At first glance, the creepy-crawlies cataloged in Arthropoda Iconicus seem plausible, even if they’re a little unusual. After all, nature has plenty of strange specimens to study, like beetles with enormous horns, crickets that look like tiny aliens, moths resembling hummingbirds, and jaw-dropping examples of camouflage developed over millions of years of evolution.
But even if you momentarily marvel over a bug that bears a striking resemblance to the Creature of the Black Lagoon or Freddy Krueger, you’ll only have to look at a few more in the series before you see the pattern is impossible to miss.
Take, for instance, the family Timorpersonae:
“Timorpersonae are disparate in outward physical characteristics, but share behavioral traits rarely found in other species. These coleoptera tend to be highly aggressive, and the manner of capturing and consuming their prey is often playful and/or extended and will almost always show agonistic tendencies. Species of the family Timorpersonae have sometimes been observed displaying ritualized behavior when stalking and catching their prey and may sometimes engage in mating displays when feeding and vice versa.”
“Timorpersonae are almost always solitary and have developed hostile adaptive behaviors to counteract intrusion by other species. Being a nocturnal family of species, they nest in the darkest available areas. Their nests are often underground or in the abandoned nests of other species, and it has been noted that several species in the family Timorpersonae seem to decorate their nests with the empty husks of their prey.”
With names like Necuratu transylvestris and Daemonius sanctimonialis, these imaginary insects translate horror icons into arthropods of all kinds. Frankenstein’s monster, Stephen King’s It (as played by both Bill Skarskgaard and Tim Curry), and Dracula are displayed alongside villains like King Kong and the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park.
Timorpersonae is just the latest such series of pop culture bugs dreamed into creation by UK-based illustrator Richard Wilkinson, whose work has previously featured characters from all kinds of films and shows, including “Astromachinae”, and “Insanusmelodiae,” which you might recognize as Looney Tunes greats like Bugs Bunny, Tweety Bird, Porky Pig, and Wile E. Coyote. Still, some are more obscure than others. Star Wars fans might have fun trying to identify them all. It also helps to squint.
“A recognizable and perhaps most peculiar aspect of the Insanusmelodiae’s behavior is their clumsiness. They often meet their end under a falling stone or twig, or after falling from a long drop. Their wings, also vestigial, can produce enough uplift to keep them in the air for a moment or two before they fall.”
Wilkinson says the series was born “out of a fascination with collecting, cataloging, and classifying,” merging an activity most often associated with the natural world with the pursuits of modern life, like video games, comics, and films.
You can purchase individual prints to develop a collection of your own at the artist’s shop and keep up with his latest creations on Instagram.The close-up shots there are particularly worth looking at just how much detail goes into each illustration.