Friday, December 21, 2012

Fire and Phorids

Yay! I found something that will play Flash video properly. Follow the link to see my puppet show rendition of the fire ants vs. phorid fly vs. humans situation.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Bee Keeping Classes

Chicago Honey Co-op has beekeeping classes begining in January!! The classes will be held at Jane Addams Hull House Museum (UIC) from 10AM to 3PM. Class costs $75.

I am working on binding books at North Branch Projects with Insect themes...

Thanks for a great semester everyone!


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Media Project "The Waggle Dance Of the Honey Bee"

beefinal from Emma on Vimeo.

Here is my media project! It is a hand drawn animation about the waggle dance. It's narrated so make sure the volume is on - or click here 


Life, in some form

A new exhibition featuring two artists, Marissa Lee Benedict (image of work, left) and Brittany Ransom(image of work, right), who are interested in objects of transformation, technology, science, nature, etc!
It also features a Twitter-Remote-Controlled-Cockroach! Where participants are asked to tweet at the program connected to the cockroach and effects its movement. Also, Ransom will exhibit steel sculptures inhabited by various stages of metamorphosis for moths.  More here!

Opening Reception: December 7, 6-9


Monday, December 3, 2012

Bees Swarming

I was looking to see if there were any long videos of bees. No commentary or editing or anything. Just a nice long video of bees living out their lives.

Hard to find any. But I found one that shows bees swarming while searching for a new home.

It got really exciting at the end when they were all preparing to fly off.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Cephalopod Eyes

I was looking stuff up about octopus eyes and noticed an article titled "What animal has a more sophisticated eye, Octopus or Insect."

I remembered talking about the convergent evolution of eyes and how the octopus eye differed in that the nerves are attached at the back. Apparently that's because the eye evolved as an invagination of the skin, meaning that the eye evolved from the skin going inwards rather than an outward extension of the brain.

The article says that all invertebrate eyes develop as an invagination while vertebrate eyes are all extensions of the brain. I wonder if invertebrate invagination includes insects?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

SpaceX Grasshopper


My brother works at SpaceX and sent me this link along with this message:

"I . . . called the test engineering manager for Dragon and said, 'I'm bored.  Is there anything I can help out with out there this evening?' and he replied, 'Get over here ASAP!  Grasshopper is about to hop!'"

This is just more proof that by studying insects, engineers and scientists can get a whole lot of inspiration for their designs. (Even if it looks nothing like a grasshopper.) And it's a huge leap for reusable spacecraft.


Disappearing Bees

This is so weird. Until today, I'd thought the whole bees disappearing thing was just a joke in Doctor Who. Then this morning, I was listening to a podcast (not even a scientific one) where they mentioned findings in this article and I had to look it up. It was only later in the night that I saw the subject of the Insect World readings and videos for this week. It was crazy.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Cobweb Hotel

This short video is a documentary showing the interactions of flies and what seems to be a rare 6-legged talking spider. Examples of mimicry, predation, and sociality between flies are included.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Spooky Bugs

Nothing better than when your students come to entomology class dressed up in insect themes for Halloween!

Thanks to Justin for taking and posting these photos, of me, Rex, and Melissa


The Eagleman Stag Animation

Monday, October 22, 2012

9,000 butterflies killed


hexapod fashions


bug ink

I came across this specimen on a Tumblr site. Quite beautiful, no? Can you name the Order of this critter - or perhaps this demands the creation of a new on?   Insect tattoos are popular among the inked folk, and as you might expect, Lepidoptera and Odonata abound... Some other examples:


Sunday, October 21, 2012

human DNA from maggots ~

A report just came out on grubs doing that much more in helping identify the circumstances and details of death. Sure, different flies' life cycles might help with the timing and location of death, but what about those really tough cases when you might not be able to even ID a body, or the body is gone but the grubs remain?  

Turns outs since maggots ingest the human cells, they also obviously ingest the human DNA as well, and scientists have just been able to isolate such DNA for the purposes of identifying a mystery body!

Read the press blurb here


Monday, October 15, 2012

Urban bugs ~

For all you guys still trying to round out your collection, don't neglect the already dead bugs around and about the city - photographer Xavier Nuez certainly doesn't in his photo series glam-bugs.

