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!"


Vampire Moths !

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A few weeks ago we discussed the mating swarms of mayflies. This town gets visited every year.

Also going back to learning about ant lions, here's a kid comparing them to creatures from star wars

There's a band called Insect Grinder whose singer is a cricket.


Anyone looking for some new additions to your insect collection or some revenge? This site sells pubic lice for the purpose of revenge.


Two New Bee Species Found

"Two New Bee Species Are Mysterious Pieces in the Panama Puzzle"

"ScienceDaily (Oct. 18, 2011) — Smithsonian scientists have discovered two new, closely related bee species: one from Coiba Island in Panama and another from northern Colombia. Both descended from of a group of stingless bees that originated in the Amazon and moved into Central America, the ancestors of Mayan honeybees. The presence of one of these new species on Coiba and Rancheria Islands, and its absence from the nearby mainland, is a mystery that will ultimately shed light on Panama's history and abundant biodiversity..."

Cited: Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (2011, October 18). Two new bee species are mysterious pieces in the Panama puzzle. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2011, from­ /releases/2011/10/111018155223.htm

Click here for the link to read the fill story:

This relates to our current topic about insect migration from mainland to island. And also sheds light on a debate about the age of the connection between North and South America due to the discovery that 17 million years ago the bees had already been established in Central America.


Human bot fly removal. I am terrified.

Human Bot Fly Removal from Eli Adler on Vimeo.
I couldn't get it to connect the link...

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pretty Death Fungus & Ovipositing Wasps

Poor Ants...


Only a few Parasites manage to break through the ant's very dominant well equipped defenses.

We read this week about the Ant-decapitating Fly [the Conopidae fly or a new family of Phoridae fly] and the ant-narcotic excreting Assasin Bug [Ptilocerus ochraceus] and here are two more: Videos of some Wasps ovipositing [laying eggs inside of] Ants, and a video of some beautiful fungus called Cordycps, which infects ants along with a variety of other insects.

The eggs of one kind of wasp develop inside adult ants. The eggs of the another kind of wasp develop in the larvae of ants. How the newly developed young wasps manage to survive inside the ant nest is still unknown. One possible explanation is that the dead ants may be deposited outside the entrance of the ant nest, giving the young wasps a chance to be born and avoid ant attacks.

Below is an AWESOME video of the fungus that infects insects. In the Ant example, we see non-infected ants carrying off infected ants. This might be how the young wasps live when hatching from the ant.

More ovipositing:


So many Monarchs in one place


Winging it

Ah, wings.  Do I mean Buffalo wings?  No.  The 70's prog rock band The Wings  headed up by (the just re-married)  Paul McCartney?  No again.  Obviously I am talking about the most interesting kind of wings there are - insect wings. 

In considering whether I should renew my subscription to WIRED magazine I came across this small slideshow of insect wings that is also a nice and brief guided tour of their function and evolution! Check it out.


Bugs as Food! Talk at "Re-thinking Soup"

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

On the subject of lice and hair

Here's a modern way we've grown to deal with Lice,
"Hair Fairies" in San Francisco, a salon-esque place
where parents bring their children to get 'nit-picked'.
It was featured on Dirty Jobs, which is where I pulled this clip.


Monday, October 17, 2011

kuwagata tsumami くわがたツマミ

In the reading this week, Yearnings, from Insectopedia, there was a small reference to a Japanese TV show for kids about a little girl who has a human mother and a father that is a beetle. So, I looked it up out of curiosity and here it is...

Kate Patterson

Shaggy The Bed Bug Beagle


Recently my roommate and I discovered a bed bug...but we made an appointment with a very friendly bed bug Beagle named Shaggy.

Here is Shaggy after he searched my apartment...

The Beagle sniffed through the apartment in search of odors that smell sweet like raspberries or moldy. If Shaggy found anything he would scratch the floor with his paw indicating that there was a bed bug or egg.

Shaggy and his trainer didn't find anything so I am completely bed bug free!!If you do find a bed bug call these guys!

