanchana Ketkeaw emerged from her tiny glass bedroom and declared she could have continued another 10 days.
“And if my record is ever broken, I’d be prepared to go for 50 days,” added the 30 year old, who beat the existing record by two days.
Just to make the point, she posed with a dozen scorpions, kissing several of them, as they crawled over her.
“I feel fine,” said 42 kilogram, 1.5 metre Ms Kanchana, who had been bitten nine times, on the feet, arms and once on the chin, during the record attempt. Each time she refused medical treatment.
Ms Kanchana performs with scorpions daily as a tourist attraction and was sure stings would not seriously affect her. Experts say that being stung many times during performances has helped build immunity. However, security staff had been with her round-the-clock and a doctor had been on stand-by throughout the record attempt.
The previous record holder, a Malaysian woman, almost gave up last year when she became unconscious after being stung several times.
“With the scorpions, I just have to be careful not to hurt them or frighten them; be careful when they come out at night, and be especially careful with the pregnant ones which are aggressive. However, the most tiring thing is to answer all the questions that people ask over and over again through the door,” said Ms Kanchana, who spent the last half hour of her record attempt, watching television news.
The event was staged at the Royal Garden Plaza shopping mall, in the Pattaya beach resort, south-east of the Thai capital, Bangkok.
The most surprising sting came when early one morning when she failed to notice a scorpion on her shoe, and when she disturbed it, she was stung through her shoe leather. Stings raise red welts with a single puncture wound in the centre, and one or two stings would make most normal people quite ill. Ten or more stings would kill most people, says Ms Kanchana.
On her 12 square metre glass-walled enclosure a notice warns, “These scorpions are poisonous. You can look but don’t touch.” The glass cell contained a bed, television, books, a ‘fridge and screened portable toilet. She has only been able to leave for 15 minutes every eight hours, usually for a shower.
The elephant scorpions, known in Thai as “mang pong chang”, measure about five inches long. They have been fed on scrambled eggs and minced pork, while Ms Kanchana has had her choice of Thai food three times a day, from a nearby food hall.
Notice boards alongside her glass cell contain brickbats as well as best wishes from visitors from as far afield as Norway and South Africa. On the third day of her attempt Ms Kanchana was visited by a member of the Thai royal family.
Ms Kanchana started out with 3000 scorpions, and finished up with an estimated 3400 – extra replacements were added when some died and some had young. After the event the scorpions will be given to the tourist “farm” where Ms Kanchana performs.
Thai man guilty over job selling cooked scorpions atones by breeding them instead
Tuesday, September 8th 2009, 12:27 PM
Scorpions, insects and worms are commonly eaten in Thailand, especially in the northern regions.
But after years of serving up scorpions, Suang Puangsri, a practicing Buddhist, felt it was time to befriend them instead.
“Although I was happy to have money, I felt suffering deep inside as they were being harmed by me,” he told Reuters. “I felt scared that I was committing a sin.”
The 38-year-old has given up the bottom floor of his two-storey home to the scorpions, who scuttle about a 6 meter by 5 meter (19 ft by 16 ft) enclosure decorated with branches and stone so that very little light and heat come in.
Suang buys up to one kg of live cicadas and other inspects daily to feed his pets, who have stung him so many times that he says he is immune to their venom.
He also spends at least an hour every day meditating inside the enclosure, often placing scorpions in his mouth.
Suang’s pets have attracted a few tourists to his sleepy town of Fark Ta in the northern province of Uttaradit, and he now makes a living by selling figurines and stone carvings of ants, frogs, turtles and Buddhas.
Although the $570 he earns a month is a far cry from the $860 he made selling cooked scorpions, he and his family are content.
“I feel good about what is he doing. I didn’t like it when he made the scorpions suffer. I’m not scared of those scorpions, but I don’t dare touch them,” said Suang’s wife, Lampoon Pimtoom.
Suang is so determined to atone for his past sins that he even buys scorpions from other people who want to sell them to restaurants. When the arachnids become too many, he and his son release a few hundred back into the forest.
Suang’s fixation with scorpions is unusual, but not totally unheard of in Thailand.
Earlier this year a Thai woman went into the record books for spending 33 days and nights with 5,000 live scorpions. She also held a 7-inch live scorpion in her mouth for 2 minutes and 3 seconds.
Thailand’s creepy couple to marry
A Thai woman who set a world record by spending 32 days in a cage with 3,400 scorpions is to marry a man who holds a similarly creepy record for centipedes.
The couple will marry on Valentine’s Day and plan to consummate their vows in a coffin, according to a sponsor.
The pair met while performing their respective stunts at a snake farm.
Kanchana Ketkaew’s record was broken in 2004 by a Malaysian woman. Her fiance, Bunthawee Siengwong, set his record by spending 28 days with 1,000 centipedes.
“The couple met and fell in love when they were touring together after winning their records,” according to Somporn Naksuetrong, general manager of Ripley’s World of Entertainment, in Pattaya.
He said the couple planned to have a traditional Thai wedding ceremony, where elders bless the couple with water.
But instead of following Thai tradition and heading to a “wedding room” after exchanging vows, the pair plans to climb into a coffin, he was quoted as saying by the AP agency.
Kanchana Ketkaew, 36, was stung nine times while setting her 2002 record.
“It was like being in a room at home, only with thousands of little friends,” she said at the time.
Giant cockroach craze goes up in smoke
Thai officials have incinerated more than 200 giant African cockroaches after confiscating the banned insects from a pet shop.
Keeping the Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches as pets had become a fad in Bangkok, and they were widely sold for about 75p each.
But they were outlawed last August over fears they could carry germs that cause diarrhoea, lung infections and inflammation of brain membranes.
The insects, which grow up to 2.5 inches long, get their name from the noise they makes during mating rituals.
It is not known how and when the first imports were brought to Thailand from their native Madagascar.
The 218 cockroaches burned were first knocked out with an insecticide.
They were confiscated from a pet shop owner, who was fined the equivalent of £75.
© Associated Press