Dead bugs can sometimes be "re-hydrated" to be pined out and  go into a collection so why not catch a few?


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Video of Lord Howe Stick Insect Nymph Hatching

So after reading the article about the stick insects found on Balls Pyramid, I did a little research, just to get a bit of context and I stumbled upon this video of one of the nymphs in the zoo hatching!

When it first emerges, it seems like just a strange green glob, and even after the majority of it's body is out, the rest of it is all legs, and (well, to me) it got a little frustrating watching it struggle to pull them out. 

Lord Howe Island Stick Insect hatching from Zoos Victoria on Vimeo.

Originally seen in an npr article.

Also, in case you were wondering what Balls Pyramid looks like, it really is all cliff:

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Litter Bug

By artist Mark Oliver, who creates and names his own bugs made out of everyday objects.

For more: Here

-Tim L

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Ant Colony Revealed.

 Over the course of three days, scientists pumped 10 tons of concrete into an ant hill.  After letting it set, the colony was excavated, revealing a structure of staggering complexity covering 50 square meters and running 8 meters deep. The ants who built this particular colony moved out 40 tons of earth in the process of construction, with each worker carrying three times his own weight in soil on each trip. According to the video, it is the ant equivalent of building the Great Wall.
A vast complex city-state with tubular roads and air vents and bulbous extensions, it looks space age in the contained environment manner of Charles De Gaul International airport with its connected travel tubes and pods.  It calls to mind Frank Herbert’s Dune with its underground drug mining society and giant worms.  These are the Invisible Cities that Italo Calvino didn’t write about. 

- Alexandra

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Songs of Swoon

We've been talking a lot about insect calls, mating, and sexual selection the last couple of weeks. Indeed, interest in chirping crickets and katy-diding katydids is literally in the air. Here is a brief reflection by Diane Ackerman last week in the NY Times.

(illustration by Celyn Brazier)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Praying Mantis Eggs

I got a female praying mantis a few weeks back and it was pretty pregnant with a large abdomen, so I decided to keep it alive. Well, she laid her eggs on the inside of a shoebox and plastic wrap. I'm going to put the eggs somewhere hopefully safe outside.

-Tim L.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Manduca quinquemaculata: The Tomato Hornworm

In KLAB yesterday we planted some brassicas like kohlrabi, a couple different varieties of garlic, spinach, argula, and purslane. We also harvested zucchini, strawberries, beans, and tomatos. On the tomato plants we were surprised to find these guys:

Claire told us they were tomato hornworms, larvae stage of Manduca quinquemaculata in the order Lepidoptera (adult stage is a sphinx moth)! The best way to get rid of them, is just by pulling them out of your tomato plants, we started hunting.

Observed a larvae spin itself a cocoon!

AH! What happened to this poor thing? Parasites. So I removed the tomato branch it was hanging on (it was still living) & I brought it inside to observe. I noticed there were larvae inside the cocoons hanging of the tomato hornworm's body. Claire & I did some Good ole' Googling, turns out these parasites are a type of braconid wasp, Cotesia congregatus. The adult C. congregatus will lay eggs in the tomato hornworm, the eggs will hatch and feed on the M. quinquemaculata larvae until they are ready to hatch as adult C. congregatus. So, the tomato hornworm, cute as it may be, is actually a pest for our tomato plants, so I put the parasitized tomato hornworm back in the garden.

The largest tomato hornworm we found (the one of my sunglasses in my previous post) is what is considered a 'wanderer' it is ready to pupate! So I decided that I am going to rear this M. quinquemaculata. It is interesting because this I thought that Lepidopterans going from the larvae to pupa instar will hang themselves and create their cases, but this tomato hornworm actually buries itself into the ground beneath the tomato plants during the winter will come out as a Sphinx moth in the spring, reproduce, lay eggs on the tomato plant, cycle begins again! I am moving it to a terrarium in which I will layer some soil and plant a tomato plant.

♥ moki

Pretty Insects from the KLAB Garden!

