Who doesn't love parasites?! They outnumber non-parasitic organisms by both species diversity and sheer volume, running our entire planet behind the scenes whether we like it or not! This will be a set of three glow in the dark enamel pins based on three of the most famous and charismatic of parasitic organisms, including:
(all images via wikimedia commons!)
CORDYCEPS: one of several genera of entomopathogenic fungi - "mushrooms" that consume insects and arachnids from within! These fungi are most famous for manipulating the behavior of their hosts before they die, and it was once believed that they achieved this by invading the brain.
We now know that this isn't the case at all. In fact, cordyceps fungi tend to leave their victim's brain completely alone! Instead, the fungus affects the muscular system alone, moving the conscious victim's body against its will! Aren't you glad that's something that exists, for real!?
CYMOTHOA: a genus of isopod crustaceans sometimes called "tongue biters" or "tongue lice," one of the first parasites ever recognized to functionally replace a body part of their host! Once situated in the mouth of a fish, the arthropod causes the host's tongue to atrophy away. Anchoring itself to the floor of the mouth, the living parasite can actually be used by the fish as a replacement tongue to manipulate food!
Less famous are this parasite's interesting mating habits; the one actually serving as a tongue always matures into a female, while any that arrive later will mature into males and hang out in the host's gills, crawling up into the mouth when they want to mate. If the female dies, the first male to take her spot as a tongue will change sex and become the new matriarch!
And finally, LEUCOCHLORIDIUM: this genus of flatworms - related to tapeworms, flukes and planarians! - uses bird droppings to spread its eggs, which are then consumed by the amber snail. In its snail host, the parasite produces large, swollen, pulsating "brood sacs" that transform the snail's eyestalks into what resemble squirming maggots, an appetizing lure for the next bird host!
And because the parasite "blinds" the snail, it will unknowingly crawl about in broad daylight where birds are even more likely to spot the bait. See a nice, narrated video of these cuties here!
All three of our parasites will GLOW IN THE DARK, so you can see them more clearly while they watch you sleep at night!
$1,600 STRETCH GOAL: SACCULINA!
For an additional $400 we can add a fourth design! Genus SACCULINA is an example of the RHIZOCEPHALANS (basically meaning "root heads!"), a group of bizarre barnacles that parasitize their own fellow crustaceans, crabs!
A larval rhizopcephalan will shed almost its entire body when it locates a host, injecting a tiny blob of cells into the crab which soon grow "roots" throughout the crab's entire body. A fat, fleshy sac, the externa, is the only indication of the barnacle's presence, and is cared for by the crab as if it were a sac of its own eggs! If the crab is male, in fact, the parasite will alter its body and behavior to behave like an egg-carrying mother crab, even shaking its body to help the parasite's larvae scatter in the water!!!
This pin, as you can see, will be an X-ray view of the infested crab, and the yellow tissues of the barnacle will all glow!
$2,000 STRETCH GOAL: BLOOD FLUKES!
If we hit $2000, we'll expand to FIVE designs by adding our first parasite of humans! Microscopic blood flukes hang out in the human blood stream and cause very little harm on their own, but their millions of spiny eggs can cause torturous sickness as they drive our immune response haywire!
As dangerous as they are, though, these parasites have a sweet side: the threadlike female is held tightly in the canoe-shaped body of the larger male, mating for their entire lives as a monogamous couple, and if the two are separated they will immediately swim in search of one another again.
At least...that's how it usually goes, though it's quite common for blood flukes to end up forming threesomes (or more!), sometimes pair up permanently with the same sex, and sometimes split back up for reasons we aren't even certain! It seems even microscopic worms living in our blood can experience all the complexities of romance.
All pins will be of the same size and quality as my past pin projects, with rubber two rubber backings each!
If you select two and three pin rewards, you may also choose from existing pins in my etsy!
WHERE DOES THE MONEY GO???
Each pin costs between $250 and $300 dollars to produce as a run of 100, each sticker costs $1 to print, each t-shirt about $20 to print and ship, and each pin order an additional $1-$3 to ship depending on weight and location!
I don't have a "day job," so I set our minimum goal here to allow me a profit of around 10%, which will more than likely go into a month's worth of food and gas. Stretch goals are a little higher, because the more orders we get the more time we'll need to set aside for filling all those packages up!
Risks and challenges
None! If it's funded, it should pan out fine!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (25 days)