Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Colors of Beetles and Fossil Research


My roommate just showed me this short article from BBC News. Since we were recently discussing beetles in class I found this pretty interesting-

- Julia

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Trip To Chevalier Woods (rain be damned)

Well, brave or fool-hardy I am not sure, but a set of us went out this past rainy and cold Sunday to make the most of a chance to collect insects. It started out wet, but cleared up - for some moments even spots of sun!

Julia wasn't shy about taking a hatchet to this rotting to tree to see what we might find

While the nets were useful for Emily and Ana to nab fast flyers like hover flies..

Some classic Orthopterans could be found hanging around,

While praying mantises, though tough as ever to find, also made some appearances!  A not uncommon occurrence out at Chevalier Woods ~

Little juveniles of a certain bug in a milkweed pod....

As well as some non-arthropod friends too. Snakes, field mice and a few other Friends Of the Forest were about. (This guy gave us permission to take his photo, so no copyright or in..formed consent issues here...)


Monday, September 26, 2011

Bees from the Hive...

This past week as I was working at Common Ground Fair I met some people I thought us hexapod fans should know about. The Beehive Collective, and activist non-profit community, based out of Maine that uses the animal kingdom to depict epic stories of our current world. All of the murals and tapestries are anonymous and bought strictly on suggested donations. Not only does their mission support working together as one organism like a hive but their art uses plenty of six-leggers to reference animal behavior in humans.
Really cool, beautiful stuff. 
Check them out:

Hiding in the city

Look what I found hiding amongst the weeds in the SAIC courtyard garden! Could it be?! A White Lined Sphinx! My My... 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

happening of gynandromorphy

From the website of the Natural History Museum in London, I came across a nice article on a recently hatched (this past July) gynandromorphous butterfly.

This Great Mormon is described as being, "...a pure bilateral gynandromorph. One half of the butterfly is female, with paler colouring and flecks of blue, red and tortoiseshell. The other half is male, with darker colouring."

Gynandromorphy itself is not all that much of a rarity in nature, however, "Pure bilateral gynandromorphs are incredibly rare," according to the NHM's butterfly house manager, Luke Brown.

There are actually a few things that can lead to this:

"Bilateral gynandromorphy results if this error occurs during the first cell division, resulting in an insect that has male cells on one side and female cells on the other.

Gynandromorphy can also occur when an egg with two sex chromosomes, instead of the normal one, gets fertilised by two sperm."

If you check out this (brief) article itself, the author goes into a bit more deal about the museum's excitement over their unique Great Mormon butterfly, gynandromorphy and the "Sensational Butterfly Exhibit" in which this guy/gal is exhibited.

DiAnna P.

Japanese Bug Fights


So a friend of mine introduced this to me a while back, and although I am unsure of the actual title of which this is broadcasted, the footage seems to be a bunch of videos under the umbrella subject of 'Japanese bug fights' (Centipedes, Scorpions and others included.) I was not too sure of what to make of it- but they are in a way addicting to watch, even with no subtitles.

These websites are video collections of them:

- Julia

Animal Sex Issue #2, Bugs and Slugs

Hello All,

Recently I have been working on a self published Zine called Animal Sex Issue #2, Bugs and Slugs. This zine is a sequel to a book I did last year, Animal Sex; You Might Not Want to Know, which highlighted the strangest animal mating habits I could find. The second issue, Bugs and Slugs, highlights some of the mating habits of slugs, snails, insects, and some non-insect Arthropods. The book is not finished yet, but I thought it would be nice to post a sneak peak on this blog. The Following Images are pages as they will appear in the zine.

Thank you for checking out these sneak peak pages! I hope you learned something new and disturbing. This book should be finished and available at Quimby’s and Chicago Comics, along with the first issue of Animal Sex, by early October.

Isabella Rotman

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sweet Nest

A while back I left my window open in my room before leaving for a few weeks. When I came back I found this wasp nest built all around the window so you could see the insides.

-Rob S.

insects and candy

The other day I decided to stop into a candy shop near my house and while in there my friend and I came across some "novelty" insect-edibles. They had "Salt N' Vinegar" and "Bacon and Cheese" Crick-Ettes as well as BBQ "Larvettes" .

The box Crick-Ettes described them as being The Other Green Meat and on the back showed a diagram explaining the cuts of meat on a cricket (as well as the nutritional facts).

We decided to try out some of the Crick-Ettes: both the Salt N' Vinegar and the Bacon and Cheese flavored ones.

They were terrible.

