Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Meditation on Odonata

"Artist Irene Moon (aka Katja Seltmann) with help (and specimens) from the North Carolina State Insect Museum ( An informative but strange introduction to the order Odonata. Video created using AfterEffects software, NCSU Insect Museum specimens, and footage from the Sandin Image Processor located at Alfred University."

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Insect Art

This Tumblr has loads of great images: Scientific Illustration

Bed Bugs & Homeopathy

The Rentokil deBugged blog has an article on how pest insects are often used in homeopathy: Bed Bugs Are Used in Homeopathy.
Given that horrific stories relating to invertebrates seem to be the order of the day on DeBugged at the moment, I thought I would float the suggestion of ingesting bed bugs to cure pain in your left ovary. No, this isn’t a new horror film, this is Homeopathy.
Read more 

Of course, my personal view of homeopaths is that they are fraudulent and/or ignorant (and sometimes the basis for good comedy).

Australia's Largest Insects

Over at BunyipCo David Rentz has made a post about the largest insects in Australia.

David is a well-known Australian entomologist with an interest in the orthopteroid insects (among others).

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Scorpion babies at Elmwood Park Zoo

"Our emperor scorpion just had a bunch of scorplings! Scorpions have live babies instead of laying eggs!"
See the original post on twitpic.

More info over at ZooBorns: Friday Surprise... Scorplings! (Baby Scorpions)

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

In the News: Orlando Fringe Festival review: ‘archy & mehitabel’

Image from Archy

From the Orlando Sentinel: Orlando Fringe Festival review: ‘archy & mehitabel’

Jeff Culbert skitters across the stage, blinking nervously as a spotlight finds him. He’s a cockroach, you see, Archy by name, in this quirky one-man (but two animal) show.
Archy the cockroach was created in 1916 in a series of newspaper columns by Don Marquis. He and his feline friend, Mehitabel, have also featured in a Broadway musical and animated film. 
But here, Culbert takes on both parts himself with mild good humor and light-on-his-feet movement. 
Mehitabel, a friendly female cat who can’t figure out why she ends up with so many kittens, sashays around trash piles and slinks across the stage to the sounds of cool jazz.
Archy gets more worked up, over the foibles of humanity, but even at his biggest roar, he seems more politely concerned than truly angry. 
It’s a cozy show, with plenty of chuckles — and the chance to make two unlikely friends in Culbert’s endearing performance.

Read More

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

In the News: Stick insects destroy 24ha of forest

HAI PHONG — Stick insects destroyed nearly 24ha of forest in Cat Ba National Park of the northern city of Hai Phong during the past week. 
The insects appeared in the park in 2007. They have six long legs and can move quickly, making them difficult to catch. The insects' density in the park is as high as dozens of thousands on each tree. 
The Hai Phong Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has sprayed plants to prevent the insects from spreading.
I've been working on a paper surveying this sudden population explosions of stick insects, but have found it quite hard to find contact details for anybody in Vietnam who might be able to provide more info - any ideas gratefully received, either leave a comment or e-mail me.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

The exhibition is currently at the Natural History Museum, London. The winning photograph is below.

Monday, 6 June 2011

NHM: Identify a Cockchafer

The Natural History Museum has a guide to identifying the Cockchafer (or Maybug) along with a video and lots of interesting facts.

In the News: Jumping cockroach heads new species list

From The Sydney Morning Herald: Jumping cockroach heads new species list
Some scientists peer into ocean depths and explore jungles in search of new species. South African scientist Mike Picker made his discovery - a new species of cockroach - in the middle of a top tourist destination. 
Cape Town's Table Mountain National Park is home to the world's only jumping cockroach, which this week was named one of the top 10 species discoveries of the year by an international panel of experts. 
In a telephone interview on Thursday, Picker, a co-author of the Field Guide to Insects of South Africa and a zoology professor at the University of Cape Town, said his discovery shows how little is known about the world's insects and other animals.

Read more

There are a few more links to this story:
However, some people seem to think that looking for new species is a bit of a distraction from more important things: SA Freezes To Death While Capetonians Name Their Cockroaches (NewsTime).

Sunday, 5 June 2011

In the News: Smallest Insect Filmed in Flight

From ScienceDaily: Smallest Insect Filmed in Flight
The Flight Artists team from Wageningen University, the Netherlands, has been the first to make high-speed camera footage of parasitic wasps of about 1 mm wingspan. The team made films of the tiny flying insects at 22,000 frames per second. That is almost 900 times faster than a TV-screen can show. In the time between two TV images, the wasp has beaten its wings 14 times. 
This is the first time the flight behaviour of the parasitic wasp is observed, which is used as biological crop protector that kills the eggs from which harmful caterpillars grow. It was known that parasitic wasps hitchhike on top of larger insects, such as butterflies, but until now nobody had seen how the wasps were able to fly to the butterflies and their eggs.

Read More

In the News: Money eating Termites

From Helium: Termites devour piles of cash in Uttar Pradesh bank
How safe is your money in banks anyway? Not very, it seems, if the bank in question happens to be the Fatehpur branch of State Bank of India where termites have reportedly feasted on currency notes worth more than ten million Indian rupees. That is equivalent to $225,000 or £137,000 worth of money turned to dust.
Read more

A few years ago there was a similar case of termites eating money in an Indian bank: Termites feast on trader's money (BBC News).

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Sexual Nature stick insects: Volunteer Report

A report by one of the volunteers looking after our Sexual Nature stick insects at the Natural History Museum, London. Click on the image to go to the Phasmid Study Group site where you can download a PDF.

In the News: Ants found living inside girl's ears

From The Mirror: Ants found living inside girl's ears

DOCTORS have found almost 30 ants living in the ears of a teenage girl who loved snacking in bed. 
Fallen crumbs from the 16-year-old’s night-time treats tempted the insects into nesting in her ears. 
Medics found six in her left ear and more than 20 in her right after she went to a hospital in Taiwan with pain and itching. 
The ants were successfully removed and doctors said she was lucky to have no ­permanent damage. They also told her to stop eating in bed.
Link to Article

The first comment on this article is priceless:

Thank goodness she had them removed. I recently read that Kevin Maguire and Jason Battie had the same problem a couple of years ago. Unfortunately they weren't treated in time and the ants ate most of their frontal lobes. They both now write for The Mirror under the Care In The Community Program.

Although in at least one study ants were not in the top six arthropods removed from ears. The 'winners'? Cockroaches.