Saturday, September 13, 2014

Polka Dotted Clown Weevil (Pachyrrhynchus orbifer)

I thought you guys would like  these photos of  the Polka Dotted Weevil I found.
( Photographs by Kohichiro Yoshida )

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

"a pest for every season" ?

The Chicago Tribune had a little article the other day about "Pests of the Season" - the highlighted critter? Yellowjackets. For those of you who went collecting with us the other day, you'll remember we found a colony nesting in the ground under a tree.

Here is a quote that piqued my curiosity though: 

"If they're on the home or on the premises, there's a possibility you may have a child or a resident who may be allergic," says Tom Dobrinska, a board-certified entomologist and training director with Elmhurst, Illinois-based Anderson Pest Solutions. "If they get stung, you're talking about possible anaphylactic shock or even death."

Please help me parse the logic of the claim made above: If you have wasps around your home, then you could be allergic?  Are the presence of wasps something that makes an allergic person more likely? hmmm... sounds like a great way to seel some bug spray...


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Dragons and Damsels

Here is a short article and a couple recent New York Times videos on dragonflies and their superb abilities as fliers and predators of the sky.

In the first video the last 5 seconds have amazing slow-mo scenes of a frog trying to eat one one of these Odonates: good luck buddy!

In interviewing Dr. Jessica Ware in the second video you get priceless lines like:

"You'll never see a dragonfly on a a piece of jewelry eating a face off a butterfly, but that's exactly what they do."

Have you noticed autumn is a great season for them? There was quite a swarm flying at window level outside the lab this week (15th floor!)


Friday, August 22, 2014

Dance your PH.D.: Smell mediated response to relatedness of potential mates

John Bohannon has this international competition called Dance your Ph.D. where you can win money for explaining your thesis through interpretive dance.

I know it is awesome. Here is one winning entry about Fruit flies smell mediated response to relatedness of potential mates by Cedric Tan.

Dance your PhD 2011: Smell mediated response to relatedness of potential mates from Cedric Kai Wei Tan on Vimeo.

hugs and bugs,


Saturday, July 5, 2014

Wasp nest

Recently we removed a wasp nest from home and instead of throwing it away I decided to preserve it.
It is about 3 1/2" in diameter. The nest is made of layers of paper like material. There is a caterpillar inside too, stored food for later use?
Inside are cells 

The top one is the worker. Down below are two bigger wasps from the same nest. One is the queen, and the other one I am not sure. Male?


Monday, June 16, 2014

an ant's life!

The parallels drawn between the two most advanced societies - humans and ants - never ceases, but this recent one by Michael Kuppelman and David Rees is nice.

At the same time, it looks remarkably like an Onion picture and article on the same topic a few years back!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Using insects as a medium

Young designers transform insects into plastic and printing ink from Dezeen on Vimeo.

Designers use beetles and lice to make bioplastic and print pigment.

The site also has interesting articles on urban beekeeping, and training honeybees to smell cancer.


- Amy

Friday, May 23, 2014

"I'm Worried About America's Nuts"

A clever and super creepy double entendre PSA about invasive insects and the need to be careful about out firewood habits in terms of invasive insects and tree diseases from the folks at

Just how far can we liken the spread a tree pests to that of human STDs?  You be the judge....


Sunday, May 11, 2014

24 new Mummy-Making Wasps in Ecuador

"Some Ecuadorian tribes were famous for making mummified shrunken heads from the remains of their conquered foes. Field work in the cloud forests of Ecuador by Professor Scott Shaw, University of Wyoming, Laramie, and colleagues, has resulted in the discovery of 24 new species of Aleiodes wasps that mummify caterpillars. The research by Eduardo Shimbori, Universidade Federal de São Carlos, Brazil, and Scott Shaw, was recently published in the open access journal ZooKeys.
Among the 24 new insect species described by Shimbori and Shaw, several were named after famous people including the comedians and television hosts Jimmy Fallon, John Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Ellen DeGeneres, as well as the Ecuadorian artist Eduardo Kingman, American poet Robert Frost, and Colombian singer and musician, Shakira."

I found this interesting because of the rate at which people can discover and classify new insects!

Allana Williams

Monday, May 5, 2014

Ants' protection in a Flood

"In a Flood, Ants Really Come Together", they can link their bodies together to create buoyant rafts to protect the queen and her brood. It's amazing to see how flexible they are when they bond together! "Worker ants are dispersed throughout the raft and form a dome atop the base and around the queen. This position allows them to recover quickly once the colony emerges from the flood so they can aid the queen and the brood."
Check out the video:

News article:

---Kelly Feng

Artificial Pollination?

