Stinking insect dubbed ‘Hitler Bug’ after resemblance to Nazi dictator

A foul-smelling insect has been dubbed the “Hitler Bug” thanks to its freaky resemblance to Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler. The “man-faced stink bug”, Catacanthus incarnatus, is a pest that is native to India and south-east Asia and devours various cashew, corn, cotton, fruit and soybean crops. And on its back — which are either coloured cream, orange, red or yellow — the creepy-crawly sports a pattern which, when viewed from a certain angle, looks like a severe man’s face.

The man-faced stink bug’s new moniker appears to be part of a wider trend in India to give nicknames to insects based on their human lookalikes.

According to the New Indian Express, “The trend of naming the bugs after popular personalities started recently, when Catacanthus incarnatus was named ‘Hitler’, as it resembles the face of the German dictator.”

The aim, they added, is “to create interest in research students by making the study of bugs easier for identification.”

Other species, for example, have been compared to Bollywood icons like Amrish Puri and Avtar Kishan Hangal.

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C. incarnatus — which is a very common species — was first discovered by the British entomologist Dru Drury back in the year 1773.

According to experts, the pattern on the bug’s carapace likely evolved because it helped to draw attention away from the insect’s vulnerable head.

The bright colouration, meanwhile, helps to deter would-be predators by suggesting that the insects are poisonous or foul-tasting.

Zoologist Professor Sadashiv Waghmare of India’s North Maharashtra University says that the man-faced stink bug’s most important defense mechanism is its odour.

He explained: “It secretes odour smells through its stink gland, which is located on its metathorax, for protection from enemies.”

Wildlife enthusiasts have met the new comparison to Hitler with somewhat mixed reactions.

Photographer Michael Lässle — who has seen the insect in Langkawi, Malaysia, said: “Arthropods don’t need Hitler!

“I guess there is some resemblance to a stylised Hitler, as there is with the Napoleon spider and Napoleon.

“But different people might see different things in nature, and I therefore prefer ‘man-faced stink bug’ as a nickname.

“If I were the bug, I would certainly not like to be compared with Hitler.”

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Fellow photographer David Ong — who has photographed C. incarnatus in the rainforest near Kuala Lumpur — thinks that Elvis might be a better comparison, but said that he doesn’t mind the “Hitler bug” nickname.

He said: “It is fine as it is only a common name — it’s more accurate to use the scientific name.

“We called it man-faced without referring to any particular person.”

Additional reporting by Michael Havis.

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