Posts Tagged ‘entomology’

I had an assignment this weekend to shoot preserved insects as if in a museum display collection. Dead bugs aren’t normally my thing, but there’s something to be said about subjects that stay put and allow me to arrange lighting without scurrying off. I pinned the insects in foam-bottomed trays and reflected the strobe off an overhead white board. More photos below.


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Ok, so we all know this is a wasp.  But what’s with the lumps near the tip of the abdomen?

Ten points for identifying the lump, and five points for anyone ambitious enough to put a name on the wasp, too.

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Alright, Sherlock.  What’s going on here?

Five points each for the identity of the big round thing, for the insect at the top, and for the insect at the side. Ten points for describing the story.

And a freebie point to anyone who comes up with an idea for what to do with all these points.

This scene was photographed in the fall in southern Illinois. Here are close-ups of the critters:

mystery wasp #1

mystery wasp#2

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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…)

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Back from ESA

We’ve returned from the 2009 Entomological Society of America meeting in Indianapolis. More on this later.

For now, here are slides from two presentations I gave yesterday:

Character Evolution in Heterospilus

Origin of Pheidole obscurithorax

Both talks report from ongoing research, so I should caution that neither of the studies has seen peer-review.

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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.

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Ugly Bugs?

Andy Deans of NCSU rightly rakes ASU over the coals for their Ugly Bugs contest:

Denigrating insect species, broadly labeled here as bugs does a disservice to those of us who fight daily to convince a skeptical public…

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Bug-Blogging Galore

Over at IB401, the entomology students are blogging faster than a swarm of locusts in a candy shop*:

Drop by and leave them some comments!

*or, whatever.

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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:


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

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A student at the University of Illinois navigates an aphid swarm between classes.

A student at the University of Illinois navigates an aphid swarm between classes.

We’ve had plenty of traffic here at the Myrmecos Blog as bewildered midwesterners look for answers about the swarm of tiny insects that has descended on our cities this week.  As best as we can tell, here’s the scoop.

Q: What are the annoying little bugs that are swarming Central Illinois this week?


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