Robotic Bees



Icelandic designer Búi Bjarmar Aðalsteinsson has built a prototype of a "Fly Factory", a self-contained insect farm that could be installed in a greenhouse or commercial kitchen.  When its on the market it could potentially make it even more possible for people to substitute meat with insects and reap the environmental benefits.  Check out the article - THIS INSECT FARM GROWS LARVAE FOR YOUR DINNER.   ~Emma Sims

This Insect Farm Grows Fly Larvae For Your Dinner

Bee Collaboration

 Gallery Website
Richard Orjis
Tiffany Singh

Found some artists who like to work in collaboration with some bees that I thought were wonderful. The first piece, "We Are But Dust & Shadow" was about the pleasure of making which I found to be quite interesting

-Ryan B

Reason for Honey Bee Population Decrease

I stumbled upon this petition claiming that the decrease in the population of honey bees is due to a a pesticide called "neonics" that is sold by Home Deopot and Lowe's.

News article:

-Ryan B.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Cockroach Hall of Fame

Cockroach Hall of Fame , Plano, TX @ The Pest Shop
by Michael Cockroach Dundee Bohdan

Ross Peroach and more...


Seeds and Ants United

Co-evolution! Many plants, such as violets, wild ginger, trillium, bloodroot, trout lilly (all out and about on my last walk in the forest preserve), use ants to disperse and bury their seeds by producing nutrient rich appendages on their seeds specifically for their consumption! ^o^ Awesome.


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Eagleman Stag


Eagleman Stag

A beautifully put together stop motion video regarding an entomologist,


The Tiniest 3D Glasses!

A new research programme aims to understand 3D vision in the praying mantis, the only invertebrate known to have this ability, and compare it with vision in humans.
Analysing how mantises see in three dimensions could give us clues about how 3D vision evolved and lead to novel approaches in implementing 3D recognition and depth perception in computer vision and robotics.
The team, led by Dr Jenny Read from the Institute of Neuroscience at Newcastle University, has been funded by a £1M Research Leadership Award by the Leverhulme Trust to characterise the mechanisms of 3D vision in mantises and how these mechanisms can be applied in science and industry. See a video of the research.
Dr Read said: “Despite their minute brains, mantises are sophisticated visual hunters which can capture prey with terrifying efficiency. We can learn a lot by studying how they perceive the world.”
Dr Vivek Nityananda, Newcastle University Institute of Neuroscience is one of the investigators involved in the study. He said: “This is a really exciting project to be working on. So much is still waiting to be discovered in this system. If we find that the way mantises process 3D vision is very different to the way humans do it, then that could open up all kinds of possibilities to create much simpler algorithms for programming 3D vision into robots.”
3D vision
It is also possible that 3D vision in mantises is closer to that of vertebrates, where disparities between the positions of an object’s image in the two eyes can be detected and used to reveal the object’s position, even when the object is camouflaged and thus invisible in either eye individually. This would mean that mantises have independently evolved similar 3D processing to vertebrates – a fascinating insight into the evolution of 3D vision.
A key component of the research entails presenting virtual 3D stimuli, such as moving targets within the visual field of the mantis. As a first approach, the researchers are attaching a pair of 3D glasses – the world’s tiniest – with beeswax to the mantis, and placing it in front of computer-generated images, presented on computer monitors. After the experiments, the scientists remove the beeswax and the glasses, and place the mantises back in the insect room where they are fed and maintained.
Dr Nityananda added: “We can do this by fooling them into misjudging depth, in the same way that our brains are fooled when we watch a 3D movie.”
The experiment will determine if mantids can see the moving object standing out in depth in a similar way to humans and monkeys.
The research project will use data from behavioural observations as well as electrophysiological recordings to help model potential neural algorithms that can be used in technology while simultaneously shedding light on the evolution of 3D vision in the natural world.
This is the first major research project investigating these mechanisms following the discovery made by Samuel Rossel in 1983 that praying mantises have 3D vision. Rossel conducted successful experiments by placing prisms over their eyes and creating an optical illusion that an object was within their range, thus triggering a strike from the mantises.
Canadajournal/Press Releases

From Allana Williams
I found this article very interesting. As a film student, it is interesting to see that scientists are applying a technology mainly used by the public in movie theaters on an insect, the praying mantis, to try to potentially model neural algorithms. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Man Dons Bee Suit Made of 460,000 Live Insects

       "A Chinese beekeeper She Ping covered his half naked body with nearly half a million bees in order to sell more honey, and managed to walk away with only slightly more than 20 stings, he said."
        I saw news about this man wearing bee suit when I was little, maybe when I was in elementary, and he is still doing this!!
        "I first did this at 22, just for fun and out of curiosity. Later on, I would put on the bees just for the sake of making people believe I sell actual real honey," Ping said. And Ping is 34 years old now.

"The bees are usually attracted onto the body by trapping and attaching the queen bee somewhere to the body."

-Kelly Feng

Monday, April 28, 2014

Dead bugs used in stop motion animation

Film made by Wladislaw Starewicz in 1912 Titled: The Cameraman's Revenge