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There’s No Such Thing as Organic Honey, Lady!

We at Buzz Hoot Roar have something very important to tell you: There’s no such thing as organic honey.

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By Roar and Katie McKissick. AKA Beatrice the Biologist, McKissick is a blog and science comic that hopes to make science fun and interesting for the casual reader. Visit www.beatricebiologist.com to see more of her work, and follower her on Facebook and Twitter.

By |February 5th, 2014|Bugs|14 Comments

The Ladybug’s Secret Evil

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Check our facts:

1 Harmonia axyridis ladybug invasion and allergy

2 Multicolored Asian lady beetle hypersensitivity: a case series and allergist survey

3 Harmonia axyridis ladybug hypersensitivity in clinical allergy practice

 

Words by Roar, art by Hoot.

By |January 14th, 2014|Bugs|3 Comments

The Driftin’ Life of Mayfly Nymphs

One of Earth’s most ancient groups of insects, mayflies (Order Ephemeroptera) are famously short-lived as adults—some living less than four hours before dying.

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So you might imagine that immature mayflies try their best to live a long and happy life.

Mayflies hatch in streams and rivers, spending their immature life underwater as wingless nymphs, crawling around rocks to scrape and nibble on algae and bacteria.

Streams are dangerous places for mayfly nymphs, with hungry fish patrolling the currents and predatory insects prowling the bottom. To reach new feeding areas or to escape attacks by other insects, mayfly nymphs push themselves off the stream bottom and wiggle into the current, drifting downstream before settling on another rock.

But it turns out that mayfly nymphs are pretty smart about when NOT to drift. Experiments on Baetis mayfly nymphs in California compared their drift behavior in streams containing both predatory insects and trout against streams containing only predatory insects.

Trout are visual predators that hunt during the day. Predatory insects like stonefly nymphs hunt during the night.

In streams with trout, Baetis nymphs actively drift at night to find new patches of food and to escape stonefly attacks, but they completely stop drifting during the day to avoid fish attacks.

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In streams without trout, Baetis nymphs still drift at night. But they also will drift to new food patches during the day since there are no fish to attack them.

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How Baetis nymphs detect the presence of fish versus insect predators is still a mystery—it might […]

By |January 7th, 2014|Bugs|8 Comments

Five Insects We Never Want to Have Sex With

1. Honey Bee Queensmillette_final_honeybee_02

2. Dragonfly Malesmillette_final_dragonfly2_023. Bedbugsmillette_final_bedbug2_024. Water boatmen males

Have you ever had that boyfriend who wants to sit around and play guitar just for you? What are you supposed to do? Smile politely? Sing along? Pretend Extreme’s “More Than Words” captures your shared feelings?

millette_final_boatmen_025. Cowpea Weevilsmillette_final_weevil4_02

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Check our facts:

 1.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtKqic69xVo (honeybee queen)

2.  http://www.mndragonfly.org/biology.html (dragonfly)

3.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLaaqX6A3AU (bedbugs)

4.  http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0021089 (water boatmen)

5.  http://bugguide.net/node/view/12796 (water boatmen)

6. http://sciencenordic.com/bizarre-penis-shaved-scientists (Cowpea weevil)

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Emily Millette is a designer living in North Carolina. She’d like you to know, that from where she’s sitting, this is the best week yet. Follow her on Twitter @emilymillette.

Creative Commons License
Insect Sex by Emily Millette is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

By |December 10th, 2013|Bugs|12 Comments

Holiday Reruns: Five Conversation Starters for the Thanksgiving Table

Tongue-tied with Uncle Tommy? Sick of Aunt Sally’s prattle? Try some of these BHR-approved conversation starters to get things going this Thanksgiving.

1. “My little heart goes pitter pat just being surrounded by all of you loved ones. Speaking of hearts, did you know smaller animals’ hearts beat faster than larger animals? Well, they do.

 

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2. “It sounds like that investment banking career is really taking off for you, Mike. Oh, me? I just took up omphaloskepsis.”

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3. “No, I’m not being creepy about your baby, Janet. I’m expressing a natural evolutionary urge to protect him.”squeezeit_05_03
4. “Oh, look at the moon! It’ll look even smaller tomorrow night. How do I know? I just know.”
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5. “It’s natural to share, Jerry. But you gotta work for it. So no, you’re not getting any of my pecan pie.”
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Image credits: 1. Neil McCoy, 2. Julia Rice. 3. Jaime Van Wart 4. Christina Wang 5. Chris Trlica
By |November 26th, 2013|Backbones, Bugs, Other Science|1 Comment

Why Some Ants Dress in Drag

So if you’re the weak guy in a class of bullies, can you still get lucky? Some males of the ant species Cardiocondyla obscurior say,

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They have some advice for you.

In C. obscurior nests,

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To avoid getting stomped on by the larger males and still mate with future queens, these Steve Urkles mimic the scent of fertile female ants.

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Beefy bullies get all hot and bothered by their brothers dressed in drag, and instead of attacking these should-be rivals, they try to mate with them.

