Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Oh Honey! Heal me!

This may be quite old news to some of you (as this article was created in 2000), but studies have shown that honey has excellent healing properties. I bring this up because I (being horrifically clumsy) gave myself some SWEET oil burns a few days ago, from my armpit to my mid-forearm (trying to pan sear some tuna steaks in sesame oil), and I’m unhappy with almost all of the burn products on the market so far. Thus, as an exceedingly paranoid individual and medical info junkie, I decided to sift around the inter-slice for something better…

Lo’ and behold! Here I find article, upon article about honey as one of the foremost healing agents. Woo!

So, now I am going to replace my commercial healing products with honey, and we will see how it goes. Let’s see if the bees can do for me what Johnson & Johnson can’t… or my arm may fall off.

-sidenote- As the Aussies, and UK dwellers are far more open to homeopathic medicine than we Americans, a new(ish, circa 2000, to 2005) product called “Medihoney” has been created to cure a variety of ailments…

However, it seems that using store bought honey is fine, too.

ps: I drew that dippy drawing.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Chevalier Woods - Mantis Heaven~

For as close to being to one of the world's busiest airports as it is, Chevelier Woods Forest Preserve did not disappoint. We collected at least 10 different orders of insects, no problem.

This included two different species of praying mantis (as Jenny and Gracen as catching above), as well as large carpenter bees and amazing click beetles!

The weather was fine and the abundant flowers (unfortunately "weedy" and not hypo-allergenic) meant plenty of things to collect!


Monday, September 24, 2007

praying mantis

just some photos of the oh-so-prego mantis i found on the collection on sunday (and obviously decided to keep, andy) .

eating some crickets.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

morgan's madagascar sphinx moth

The first article shares a connection with the second. They support what was talked about in class last week, with the diversifcation of insects having their direct relation with the diversity of angiosperms.


Mantophasmatodea discovered 2002


Friday, September 21, 2007

Planet Earth

i found the Planet Earth video of the insest-possessing fungi.

Watch it here:


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

colourful crickets

(I'm terrible at translating, but this is kind of what the article says--)

"Three cricket-like insects coloured green, white and pink, were found at Mrs. Kana Yamaguchi's garden in the Sakai, Osaka(Japan).

A small field close to her house had just been taken down, and various insects escaped into Mrs. Yamaguchi's garden. While insect hunting with her daughter Arisa, they found the pink coloured insect, and her son Keita caught the white.

According to Mr. Itaru Kanazawa at the Museum of Natural History in Osaka, these are the larvae of insects known as "Kubikirigisu", a type of cricket.

They have the tendency of camoflauging to surrounding colours, and the pink coloured cricket is probably an extreme result of being around anything dark brown. There is a possibility that the white one is an albino, but it is uncertain until it matures into an adult."

Not an insect, but...

I just thought this was kind of interesting, it's a spider eating a bat (and according to the article I took this from, it's really rare for a spider to be eating a mammal). Picture taken in Kagoshima, Japan (

Cockroaches like you've never seen them before

Perhaps you are all already familiar with the work of Vladmaster but I hope you all enjoyed the piece Lucifugia Thigmotaxis that I showed in class. What is it like to be a cockroach? - it givies you an idea (and so much more) in 3D.

It makes me think of some of the photographic work of Catherine Chalmers on these study. Of course insects have high cultural cache, but don't you know. After all, Cabinet Magazine had a whole issue devoted to them just this year.

Insects are crawling all over culture like...well, insects.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Out and About: Jackson Park

This past Sunday was pretty good for bugs on the South Side. Despite the first bad cold snap of the season (way too early) dragonflies, damselfies, flies, bees, wasps, butterflies, beetles and all the other usual suspects were around in Jackson Park.

Mom and Jon take in an mean looking wasp Jon had jut caught, with a caterpillar in it steely jaws no less!

Finding Aquatic insects was more of a challenge, but even a couple larval damselflies were still swimming around in the water.

Hope you are collecting in your spare time - with this weather there won't be any more insects out there much longer......

- Andy

Swarm Theory

From National Geographic
Posted by Daniel

"A single ant or bee isn't smart, but their colonies are. The study of swarm intelligence is providing insights that can help humans manage complex systems, from truck routing to military robots."

You can read more in the article.

You can also watch this video of a fire ant swarm:

Queen of Bees Dies at 95

From the New York Times 8/16/07
Posted by Daniel

Eva Crane, English Expert on World’s Bees, Dies at 95

Published: September 16, 2007
Eva Crane, who earned a doctorate in nuclear physics and then abandoned the field to devote herself to expanding and spreading knowledge about bees as a researcher, historian, archivist, editor and author, died on Sept. 6 in Slough, England.

She was 95, 57 years shy of the reputed life span of the 17th-century English farmer Thomas Parr who, she suggested in one of her books, owed his longevity to eating honey that she said he produced as a beekeeper. The International Bee Research Association, which she founded in 1949, announced her death.

