This category contains 12 posts

Exploding Termites

A species of rainforest termite makes the ultimate sacrifice to defend its home – these bugs blow themselves up. Self-destructing animals might sound like a B-rated sci-fi movie, but it is a reality when it comes to these termites (of the species Neocapritermes taracua) living in the French Guiana rainforests of South America. Older worker … Continue reading »

Camouflage Experts: Walkingsticks

Have you ever looked at part of a plant only to discover it’s actually an insect? Walkingsticks, also known as stick-bugs, are insects that have mastered the art of camouflage. With long, skinny bodies that are usually green or brown in color (or even able to change color!), these bugs easily blend in with the … Continue reading »

Biology Bytes: The Books

The Biology Bytes blog was inspired by the publication of two separate books by the same author. If you enjoy reading about the fascinating critters and plants that are all around us, or the latest developments in stem cell research or modern medicine in general, or have simply been enjoying reading the wide variety of … Continue reading »

Cockroaches: Pests and Pets

Cockroaches often get a bad reputation; they’re dirty, invade people’s homes, and spread disease. But because they’re generally attracted to unsanitary, damp conditions, cockroaches actually find most homes uninviting. They’re seldom found in clean living areas. And in fact, of the 4,500 species of cockroaches found worldwide, only 30 are associated with human dwellings, and … Continue reading »

Sustainability and Eating Insects

While many cultures around the world regularly eat insects, people in North America and Europe are generally still squeamish when it comes to plopping a mealworm in their mouth. But insects are a much more sustainable source of animal “meat” than beef, chicken, and pork – insects take up less space, eat less food to … Continue reading »

Fossilized Mosquito with a Belly Full of Blood

While it’s unlikely that Jurassic Park and its cloned dinosaurs will become a reality any time soon, researchers did recently discover a 46 million-year-old fossilized mosquito with a meal of blood trapped within it. Although DNA did not survive, other blood components did, and so this highly unlikely discovery can help us better understand the … Continue reading »

Asian Giant Hornets – Their Venom Dissolves Skin

The title about says it all. Asian giant hornets (Vespa mandarinia) are pretty terrifying – they’re the largest hornets in the world, reaching around 5 cm (2 inches) in length, or about the size of a person’s thumb. And they can kill a person if they get stung enough. They live in parts of Asia … Continue reading »

Assassins of the Bug World

When thinking of fierce little critters, poisonous spiders often come to mind. Their fear-inducing image is all over right now for the spooky Halloween season. But there’s actually a group of insects that hunts spiders – the aptly-named assassin bugs. And how they accomplish this feat is quite amusing – the assassin bugs will often … Continue reading »

Metamorphosis Revealed: 3D Imaging of the Inside of a Living Butterfly Chrysalis

Metamorphosis is an amazing process. A caterpillar appears to magically turn into a butterfly. Think of it – a worm-like critter that spends its time constantly eating leaves and growing somehow becomes an insect with relatively huge wings that mostly eats nectar from flowers. The two stages look completely different and have completely different diets … Continue reading »

Cicadas: Boisterous (Yet Elusive) Insects

Have you been wandering outside lately and heard a buzzing sound? If you tracked the sound back to some trees or shrubs (and not to a neighbor’s power tool!), chances are good that what you’re listening to is a cicada (or several of them!). Cicadas are among the loudest insects in the world, but because … Continue reading »