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Meanwhile, our ant Ru Pauls are hooking up with the actual females.BHR_Transgender_Ants2_last_01

Not only are these wimps getting lucky; so are their offspring. Dressing in drag is one way scrawny guys push their genes into future generations.   BHR_Transgender_Ants_last_01

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Brad Maurer is a stream restoration engineer at The Nature Conservancy. He likes his job, but still regrets dropping out of art school. He’s currently working on a book of insect cartoon characters.

By |November 20th, 2013|Bugs|1 Comment

Jumping Spiders: an Evolutionary Love Story

Jumping spiders. Salticids. Who doesn’t love them? With their big eyes and furry mustaches, they’re the George Clooneys of the spider world, handsome and charismatic.

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Well, maybe the Justin Timberlakes. When jumping spiders mate, males in the mood of the Habronattus genus dance up to their Britneys and Jessicas, waving their forelegs and grinding their abdomens.

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Each species even sings its own song as it approaches its respective paramour.

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In Arizona, jumping spiders of the same species often become isolated on mountaintops. Too far to travel, they only speak to spiders on their own “sky islands.”

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Over time, these males modify their songs to please their girlfriends. Today, males on different mountaintops sing different songs, each tune driven by the preference of their female neighbors. Eventually, this type of sexual selection can lead to the development of new species.

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Maybe budding Robin Thickes ready for their Mileys?

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Bonus: Check out footage of real-live adorbs salticid mating dancing here.

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Originally from North Carolina, illustrator Christine Fleming is slowly working her way around the country. Her work tends to have a whimsical feel with organic lines, delicate textures, and hidden details. Check out more of her work and her blog at www.mightcouldstudios.com, and follow her on Twitter @might_could.

 

By |October 23rd, 2013|Bugs|8 Comments

Get Moving! How to Navigate the Great Migrate.

Ancient civilizations couldn’t figure out how animals came and went with the seasons. They came up with all kinds of stories

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But the truth behind navigation turned out to be way better than anything they could have imagined. Bobolinks take an annual trip of more than 12,000 miles. Monarch butterflies bat their wings for up to 6,000 miles.

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With no GPS, how are they doing it? Lots of animals get their major move on using these three tools:

1. Sun compass

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2. Stars. Most migrating songbirds travel by night. They learn constellation patterns and orient to those patterns. Light pollution throws a monkey wrench in their plans.

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3. Magnetic fields.

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Check our facts!

K. Able, Gathering of Angels: Migrating Birds and Their Ecology. Comstock Publishing, 2003.

W. Hamilton, III, The Auk. Vol. 79, No. 2 (April 1962), pp. 208-233.

O. Taylor, Monarch Butterfly: Top Ten Facts. April 2009.

W. M. Hamner, P.P. Hamner, S.W. Strand, Sun-compass Migration by Aurelia aurita: Population Retention and Reproduction in Saanich Inlet, British Columbia. June 1994, Volume 199, Issue 3, pp. 347-356.

All About Birds. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Poot, H., B. J. Ens, H. de Vries, M. A. H. Donners, M. R. Wernand, and J. M. Marquenie. 2008. Green light for nocturnally migrating birds. Ecology and Society 13(2): 47.

W. Wiltschko, U. Munro, H. Ford, R. Wiltschko, Aviation Orientation: […]

By |October 17th, 2013|Backbones, Bugs|2 Comments

The Best Thing About Baby Ants

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Check our facts:http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0041595

Clint Penick, Ph.D., is an accomplished myrmecologist and artist with an inordinate fondness for ant larvae. In addition to making important discoveries like the one he illustrated for today’s post, he served as an instructor for the ASU Design School, designed a bat-inspired umbrella, and more. Does it ever end with Clint? We hope not. Follow him on Twitter and see if it does.

By |October 15th, 2013|Bugs|1 Comment

A Spider Did Not Bite You

Each year, thousands of people accuse brown recluse spiders of hanging around their houses, stalking them, biting them and causing horrible wounds–but that hardly ever happens. It’s time to set the record straight.

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1R. Vetter, N Hinkle, and L. Ames (2009) Distribution of the Brown recluse spider (Araneae: Sicariidae) Georgia with comparison to poison center reports of envenomations. Journal of Medical Entomology, 46(1): 15-20

2R. Vetter, D. Barger. An infestation of 2,055 brown recluse spiders (Araneae: Sicariidae) and no envenomations in a Kansas home: implications for bite diagnoses in nonendemic areas. J Med Entomol, 39 (2002), pp. 948–951

3J. D. Joslin. Regarding suspected brown recluse spider envenomation case report. J. of Emergency Medicine, 43(2), p 348

4T.J. Dominguez. It’s not a spider bite, it’s community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. J Am Board Fam Pract, 17 (2004), pp. 220–226

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By Roar and Katie McKissick. AKA Beatrice the Biologist, McKissick is a blog and science comic that hopes to make science fun and interesting for the casual reader. Visit www.beatricebiologist.com to see more of her work, and follower her on Facebook and Twitter.

By |October 10th, 2013|Bugs|72 Comments