There are lots of transactions that we're either prohibited from making (selling kidneys), or that are strictly regulated by statute (parental surrogacy). Naturally, these rules are hotly debated, especially among economists, who generally assume that markets of informed buyers and sellers produce outcomes that make everyone better off. Read the rest
Judith (AKA Miss Mantis) remakes kitschy-sweet porcelain figurines, transforming them with polymer clay, flocking and paint into statuettes of anthropomorphic insects going about their weird, daily business:. Some favorites: Bee Lady "Mìfēng", Fancy Dancing Mantis Gentleman, Bee Lady "Alice", Little Praying Mantis Boy, and Scandalous Mantis Dancer. Read the rest
From KQED Science:
Surface tension is the property of any liquid that describes how its particles stick together. In the case of water, surface tension is especially strong, enough to form a kind of film where it meets the air, whether at the surface or in a bubble...
If you’re a bug the size of a paperclip... surface tension makes a difference. Harnessing it, some aquatic beetles carry the oxygen they need underwater in the form of a temporary bubble, sort of like a natural scuba tank. Others encase themselves in a layer of air and draw oxygen from it their whole lives.
"Nature’s Scuba Divers: How Beetles Breathe Underwater" (Deep Look)
Cooties are real. Apparently, "cootie" comes from the Malay word "kutu," meaning "dog tick." Fortunately, you can easily make a cootie catcher wit the added benefit that the device doubles as a fortune teller, chatterbox, whirlybird, salt cellar, etc. Read the rest
Each bottle of Nordic Food Lab's Anty Gin contains formic acid distilled from approximately 62 wood ants. Read the rest
Designer Janis Straupe created the BUG armoire for True Latvia. I love the way the neatly fitted boards look like a blown-up grain, making the whole thing seem like a scarab under a magnifying lens. The piece is also extremely beautiful when it is partially opened, each set of doors making it seem more like a fantasy jewel box blown up to a delightful, comic scale. And check out the detail shots for the incredible skill and thoughtfulness that went into the interior compartments! Read the rest
Canadian artist Aganetha Dyck carefully coaxes bees into enmeshing tatty porcelain statuary with honeycomb, for a result that is both otherworldly and beautiful, like the remains of a long-fallen civilization on whose bones has arisen an insectoid hive-colony. She calls the bees her "guest workers." Her work will be on display at the Ottawa School of Art from March 3, 2014 in a show called Honeybee Alterations. Read the rest
Singaporean macrofocus photographer Nicky Bay produces wonderful portraits of insects in their natural setting. Particularly fascinating are the photos of bugs eating each other, particularly the shot above of an assassin bug (Acanthaspis sp.) which "decorate themselves with the corpses of their consumed prey," forming a protective "meat-shield" as well as offering olfactory and visual camouflage to help it infiltrate ant-nests.
In this photo, you can see some kind of fluffy, white specks on the paddle of a cactus. Those are scale insects, microscopic bugs that like to cover themselves in balls of white wax and nibble on prickly pear. You can also see a fingertip smeared in bright red goo. That's what happens when you squish up scale insects. Humans have been doing this for hundreds of years, using the insects' bodies to create a striking, natural dye.
More commonly known as cochineal, the dye turns up in everything from sausage to yogurt. Typically, you'll hear scale insects described as "beetles". They aren't. And that had given me a totally incorrect mental image of what they looked like, so I thought it would be cool to share a couple of Flickr photos that show the insects in their natural habitat — both in their living and, er, more "processed" forms. Read the rest