"Slimy, yet Satisfying"?

Here is the first thing I will share with you regarding Entomophagy, or, the eating of insects (by humans). I'm not saying I have ever or will ever eat an insect, but when you think about it, they are a perfect source of protein that could solve the world's hunger problems while being kind to the environment at the same time. For example, anyone can farm bugs. It doesn't take a lot of land or resources; bugs aren't hard or expensive to feed. They don't require veterinary care, and they reproduce in vast quantities. If your insect farm is wiped out, you won't loose everything; new stock is cheap and easy to acquire. Even the processing is easy; it would be so much easier to "slaughter" a caterpillar than a cow. Most people could probably handle that, so farming your own protein would be easy to do, from start to finish.
With that little seed planted in your head, check out this interesting article about a South African delicacy, the "Mopani Worm" (actually not a worm, but a moth caterpillar). It is said to be the most consumed insect in the world.


A Cute Spider?

Doesn't everyone just love
Salticids (Jumping Spiders)?
I sure do! They are the cutest!! I found this little guy cruising our picnic table whilst on vacation in Arizona. He helped me test out the macro function on my camera!
Can anyone identify him?

Did Insects Kill the Dinosaurs?

I just came across this interesting article; what do you guys think? Is there some truth to it?

Insects - 1 Million, Dinosaurs - 0

Tuesday March 4, 2008
Dinosaur illustration
Illustration: Alain Beneteau/www.paleospot.com

Look around. See any dinosaurs? Nope, not a single dinosaur to be found. Insects, on the other hand, are everywhere and the species count tops one million. Somewhere around 65 million years ago, insects and dinosaurs shared the planet. So how did insects continue to thrive, while the dinos disappeared?

The answer lies in amber, according to researchers George and Roberta Poinar. The Poinars studied insect guts and dinosaur feces preserved in the prehistoric tree sap. In their book, What Bugged the Dinosaurs? Insects, Disease and Death in the Cretaceous, they assert that the rise of insects ultimately sealed the fate of the dinosaurs. Insect guts revealed pathogens of disease, powerful enough to sicken large reptiles. In the dinosaur feces, the Poinars uncovered intestinal parasites spread by "filth-visiting insects," in their words. Were bug bites alone enough to knock of T-rex? Not likely, but let's call that strike one.

As insects rose to power (okay, that might be an exaggeration, but allow me some poetic license), they brought along the flowering plants. Insects pollinate, and pollination means more flowers. The ferns and gingkoes that fed the dinosaurs were displaced. Strike two for the lumbering lizards.

A final piece of the "insects trump dinosaurs" theory suggests that insect pests out-competed the dinosaurs for their traditional, and now diminishing, food sources. One hornworm took out most of my tomatoes last summer, so I can sympathize. Strike three, you're out.

Read Dinosaur Bob's (aka Bob Strauss, About.com Guide to Dinosaurs) take on the theory.

Insect Poem Contest

Here's a fun contest from the Insect Museum: compose a haiku poem about insects and win a prize! Check out their website while you're at it; makes me wish I lived closer to them!


Hilarious Handmade Bug Plushies!

"Carrion Beetle" (above)

I must take a moment to give a shout-out to a new etsy shop I've just discovered, owned by "Weird Bug Lady". She makes plush "toys" (No, these are not for children! Think stuffed animals for adults!) in the form of " bugs, insects, arachnids, mollusks, reptiles, amphibians, extinct organisms and more". These are sure to be a favorite for anyone who considers themselves a "science nerd" at heart. I sure get a kick out of them! These are true handmade works of art! Check out a few examples here and then visit her store at http://www.etsy.com/shop/weirdbuglady

Below: Giraffe Weevil Below: Planarian (Flatworm)

Black Widow Valentine!

This is a classic Valentine's Day story: check out this short video from National Geographic about Black Widow Spider mating behaviour!

Insects Use Plants Like A Telephone

Scientists have discovered that underground plant-eating insects can communicate with above-ground plant-eating insects using plants like telephones!
The underground plant-eating insects convey chemical messages through the plant stem and leaves, telling above-ground insects that they are there. The message is: "stay away, this is my plant! If you eat it too, it will die and we'll both have no food." This is a great way to spread out the "plant buffet" so that everybody gets enough food and the plants will survive to feed the bugs another day.
Sometimes this can backfire on the underground insects; parasitic wasps can intercept the signal and learn where the insects underground are, thus finding easy prey for their young.

Click here for the full story: Insects Use Plants Like A Telephone