Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Emergence in Ant Colonies

Hello everyone. To all of you in the six o'clock class, you may remember the presentation i tried to give today on the concept of Emergence and how it applies to ant colonies. Generally, how do ant colonies self organize without a central leader. Anyway, I meant to show segments of two videos and a piece of an episode of radiolab during my presentation. Unfortunately the sound was not working on the projector, and that couldn't happen.

Here are the links to the media I wanted to show, in case any of you were interested in watching them anyway.

Radio lab episode on Emergence; http://www.radiolab.org/2007/aug/14/
E.O. Wilson talking about Pheremones in ants and demonstrates trail pheromone; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HKl8Luuotw&feature=results_main&playnext=1&list=PLB42F5F70CBDFD142
Deborah Gordon on Ted Talks; http://www.ted.com/talks/deborah_gordon_digs_ants.html

Thanks everyone! Enjoy and have a good break.

No laggards, those bees and plants

As Climate Change Sets In, Plants and Bees Keep Pace


Sahara Desert Beetle

Heres a photo I took last March in the Sahara Desert in Merzouga, Morocco. These little guys were scurrying around every where and in the morning when we woke and the sand was fresh and untouched there were beetle tracks everywhere.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Mating Dance

Paul Taylor has put together an amusing show for his dance company, showcasing the mating habits and rituals of insects.

sorry couldn't find a video!

Here is the article...


Thursday, December 8, 2011

insect this-and-that

strange things i find on the internets...


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Insect Like/Inspired Creations

I found these mechanical creatures and they seemed to me very insect inspired. I got Katita as a present. It sort of shakes/jumps. Some really look more like insects than others and some don't look like them at all. But I thought was worth checking them out. They each have a short description with how they came into being. The artist is Chico Bicalho.

Wind Up Katita

Designed by Chico Bicalho


Katita happened around four AM in a hotel room in Hong Kong, a child of severe jetlag. The key is an allusion to the leather hats "Cangaceiros," the herdsmen of Northeastern Brazil wore in the past. Katita was named after a small female mutt in Rio who had just given birth to a litter of six puppies. She became a national hero in Brazil for having saved the life of a three-year-old boy that was being mauled by two vicious pit bulls. She was very badly hurt after fending off the beasts, but survived. This product is homage to Katita's courage.

Booty and key colors are assorted, we pick color based on availability."



Sunday, December 4, 2011

Wasps Never Forget a Face

Here is an interesting article about facial recognition in wasps and humans: Wasps Never Forget a Face.

- Rachel

Thursday, December 1, 2011


So the heaviest insect was discovered in New Zealand. The giant weta is three times the size of a mouse and heavier than a sparrow. I dunno about you guys but I think it's pretty darn cute.

Here's the article with video:



I'm alive! and still reading about stuff,

Here is a cool ditty about wasps, Hope y'all are well.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dry Humor


"Traveling Salesman"

Once again StumbleUpon has lead me to an interesting article on insects.

This particular one is discussing some of the problem solving skills associated with hymenoptera–specifically Bumblebees.

The test was set up to determine if the bees could "find the shortest route between cities" (here as faux-flowers). Two researchers, Laura Chittka and Mathieu Lihoreau assessed how the bees would respond to the flowers: seeing "whether the bees would go after the flowers in the order in which they were discovered, or if they would figure out the shortest route among all the flowers even as new ones were added"

Ultimately they found that however the simulated field was manipulated, the Bumblebees consistently determined and followed the shortest path.

The article itself is not that long, it's definitely worth checking out.

-DiAnna P.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Robots Learn Hamilton's Rule



Flies of the Season

And just how relevant might the insect world be to people besides entomologists or art students?  This article in the New York Times discusses the seasonal nuisance of flies, alas in the Home and Garden section of the paper. 

What to do about them? There are tricks the article discusses in some very nice entomological detail, but overall:

As the eminent British dipterologist Harold Oldroyd wrote in his 1964 classic, “The Natural History of Flies,” “A house or other building is therefore no more than a large fly-trap. It is found that the same building is infested year after year, while the house next door may be immune.” He added, “At present there is no known remedy for these visitations except to move.”

