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Posts Tagged "entomology"

Anthropology in Practice

What’s stopping us from eating insects?

Can insects feed a growing global population? | CC, click on image for license and information.

How many of you watch Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods on the Travel Channel? And how many of you have said, “I would never eat that!” Have you ever stopped to think about why you feel that way? What if you had no choice? What if you had been taught differently? As a part of the [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

Blueprints Revealed for a Milk-Making Insect with a Nasty Reputation

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African tsetse flies are not pleasant to encounter. Slightly larger than a horse-fly and very aggressive, they fly headlong toward their target at high speed, bounce off, and then search around for a suitable spot to tap it. If they are lucky enough to do so, they inflict a painful bite during which they drink [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

The Attack of the Giant Water Bug

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In the creeks and ponds of the world — including America — lives an insect that can reach four inches long and bears a pair of giant pincers and a beak for injective digestive enzymes into its victim. It goes by the name giant water bug. This is what it does for a living. What [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

How the Fleas’ Next of Kin Ended up Living on a Liverwort in Alaska

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Beware the Giant Paintbrush, Little Insect Way, way down in the southeast corner of Alaska lies Prince of Wales Island, the fourth largest in the United States. At around 2,500 square miles, it’s some 1,000 square miles larger than Long Island (which ranks a paltry 11th).  At the northern end of this sizeable but remote [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

The Glowing Spider-Worms of New Zealand

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Imagine you are a tiny caddisfly pupa. When you emerge from your pupal case, it is dark, but not pitch black, and high above you, you see the faint glow of a starry sky. On new wings, you rise. Cue angelic voices. Suddenly, you struggle against an invisible barrier. Cue scary cello. You begin to [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

The Surprising Culinary Delight of Honeydew, aka Plant Bug Poo

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To ease on in to the weekend, let’s celebrate by watching some short films on a topic that I mentioned earlier this week in my planthopper post: plant bug poo, aka honeydew. It’s not as gross as you might think. Plant bugs feed on plant sap, which is seriously low in protein. In order to [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

Planthoppers of Iran: Are You OK?

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Every once in a while, a scientific work comes along of such import that it is impossible not to cover it. Such is the paper “Planthoppers of Iran” (well, actually “An annotated checklist of the planthoppers of Iran (Hemiptera, Auchenorrhyncha, Fulgoromorpha) with distribution data“). Now, I’ll wager you know what an Iran is. But did [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

Cow-like Mealybug Home to Sexy Symbiotic Machine

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If it goes around on six legs, it doesn’t get much dowdier than the mealybug 1. Powdery, bovine, and frightening if you find them binging on your gardenias, these wax-shedding roving syringes are one of many mosquito-like parasites that plague plants. Yes, sexy, mealybugs are not — unless you look inside them. There, you will [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

Bombardier Beetles, Bee Purple, and the Sirens of the Night

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Author’s note: This essay was originally posted on April 19, 2011, at Artful Amoeba 1.0 honoring the work of the late Thomas Eisner, a world-renowned chemical ecologist. I’m reposting it in honor of Chemistry Day. Enjoy! If I read my notes correctly, Thomas Eisner once had a pet thrush named Sybil who rejected only five [...]

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Budding Scientist

It’s Raining Caterpillars [video]

Last week, my parents’ yard in Western Massachusetts was overrun with fuzzy black and white creatures known as Hickory Tussock Moth caterpillars (Lophocampa caryae).  Just after a rainstorm, I noticed that the caterpillars were hanging from trees like spiders, lowering themselves from branches on lines of silk (see video below; apologies for the commentary in [...]

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Budding Scientist

Woolly Bear Olympics, Ball Galls and more Fall Bug Fun

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Watching a Monarch butterfly flit past the 9th floor windows of our Manhattan offices the other day reminded me that the annual fall migration is in full swing. And with that thought came another: the end of summer need not spell the end of outdoor entomology projects. On a recent trip to Western Massachusetts, I [...]

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Compound Eye

How To Attract An Entomologist

[the following is a modified repost from PhotoSynthesis, 2009] Step 1. Locate a suitable patch of forest, field, or desert. Step 2. Wait for a warm, moonless summer night. Step 3. Using a long extension cord, plug in a blacklight. Or even better, a mercury-vapor lamp. Step 4. Sit back and watch your prey arrive.* [...]

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Guest Blog

The Asian long-horned beetle: Hopefully not coming to a neighborhood near you

Burncoat Street is a wide, suburban avenue above the industrial center of Worcester, Mass. Lined with single-family clapboard and brick houses, churches, an elementary and a high school, Burncoat Street is a typical New England neighborhood. Or was a typical New England neighborhood. Lately, something is missing. 18,095 somethings are missing. The trees. In 2008, [...]

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Observations

Deciphering the Strange Mathematics of Cicadas [Video]

“Periodical cicadas have the longest life cycles known for insects. They are called ‘periodical’ because in any one population all but a trivially small fraction are exactly the same age. The nymphs suck juices from the roots of forest trees and finally emerge from the ground, become adults, mate, lay their eggs, and die, all [...]

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Observations

Scientists Use Tiny Robots to Understand Ants [Video]

Want to know how ants think? Look to the robots. A study published in PLOS Computational Biology explains how researchers used tiny robots to investigate ant behavior. The researchers wanted to know if real ants use geometry to navigate their environment. They sent the robots through mazes where all paths diverged at the same angle, [...]

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Observations

The Biology of the Translucent Jewel Caterpillar, the Nudibranch of the Forest

Acraga coa larva

Yesterday, stunning photos of a semi-translucent, gelatinous caterpillar spread quickly across the Internet—probably setting a new speed record for larvae of all kinds. Scuba instructor and amateur wildlife photographer Gerardo Aizpuru spotted the creature in early April on a mangrove tree leaf near Cancun, Mexico. He submitted his pictures to Project Noah, a user-created database [...]

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