The Queen of Trees is a documentary (52 minutes) on the sycomore fig tree, focusing on the intricate mutualism between a fig tree and its fig wasp. Filmmakers Victoria Stone and Mark Deeble spent two years camped out in the Kenyan bush to capture fascinating scenes of life around the sycomore, including inside the figs.
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 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]
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.
My Father's Garden brings you up close and personal with some truly magnificent garden creatures. (video short, 6:37)
Violent death in the insect world - grisly yet compelling macro photographs of bug-against-bug carnage.
Form and Pheromone - truly lovely beetle mosaics and insect art. (via recogedor) Previously: Living Jewels.
Do not cuddle with the Giant Amazonian Centipede, no matter how strong the temptation may be. Fully grown they are as long as an adult human's forearm, and gleefully feed on small critters (youtube), going so far as to snag bats out of the air (google video) & devour them on the spot.
EEEK! (YouTube) [more]
Meet punk, Don, Kawaii, Satan's Little Helper, and the incredibly colorful cast of characters that populate photographer Igor Siwanowicz's world. (via Mira y Calla)
Mating Leopard Slugs entwine - one of the untold wonders of the animal kingdom captured on video.... The BBC gets up close and personal with Life in the Undergrowth in their new wildlife documentary. A must see for any animal, insect or David Attenborough fan... (If the main vid link doesn't work for you try it from here - realplayer needed)
If a young worker attempts to reproduce, she is spreadeagled by her fellows and kept immobilized for hours or even days. At the end of her sentence, the best she can hope for is a reduction in rank and loss of reproductive capability. Often she is mutilated or killed.Fascinating article about police-state behavior in insects, complete with information on mutant anarchist worker bees, ant-led coups, and parasitic self-cloning bees. (via BoingBoing.)
How would it be to be a bee? Einstein has been quoted as saying that if the bee were to suddenly disappear, mankind would survive only another four years. So, make a bow to your insect overlords, and visit this site by a neuroscientist researching bee vision to experience first-hand how a bee sees. The B-EYE software allows you to set various parameters to see how a bee would view selected images, including Einstein himself. Or test your bee communication skills at Nova's "Dances with Bees" page, where you watch the dance of a hive mate and then try to locate the nectar source that he's mapping out. If you're still not impressed, consider that bees possess higher cognitive functions, including the ability for abstract thought. Finally, find out why nice bees don't always finish last in a look at the guerrilla tactics wielded against the dreaded "killer bee" by mild-mannered Cape honeybees.