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Podcast Episode 15B: Entomologist On Scary Bugs And Sci-Fi

Dr. Michael Wall says Hollywood sci-fi horror has nothing on nature

The 1954 movie

Credit: Warner Brothers

Above: The 1954 movie "Them!" is a classic example of how Hollywood uses science to create a fictional horror story about radiation causing giant ants to evolve and threaten humanity.

To follow up on my review of "Stung," here's an archive interview with TheNAT's curator of entomology Dr. Michael Wall talking about science fiction films and the real life horrors of the insect world.


Horror and science fiction frequently turn to bugs and the insect world to scare people and this podcast features theNAT's entomologist Dr. Michael Wall talking about the interplay of science and pop culture.

From 50s sci-fi like "Tarantula" to "Them!" to more recent films like "Night of the Creeps" and "Slither," Hollywood has been giving us not just giant bugs but stories about parasitic creatures that can enter your body and control your mind... even after your dead! But none of those scenarios surprise Dr. Michael Wall.

"Science fiction writers might have thought they came up with an original idea but insects did it first."

If I wanted to write a scary movie, I’d consult with Wall, Curator of Entomology at the San Diego Natural History Museum, also known as TheNat.

"So the Alien movies, that’s straight out of the world of insects."

A classic case of parasitic behavior. And it’s those kind of interactions that got Wall hooked on bugs and eventually landed him a job at the TheNAT.

So from tiny, terrifying parasites to inspiring innovators, the insect world serves up far more than the annoying pests we might see in our kitchen. It’s a world of wonder that Wall and the museum hope to open up for everyone to appreciate.

Check out the entomology department at TheNAT. This podcast is dedicated to bugs in the real world and how they influence science fiction and horror films, and Wall is the perfect guide to navigate between the science and pop culture worlds.


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Beth Accomando
Arts & Culture Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover arts and culture, from Comic-Con to opera, from pop entertainment to fine art, from zombies to Shakespeare. I am interested in going behind the scenes to explore the creative process; seeing how pop culture reflects social issues; and providing a context for art and entertainment.

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