Incognito Insect: 6 Bugs That Are True Masters of Disguise

Scientists estimate that insects have been doing their thing here on Earth for about 480 million years. They’ve outlasted pretty much everything (you know, that whole business with the meteor and the dinosaurs…awkward), and they didn’t do it by staying the same ole bugs that they started out as.

No, insects took a long hard look in the mirror one day and thought to themselves, “You are not a loser! Bottom of the food chain, no more!” So they began to evolve. Some developed poisonous traits, some learned how to make friends with other bugs to develop giant hives of death where they toil all day to make sweet treats under the ever watchful eye of a vindictive queen (too much?), and some took an easier route and learned how to hide with camouflage.

Take a look at some of the latter down below. Use the scroll bar to see if you can spot them!

Camouflage  Moth

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This particular moth is found in North America and got its namesake for obvious reasons. Their ability to disguise themselves against any forest backdrop puts even the most intricate guerilla suits to shame.

Brimstone Butterfly

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Found in Europe, North Africa, and Asia, the Brimstone butterfly is actually credited by the majority of scientists as being the original holder of the name “butterfly.”

Flower Mantis

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Found in Southeast Asia, the flower mantis definitely didn’t do as well disguising its name as it does its body. The flower mantis just candidly hangs out on the prettiest flower in the meadow until a bug comes close enough for it to reach out and eat. Maybe you shouldn’t stop and smell the roses after all!

Katydid

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Found on every continent except for Antarctica, there are over 6,400 known species of katydids. They get their name from the sound that emits as they rub their legs together…but whether Katy did or Katy didn’t still remains a mystery.

Geometer Moth

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Often confused with the mean girls of the insect world (butterflies), geometer moth’s are always described as having a slender waist, so…. there’s that. Found worldwide (sans Antarctica), Geometer moth’s spend their days pretending to be twigs or parts of leaves when they’re not trying out the newest diet fads.

Grasshopper

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The grasshopper. When they aren’t trying to band together to bring about the next plague, you can find them outside in your yard taking in the breeze. But don’t get too close, when a grasshopper’s camouflage cover is blown, they flash the underside of their wings as a warning, and scram.

So, now you’ve seen some of the insect world’s best tricks. However, if you’re that guy who never actually sees the hidden picture (I mean, come on, it’s right there), but for some reason still pretends that you do…I hope enjoyed the list anyways. Maybe, you even learned something. At the very least, I know the slide bars helped you kill some time at the office.

YOU’RE WELCOME.

Cockroaches Are Virtually Unstoppable & This Video Proves It

Source: National Geographic

In roach terms, top speed is 1.5 meters, or 50 body lengths, per second. Scaled up, that’s equivalent to a human running 200 miles per hour.

This disturbing and educational video is brought to you by the good folks at Elium Pest & Lawn – a Salisbury pest control company.

10 Sci-Fi Movies That Are Absolutely Infested With Insects!

Bugs, revered by the general population as vile and somewhat frightening, encompass the perfect characteristics to star in the movies of our nightmares. Since the early fifties, directors of science fiction movies have been coming up with new and terrifying ways that insects can horrify and entertain us. Here are ten science fiction movies that are absolutely infested with insects:

And the movies are…
1. Men In Black (1997)

MIB MOVIES

The only thing better than the skin-wearing, sugar-loving race of giant, alien cockroaches attempting to steal the galaxy during this movie, is the sick track that star Will Smith dropped during the credits.

Relive that glorious mix-tape moment from 1997:

Men In Black Music Video, Will Smith (director copy) from Caruso Company on Vimeo.

2. The Fly (1986)

A few years before he was as the naysayer in Jurassic Park, Jeff Goldblum starred in a lovely little film called The Fly in which a haughty scientist gets more than he bargained for when a science experiment goes awry (surprise, surprise). There’s lots of fun images in this film– Goldblum’s body parts simply falling off at random intervals, him vomiting digestive juices all over his food, just to name a few.

