Among a Thousand Fireflies: children's book shows the sweet, alien love stories unfolding in our own backyards

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Rick Lieder -- painter, illustrator, photographer, husband of the brilliant novelist/playwright Kathe Koja -- waits ever-so-patiently in his suburban Detroit back-yard with his camera, capturing candid, lively photos of bees, birds, bugs, and now, in a new book of photos with a beautiful accompanying poem by Helen Frost, fireflies.

Pasta made from insects selling well in France!

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Atelier a Pates, a small artisanal pasta shop in Thiefosse, France, has a booming business in radiatori, fusilli, spaghetti and penne made from seven percent pulverized crickets and grasshoppers. From CTV News:

Four years on with the addition of insect flour to the mix, "it's working so well that we will soon be able to hire a second person," (proprietor Stephanie) Richard says, proud of her weekly production now at some 400 kilos (880 pounds).

And she does not plan to stop there: she is working on a new recipe using Maroilles cheese from northern France, and plans to start making stuffed pastas.

At a little over six euros ($6.60) for a 250 gramme (about half a pound) package, insect flour pastas are more expensive than standard kinds, but Richard notes that they can replace meat for vegetarians -- or for people who prefer crickets.

"People with iron or magnesium deficiencies will also eat these products," she says.

"French pasta-maker struggling to keep up with demand for insect noodles" (CTV News) Read the rest

Toy demands that kids catch crickets and stuff them into an electronic car

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The Bug Racer is Mattel's $50 electronic "science" car toy that requires that you fill a sensor cavity with up to six crickets; the toy measures the crickets' movement in the cavity and uses them to guide the car's movements (though the car will reverse when it hits an obstacle, regardless of the crickets' movement). Read the rest

How beetles breathe under water

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)

Read the rest

Watch these busy beetles devour delicious flesh

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UC Berkeley's Museum of Vertebrate Zoology employ a colony of flesh-eating beetles to clean the meat off the bones of animals whose bones they want to preserve for posterity. (KQED's Deep Look)

Read the rest

Watch ants weirdly circle an iPhone when it rings

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These ants circle an iPhone like it's the Ka'aba in Mecca. Read the rest

Planthopper nymphs

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These amazing guys look like living snowflakes! Read the rest

Flea loves bees

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"Pleezus more beezus," writes the Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist. At his Los Angeles home, he's keeping three hives with 60,000 bees each. Read the rest

WATCH: Emergency moth surgery

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YouTuber Eric Nordrum found a beautiful cecropia moth being attacked by a robin, then used online instructions to repair the moth's damaged wing before releasing it. Read the rest

Procedurally-generated moths are wonderfully haunting, plausible

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Straddling the odd line between science and nature, this amazing new procedural generator pays striking tribute to the dusty, incandescent bodies of moths.

Crashed truck releases millions of bees on highway

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A trailer loaded with millions of bees in 400 hives overturned in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho on Sunday. Read the rest

Journalist displeases the insects

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Reporter Katya Leick, 24, was accosted by cicadas while covering a story for KSNT. Read the rest

Iridescent insect sculptures from ewaste

UK artist Julie Alice Chapell's Computer Component Bugs sculptures are iridescent, intricate assemblage sculptures made from ewaste. Read the rest

WATCH: BioBots, remote-controlled iBionic insects

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North Carolina State University researchers are wiring up Madagascar hissing roaches with remote-control steering, with a long-term goal to use roaches, moths, and other insects as data-gathering vehicles in inaccessible places like disaster sites. Read the rest

Mezmerizing slo-mo of young praying mantises in action

A University of Cambridge zoologist analyzed almost 400 videos of juvenile mantises jumping onto a pole for a March 5 study in the journal Current Biology. Malcolm Burrows concluded that the bugs spin their bodies to help them land on target.

The actual video from the study is soundless, but for my money, the footage from New Scientist (that linked above) benefits from its Blue Danube soundtrack. The music lends the sequences an air of a very classy insect pole dance.

"Watch a praying mantis perform acrobatic jumps" [New Scientist] Read the rest

"Sticky," gorgeous animated short about saving

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Animator Jilli Rose created this lovely animated short about a group of stick insects stranded for 80 years near Lord Howe Island, on a sea stack with only one shrub for protection. It also tells the story of the scientists who discovered them and raced to save them from extinction. Read the rest

Eight year old's incredible prize-winning scorpion photo

Spanish photographer Carlos Perez Naval, age 8, won the London Natural History Museum's Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014 prize for this breathtaking photo of a yellow scorpion. From the photo description:

Carlos had found it basking on a flat stone in a rocky area near his home in Torralba de los Sisones, northeast Spain – a place he often visits to look for reptiles. The late afternoon Sun was casting such a lovely glow over the scene that Carlos decided to experiment with a double exposure for the first time so he could include it. He started with the background, using a fast speed so as not to overexpose the Sun, and then shot the scorpion using a low flash. But he had to change lenses, using his zoom for the Sun, which is when the scorpion noticed the movement and raised its tail. Carlos then had to wait for it to settle before taking his close-up, with the last of the light illuminating its body.

Carlos Perez Naval's Retazos de Naturaleza

And see all the 2014 winning photos here. Read the rest

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