Scientists cook with bug butter made from insects

Fat from black soldier fly larvae is a "sustainable and healthy alternative to butter," according to scientists at Ghent University in Belgium. According their research though, you can't go with more than half bug butter before it starts to taste suspect or downright foul. From Ghent University:

“The ecological footprint of an insect is much smaller compared to animal-based food sources” said researcher Daylan Tzompa-Sosa (Ghent University). “Besides, we can grow insects in large quantities in Europe, which also reduces the footprint of transport. After all, palm fat is often imported from outside of Europe..."

“Insect fat is a different type of fat than butter” researcher Tzompa-Sosa explains. “Insect fat contains lauric acid, which provides positive nutritional attributes since it is more digestible than butter. Moreover, lauric acid has an antibacterial, antimicrobial and antimycotic effect. This means that it is able, for example, to eliminate harmless various viruses, bacteria or even fungi in the body, allowing it to have a positive effect on health.”

"Consumers’ perception of bakery products with insect fat as partial butter replacement" (Food Quality and Preference)

"Scientists make cake with butter from bugs instead of cows" (Thomson Reuters/CBC)

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Watch a tsetse fly birth a shockingly big larva. Gross! Amazing!

And you thought you felt full. Check out this female tsetse fly push out a larva fat with its momma's milk. From Deep Look:

Mammalian moms aren’t the only ones to deliver babies and feed them milk. Tsetse flies, the insects best known for transmitting sleeping sickness, do it too.

(UC Davis medical entomologist Geoff Attardo) is trying to understand in detail the unusual way in which these flies reproduce in order to find new ways to combat the disease, which has a crippling effect on a huge swath of Africa.

When it’s time to give birth, a female tsetse fly takes less than a minute to push out a squiggly yellowish larva almost as big as itself...

“There’s too much coming out of it to be able to fit inside,” (Attardo) recalled thinking. “The fact that they can do it eight times in their lifetime is kind of amazing to me.”

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Ingenious Cold War keylogger the Russians used to bug Selectric typewriters in the US embassy

In the 1970s, the Soviets managed to intercept top secret communications in the US embassy in Moscow and nobody could figure out how. While an antenna was eventually found hidden in the embassy's chimney, it took years to determine how what data was being collected for transmission and how. As a last resort, all equipment at the embassy was shipped back to the US for analysis. From IEEE Spectrum:

After tens of thousands of fruitless X-rays, a technician noticed a small coil of wire inside the on/off switch of an IBM Selectric typewriter. (NSA engineer Charles) Gandy believed that this coil was acting as a step-down transformer to supply lower-voltage power to something within the typewriter. Eventually he uncovered a series of modifications that had been concealed so expertly that they had previously defied detection.

A solid aluminum bar, part of the structural support of the typewriter, had been replaced with one that looked identical but was hollow. Inside the cavity was a circuit board and six magnetometers. The magnetometers sensed movements of tiny magnets that had been embedded in the transposers that moved the typing “golf ball” into position for striking a given letter.

Other components of the typewriters, such as springs and screws, had been repurposed to deliver power to the hidden circuits and to act as antennas. Keystroke information was stored and sent in encrypted burst transmissions that hopped across multiple frequencies.

For more on this fascinating story, check out former intelligence officer and technologist Eric Haseltine's new book: "The Spy in Moscow Station"

image: IBM Selectric by Oliver Kurmis (CC BY 2.5 Read the rest

Bird flight, bug gaits, and animal walks: fascinating videos for animators

Artist and animator Stephen Cunnane directed these wonderful videos to help artists animate bugs, birds, and other animals.

.embed-vimeo {text-align: center; position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%;} .embed-vimeo iframe {position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%;} Read the rest

School iPads have bugs. Real bugs.

St. Paul Public Schools in Minnesota found bedbugs infesting iPads issued to students. As of now, only a few of iPads were found to be buggy. From WCCO:

...The district encouraged students to take their tablets out of their cases to thoroughly clean the case and keyboard with a window cleaner to kill any bacteria...

In a statement to WCCO a spokesperson for St Paul Public Schools said in part:

“There is no indication of the presence of any additional pests in any other iPads. However, as the health and safety of our students are our highest priorities, we felt it was responsible and prudent to ask families to maintain the cleanliness of the devices.”

(via Fark)

image: Piotr Naskrecki (public domain) Read the rest

iPhone Xs charging and connectivity woes can be cured with a software update

Last week, we warned you about a couple of ugly, low-rent bugs baked into Apple's decidedly high-falooting iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max. A number of users, including Lewis Hilsenteger of Unbox Therapy fame, have reported that the handset has a hella hard time, in certain circumstances, recharging. If you plug in a Lightning cable while the phone's in standby, there's a good chance that it's not going to be juiced up. Given the high price of ownership associated with Apple's latest smartphones, that's twelve different flavors of bullshit. Fortunately, Apple agrees and has come up with a software fix for the issue, as well as one for poor cellular connectivity reported by a whack of the new iPhone's owners.

From The Verge:

Apple has issued an update to iOS 12, which fixes several bugs that have plagued iPhone XS and XS Max users since the phones were released. The IOS 12.0.1 update is available to download now in Settings —> General —> Software Update on your iPhone or iPad.

