Bugging out over Halloween

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by Raymond Nakamura & Lisa Willemse

Multimedia subject editors

Raymond: Now that the masquerade known as the federal election is over, we can get ready for the important things, like Halloween. My 11-year-old has decided to go as a carrot, which I don’t get at all. I told her she should at least say she’s Olaf’s nose in summer (for Frozen fans). I need some inspiration for my own costume. Maybe we can turn to Science Borealis for ideas. What do you say?


Original cartoon by Raymond Nakamura.

Lisa: I couldn’t agree more. My daughter is going as a popcorn machine. Not even remotely scary unless it’s covered with butter and you’re lactose intolerant. But science gives us so many wild, freaky, slimy, and horrifying things to emulate at Halloween. Take, for example, this post from a blog I just discovered in the feed called Ancient Shores – Seal Cove beach has some pretty impressive mats of washed-up seaweed that would make Medusa green with envy.

R: In case you want to enhance the verisimilitude of a Medusa outfit, Ibycter has a nice snake picture. That post has a variety of costume ideas, including a beetle to go with your juice, some classic spiders, and ant larvae for those going for a minimalist look.

L: There are endless possibilities for costume ideas from insects. For example, how about this new species that was featured on Dirk Steinke’s One Species a Day blog – it’s got some serious Marvel superhero potential. Or this warty leaf beetle larvae that uses fecal waste to create a protective shell – though that might be a bit messy for Halloween…

R: I’ll sidestep the fecal waste idea, but speaking of superheroes, I think this bee on Ibycter again with the green top and yellow and black bottom would look great. I don’t know why more people don’t go as insects. I once went as a Japanese Bell Cricket.

L: Those bees are beautiful! Our daughters would probably love the iridescence of insects for their costume. Or they could go bioluminescent like the recently documented sea turtle that was mentioned on the Frogheart blog. But if I was going to dive into the sea of Halloween costume possibilities, I might go for something deeper and darker, like the sea cucumber filmed by Ocean Networks Canada. Kinda looks like a fat eel with a mustache, don’t you think?

R: The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles should be bioluminescent. And Frogheart has some Halloweenish connotations itself. But that fat eel with a mustache was something. I never imagined a swimming sea cucumber. Speaking of echinoderm costumes, I once went to a party as an ochre sea star and someone thought I was a cooked lobster.

Maybe it’s better not to be too obscure and go for something more recognizable, like Matt Damon as an astronaut in the Martian.

L: My son went as a plate of Mac & Cheese one year and won a costume prize for it. We saved toilet paper rolls for months. But there’s not much science in that costume, unless you try to break down the chemical composition of that mysterious orange powder.

Alas, as illuminating as this discussion was, I’m still undecided. Maybe I’ll put this out to our readers to tweet their science-themed costume ideas to @ScienceBorealis #Halloween!

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