Thursday, January 30, 2014

Ant Farmers | Fungus Garden

Inhabitat just published a post in their "Biomimicry Manual" on leaf-cutter ants, comparing them to sustainable agricultural practices. Apparently leaf-cutter ants collect leaves as mulch to grow a specific type of fungus that they feed off of. The ants and the fungi have a mutualistic symbiotic relationship, in which the fungus transforms nutrients into a form the ants are able to consume, and the ants help the fungus grow while providing protection. More detailed information on how this works is here.


The Insect Fear Film Festival

Who's up for some late-night creepy crawlies?


Initiated in 1984, the Insect Fear Film Festival is a series of educational public events on insects organized by the Department of Entomology at University of Illinois in Champaign Urbana.

Programming includes lecture, film screenings, an insect petting zoo(!), an ART CONTEST, and other activities.

I've never been to it, so I can't really tell you much more except that it sounds awesome. This year's event is on Saturday February 22, 2014 from 6PM until midnight +.

If you're interested in going it is pooosssible that I might have room to carpool.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Ant Heads!

Some of you asked about additional images/resources for ant photos after we looked at a small sample today in class.

Here is a link to a page where I sourced the ones I showed you in class:

And here is a smorgasbord of ant images (and remarkable scientific detail) from the online ant site AntWeb.   Browse around here and have your mind blown!


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Non-newtonian Ants?

Fire ants in groups can act as a "liquid" and "solid".
Check out this video on IFLSCIENCE.

hugs & bugs,


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Insect Birth Control

A brief report in the New York Times discusses the discovery of something that biologists knew was there and at work in social insects colonies, but had never conclusively identified - the fertility-suppressing pheromone that queens give off to keep the other workers in the colony sterile, and thus non-reproductive. Yes, this handy pheromone keeps the ovaries of other ants or bees from properly developing.

Cooperation in the superorganism/colony isn't just by simple consent, but rather a negotiation of a variety of  priorities and sometimes competing interests - at least from the point of view of natural selection...


Monday, January 13, 2014

Caudal Autotomy - Tail Loss

Many lizards have the ability to lose their tail to escape from predators, the lizards then have the ability to regenerate cartilage tails. In some cases, as in this lizard I found while cleaning up some debris in our field, the tail is also vibrantly colored to attract predators (better to get nipped in the butt than the face). Not only does the tail detach, but it also has the ability to wriggle around for a long time, distracting the predator, while the lizard has a chance to get away. I think I got too close to this lizard and spooked the poor thing.

hugs 4 bugs,


Moth Thermoregulation

This large moth was stuck in the tatami room and was flying around, but it stopped and rested for a long time, I caught it and brought it to the window to let it go, but it did not fly away. After awhile though, the moth started vibrating its wings really fast. This wing-vibration produces heat in their thorax, raising the temperature in the flight muscles of the wings which large moths need to do prior to flight because they are mostly nocturnal and do not have the radiant energy of the sun at their disposal.

hugs 4 bugs,


Nippon Animal Pictures

Just some of the insects, myriapods, and other animals I encountered over my adventures in Japan on the Japan: Nature, Aesthetics, Science, and Technology Summer 2013 Study Trip and then while WOOFing in the mountains north of Kyoto in Miyama.


Add caption


hugs 4 bugs,


Mr. Finch's Vintage Textile Flora & Fauna

I ran across these awesome little creations on Colossal by self taught artist who calls himself Mister Finch. He lives in Leeds in Yorkshire and creates flowers, insects, arachnids, fungi, birds and other inspirations from nature out of recycled materials, mostly vintage textiles!

hugs 4 bugs,