Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Some Nature Lives on Stick Insects

A couple of videos of me talking about stick insects as part of the Nature Live series at the Natural History Museum.



Monday, 24 September 2012

In the News: Exhibit Puts Friendly Face on Spiders

From Voice of America: Exhibit Puts Friendly Face on Spiders

Could flies feed the world?

An interesting piece from the BBC's Material World podcast:

Download MP3

The South African company behind the idea of feeding maggots (MagMeal) instead of fish (FishMeal) to poultry is called AgriProtein (the website is a model of euphemistic language). The maggots themselves are fed on abattoir waste.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Invertebrate Sound and Vibration 2013

An interesting sounding conference.

The 14th Invertebrate Sound and Vibration international meeting will be held in Glasgow, United Kingdom, July 23-26, 2013
Invertebrate Sound and Vibration (ISV) integrates a wide range of themes including biomechanics, evolution, behavioral ecology, neuroethology, phylogenetics, and genomics of acoustic and vibratory communication in invertebrates. ISV typically attracts over 100 delegates at all stages of their careers. ISV meetings provide an excellent opportunity to present your work and to network with colleagues. 
The meeting will be a superb opportunity to catch up with colleagues, talk excellent science, and visit Scotland! 
The meeting host is Dr James Windmill, with co-organiser Dr Shira Gordon, both at the Centre of Ultrasonic Engineering, University of Strathclyde.

Conference website

Lord Howe Island phasmid hatching

First video of a nymph of the Lord Howe Island stick insect hatching from its egg.


Saturday, 21 July 2012


Dear Fellow Orthopterist,

This year we will be meeting at the Natural History Museum, London on Wednesday, 7th November from 14:00 to 20:00. Details of the venue at the museum will be sent out with the draft programme in September.

The meeting will be convened as a special interest group of the Royal Entomological Society and everyone is very welcome to attend whether to present research or just to listen and meet other orthopterists. This year, as last, we are aiming to put together a programme which will have a mixture of presentation lengths. Both initial results and ideas, as well as completed research are welcome. You can offer talks or posters on grasshoppers, crickets and related groups (cockroaches, earwigs, stick insects, mantids).

There will be space to display posters and other exhibits as usual, and computer projector facilities will be provided. To date, we are expecting talks on cockroaches of the genus Ectobius new to Britain, the mobile phone Orthoptera key, the new Orthoptera atlas, and communication in Speckled Bushcrickets (Leptophyes punctatissima).

The copy date for the next issue of the RES magazine Antenna is 31st July and while we realise that this is very short notice, if you know you would like to present something please let us know as soon as possible so details can be included.

The total cost will be £12 per person to cover tea and biscuits during the afternoon and a cold buffet with wine at about 18:00.

We hope that you will be able to attend the meeting. Please see below for registration details.

Yours sincerely,

David Robinson

Björn Beckmann


Please reply providing the following details by 25th October 2012 (talk titles as soon as possible please):
  • the title of any talk or poster you would like to give, details of specimens you will bring with you, etc. Please also let us know about any particular display equipment etc. that you require.
  • your title, first name, surname, institution (for name badge)
  • any special dietary requirements


£12 to include tea and biscuits and a cold buffet with wine.
Send a cheque made payable to the Royal Entomological Society to:
Ms Kirsty Whiteford, Senior Administrator, Royal Entomological Society, The Mansion House, Chiswell Green Lane, St Albans, Herts, AL2 3NS.

Pay by bank transfer:
Royal Entomological Society, sort code 30-97-25, account number 01921533.
Please ensure that you include your name and “Orthoptera SIG” for reference.

Pay by debit or credit card over the phone. Please phone Kirsty on +44 (0)1727 899387.
(Please note that there will be a 2% admin charge payable on all credit cards)
Overseas visitors will probably not be charged or can pay on the day.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

From the blogs: Return of Waspzilla

From Bug Girl's Blog: Return of Waspzilla

"You might remember this story from last August, when the discovery of a species of Waspthulu was announced. The researchers just published the first paper describing this species. It’s name is now Megalara garuda. "

Read more

In the News: Crunch ... it's lunch

From Times Live: Crunch ... it's lunch

"Thinking about supplementing your diet with the odd bug? SA's a good place to do it, says Tiara Walters

Welcome to South Africa - land of bobotie and bunny chow, malva pudding and morogo; pap and vleis ... and a devilishly delicious smorgasbord of some 50000 regional insect species.

With so much, er, grub about, one might even argue that it should be possible to end hunger in South Africa for good."

Read more

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Thursday, 9 February 2012

In the News: Mating call of an extinct bush-cricket rings out again after 165m years

From the Guardian: Mating call of an extinct bush-cricket rings out again after 165m years

A love song that carried on the wind through the ancient forests of the late Jurassic has been reconstructed by scientists in Britain. 
Researchers pieced together the staccato mating call of the long-gone creature, a distant relative of the modern bush-cricket, from fossilised remains unearthed in Mongolia. 
The insect's body and wings were preserved in such exquisite detail that specialists in bioacoustics at Bristol University could measure the parts used to produce mating calls and recreate the sounds. The cricket, Archaboilus musicus, lived 165m years ago, when much of northwest China was a sparse forest of coniferous evergreens and giant ferns. "This is one of the oldest mating calls ever reconstructed from a fossil," lead researcher Fernando Montealegre Zapata told the Guardian.

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Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Wrong Superhero

From xkcd: Wrong Superhero

In the News: Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo available to buy

From the AES: Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo available to buy

Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo is a film that delves into the ineffable mystery of Japan's age-old love affair with insects. A labyrinthine meditation on nature, beauty, philosophy and Japanese culture that might just make you question if your 'instinctive' repulsion to bugs is merely a trick of western conditioning. 
Like a detective story, the film untangles the web of influences behind Japan's captivation with insects. It opens in modern-day Tokyo where a single beetle recently sold for $90,000 then slips back to the early 1800s, to the first cricket-selling business and the development of haiku and other forms of insect literature and art. Through history and adventure, Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo travels all the way back in time to stories of the fabled first emperor who named Japan the "Isle of the Dragonflies". 
Along the way the film takes side trips to Zen temples and Buddhist Shrines, nature preserves and art museums in its quest for the inspirations that moved Japan into this fascination while other cultures hurtled off towards an almost universal and profound fear of insects. 
After many excellent screenings throughout the world the film is now available to own: Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo

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From the Blogs: Never trust a cute fly...

From the Curator of Diptera's Blog: Never trust a cute fly...

"It is made more unusual as most nasal botflies directly lay their eggs into the nasal cavity. So the first instar stage uses its large mouth hooks and spines on its back to pull itself along from the eye to drop down into the nasal cavity. I have just tried looking up images for this and even for me, have decided that may be too much….. 
It is generally found in large ruminants such as deer but can be problematic in sheep. It has been found in man although these cases are exceptionally rare I hasten to add. There was a case were large numbers of first instar larvae were deposited in the ear!!"

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Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Secrets of the Flea Circus

What Natural History Museum people do in their spare time......

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

In the News: 'The Hoff' crab is new ocean find

From BBC News: 'The Hoff' crab is new ocean find
UK scientists have found prodigious numbers of a new crab species on the Southern Ocean floor that they have dubbed "The Hoff" because of its hairy chest.
The animal was discovered living around volcanic vents off South Georgia.
Read More