The author notes the following truth: 

Flies are, paradoxically, ubiquitous and mysterious. We see them. We hear them. We know next to nothing about them.

I should mention  that we have a passage by Oldroyd in our Insect Lives boook on p.118 on this very issue, the essay called "Swarms of Flies" (likely drawn from his book "the Natural History of Flies"). 


Sunday, November 27, 2011

I came across this informative and amusing blog post by "insect ecologist" Jeffery Lockwood, in which he answers the question, "do bugs feel pain?". He goes as far as to advocate the anesthetization of bug subjects in experiments, just in case they do.

"... there are relevant biochemical similarities between insect and human nervous systems. At least some invertebrates possess endorphins and enkephalins. These chemicals are opioids (think opium) produced by the body to alleviate pain and stress. So the presence of these in insects suggests that they might experience pleasure/pain. We also know that the mechanisms of neural transmission are similar in insects and humans.

This is one of the reasons that neurotoxic insecticides also poison you along with the cockroach in your kitchen. In fact, the organophosphate insecticides are based on the nerve gases developed during World War II. Kinda creepy, eh?"

Whatever your stance I think its a relevant question...is there enough evidence to suggest that insects feel pain, and if so, does it matter?



Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


so I went to the museum of surgical science last saturday and was in an exhibit depicting the evolution of various sutures and lo' and behold: ants were once used as a medical staple!
using an animal's defenses for our own benefit, clever us.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Insect Origami



Longhorn Beetle

Longhorn Beetle

Leaf Insect

Kabutomushi Beetle



Trans Bee


Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I want one of these little guys for my collection, but I'm not sure if keeping an eye out for one is worth a possible broken leg.

"Go after remaining stink bugs now"


Tuesday, November 8, 2011


While looking for something completely unrelated, I came across this image of a fish, found in Korea, with a human face. It reminded me of the mimics we talked about, although I doubt this fish is using a human face to deter predators...


Deleuze's orchid and wasp

All semester, I've been trying to integrate these ideas into my comprehension of the course material, and this weeks segments about co-evolution were the tipping point for me to finally post about it. Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari are the philosophers that have gotten me thinking of evolution in terms of becoming, and the potentials and pitfalls of thinking this way. For one, it is very confusing, but then again life is not simple either. A quick search came up with a few things, and here is a quick quote describing what the concept of the orchid and the wasp means in terms of becoming.

"Deleuze and Guattari imagine there to be a wasp-orchid assemblage, where the boundaries of the one cannot be thoroughly distinguished from the boundaries of the other. Rather it is in terms of code and traces that the stratum of a plant line intersects unexpectedly (there is nothing in the nature of a plant that would anticipate it becoming-animal in code), with the stratum of an animal line, where each becomes the function of the other."

That comes from this source, a lengthy piece on the idea. http://kvond.wordpress.com/2008/05/15/23/
this source is quite lengthy, and likely needs some background for comprehension.

This source is a good summation of the concept, that build on the theories of evolution put forth by Darwin.

Hopefully the diagrams we made for the queen of trees made clear the rhizomatic structure of ecologies.

read at your leisure and maybe blow your mind!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Pierre Huyghe at Esther Schipper, Berlin

An excerpt:
"ZAMPETTI Are the ants metaphorical? Does the context of the gallery elevate them?

The ants are just ants. There are two small holes where they nest, and from there they just cross the room. They are present in the space, you can see some lines and there is a sort of trajectory. When you come into the gallery, you assume your normal trajectory. Then you notice the insects, and you take another. Then you see the spiders. There is a co-habitation, a co-existence, but there is not much relating. I am trying not to define the relations in between these live entities."

Super awesome....right?
My friend Emma had the unfortunate case of getting sick after this show. Upon walking out, you apparently become the third work on the checklist, Influenced, 2011. The description reads "A person in the space is carrying a flu virus."

Maybe Huyghe was asking for a little too much out of the viewer?