I got my bed bug from the train so try not to sit on the seats folks!


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Jorge Pardo at neugerriemschneider
Just thought I'd share...not because I'm particularly interested in it, but it relates to insects at a superficial level/life on a grander level.

"All the works revolve around the exhibition space, its walls, the room, the images, the viewer, a lot of circles and of course themselves."


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

and he sticks the landing!

Hubert Duprat

Artist Hubert Duprat's collaboration with CADDIS (tune in at 2:39 to hear about this project in particular). Working off the knowledge that caddis construct protection out of their surroundings, he placed the larvae in a laboratory where they would construct his piece out of the gold he provided. There were no other materials surrounding them, so they had no choice but to work with what he made available to them...a forced collaboration of sorts.


snapshots from Montrose Beach

As I am sure you all know, this weekend for our collecting trip we went to Montrose Beach. The weather was beautiful and the insects were visible. Here are a few pictures I took along the way.

They had cut some down some of the taller grass near the docks, so we ended up spending most of our time in the Bird Sanctuary.

There were many grasshoppers. This guy found his way into my net while I was just making my way through some of the taller grass.

A couple of students [myself included] also caught some praying mantis.

Like Isabella, I have decided to keep my little guy as a pet until he passes a month or so from now. He is living in a retired terrarium with plenty of small branches, leaves and of course food (crickets). So far he hasn't been too active– he mostly hangs from the top of the screen.

DiAnna P.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Collecting in early August....

The weather was simply glorious Sunday - what it should have been like the past few weeks, but alas was towards the very end of insect season... And an interesting season it seems to have been. Certain species of butterflies appear to be doing fine fluttering-by, like this member of the Pieridae that Susie netted  ~

And another here....

This small guy had lost some scales over his time out-and-about, but still was in great shape, 

Other members of the Lepidoptera seem to be doing less well (or at least are less abundant around here) this year.  For instance, we found hardly any Monarchs in the last few weeks to tag and release compared to years past ~  This one Jack found had only it wings left (in perfect shape, I might add), having been snatched up and eaten by what I suspect was a praying mantis (?) 

Speaking of which, here was a pair of them in the same tall grass in mid-mating.   Of course we've been reading about the females purported proclivity for eating males, though there was no such evidence of those kind of shenanigans here....

In fact, on closer inspection of the female, it was clear she had had her own close-calls and run-ins with other wildlife. Given the damage to her abdomen I doubt she was in much shape to mate or lay eggs.. . it looks like she dodged the (incompletely) the curoius peck of a bird's beak a few days back.

A number of people caught some interesting wasps (this one stung me, but only just glancing...)

And some cicadas, in the midst of their last "hurrah" were also around, sometimes even outo fth ehight rees(this one flew stright into my neck!) 

Some beetles earwigs, and associates were also to be found  as we looked around. Overall, some nice work for a late season trip ~

Egg Case!

Hello Everyone,

The Praying Mantis I caught at the Rosemont location a couple of Sundays back laid her egg case! (Maybe yesterday morning or the day before, I think.) I discovered it when I went to feed her.

- Julia

Friday, October 7, 2011


Here's an article I found in the BBC

Kate Patterson


While looking through the New York Times style magazine, T, I came across this chandelier designed by Ingo Maurer, a German lighting designer. It was made for the dining room in a 19th century apartment in Munich. It is a twelve foot tall mass of sponges, LEDs, and hand made and colored insects, lizards, and other little creatures. Maurer worked in collaboration with a few artists to accomplish his vision, including a California artist/photographer, Graham Owens. I investigated him further and found he specializes in making super realistic replicas of insects and insect behavior. His site is worth checking out, his realism is amazing!

Also, the article on Maurer's Biotope chandelier is interesting, and the online version of the article has great photos/closeups and a feature where you can super zoom on its surface to look for the hidden insects that live there.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

japanese kabutomushi beetle

some impressive beetles!

this video is just cute, not really anything else.

