Monday, 16 February 2015

Phyllium from the American Agriculturist

American Agriculturist, June 1887 pg 227

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Phasmid infestations reported in American Agriculturist (1887)

While doing some research on phasmids as forest defoliators I discovered these reports from the American Agriculturist on infestations of Diapheromera femorata in 1887.

American Agriculturist, June 1887, pg 219

American Agriculturist, August 1887, pg 302

Source: Internet Archive, American Agriculturist, for the farm, garden and household (1877)

Sunday, 4 January 2015

In the News: Hermit Cockroaches: Two New Taxa From China Prefer Woods

From Science 2.0: Hermit Cockroaches: Two New Taxa From China Prefer Woods
Cockroaches are most often though of as infecting human homes but a new species and a new subspecies discovered in China prefer to live a hermit life, drilling logs far away from crowds and houses.

It's more common than we think. Out of around 4,600 species of cockroaches worldwide, only 30 are the cockroaches associated with human habitats that gives the bad fame of these creatures. The representatives of the genus Panesthia, to which the new species and subspecies belong, for example are distinctive for drilling logs and xylophagy (feeding on wood), rather than living in houses and eating rubbish.

The new species, P. guizhouensis, was firstly collected from a rotten wood log near a large pool where it was living undisturbed, far away from cities in Guizhou Province. A colony of more than 60 nymphs and 52 adults, emerged from the log when the wood was split, quickly fleeing away.
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In the News: First steps for Hector the robot stick insect

From First steps for Hector the robot stick insect

A research team at Bielefeld University has succeeded in teaching the only robot of its kind in the world how to walk. Its first steps have been recorded in a video. The robot is called Hector, and its construction is modelled on a stick insect. Inspired by the insect, Hector has passive elastic joints and an ultralight exoskeleton. What makes it unique is that it is also equipped with a great number of sensors and it functions according to a biologically inspired decentralized reactive control concept: the Walknet. By 2017, the walking robot will be equipped with additional abilities in a major project at the Center of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC).

The walking robot has been built by the Biomechatronics research group. In the future, Hector should serve as a platform for biologists and roboticists to test hypotheses about animal locomotion. One major aspect will be the fusion of large amounts of data from sensors so that the robot can walk more autonomously than before. A further key issue will be the optimal coordination of movements by a robot with elastic drives.

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Saturday, 3 January 2015

In the News: World’s Second-Longest Insect Discovered in Vietnam

From World’s Second-Longest Insect Discovered in Vietnam
In the jungles of Vietnam, biologists Dr Joachim Bresseel and Dr Jerome Constant from Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences have discovered two new species and one new subspecies of Phasmatodea, an order of insects whose members are known as stick insects.
The latter, named Phryganistria heusii yentuensis, is the second-longest insect known to date.

The current record-holder is another stick-insect called Phobaeticus chani. It is found on the Indonesian island of Borneo and measures a huge 36 cm in length.

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Saturday, 29 November 2014

Lego Arthropleura armata

Arthropleura armata is an extinct, large Carboniferous millipede. Here it is recreated in Lego at Brick2014.

DeviantArt page of the creator

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Cicada Hairstyle

From BoingBoing: Cicada Hairstyle

Sunday, 29 June 2014

In the News: Jellyfish Misquotation

From Bridport News: Giant jellyfish wash up on county coast

Barrel Jellyfish (Rhizostoma pulmo)

Sadly the newspaper does it's best to dramatise the event "A HOLIDAYMAKER had a shock when he stumbled across a giant jellyfish on a beach in Lyme Regis." I'm not sure where they expect to find washed-up jellyfish - but that bit of land between the sea and the cliff is a prime spot. If I found atop a lamppost in London, yes, I would be shocked. On a beach it's hardly worth mentioning.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Wildlife Sound Guides

A list of published for identifying wildlife via sound. This list will be updated over time.

Collins Field Guide: Wildlife Sounds
Covers all species of UK animal identifiable by sound, includes audio CD.
New Naturalist: Grasshoppers and Crickets
UK Orthoptera. Includes DVD of audio and video recordings.
The Songs of the Grasshoppers and Crickets of Western Europe
European Orthoptera.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

In the News: 'Touched' female cockroaches reproduce faster

From Touched' female cockroaches reproduce faster

Motorized tactile stimulation system shows the power supply (right), controller (center) and 20 Petri dishes mounted on a stepper motor. Inset shows an isolated female cockroach in a Petri dish with a duck feather mounted on the rotating motor shaft. Credit: Adrienn Uzsak

To speed up reproduction, there's no substitute for the tender touch of a live cockroach.
That's the major takeaway from a North Carolina State University study examining whether artificial antennae – in this case, duck feathers – can mimic a cockroach antenna's capacity to hasten in cockroach females.

Female cockroaches that get "touched" – by other female cockroaches and, under certain conditions, even by duck feathers that mimic roach antennae – reproduce faster than female roaches that live in isolation or without .

Pairing two cockroaches together – even roaches of different species – speeds up reproduction the most.

"To understand the mechanisms behind tactile stimulation and reproduction, we devised a motor-driven system using duck feathers as stand-ins for cockroach antennae. We found that these artificial antennae worked to stimulate certain hormones that speed up reproduction in the female German cockroach," says Dr. Coby Schal, Blanton J. Whitmire Professor of Entomology at NC State and the senior author of a paper describing the research. "We also found that the shape of the artificial antenna doing the 'touching' and the speed and duration of the stimulation were key factors that influenced reproduction speed."

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