Parasitism: The Highest Compliment - Xavier Moss
United States of America
Parasitism: The Highest Compliment
Cuckoo Wasp (Holopyga generosa), Red-Billed Oxpecker (Buphagus erythrorhynchus), and European Dodder (Cuscuta europaea)
Parasitism. A word that when spoken, brings images of abnormally long tape-worms, blood-feeding ticks, and a whole host of other unpleasant creatures to mind. But what exactly is this horrific lifestyle that has been greatly exaggerated to make more than a few B-horror films? Parasitism is defined as a non-mutual symbiotic relationship between species, where one species – the parasite – benefits at the expense of the other – the host. I wouldn't say that this group of organisms is grossly misunderstood, but I would say that society encourages us to focus on rebuking them for their inherently evil and repulsive nature. But are they evil themselves or have we subconsciously made them avatars for our own shortcomings? In Parasitism: The Highest Compliment, I endeavor to beautify these parasites. Specifically, this piece is meant to serve as a sampling of the biodiversity amongst parasites – plants (Cuscuta europaea), vertebrates (Buphagus erythrorhynchus), and invertebrates (Holopyga generosa) are all extremely different organisms, yet a thread of commonality exists in that all are parasites. By taking these nauseating organisms and creating a piece that glamorizes them, I hope to extend an unconventional invitation to society to join me in exploring the darkest corners of the natural world.
Pen and Ink
As the author of illustration I have given permission and consent to be loaded in Wikimedia Commons with Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0.