Kate Patterson

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sylvia Mantis and Matt Jr. Mantis

On the collection trip this past Sunday I caught two pregnant female Mantids. I decided to keep them as pets until they lay their eggs and die a natural death. Here are some photos and a status update for you guys on how they are doing!

This is Sylvia Mantis, the bigger of the two, crawling onto my friends face to say hello.

A close up of Sylvia.

This is Matt Jr. Mantis, who is much smaller and less intimidating than Sylvia. Matt Jr. enjoys sitting on my shoulder and climbing to the top of piles of random stuff on my desk. Both Mantids are living in Tupperware containers filled with leaves, sticks, and a few crickets. Sylvia is refusing to eat anything, which probably means she is going to lay her eggs soon. Matt Jr. however, has no reservations about eating. She is averaging 3 to 4 crickets per day.

Hopefully you guys are as enamored as I am.

- Isabella

Katydid Nupital Gifts

This article is right in line with what was discussed last class. Males offering other gifts other than his sperm to the females. Females choosing mate based on best gift. Best gift = best male/genes for healthy offspring.

More nutrients for the young, something to occupy the female during insemination. Yay Sexual Selection!


A new study of katydids in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B -- co-authored by U of T Mississauga professor Darryl Gwynne -- supports a theory that females will search if males offer a lot more than just sperm.

"In this beast [in this study], it's a big cheesy, gooey substance that the male ejects when he copulates," says Gwynne. "It's attached to his sperm packet, so while she's being inseminated, she can reach back and grab this mating gift and eat it."

"Males mostly do the searching, because the Darwinian sexual selection process is typical stronger in males; they're competitive, says Gwynne." As a consequence of their eagerness to get to the females, the females just hang out waiting for the males to come to them."

And from the male's perspective, a large food gift not only potentially benefits his offspring, but distracts the female long enough to ensure that he has time for a full insemination. Otherwise, says Gwynne, "she's hungry...if he didn't give her this gift, she'd just pull off the sperm packet and snack on that like a little hors d'oeuvre."

Ryan M. Pfeiffer.

Insect Art

A friend showed me this site.
The artist uses insects to create cute scenes, like two bugs having ice cream.

Heres the link, enjoy:

Kate Patterson

Monday, October 3, 2011

Monarch Butterfly and Other Insects

From the collecting trip to the Chevalier Woods Forest Preserve on the 25th of September 2011.
A Monarch Butterfly we caught tagged and released.
An egg sack from a preying mantis and milkweed bug on a milkweed plant.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Mantis Day at the Forest Preserve

This week found us with MUCH better weather at Chevalier Woods, where it was sunny and the mantises in particular were FLYING! I think everyone who came caught at least one...

The glee in the chase was  evident in many eyes, including those of Hernan ~

While the eyes of others, like Jay, seemed to play off the colors, patterns, and shapes of the very insects we were collecting:

 Of course there were a wide range of others insects too, including curious looking moths:

And charismatic beetles that looked surprisingly like "ladybugs" (but aren't!) ~

Some other red & blacks that typically loiter on milkweed plants ~

And some insects pairing up for the act of procreation!

Bees and others could also "bee" found...

As well as a whole mess of dragonflies. Most were flying too high and fast for anyone to catch, though Isabella snagged this one:

And Ryan bagged one as well - though sadly (as thestory often goes)  that was the one that got away on (when trying to get it out of the net...)

He stuck around after we left in pursuit, so I'll be curious to hear if he got one in the end ~ ?


Saturday, October 1, 2011

10,000 bugs

This week in the insect world we find an artist taking their numerical dominance seriously in a recent exhibit in Nottingham Castle (of all places).  Remember the estimate is 200 million insects for evey human individual on the globe - while this show only features 10,000 handmade bugs, it is still an impressive feat to say the least.

I don't know anything more about the piece, its intentions, or the use of insects, but this slideshow from the BBC lets us have a look at some of the process...