Myrmecos

Archives for October, 2009

Here’s a beetle that the genetics-inclined entomologist will recognize.  Tribolium castaneum, the red flour beetle, was the first Coleopteran to have its genome sequenced. This small tenebrionid is native to the Indo-Australian region but has become a pest of stored grains around the world.  I photographed these individuals from a lab culture at the University…

Stories of Ants

I’m busy today with lab work.  But if you need an ant blog fix, let me point you in the direction of “Historias de Hormigas” (“Stories of Ants”).  It’s a Spanish blog by José María Gómez Durán, and the current entry is an amazing series of action shots documenting an ant-hunting Crabronid wasp.

It’s not easy being queen…

Life is perilous for young ant queens. This fire ant (Solenopsis invicta) is being pursued by native Forelius ants after her mating flight in central Florida. She frantically climbs a grass blade to escape, but to no avail- the attackers follow. She will make an excellent source of protein to feed the Forelius larvae. Two…

Sunday Night Movie: Self Image

from the always excellent Creature Comforts: [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dtk5qs3HvlI] For those sensitive to meaningless violence against ants, you might want to look away around 5:20.

Will Open Access inhibit innovation?

Last week was Open Access Week. At the risk of sounding like a stick-in-the-mud, let me play devil’s advocate to the blogosphere’s near-universal celebration of Open Access (abbreviated, OA). Thus: I don’t think most OA advocates have thought deeply enough about long-term implications. First, though, what is Open Access? 

A storm of bug bloggers

The students of IB 401: Introduction to Entomology here at UI have started a bug blog, and they’ve taken to it like…um… belostomatids to water. Go pay them a visit and leave some comments.

Sandalus niger is one of the oddest beetles in eastern North America.  While most parasitic insects are concentrated in other orders- notably Hymenoptera and Diptera- Coleoptera contains relatively few parasites.  But there are a few. Beetle larvae in the small polyphagan family Rhipiceridae attack cicada nymphs in their underground burrows.  Our local species is Sandalus…

Lolmantis

found at lolcats:

Polistes fuscatus paper wasps sport a bewildering array of facial markings.  Why is this? A new paper by Michael Sheehan and Elizabeth Tibbetts in the journal Evolution suggests natural selection may favor rare patterns, leading to a proliferation of diversity.  Sheehan & Tibbetts performed an elegant experiment on 18 groups of 4 foundress queens, painting…

Career Advice

Malcom Gladwell to aspiring journalists: The issue is not writing. It’s what you write about. One of my favorite columnists is Jonathan Weil, who writes for Bloomberg. He broke the Enron story, and he broke it because he’s one of the very few mainstream journalists in America who really knows how to read a balance…