Buzz Hoot Roar News: Check out Our Art Exhibition!

Get off your computers, folks! Buzz Hoot Roar has its first real-live exhibition! Some of our amazing artists’ work spans the walls at Raleigh, North Carolina’s Cameron Village Regional Library through the month of September!

With this show, we’re getting the SciArt word out in hard copy to bibliophiles, lonely people looking for dates, four year olds, and the rest of the Cameron Village Library crowd. 

You may remember such greats as Heather Copley’s decoding squirrel talk
Neil McCoy’s showcasing weird star seekers in Animals in Spaaaaace

Julia Rice’s examination of Belly Button Biodiversity


Robin Anders’ look into how birds navigate the Great Migrate


Artist in Residence Christine Fleming’s explaining What’s the Difference between commonly confused animals . . .


and demonstrating jumping spiders’ Sexy Spider Dance


Jaime Van Wart’s telling us why we just want to Squeeze It! 


and James Hutson’s showing us how charming fireflies can be (and why some of them light up!)


Thanks to all who share their talents with us. If you’re in town, go check it out!



By |August 28th, 2014|News|0 Comments

Stop with the Death Metal! You’re Not a Woodpecker!

Okay, people. No matter how much they’re shreddin’ it onstage, we know head banging is bad for us. But whether it’s from contact sports, car accidents, or clumsiness, head injury diagnoses seem to be on the rise (at least in the U.S.).

Woodbanger_1In addition to a killer skull shape that protects their brains, woodpeckers have beaks to beat the beat. These birds can slam their skulls into trees with an impact of about 1000g (that’s 1,000 times the force of gravity). Plus, some species hammer away for HOURS at a rate of up to 300 beats per second.


Here’s what they have going on that we need:


When it comes to cutting-edge, built-in safety measures, our heads just haven’t kept up. That’s why we say, until you expand your ribs and fix your eyeballs in place and develop a cushiony middleskull: Popping a wheelie? Pop on a helmet.


Written by Roar. Illustrated by Joshua Röpke from Austin, TX, who draws and does lettering with pens and sometimes brushes. He especially enjoys nature, DIY electronics, and succinct third-person synopses. For more birds and junk, check out:  www.jropke.com

Special thanks to Jordan Lite, who knows about head banging.

Check our facts!

N. Lee et al. Hierarchical multiscale structure-property relationships of the red-bellied woodpecker (Melanerpescarolinus) beak. Journal of the Royal Society Interface. Published May 7, 2014. doi: 10.1098/rsif.2014.0274. http://rsif.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/11/96/20140274#

S-H. Yoon and S. Park. A mechanical analysis of woodpecker drumming and its application to shock-absorbing systems.Bioinspiration & Biomimetics. Vol. 6, […]

By |August 20th, 2014|Backbones|3 Comments

Why Are We Afraid of Spiders?


We don’t like all those legs and their creepily erratic ways of running around2. But why? Spiders don’t try to hurt us on purpose, and almost no spiders could hurt us if they tried.3 In contrast, our fear of spiders maybe hurting us has led to everything from minor freakouts to major birth defects.4,5

It turns out that we might not be able to help ourselves. Like Lady Gaga, some of us were born this way.


Plus, people with fraidy cat family members are more likely to be fraidy cats themselves, whether or not the fraidy cats grew up together.6


But evolution and heritability aren’t the whole story.


Nature and Nurture: Still BFFs!

*Spiderzillas don’t actually exist. We made them up because spiders don’t care about us and they never want to bite us in the face unless we’re being obnoxious and bothering them with our faces, but you’d probably want to bite them in the face if they were bothering you like that, too. Well, maybe not bite them in the face. You’d probably rather take a shoe to them. But you get the idea.

By Roar and Chris Buddle. Illustrated by Christine Fleming, Buzz Hoot Roar’s Artist in Residence. Follow Christine at @might_could and check out more of her work here.

Chris Buddle is a Professor at McGill University, in Montreal Canada. Chris does research on spiders, including recent work on arachnids living in the Arctic (yup, spiders live up there, too!). He’s been working with spiders for almost two decades and has never been bitten. He […]

By |August 13th, 2014|artist in residence, Bugs|8 Comments

Japanese Beetles Are Shiny, Green Party Animals

Japanese beetles (Popillia japonica) have been a big part of the U.S. spring and summer scene since the year Albert Einstein presented his Theory of General Relativity. (That was in 1916.)

These brilliant green insects emerge between late May and early June and spend the next six weeks eating, mating, eating, laying eggs … and eating.


The eating part can be a problem. Adult Japanese beetles eat the leaves and flowers of more than 300 plant species2, but they seem to have a particular fondness for ornamental plants beloved by homeowners – like roses.


When these insects chew on leaves, these leaves  release “don’t eat me” chemicals to ward off leaf eaters. But Japanese beetles take one whiff and consider them an “all friends welcome” invite.  It doesn’t take long for a hearty plant to be completely stripped of its leaves and blooms.


Their flowers’ “don’t eat me” chemicals cause temporary beetle paralysis that lasts 12-16 hours. Somehow, Japanese beetles prefer them anyway, and will do the ole eat-and-freeze until they trundle off to better food.

What’s a gardener to do?

Written by Buzz and regular contributor Matt Shipman

Matt Shipman (@shiplives) is a public information officer at North Carolina State University and a freelance science writer. He also writes the Communication Breakdown blog, which focuses on science communication. He lives near Raleigh, in a house full of humans.

Illustrated by Catherine Kehoe Arnold

Art by Catherine Kehoe Arnold. Catherine is a multi-disciplinary designer with a serious passion for craft and beauty. Generating inventive and creative design solutions are my areas of expertise. In her […]

By |August 6th, 2014|Bugs|2 Comments