entomology

2010 Insect Fear Film Festival: Prehistoric Insects

Mark this on your calendar: February 27 is the 27th annual Insect Fear Film Festival. Hosted by the entomology graduate students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the festival showcases two (usually terrible) arthropod movies.  This year’s delectable offerings are The Black Scorpion (1957) and Ice Crawlers (2003).

If bad movies aren’t your thing, the festival also has an insect art competition, live insect displays, face painting, and other buggy entertainment.  As way of a preview, Jo-anne posted her pics of last years event here.  I’ve put the full announcement below: (more…)

Entomological Society of America 2009 Meeting

The annual Entomological Society of America meeting is next week (Dec 13-16) in Indianapolis.  I’m giving two presentations- one on Pheidole and one on Heterospilus– that the sadistic conference organizers scheduled for the very last day when no one is around.   So if you are attending and happen to miss your flight out, consider heading back to the conference center to catch my talks.

The 2009 meeting will be a good one for we social insect people.  I am especially looking forward to the Hoelldobler & Wilson symposium, but the rest of the program is packed with goodies.

Also.  Apparently, we bug bloggers are supposed to dress like Princess Leia so that people recognize us.

Friday Beetle Blogging: Chlaenius ground beetle

Caption
Chlaenius sp. ground beetle, Urbana, Illinois

This colorful beetle came from our back yard.  It’s a ground beetle in the genus Chlaenius, recognizeable from its pubescent elytra and pungent defensive secretions.  Like most ground beetles, Chlaenius makes a living as a predator.

The beetle’s metallic sheen is not the result of a pigment but of fine microscopic sculpturing on the integument.  This is evident when the insect is viewed at a different aspect: notice how the color turns to green in lateral view:

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The same beetle, in sideview.

photo details: Canon 100mm f2.8 macro lens on a Canon EOS 50D
ISO 200, f/13, 1/80 sec, indirect strobe in a white box

May Berenbaum answers your questions about DDT

This week, Public Radio International is hosting a forum whereby you- the fine people of the General Public- get a chance to converse online with eminent entomologist May Berenbaum about all things DDT.

The forum accompanies a piece from last week’s “The World”.  For background, you can read Berenbaum’s recent Washington Post essay about the DDT-malaria problem here:

What people aren’t remembering about the history of DDT is that, in many places, it failed to eradicate malaria not because of environmentalist restrictions on its use but because it simply stopped working. Insects have a phenomenal capacity to adapt to new poisons; anything that kills a large proportion of a population ends up changing the insects’ genetic composition so as to favor those few individuals that manage to survive due to random mutation. In the continued presence of the insecticide, susceptible populations can be rapidly replaced by resistant ones. Though widespread use of DDT didn’t begin until WWII, there were resistant houseflies in Europe by 1947, and by 1949, DDT-resistant mosquitoes were documented on two continents.

Aedes albopictus - Florida, USA

Update on the oddity

mystery2aI hadn’t anticipated that my keen readers would try to guess the *species* of the aforementioned oddity, but since the guessing has headed in that direction I’ll post this hint, which shows the much more commonly seen worker caste of our little mystery bug.

Stakes are now at, um, 15 points. Yeah.

An oddity

mystery2

This odd little beast crawled out of a leaf litter sample from a mesic oak/pine forest in Florida. Ten points to the first person who picks what it is.

(Not sure what you’ll do with ten points.  But hey.  You’re all a creative lot.)