Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Truth About Your Fig Newtons

In the wild, the mutualistic relationship between figs and the fig wasps that pollinate them leads to figs full of tiny, tiny dead wasps. Cultivated figs are a different story. Most fig varieties grown in the U.S. ( mission figs, kadota figs) do not require pollination for the figs to ripen, and thus contain no wasp parts at all. There is one exception: The calimyrna fig. Fig growers attach paper bags containing fig wasps gathered from wild fig trees to their calimyrna trees, and the female wasps pollinate the figs while attempting to lay their eggs. The flowers inside the fig are too long for the fig wasp's ovipositer, and the wasp either moves on or dies within the fig without laying any eggs. If the wasp dies there, its body is quickly dissolved by enzymes in the fig.
At worst, your fig might contain the completely dissolved remains of one tiny wasp. For more detailed information:
Calimyrna figs

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Bee home invasion in the Sunshine State

Local news in Riviera Beach, FL reported two dogs killed in what appears to be a major bee infestation in a house.

"The critter control is hauling away the honeycomb material" they report: 50 pounds of honeycomb in a large nest in the walls of a house!

I recall a news peice last year that I believe described 200 pounds of honey removed from a house somewhere in the South....

a little clip of a removal in progress.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Corpus Clock and the Chronophage

The Corpus Clock, unveiled on Sep. 19th by Stephen Hawking, is the £1 million 24-carat-plated-gold stainless steel invention of John C. Taylor and sits outside the Taylor library at Corpus Christie College, Cambridge.

The Chronophage is the creature that sits on top, so named because he is the 'devourer of time'. He's modeled like a giant terrifying grasshopper/locust, after the grasshopper escapement, a low-friction mechanism for converting pendulum motion into rotational motion, invented in the 18th century by John Harrison, to whom the clock is dedicated. The Chronophage occasionally blinks, and appears to be creeping forward across the rim of the clock, biting down with a loud mechanical crunching noise every second.

The clock is completely mechanical, has no hands, and is perfectly accurate only once every five minutes. “Clocks are fixed, whereas we all know, time is fluid. It drags and it flies. Like Einstein said, an hour sitting next to a pretty girl can be like a minute, and a minute sitting on a hot stove can seem like an hour. I wanted this clock to reflect that, to play tricks with observers.” Dr Christopher de Hamel, Fellow Librarian at Corpus Christi, said: “I wanted it to be a monster, because time itself is a monster . . . It is horrendous, and horrible, and beautiful."

Here is the Wikipedia article, and here is an excellent article from The Times.

(posted by Lyra)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Just like a stain glass window

It comes from Central America and is found from Mexico to Panama . It is quite common in its zone, but it not easy to find because of its transparent wings, which is a natural camouflage mechanism.
A butterfly with transparent wings is rare and beautiful. As delicate as finely blown glass, the presence of this rare tropical gem is used by rain forest ecologists as an indication of high habitat quality and its demise alerts them of ecological change. Rivaling the refined beauty of a stained glass window, the translucent wings of the Glasswing butterfly shimmer in the sunlight like polished panes of turquoise, orange, green, and red. All things beautiful do not have to be full of color to be noticed: in life that which is unnoticed has the most power.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Mystery Insects of Japan

A student from last year, Momo, sent photos of some odd insects she came across in her family's house in Tokyo. They've got some lovely colors - guesses as to what order they are in? Leave some speculations in the "comments" box and test your taxonomic intuitions... (AY)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Simple Plan to ID Every Creature on Earth

i found this article in Wired magazine about a lepidopterist trying to build a machine that can identify any organism. he's been at it for a while.

find it at:


Thursday, October 16, 2008

World's Longest Insect

And for a tour of the stick-insect collection at the Natural History Museum with the Curator of Stick-Insects:




Thursday, October 9, 2008

Artist Miriam Wosk

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Wosk's works dazzle the viewer with the extravagance of their labor for just this effect; their excess alluding to the futility of earthly pursuits, while also reminding us of just how precious life is. Elegiac and celebratory at the same time, they reveal the artist's desire to, as she puts it, "explore the paradoxes and contradictions inherent in the human experience, life's beauty and its shadow."

Miriam Wosk at Billy Shire fine arts

Green Porno

Found these videos on the Sundance website which were hilarious as they illustrate reproduction of insects.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Perry Bible Fellowship caterpillars
-posted by scott

Praying mantis footage

Chinese Mantis, Tenodera aridifolia
(from Chevalier Woods, Chicago)

I ran and got my camera like a hysterical father because I thought my
mantis was about to give birth. Several hours and no births later, I
now attribute this throbbing abdominal behaviour to oxygen deprivation.
More air holes have been added.

-posted by scott

Ready.....? FIGHT!

A weird Japanese show where people put 2 insects (sometimes not), together and have them do it street fighter style. Below is one that I find rather amusing.

Click here

Giant Weta

Wetas are natives to New Zealand and are the world's largest kind of cricket. They weight around 20-30 gm. A female weta, when pregnant, can weight up to 70 gm, heavier than a sparrow! Their diet is mostly veggies and fruits. They tend to be not very social but are pretty passive. Who wouldn't want a cute little (well, not so little) weta as a pet?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

INSECT ART by German Artist DAIM

by Michael