Crickets have recently been touted as the next big thing in sustainable eating (previously). Indeed, demand for crickets has skyrocketed in the past five years. But where do human-grade crickets come from? Turns out there's a severe lack of supply to meet growing demand. Enter Big Cricket Farms, which is working to innovate new large-scale methods of cricket farming. How can you optimize a food source with minimal infrastructure to build off of? The farm's FAQ attempts to provide some answers. [more inside]
How scientists are using Lego to manipulate insects. An unusual scientific paper has just appeared online detailing how entomologists can use Legos to build apparatuses to handle museum specimens. This is important: museum specimens are what we use to study biological history, and preserving them is increasingly less well funded. Fortunately, innovations like this fall into a larger biological tradition of building your own equipment. [more inside]
Insect photographer Alex Wild explains the effect of copyright infringement on his business; he has decided to give up commercial photography, partly due to the time he spends going after infringers. Alex Wild previously on MetaFilter.
Justin Gershenson-Gates makes insects and spiders from mechanical watch parts. The Verge shows more pictures including one of a piece under construction, more photos are on Inhabitat, there are yet more photos at Twisted Sifter, and the artist has a personal website.
A book about human reaction to insects I have trouble in the summer because I am usually suppressing the urge to scream and freak out due to the imaginary bugs that are crawling on me.
The worst places to get stung by a bee "It started when a honeybee flew up Michael Smith’s shorts and stung him in the testicles." Smith's painstaking study adds another dimension to the well-researched Schmidt Sting Pain Index.
May Berenbaum, head of the University of Illinois' entomology department: "There are about 500 species of gerrids in the world and, as far as I know, not a single one of those 500 species is eusocial (i.e., has a complex social structure with reproductive division of labor and cooperative brood care)," she said. "I don't even know of an example of maternal care in the whole group."
Macro Photos Of Cute And Cuddly Jumping Spiders by Thomas Shahan. Plus tips on how to shoot macro pictures of insects!
Dennis Hlynsky is a professor of film and animation at RISD whose most recent work, titled Small Brains on Mass, looks at bird behavior, particularly how they interact when flying in groups. To better understand how flying as a flock is achieved, Hlynsky filmed the birds and then stacked the images on the same frame for a set number of frames, the results show each bird’s flight as a trail, but synchronized with the flock. The results are often pure poetry. [more inside]
"My subject is a barren one – the world of nature, or in other words life; and that subject in its least elevated department, and employing either rustic terms or foreign, nay barbarian words that actually have to be introduced with an apology. Moreover, the path is not a beaten highway of authorship, nor one in which the mind is eager to range: there is not one of us who has made the same venture, nor yet one Roman who has tackled single-handed all departments of the subject."Naturalis Historia was written by Pliny the Elder between 77 and 79 CE and was meant to serve as a kind of proto-encyclopedia discussing all of the ancient knowledge available to him, covered in enough depth and breadth to make it by a reasonable margin the largest work to survive to the modern day from the Roman era. The work includes discussions on astronomy, meteorology, geography, mineralogy, zoology and botany organized along Aristotelian divisions of nature but also includes essays on human inventions and institutions. It is dedicated to the Emperor Titus in its epistle to the Emperor Vespasian, a close friend of Pliny who relied on his extensive knowledge, and its unusually careful citations of sources as well as its index makes it a precursor to modern scholarly works. It was Pliny's last work, as well as sadly his sole surviving one, and was published not long before his death attempting to save a friend from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum, famously recounted by Pliny's eponymous nephew Pliny the Younger.
Here is a reasonable translation that is freely available to download from archive.org for your edification.[more inside]
After a TED Talk demonstration and a successful Kickstarter, Backyard Brains plans to release a kit instructing kids to strap a miniature backpack to cockroaches and insert electrodes into its brain, allowing the cockroach to be controlled by a smartphone app. Some scientists are less than pleased with the ethics of the project.
Deadly Asian giant hornets - aka Vespa mandarinia - kill at least 41 people in China. Hundreds more have been hospitalized by these 2+ inch beasts with a sting that packs a human-tissue dissolving neurotoxin. Survivor stories are terrifying. Think you are safe in the U.S. or Britain? Nope and nope. (via @BitterOldPunk)
The USGS Native Bee Inventory and Monitoring Program designs and develops large and small-scale surveys and identification tools for native bees. A vital aspect of the program is to create accurate and detailed pictures of native bees as well as the plants and insects they interact with. To that end, Sam Droege has curated a collection of more than 1,200 macro photos of insects and posted them to the USGS NBIaMP Flickr collection. You can also browse via sets, if the unfiltered collection is too much to take in at once. This group has also provided a guide to taking macro photographs of insects in a lab setting (PDF).