The Walking Cactus

The Walking Cactus   D. cactiformis

This species of Onychophora (or velvet worms), was named one of the top ten most interesting discoveries in nature for 2012. The armoured lobopodians had wormlike bodies and multiple pairs of legs. D. cactiformis is significant because it has segmented legs adding weight to the theory that arthropods evolved from lobopodian ancestors.
I also wanted to post this because of the short discussion we had two weeks ago concerning Onychophora and the theory that caterpillars could mate with other species.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Mantis eyes

In one of our classes there was some talk about how a mantis' eyes looks like they're looking at you from whichever direction you look at the mantis. At this point I wondered why the mantis I caught had black eyes instead of pupils.

Googling wasn't that much of a help but I did find some sites that had possible answers. So the eyes can change color. But why?

Photo forum with a hypothesis that darkness effects mantis eyes. I don't recall how it looked when I caught it but it was in my backpack for an hour or two.

According to a reply here, it's caused by a lack of humidity. Probably doesn't apply to the one I had.

The eyes of my mantis are still black to this day.
In the freezer.


Friday, September 21, 2012

The Poodle Moth!

Thought to be a new species discovered in 2009, the Venezuelan poodle moth has become a popular internet sensation. Just look at that face.


Industrial Moth Art

Michelle Stitzlein creates these beautiful lepidopterans from found objects and recycled materials.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Vanishing of the Bees

I am in Claire Pentecost's course Knowledge Lab (KLAB) this semester. Last week we watched a documentary called Vanishing of the Bees, 2010. This documentary really put into perspective the essential role of pollenating insects, particularly the honeybee, for modern living. Modern agricultural practices are at incredible fault for Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) which is  the name for this irregular circumstance of the vanishing honeybees. Monoculture and the use of systematic pesticides are both incredibily unsustainable and impractical practices.

It makes me want to be a bee keeper! Except there are a lot of jurisdictions that have to be followed in the suburbs and especially in the city (a couple of years ago KLAB wanted to bee keep in the garden, but the school nixed that idea due to legalities haha). However there are organizations such as  the Chicago Honey Co-op. fNews in April 2011 actually did a whole article about Chicago Beekeepers entitled: BUZZZZZ(ED): CHICAGO BEEKEEPERS. Check it out!

I know a local bee keeping family from where I live in Barrington, Illinois and have heard about their struggles to keep their business going, and I knew it was because 'the bees are disappearing' but I wasn't sure why that was happening and this documentary has really sparked a new research interest for me. Here is the preview trailer from the website... I have an avi copy of it I could share with whoever wanted to watch the documentary (just bring your laptop and ask me in class, it is on my usb drive). Also Flaxman Library has a copy of the DVD: the call numbers is DVD 6068.

♥ moki

Green Porno

Artist Isabella Rossellini has a series of videos called Green Porno in which she acts out the mating habits of different animals and insects. In tribute to our friends at the forest preserve, here is her video about Praying Mantids:


Ants, Parasites, and Insects on Radiolab

These Radiolab podcasts are about insects!

The first segment of Parasites is about parasitic wasps and other insects. The Argentine Ant short is about a species of ant that originated in Argentina and migrated all the way up to California. The first segment of Emergence, the episode that was on the air this week, is also about insects and it explores fireflies in Thailand and ants in New York City.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Tessa Farmer

Check out this work, might be inspiring...


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Princesses Become Warriors: Young Queens of Leafcutter Ants Change Roles If They Cannot Reproduce

Recently we discussed in class the role of a queen and her status to other ants. I thought this was interesting how the queen stayed alive even when it went sterile.

-Tim Lu

Friday, September 14, 2012

My caterpillar's been decapitated!!

Ohh, wait.. That's right.. They molt.

It's got a more vibrant looking exoskeleton now.

Here's the old husk. That stick is a Capri Sun straw.

Anyway, I managed to identify the species: Simyra insularis, the Cattail caterpillar or Henry's Marsh Moth. Lives near rivers, streams, marshes and feeds on the grasses there.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The insect mouth at work

(please also see the comments in the "comments" section)

We have been talking a lot about the anatomy of the insect mouth lately, and the grasshopper as our key  model for mouths across the diversity of diversity forms.  Likewise, we've been discussing the functional flexibility of traits in insects, and lo and behold, it looks like another one has been discovered: kissing!  Who knew.