What is this?

I’d like your help with figuring out what the objects in these pictures are, because I am puzzled by them.

inflated ball thing in train station
What is this inflated ball thing? Taken in 30th Street Station in Philly, while waiting for the R3 back to Swarthmore.
weird circles on the ground
What are these circles on the ground? This was taken out of the window of my plane from San Francisco to Newark as we flew over the midwest.
annoying bathroom moths
What is this insect? Taken in Mertz 2nd South’s men’s room.

If you can explain to me what any these things are, you win a hug! Or a Gmail account, or any token prize you might find useful.

16 thoughts on “What is this?

    • It’s a flyswatter that looks something like a tennis racket… when you push the button, electric current runs through the “racket”, frying any insect unfortunate enough to come into contact with the metal mesh. This means that you don’t have to squish your insects, you just have to touch them with the racket, which is easier if you’re trying to catch them in the air, and less messy. It’s also non-lethal for larger insects such as horseflies; if you only touch them briefly it merely stuns them, which means you can either dump them outside or squish them when they’re helpless. Smaller insects, such as mosquitos, die on contact.

        • electric flyswatters

          I’m in China right now, home of millions of electric fly swatters — am actually talking with people who are interested in getting them exported to the U.S. (need to find U.S. distributor). As a marketing question, have you been able to find these items in the U.S. (and if so where and at what price)? Secondly, would you be intersted in them? They’re fun and a good way to kill flying insects (esp. mosquitos)

  1. The inflated balls, I’m pretty sure, are meant to frighten pigeons by looking like giant menacing things with eyes and tails. Notice the resemblance to owls? They don’t work very well, though.

  2. I believe that your third image is a moth fly, also known as a drain fly or sewer fly. They hang out a lot in bathrooms, breeding in clogged or sluggish drains and feeding on the slime and fungus and crap in there. They are, as you note, really friggin’ nasty looking, though unlikely to actually transmit disease (any more than the other vectors of transmission you get in a dirty bathroom). They’re actually flies, not moths — their name comes from the fact that they have those big nasty wings.

    • Good sleuthing, Arthur! I just figured that out myself after naively googling “bathroom moth” and actually getting relevant hits. I bet you they’re coming from the shower stall with the clogged drain that makes the hallway all wet and nasty. Disconnecting the 3rd shower didn’t fix the problem, because the overflow from the 2nd shower still leaves plenty of standing water in the 3rd stall. Combined with the (still disconnected) smoking stove, I am rather unhappy with the way that this dorm is being maintained.

      • Ugh, is that thing *still* clogged up? What’s making it so difficult to just unclog the damn thing? Granted, it probably won’t actually get rid of the moths — like mice, when a colony of them settles someplace they’re unlikely to actually leave until they starve or are exterminated, hence why an ounce of prevention is worth several pounds of toxic pesticides — but it would help with a lot of other things, like having more than 2 shower stalls available on Men’s 2nd South, not having scary amounts of stagnant water, mildew and general dampness and dinginess in the area, and so on.

        I’m thinking (hoping) New Dorm will be cleaner and sparklier. It *is* still the New Dorm, after all.

    • I actually didn’t, and I still don’t know for sure about the owl ball or the irrigation circles. I’d like to see some links to actual products which would produce those circles or actual companies that sell those owl balls.

      After I made the post, I decided that I was being lazy and attempted to google the bathroom moths, and surprisingly enough turned up what they were, just as Arthur posted his comment.

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