And when I say they were terrible, I don't want you misunderstand my reasoning. The fact that they were insects is not what made them unappealing, but rather the horrible chemical flavor that they were coated in is what made them so nasty. I'm sure the fake "bacon" flavor was put on their for the purpose of making the idea of eating insects more digestible to the general public, but it made them totally repulsive to me.

Hotlix is the distributor of this specific candy and if you visit their website they have some other (slightly more appealing) product, such as chocolate covered ants and scorpion suckers. There are also some popular websites that will sell some insects as novelty foods. On ThinkGeek you can find toasted leaf-cutter ants and oven baked-tarantula.

If you want to try out eating insects for the first time I would recommend you stay away from anything marked "bbq" or "bacon". Shoot for something chocolate dipped or be daring and find a recipe for some chapulines.

-DiAnna P.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Butterfly Scale "Micro-Mosaics" at the MJT

Hey you guys!

In case you're from the Los Angeles area, or might want to visit there, there's a great museum in Culver City called The Museum of Jurassic Technology. It's an amazing little museum of odd relics and artifacts of questionable authenticity. There is an entire history of trailer parks, a natural history of the Cat's Cradle, mice on toast, tiny statues of The Pope, Napoleon, and Goofy inside the heads of sewing needles, and at the end of the tour, you get free tea and cookies--seriously. There's also an exhibit of "micro-mosaics" made entirely out of real butterfly scales. The artist somehow placed the butterfly scales on a microscope slide with tweezers into beautiful little glittering pictures you have to look at under magnification. Here's a couple of them:

Pretty, huh?
I strongly urge you to check this museum and these butterfly scale mosaics out.
The Museum of Jurassic Technology


the bedbug wars (self-inflicted wounds)

Here at the Insect World we've done a number of posts about bedbugs, though granted not as many as we could given just what a menace they have become in the U.S. in the last few years.

As the NY Times reports, a new study by the Centers for Disease Control shows that over the past few years 111 people have become very sick from using pesticides in hopes of getting rid of the critters, including, sadly, even one death but mis-use of them:

"The poisonings serve as a warning, experts said, that people could do more damage to their health by misusing pesticides than they would suffer from the bedbugs, which are upsetting and unpleasant, but not known to be carriers of disease.

“People lose their minds and, yeah, they’ll do a lot of things trying to get rid of them,” said Dini M. Miller, associate professor of urban pest management at Virginia Tech. “Certainly the over application of pesticides is one of them.”

The stories recounted in the article are quite something...

Of course it is in fact  the overuse of pesticides (and the consequent evolution of resistance to them) that has lead to the current state of affairs....

For a little primer on bedbugs, check out this National Geographic video.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Orthopterans, and More Orthopterans

This past week in the Insect World found us dissecting grasshoppers (sometimes known as "Louisiana Lubbers" of the genus Romalea). Here we have them rinsing pre-event...

 And once you carefully pull the one apart, you can see details like tracheal tubes that let the insect
breathe ( alas, no need for lungs! )

 This configuration, post dissection, made me think of the National Geographic image from their 

OK, enough about hoppers, time I better hop along myself...



One of my favorite current young cartoonists, Michael Deforge, is currently working on a project that will consist of 50 one page comics. A new one appears every other Monday and it is called Ant Comic. I'm really excited about this project because Deforge has a great surreal and colorful style and a funny way of storytelling. It's also interesting to see ants depicted in such a human and kind of pathetic way.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"hairs" to insects!

Adrienne Antonson has an interest in two things that might not seemed connected at first: Human hair and insects.  Hmm... how to put these together in to one artistic practice?

Viola - make bugs out of cut bangs.

The Huffington Post reports of Antonson's work and its connection to ethics and material sustainability, as well as of course bugs. Her method of making these insects makes me think of the fly lures that people tie for fly fishing.  SAIC faculty Joseph Grigley did a nice piece on that topic for Cabinet magazine a little while back...

Read about and see a slideshow of some of this  work here ~


Monday, September 12, 2011

Collecting Trip Uno - Montrose Beach

The first excursion for the Insect World found us on a stunning day at Montrose Beach. Only six of us total (ahem) but that was fine - more insects for us!

Here a bee is enjoying some lovely flowers of early autumn - get in on it while you still can...

Monarch butterflies were around and about and we tagged and released a couple that we caught as part of the Monarch Watch program.

Speaking of the Lepidoptera, caterpillars were in large numbers, be they spiny or smooth:

And of course the crooners of the season, annual cicadas....


And the odd butterfly here or there ~