The update should fix one of the biggest issues on the iPhone XS and XS Max: users reported poor Wi-Fi reception compared to their previous iPhone X devices when used in their homes, but it doesn’t address the separate LTE issues. It also resolves the widespread issue of iPhone XS devices requiring to be unlocked before recognizing the Lightning cable charger.

So, if you've got a handset giving you guff, get on it.

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Nature's greatest con-artists: the parasitic beetles that trick ants into barfing into their mouths

Myrmecophiles are parasitic beetles that use chemical cues to fool ants into bringing them into their nests and regurgitating food into their mouths, diverting the colony's bounty of semi-digested ant-chow from the queen and her babies to their own hungry guts. Ant Lab shows us how a Xenodusa beetle can con Camponotus ants into a lifetime of free meals and cuddles. For further reading, check out Behavior and exocrine glands in the myrmecophilous beetle Lomechusoides strumosus (Fabricius, 1775) (formerly called Lomechusa strumosa) (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae: Aleocharinae) in PLOS One. (Thanks, Adrian!) Read the rest

Philadelphia science museum employees accused of stealing $50,000 worth of bugs

The Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion is missing $50,000 worth of bugs; the loss wasn't immediately discovered because bugs are small and the Insectarium often moves its specimens around for exhibitions, lendouts, etc. -- but when 80-90% of your collection goes missing, you notice. Read the rest

New tick menace has the potential to spread terrifying viruses

Thanks to climate change, folks living in regions that were once tick-free zones have had to begin getting used to the blood-thirsty little bastards. Just as these unfortunate souls were getting used to this new reality, it seems that the bugs, which up until now have been happy working solo, are ganging up for all new levels of blood-draining terror.

According to Ars Technica, a species of tick that’s been a massive pain in the ass in Asia has made its way to North America. Currently doing its thing on the United States' eastern seaboard, the Asian Longhorned Tick travels in swarms and has the potential to spread all sorts of ugly diseases to livestock, pets and humans alike.

From Ars Technica:

Key to the tick’s explosive spread and bloody blitzes is that its invasive populations tend to reproduce asexually, that is, without mating. Females drop up to 2,000 eggs over the course of two or three weeks, quickly giving rise to a ravenous army of clones. In one US population studied so far, experts encountered a massive swarm of the ticks in a single paddock, totaling well into the thousands. They speculated that the population might have a ratio of about one male to 400 females.

Most troubling is the fact that the Asian Longhorned Tick is known to carry a recently discovered virus that causes SFTS: severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome. Those that contract SFTS can expect a wide range of terrifying symptoms including “fever, vomiting, hemorrhaging, and organ failure.” Read the rest

Your Samsung smartphone is sharing photos without your permission

Do you own a Samsung smartphone? Do you take photos with said phone? Congratulations, there’s an excellent chance that your handset is randomly firing off those pictures you’ve snapped to folks on your contact list without your permission.

According to The Verge, the images are being pushed out by Samsung’s cleverly named default messaging app, Samsung Messages. If the fact that your phone might be sending out all of the images its got in storage for the world to see isn’t enough of a shit and giggle for you, try this one on for size: Samsung Messages reportedly doesn’t even bother to tell you that the operation has been completed. Unless the person who received the photos lets you know that it happened, you’ll be completely in the dark about the fact that the photos were uploaded.

From The Verge:

Some users are speculating that this issue has to do with the push of RCS messaging updates, including T-Mobile, which is the carrier for at least one of the affected phones. T-Mobile just issued its RCS update this week, starting with the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. The messaging standard is supposed to make texting look more like chatting in a modern messaging app, complete with read receipts and typing indicators. When reached for comment, a T-Mobile spokesperson told The Verge to “check in with Samsung on this, it’s not a T-Mobile issue.”

Until carriers and Samsung get this nightmare sorted out, the best way to keep your handset from sharing your photos with the world is to revoke Samsun Messenger’s access rights to your smartphone’s photos folder. Read the rest

Ladybugs will follow a random line as you draw it

YouTuber baileywhj and her friend figured out that a ladybug she calls Jerry would follow a line around a piece of paper it's being drawn, no matter how squiggly or irregular. Read the rest

Trippy and relaxing animated insects move to a hypnotic beat

Felix Colgrave animated this wonderful video for Nitai Hershkovits' Flyin' Bamboo. Read the rest

Watch 3,000 insect specimen photos turned into a stunning animation

In 2004, Paul Bush released When Darwin Sleeps, 3,000 digital stills of insects in the Walter Linsenmaier in the Lucerne Nature Museum. They flash by so quickly they feel animated, or as if evolution itself is happening on screen. Now he's released a better quality copy than has been previously available online. Read the rest

Behold this adorable weird bug

This portable mini cloud was posted to YouTube as a "scallop carrot," but I'm 99% certain there's no such bug. Is it a scale bug? A trashbug that got lucky? Read the rest

This orchid has at least 7 camouflaged predators on it

Imagine being a bug or small bird who spots a beautiful orchid, only to learn upon closer inspection that it's covered in bugs who want to eat you. Read the rest

Mantis squad activate! Watch praying mantises get aggressive in unison

InsecthausTV is a channel dedicated to all sorts of wonderful insects, and this collection of mantises all frozen in attack mode is no exception. Read the rest

Scientist finds shimmering blue moths last seen in 1887

A Polish entomologist has observed and recorded footage of a bee-like moth called the Oriental blue clearwing. Read the rest

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