For more than a half-century Dr. Crane worked in more than 60 countries to learn more and more about honeybees, sometimes traveling by dugout canoe or dog sled to document the human use of bees from prehistoric times to the present. She found that ancient Babylonians used honey to preserve corpses, that bees were effectively used as military weapons by the Viet Cong, and that beekeepers in a remote corner of Pakistan use the same kind of hives found in excavations of ancient Greece.

The usefulness of her findings was apparent in 2001 when an official of the United States Department of Agriculture in Louisiana read about Russian bees in one of her books. They had developed a resistance to mites, which had been devastating local bees, The Sunday Advocate of Baton Rouge reported. The agency imported some Russian bees, and the Louisiana bees were soon mite-resistant.

Dr. Crane wrote some of the most important books on bees and apiculture, including “The World History of Beekeeping and Honey Hunting” (1999). In a review in The Guardian, the author Paul Theroux, himself a beekeeper, called the book a masterwork “for its enormous scope and exhaustiveness, for being an up-to-date treasure house of apiaristic facts.”

In an obituary published Friday, the British newspaper The Independent said Dr. Crane published more than 180 papers, articles and books. It noted that she wrote most of them when she was in her 70s and 80s, after stepping down in 1984 from the day-to-day running of the association.

The Times of London in 1999 called her the “queen bee among bee experts.”

Ethel Eva Widdowson was born in London on June 12, 1912. Her older sister, Elsie Widdowson, who never retired either, helped revolutionize the field of nutrition, showing similar energy chasing seals on ice floes to study their eating habits.

Elsie died in 2000. The bee association did not list any survivors for Dr. Crane.

Both sisters attended Sydenham, a girls’ school known for having dedicated women as teachers, The Independent reported in 2000. Eva moved on to King’s College London, where she was one of only two women then studying mathematics at the University of London, of which King’s College is a part. She completed her degree in two years, then earned master’s degree in quantum mechanics and a doctorate in nuclear physics.

She took a post lecturing on nuclear physics at Sheffield University in 1941. The next year she married James Crane, a stockbroker serving in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve. He died in 1978.

One of their wedding presents was a box containing a swarm of bees, which the giver thought might be useful in supplementing their meager wartime sugar ration. Dr. Crane soon became fascinated with the hive, subscribed to a bee magazine and joined a local bee club, The Independent reported.

She became secretary of the research committee of the British Beekeepers Association. In 1949, she founded the Bee Research Association, which adopted its present name in 1976. For 20 years beginning in 1962, Dr. Crane edited the association’s Journal of Apicultural Research, as well as editing Bee World from 1949 until 1984. (The two merged in 2006.)

The meticulousness of Dr. Crane’s research showed in her examination of ancient rock images involving bees and honey. She studied 152 sites in 17 countries from a register of rock art she established herself for her book “The Rock Art of Honey Hunters” (2001).

Her goal was to show how ancient ways of cultivating bees persisted in still-used, but disappearing, methods. She called her generation the last that would be “able to see the world’s rich variety of traditional beekeeping.”

Dr. Crane also offered advice on how to use honey as a cosmetic. She advised dissolving two tablespoons of honey in two tablespoons of water, then adding six more tablespoons of water to concoct an excellent facial cleanser.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Insect Senses & Biomimicry

Ron Hoy's lab does some amazing work with insect (and also arachnid) senses.

Here is the video about the fly Ormia and its amazing ear that is being used as the basis for new hearing-aids. The beginning part of the video is actually about spiders and the audio world they inhabit when courting each other. It is pretty remarkable.

"Ugly Bugs" (?)

Some images from the UglyBug contest website I mentioned in class.

Look at this "Assassin Bug" on the left. A nice "opistognathous" mouth with that pierces & sucks. What other insect is it similar to the we saw last week? Either way, I'd hate to be assassinated by that thing...(ouch).

The Tiger beetle, on the other hand (to the right, below) has classically mandibulate mouthparts. The small eye-looking thing above the jaws on the left is actually were the antenna was - the eye (very big) is above that. These guys are also know to be voracious predators, the mouthparts, as you can see, pretty fierce and complex. This one was collected by a kid a Grantie Elementary School , in Granite Oklahoma (FYI).

One a different note, look at the crazy antennae on this
"June Bug" - which is actually a beetle (below).

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Clue to vanishing honey bees found

A study just released today may be shed light on Colony Collapse Disorder:

Virus implicated in bee decline

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

This summer's cicada songs (buzz tweet)

Sound artist and SAIC faculty Peter Gena did a series of recording of the 17-cicadas this summer - you can check out the sonorous recordings and related stories here.

Click the illustration to the left to listen to one of the songs straight-away.

Bees, please?

We'll talk more about pollination as the semester moves along. In the meantime, here are a number of interesting audio pieces related to this year's current bee crisis.

The New York Times "audio slide show" about the problem (note, it is the from the Business section!)

Honeybees Vanish, Leaving Keepers in Peril

A variety of intersting NPR pieces:

Birds and Bees are in Big Trouble

In Beekeeping, Learning Curve Is Steep, Stinging

Alarm Over Missing Bees Prompts House Hearing

Across the U.S., Keepers Say Their Bees Are AWOL