Sunday, September 28, 2014

Fairies by Cedric Laquieze

 Artist Cedric Laquieze  creates tiny intricate fairies out of the bodies of many  different insects including  scorpions,butterflies,beetles, and even bones and seeds.  You can find his website here

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Fly

In response to the recent post about "the Lobster" I wanted to share a lovely poem by Galway Kinnell called "The Fly."

The fly
I've just brushed
off my face keeps buzzing
about me, flesh-
starved for the soul.

One day I may learn to suffer
his mizzling, sporadic stroll over eyelid or cheek,
even hear my own singing
in his burnt song.

The bee is the fleur-de-lys in the flesh.
She has a tuft of the sun on her back.
She brings sexual love to the narcissus flower.
She sings of fulfillment only
and stings and dies, and
everything she ever touches
is opening, opening.

And yet we say our last goodbye
to the fly last,
the flesh-fly last,
the absolute last,
the naked dirty reality of him last. 


Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace


This article is about the ethics of eating lobsters. I figured it could be interesting to read this exploration of eating a kind of arthropod, especially with all the talk of entomophagy in class. It questions what we actually mean when we talk about pain and "putting something out of its suffering". Plus, I take every opportunity to make people read David Foster Wallace.

--Hannah Wright

My favorite line:

"There is, after all, a difference between (1) pain as a purely neurological event, and (2) actual suffering, which seems crucially to involve an emotional component, an awareness of pain as unpleasant, as something to fear/dislike/want to avoid."

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Nuclear Accidents and Insect Form

We've been talking about the process of the pupa in completely metamorphic (holometaboluos insects), the final act being the molt out of the pupal case when the adult emerges in its final form - this last molt is called "eclosion"

Now a study claims a large number of pale blue butterflies in Japan that fail to properly eclose and show a range of other deformities is likely due to mutational changes caused by the radiation which leaked from the Fukushima Dainichi plant in 2011.

This finding are reminiscent of artist Cornelia Hesse-Hoenegger's claims that many mutant insects can also be found in Europe due to radiation exposure from the Chernoyll nuclear power plant accident in the 1980's.

Her beautiful and haunting illustrations of these mutant insects provide a complement to this more recent research - take a look at some HERE. 


Monday, September 22, 2014

My Introduction To The Praying Mantis

I went on my first insect collecting trip, finally!!! We went to Montrose beach and caught a lot of grasshoppers. I am hoping to go to the trip off of Rosemont to collect some mantes. I've often encountered huge beetles and mantes in my backyard back at home, so I'm anticipating this last insect collecting trip. While thinking about it I remembered this funny guy on Youtube who makes short factual videos about animals, and he did have one about the Praying Mantis.

It's definitely not his funniest one, but I found it comical and relevant to this class. He also has some on dung beetles, and other arthropods!



Sunday, September 21, 2014

Hopper Tacos

In today's bug hunting trip, I caught enough grasshoppers and crickets to make a meal.

Since hearing that large scale entomophagy has potential as a more environmentally efficient of protein then animal live stock, ive been fascinated with a future with beetle burgers, fly fritters, and peanut butterfly jelly sandwiches.

I decided to cook them chapuline style, a dish common in parts of Mexico. while cooking the crickets I found the process to be kind of diabolical, before reading anymore be warned it may seem kind of nasty.

First I made sure I had all my ingredients

Then I put the crickets in the fridge for an hour, the cold slows their metabolism and makes them sluggish. They are a lot easier to handle this way. The other advantage to this method is it does not kill them. After a cricket dies funk sets in quickly, making them too rotten to eat. Like lobster, it is best to cook them alive. This made sense to me because both species are arthropods.

so into the pot they go

They need to cook in boiling water for one or two minuets, until they turn red

like Lobster. After they are cooked, drain them...

 pull their legs and wings off...

and fry them in a sauce pan tablespoon of canola oil on medium heat

I added garlic and lime juice after three minutes and turned it down to a simmer 

When they were done, made them into taco

added the fixings....

and chowed down

 the one that got away

If you have read this far then maybe you are interested in eating insects too. They were tasty, especially in a taco. the bigger grasshoppers I tended to like more because they were meatier. I wish I used more oil to fry them in so they could have been cruncher. It was an overall good eating experience, this experience has taught me that I would love to live in a world of mass entomophagy. I'll probably eat more bugs when I get the chance. If I catch enough next week, I'm going try chocolate covered crickets.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Sunny Midwestern Days Looking at Insects....

On recent collecting trips in Chicago our entomology class has been having a good time of observing insects at the end of their season:

The "field" of inquiry...

Two mating Chinese mantids, the female to lay her eggs in the next couple of weeks!


Meanwhile, two Carolina mantids, perhaps about to attack the tiny students in the background.


more than almos

 Milkweed bugs in all stages of development.

Tagging a Monarch as part of the Monarch Watch program

Hasta luego, va a viajar a Mexico - release! safe travels.

Cicada & grasshopper. An Aesop fable I never read?

everything comes from emanation

another field of inquiry - Montrose Harbor and the Magic Hedge 


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Polka Dotted Clown Weevil (Pachyrrhynchus orbifer)

I thought you guys would like  these photos of  the Polka Dotted Weevil I found.
( Photographs by Kohichiro Yoshida )

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

"a pest for every season" ?

The Chicago Tribune had a little article the other day about "Pests of the Season" - the highlighted critter? Yellowjackets. For those of you who went collecting with us the other day, you'll remember we found a colony nesting in the ground under a tree.

Here is a quote that piqued my curiosity though: 

"If they're on the home or on the premises, there's a possibility you may have a child or a resident who may be allergic," says Tom Dobrinska, a board-certified entomologist and training director with Elmhurst, Illinois-based Anderson Pest Solutions. "If they get stung, you're talking about possible anaphylactic shock or even death."

Please help me parse the logic of the claim made above: If you have wasps around your home, then you could be allergic?  Are the presence of wasps something that makes an allergic person more likely? hmmm... sounds like a great way to seel some bug spray...


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Dragons and Damsels

Here is a short article and a couple recent New York Times videos on dragonflies and their superb abilities as fliers and predators of the sky.

In the first video the last 5 seconds have amazing slow-mo scenes of a frog trying to eat one one of these Odonates: good luck buddy!

In interviewing Dr. Jessica Ware in the second video you get priceless lines like:

"You'll never see a dragonfly on a a piece of jewelry eating a face off a butterfly, but that's exactly what they do."

Have you noticed autumn is a great season for them? There was quite a swarm flying at window level outside the lab this week (15th floor!)