Centuries ago, scientists relied on paintings and illustrations of animals to learn more about their anatomy. Today, that biology-art bond is as strong as ever. This is Carly Tribull, a PhD student studying the evolution of parasitic wasps, who uses her scientific knowledge and artistic talent to create fun comics that invite children and adults into the fascinating world of insects.
A 32-year-old man who died after downing dozens of roaches and worms last month to win a python at a Florida reptile store choked to death, medical officials said Monday.
Edward Archbold died “as a result of asphyxia due to choking and aspiration of gastric contents,” said the Broward County Medical Examiner’s Office. It said his airway was obstructed by bug body parts, and ruled his death was an accident.
Archbold was among 20 to 30 contestants participating in the “Midnight Madness” event at Ben Siegel Reptiles in Deerfield Beach.
The participant who consumed the most insects and worms would take home an $850 python.
Archbold swallowed roach after roach, worm after worm. While the store didn’t say exactly how many Archbold consumed, the owner told CNN affiliate WPLG that he was “the life of the party.”
The first thing you notice about the entomology collections department, Lepidoptera division, at the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History is a faint, elusively familiar odor. Mothballs. I briefly contemplated the cosmic irony of mothballs in a room full of moths (and butterflies, a lineage of moths evolved to fly during the day) before turning to Bob Robbins, a research entomologist. “There are many insects that will eat dried insects,” he said, “so traditionally you kept those pests out using naphthalene, or mothballs.”
The mothballs have been phased out (in favor of freezing new specimens to kill any pests), but that lingering smell, as well as the endless drawers of insects pinned under glass and carefully arrayed in row after row of steel cabinets for taxonomic posterity, only heightens the sense of age in the hushed chamber. Time seems to stand as still as the millions of specimens.
But pore through those drawers, through the precisely spaced squadrons of swallowtails and sunset moths, and a different idea begins to form: This is not a dormant repository, but a laboratory that investigates an extraordinarily successful enterprise. Over some 150 million years, these “products” have been ruthlessly prototyped, market-tested, upgraded, refined and otherwise made new and improved as the world around them changed. Each of these fragile specimens is a package of innovation waiting to be understood and adapted.
Israeli-designed GrainPro Cocoons provide a surprisingly simple and cheap way for African and Asian farmers to keep their grain market-fresh.
As much as 50 percent of every grain harvest and 100% of every pulse harvest is lost to pests and mold, Navarro tells ISRAEL21c. Subsistence farmers in developing countries, who consume a large part of what they produce, tend to store their crops in primitive baskets or bags, which are not effective in keeping hungry bugs and micro-contaminants out.
“We are trying to help them save crops for the near future, not 50 years later. But perhaps our solution can help educate people too,” he says.
“People put their crops in baskets assuming that nothing will happen. They come to the market with them and see a large part is consumed by insects or mold. There are many losses; the 50 percent figure is a normal loss for cereal and pulses. And when the insects enter, they make it unfit for human consumption.”
From an environmental point of view, producing food with high losses is extremely wasteful and carbon intensive as well. Adding volatile chemical compounds to the problem doesn’t make sense. They are expensive and they can have disastrous health consequences for people eating the produce and living near the growing fields.
The straightforward, cost-effective solution developed by Navarro more than two decades ago gives farmers crop security with no harmful side effects. Provided that the harvest is dried properly before getting hermetically sealed in the large storage bags, it’s safe for the future in extreme conditions aside from massive flooding or hurricanes.
And now in Kenya, when individual farmers do not have enough crops to fill their own Cocoons, they can bring their grain to a seed bank to be stored together with their neighbors’ crops in a collective Cocoon. When they need them, the contributors get their grain returned to them intact.
This is one of many projects that GrainPro has developed, with the help of Navarro’s Cocoon.
A tiny water boatman is the loudest animal on Earth relative to its body size, a study has revealed.
Scientists from France and Scotland recorded the aquatic animal “singing” at up to 99.2 decibels, the equivalent of listening to a loud orchestra play while sitting in the front row.
The insect makes the sound by rubbing its penis against its abdomen in a process known as “stridulation”.
Researchers say the song is a courtship display performed to attract a mate.
Micronecta scholtzi are freshwater insects measuring just 2mm that are common across Europe.
Army ants have a reputation for annihilating everything in their path as they march through the jungle.
But the most complete study of its kind has found that army ants are creators of whole worlds, not destroyers.
More than 300 species, ranging from birds to tiny mites, depend in part on a single species of army ant for their survival, scientists have discovered.
That means army ants support a greater number of other life forms than any other known species.
This revelation about army ants is the culmination of more than 50 years of scientific research into their behaviour conducted by naturalist Carl Rettenmeyer and his wife Marian, based at the University of Connecticut, US.