Tagged With insects

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The common ladybird is easily recognised by its signature red and black spotted shell. But when researchers at the University of Tokyo used a creative trick to make its carapace transparent, it revealed insect wing secrets that could impact development of robotics, satellite antennas and microscopic medical instruments — perhaps even a re-imagining of the folding mechanism of your umbrella.

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Based on the popular Disney film The Lion King, I assume identifying lion royalty is fairly easy. After all, an elder baboon, Rafiki, presented the young lion prince Simba to the entirety of the animal kingdom from atop Pride Rock during some ceremony yet-to-be-observed by humans. But how do the ants know who's going to be their next monarch?

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You might not know this, but we're in the midst of an insect shape-studying renaissance. MicroCT technology — basically a lab version of the CAT scanners found at hospitals — is increasingly allowing scientists to produce detailed three-dimensional images without destroying samples. So naturally, if we're scanning everything, we might as well scan grasshopper genitalia mid-bang.

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We all know the bloodcurdling sound of a bloodsucking mosquito that has made its way into our general vicinity. It's a distinct buzz that immediately gets your attention. A team of researchers has finally cracked exactly how mosquito's fly and according to their findings, its flight "is generated in a manner unlike any previously described for a flying animal."

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It's no secret that bees have been having a really rough time: Just yesterday, the rusty-patched bumble became the first bee in the continental United States officially listed under the Endangered Species Act. But that's the tip of the iceberg for our buzzy little friends, who unlike their arsehole cousins — wasps — only want to pollinate plants with their fuzzy little bodies. Sadly, the best bees, honey bees (Apis mellifera L.), are dealing with yet another threat to their existence, while wasps just sit back and watch the world burn.

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Researchers at Vanderbilt University have found a secondary set of odour sensors on female malarial mosquitoes that appear to be specifically tuned to sniff out humans. While admittedly disturbing, the discovery could lead to new ways of combating malarial mosquitoes and the dreaded disease they carry.

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Spider silk has some amazing properties, with a higher tensile strength than steel (though still half that of Kevlar), while being highly ductile. Forget about bullet-proof vests or web-shooters, when can I wear the stuff... without having to run through the bush with my eyes closed? Turns out the answer is "now", or at least "soon", with the US-based Bolt Threads debuting its first spider-silk garment — a tie.

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Like death and taxes, drone crashes are basically inevitable. Even experienced pilots aren't immune to hardware failures or software problems. But instead of building drones stronger, or wrapping them in awkward safety cages, Swiss researchers have designed a flexible quadcopter that squishes when it crashes, minimising the damage it takes.

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Today in science that turns out to be totally bunk: Citronella candles warding off mosquitoes. At least, the natural "repellent" doesn't seem to have any effect on one of the most notorious disease-spreading blood suckers on Earth.