If anything can turn Westerners on to entomophagy for sustainable protein (or just the perfect beer snack), surely it's an attractive, well-designed kitchen appliance. Introducing LEPSIS, a modular terrarium for growing grasshoppers as a food source in an urban home. Nominated for the 2013 INDEX: Award.
There are certainly drawbacks to living in Florida this time of year. You have to deal with the heat. You have to deal with the tourists. And you have to deal with erratically flying pairs of insects joined by their genitalia. [more inside]
How to get ahead. Again and again. Moths and butterflies are just flying gonads that make new caterpillars. Caterpillars are feeding machines with one primary purpose: eating enough food to build the body of a future moth or butterfly. A caterpillar stuffs itself with food, but eventually is limited by its exoskeleton, which is rigid and can’t grow. ‘Pillars deal with this by splitting their external skin, shedding it, and making a new, bigger exoskeleton so they have room to grow. For some reason, this species of moth caterpillars keeps their heads and build themselves a strange “hat” that gets taller as they grow.
MIT Media Lab's Silk Pavilion, a geometric structure machine-woven with silk thread and then reinforced by the efforts of 6500 silkworms. Watch the beautifully-done making-of video.
Jumping spider watching you, jumping spider watching you (again), mantis eating a fly, mantis eating a fly (again), mantis watching you, mantis watching you (again), ladybird hatching, flies having sex, crane flies having sex, shepherd, WTF is that, WTF is that (again), and a really cute baby hamster. Photographs by David Jobi
Paul "Mozchops" Phippen has been working as a concept artist and designer for major companies in the video-game and media industries since 1996. Two years ago, he made an intensely vivid graphic novel set in an imaginary world of insects and flora, with a story in rhymes that are somewhere between Seuss and Carroll. You can see four galleries of illustrations from Salsa Invertebraxa on Behance (one, two, three, four), and read some of the poetry on io9. You can also see some more of his art on Deviant Art.
The Great Hog-Eating Confederacy
Early Southerners ate a rather limited and unvarying diet. At table the famished guest seldom found more than bacon, corn pone, and coffee sweetened with molasses. Pioneering sociologist Harriet Martineau complained that “little else than pork, under all manner of disguises” sustained her during her visit to the American SouthFor the most part, slaves observed the same diet as poor white farmers. Though many kept gardens, and thus supplemented their rations of pork and corn with a wide variety of vegetables, they had otherwise little opportunity to augment their diet.. Another traveler griped that that he had “never fallen in with any cooking so villainous.” A steady assault of “rusty salt pork, boiled or fried … and musty corn meal dodgers” brought his stomach to surrender. Rarely did “a vegetable of any description” make it on his plate, and “no milk, butter, eggs, or the semblance of a condiment” did he once see.Christine Baumgarthuber is a writer for The New Inquiry and runs the blog The Austerity Kitchen. [more inside]
Bug Art - Steven Kutcher creates paintings using bugs as living brushes. He's probably more noted as the working entomologist on a number of Hollywood films, including Arachnophobia. Bonus: Steven's E-Z Bug Collector Method (via FLUXO)
This is a sausage fly. As soon as he steps foot on the trail he is overtaken by the sisterhood. [more inside]
This week the FDA announced that they were approving a new kind of flu vaccine. Nestled in the articles was an odd fact: unlike traditional flu vaccines, the new kind, called Flublok, is produced by the cells of insects. This is the kind of detail that you might skim over without giving it a thought. If you did pause to ponder, you might be puzzled: how could insects possibly make a vaccine against viruses that infect humans? The answer may surprise you. To make vaccines, scientists are tapping into a battle between viruses and insects that’s raging in forests and fields and backyards all around us. It’s an important lesson in how to find new ideas in biotechnology: first, leave biologists free to explore the weirdest corners of nature they can find. [more inside]
The Anternet is always up. On the surface, ants and the Internet don't seem to have much in common. But two Stanford researchers have discovered that a species of harvester ants determine how many foragers to send out of the nest in much the same way that Internet protocols discover how much bandwidth is available for the transfer of data. [more inside]
Omid Golzar and Shikhei Goh are two photographers who share a passion for a similar subject; extreme close-up macro images of insects and arachnids. [more inside]
"This gallery contains time lapse movies of fungi, molds, bacteria, slime molds and insects of interest to plant pathologists." Be sure and check out the peach and plum, Homer Simpson growing "hair", a rotting book and mushrooms growing and dying.
Listen to the Bug Bytes episode Scrub a Dub Bug, then head on over to youtube where you can see various insects cleaning themselves: Lacewing, bumblebee, probably a bee, praying mantis, parasitic wasp
Bees have different “personalities”, with some showing a stronger willingness or desire to seek adventure than others, according to a study by entomologists at the University of Illinois.