Trip to the Field Museum

Photos of some of the Field Museum's insect collections. November 1, 2011.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Chirps and Cheers: China’s Crickets Clash

Young men in China are bringing back an old tradition- cricket fighting. They're becoming harder to find in urban areas, but once you have a winner, it's worth all the work in taking care of them and prepping them for financially fruitful fights. All the details are in the NY Times article Chirps and Cheers: China’s Crickets Clash.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Trip to the Field Museum

Here are just a couple photos I took while we were backstage at the Field Museum.
Enjoy. - RS

*these photos may not be appropriated without permission from the artist

Hawk-ing Awesome Hawk Moths

Yesterday's Science Friday on NPR! These hawk moths can hover when drinking from a flower with their proboscis. Check out the interview and the video - The best part is seeing the moth get hit by a cannonball-in super slow motion.

Interesting that it takes so much energy to flap its wings like that, but the moth sacrifices energy for stabilization and promise of food! And the wing motion is very similar to hummingbirds.

Analogous traits? Scientific Method? I say YES.

~Amy M.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

In regards to Island theory...

So although this doesn't directly implicate insects, it does involve Island biogeography theory, with very large islands (the continents) and an even more rabid species (humans). At some point today (31st-Halloween-monday) our human population passed the benchmark of 7 billion people. I can personally remember in grade school talking about the population, its estimates 1 billion less than we have now, and it seems phenomenal that we we've gone that far in that time. I came across this and was struck by the visualization they used to describe the phenomena, as it so closely resembled the example that Andy gave of species coming into an island, and extinction leaving. We truly don't have anything threatening us other than ourselves.

Visualizing How A Population Grows To 7 Billion


Monday, October 31, 2011

More Revenge


Insects of 1912 documented through a narrative of infidelity.

-Rob S.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

5 States Bring Asian Carp Woes to Supreme Court

In light of our discussion on invasive species in last week's class, I thought this Huffington Post article (on the impending doom of the Great Lakes by the asian carp) was a case of synchronicity.

The states of Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin want the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to speed up their investigation of how to block the aquatic pathways between the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes--a development that could save the Great Lakes from certain devastation. Considering the asian carp could eat enough plankton to irreversibly ruin the biodiversity of the largest fresh water bodies in the United States, I think these states are right.

The Supreme Court has denied two previous requests from Michigan to order closure of Chicago-area locks, but maybe this time they'll recognize the severity of this situation. There is much debate!


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"Re-Thinking Soup!"

Yesterday I journeyed over to UIC'S Jane Addams Hull-House Museum for their weekly "Re-Thinking Soup" talk, which conveniently happened to be about the consumption of insects. One of the first to show up in a room lined with six long tables, I got a chance to look around and notice a tray of rice cakes with a cricket delicately centered on each playing the role as the table's surreal centerpieces. What I found even more odd was a table filled with three basket of dinner rolls, which were probably purchased from Jewel- a combination that eventually made the idea of eating insects seem normal, even more so when the room started to fill with people, bringing forth chatter, people eagerly grabbing cricket cakes and covering them with honey, and eventually an aroma as well once the soup was brought out. I was at a soup kitchen, watching people ranging from their teens to their 80s get in a line that wrapped around the room to fill their bowls with not french onion, but a potato-bug soup. I never thought I'd see so many eager cricket consumers.. and I got the best seat in the house, right next to the soup table...

20 minutes later, after the capacity-reached room all happily had their bowls of soup with fried crickets did the talk finally start. Even against all the excited chatter, I was enthralled, picking up on tidbits I did not know about. 80% of the world practices entomology with pleasure.. including Oaxacan, Venezuela and parts of China, peanut butter and chocolate can have insect parts in them, and they are economically, environmentally and nutritionally awesome for us folks. Sushi caught on, maybe insects will as well. It wouldn't be a bad idea considering consumption will greatly rise by 2050 and if a third world war arises, it would most likely be over a food and water shortage. Eating bugs just might be the answer. This talk definitely got me thinking and I feel a fair argument was made for team entomology. However, I'm still not sure I'm hopping on board just yet.

The cricket rice cakes!

Bowl of fried crickets to add to your potato soup.

The bowls of fried crickets slowly running low as the line continues.

Soup man mentioned, "They aren't bad, just crunchy!"