Photographer Ondrej Pakan takes macro pictures of insects. Pakan's portfolio on 500px. (completely SFW in spite of the "nudity" warning, unless you work with prudish insects) [more inside]
Wonderland, by Nadav Bagim, is a lovely macro-photo series which turns a kitchen counter into a miniature fantasy-land using household objects, and various critters as models.
The University of Florida Book of Insect Records (UFBIR) names insect champions and documents their achievements. [more inside]
The San Francisco Street Food Festival is an annual Summer event in the Mission District that features around 60 different Bay Area vendors and is attended by tens of thousands of foodies. This year the usual mainstays were joined by Don Bugito, which served up insect-based dishes and billed itself as the first "PreHispanic Snackeria." When the food truck commences permanent operations this month, it may be the first eatery in the country devoted exclusively to preparations involving insects. But they're not the only entomophagy pioneers in San Francisco, where Bug Cuisine is Booming. So just how tasty are insects? (Via) [more inside]
Wasps create cockroach zombies, viruses produce zombie caterpillars, deep-sea zombie worms live off decaying whale bones, South American flies 'infect' ants with brain-sucking larvae.
Since 1977, Nikon has held a Small World Photomicrography Competition, to showcase that which cannot be seen with the naked eye. This year's winner will be announced in November, but until October 31, we have been invited to vote for one of this years' 115 finalists to receive the 'Small World Popular Vote Award.' [more inside]
(Sunday night arthropod terror filter): YouTube user memutic has uploaded several dozen high-quality backyard video recordings of exotic insects, arachnids, crustaceans, and millipedes native to Central America, Southeast Asia, and the US. [more inside]
Freaky Friday Flash Fun, Flatting Flies: Insectonator is a top-down shooter. Well, "shooter" is a stretch; this is more of "stomp, drop things, overkill with naplam" attack on pretty much every homeowner's nightmare: a bunch of crawly bugs in the dark that avoid the flashlight. The bugs don't shoot back, so the game is just an endurance test by the player. And there are two awards for actually sticking around long enough. Weapons include a rock, your boot, various guns (including sniper rifles), rocket launchers, an anvil, naplam, and finally, a nuclear weapon. Via the ever excellent Jay Is Games.
La cucaracha, la cucaracha - ya no puede caminar - porque no tiene, porque le falta - marihuana pa' fumar. (The cockroach, the cockroach, - can't walk anymore - because it doesn't have, because it's lacking - marijuana to smoke) The records of the Dutch accordion-playing duo Henny Voskuyl & Coby Mol (known as Die Kirmesmusikanten). Cecil Adams about the lyrics to the song.
Steampunk Insects. "Tom Hardwidge’s Arthrobots are robotic insects — steampunk creations made from upcycled gears, nuts, bolts… and bullets!"
Amazing World of Insect-Wing Color Discovered "A closer look at seemingly drab, transparent insect wings has revealed realms of previously unappreciated color, visible to the naked eye yet overlooked for centuries. Until now, the wing colors of many flies and wasps were dismissed as random iridescence. But they may be as distinctive and marvelous as the much-studied, much-celebrated wings of butterflies and beetles." The paper (pdf) was published in PNAS.
Japanese woodblock print images | wonderful vintage commercial graphics | the Folk Museum Kawachinagano | old books | ceramics and laquerware from The Digital Archive Project of Osaka which has an interesting online museum to explore with some excellent art and illustrations. [more inside]
Flickr user Urtica posts pictures of elusive luna moths, surly bees, gregarious aphids, insect eggs, and of course beetles.
Most of these she finds in her backyard in Framingham, MA. She posts a new Bug picture every single day.
I give you Urtica's Bug of the Day!
Most of these she finds in her backyard in Framingham, MA. She posts a new Bug picture every single day.
I give you Urtica's Bug of the Day!
Last week, Gizmodo asked their readers to submit wallpaper-sized pictures of bugs. Today, 294 colorful images of creepy crawlies were posted to galleries on their site: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 (bandwidth alert: those pages are very picture-heavy) and also to Flickr, where high-resolution versions can be downloaded. This project is part of their weekly "Shooting Challenge". Each week's results can be seen in individual sets on their Flickr account.
The Exterminator’s Want-Ad, a short story by Bruce Sterling, is a twisted first-person missive by a former K-Street lobbyist making his way in a post-collapse socialist regime of sharing. It's part of the Shareable Futures series of short stories and speculative essays at Shareable.net. [Via]
Bugging Bugs (By Listening To Their Insides) - "A team of Clarkson University scientists led by Prof. Igor Sokolov are using atomic force microscopy (AFM) to record sounds emanating from inside living insects like flies, mosquitoes and ladybugs. " [more inside]