All of the stills from the movie are actually horrifying, so I sincerely apologize in advance:

The FLY MOVIES

Told you.

3. Eight Legged Freaks (2002)

8 LEGGED FREAKS MOVIES

This science fiction/comedy employs an age old archetype of the genre: a toxic spill. A lot going on here: giant spiders, alien enthusiasts, and townspeople taking shelter in the local mall to defend against the eight legged invaders. Oh, by the way, David Arquette and Scarlet Johansson star in it, so that’s cool.

4. Arachnophobia (1990)

Arachnophobia Movies

Doesn’t that shower look relaxing?! This is a still from Arachnophobia (starring Jeff Daniels and John Goodman), the story of a rogue spider who, aside from making cameos at bath time, created a new species of deadly spiders. The spiders in turn make it their business to wreak havoc on the local townsfolk, killing them off one-by-one.

Still from Arachnophobia movies

Same Jeff Daniels, same…

5. Them! (1954)

Still from Them! Movies

Based on the photo above, I’m sure that you don’t find it hard to believe that our next film, Them! was nominated for an Oscar in the category for “Best Special Effects.” It was the first “big bug” feature film and presented an entirely new genre for its time, paving the way for many of the other films on our list.

6. MIMIC (1997)

Still from Mimic Movies

Well, well, well…here we are again with a science experiment that got a little out of hand. Bred as a solution to a cockroach problem that was plaguing a city. Any guesses on what happens next? The insect asset cannot be controlled and seeks vengeance on those who created it in the first place. Will they ever learn?

7. The Deadly Mantis (1957)

Still From Deadly Mantis Movies

As the second oldest film on our list, The Deadly Mantis
stems from a fiasco involving a volcano and some ice caps. Deadly mantis, who has been slumbering peacefully beneath the glaciers, is awakened and leaves devastation in its wake. Despite the world being on the brink of chaos, the characters of this film somehow find the time to participate in a pretty heavy love-story. Appropriate.

8. Naked Lunch

Still From Naked Lunch Movies

Naked Lunch is just all kinds of weird. Not only does this guy think he’s a private eye (which he isn’t) — due to a heavy does of hallucinogens, he also believes that he is assisted by two handlers (which he isn’t), and that they are giant bugs (which they aren’t). Lots going on here.

9. The Swarm (1978)

Still from The Swarm Movies

Ah, yes. You are not mistaken. That is Michael Caine starring in 1978’s The Swarm. Consistently making “Worst Movies Ever Made” lists and bearing a dismal half-star on Rotten Tomatoes, The Swarm follows a swarm of bees as they cause all kinds of chaos after attacking a military base. There are bombs and a flame thrower involved, so…there’s always that.

10. Spiderman

Still From Spiderman Movies

Some will argue that Spiderman belongs in the action genre rather than sci-fi, but to them I say “NAY.” A nerdy kid is bitten by a radioactive spider, in a lab where weird science-y things are happening, and is then mutated to shoot webs from his hands? Tell me again how that is not science fiction?

If you get nothing else from this movie, at least you got to see Toby Maguire act out one of the WORST emotional scenes in film history:

Crying Movies GIF

You’re welcome.

6 Times People Attempted To Use Insects As Weapons

FIRE(FLY) IN THE HOLE!

Bugs outnumber people 200 million to one. Human beings, known for our impeccable decision making skills and innate ability to ALWAYS know when to leave well enough alone, naturally ended up posing the age-old question: how can we make this worse? By turning insects into weapons, that’s how. Here’s a short list of some shining moments in history that mankind really and truly outdid itself:

Six Times People Attempted To Use Insects As Weapons:

1. The Age of the Neanderthal:

Researchers have discovered crude drawings of early humans using beehives as primitive weapons. Apparently, if Caveman A was having a spat with Caveman B over the local Cavewoman for instance, it wasn’t unusual for one of the squabbling parties to wake up with a nest of angry bees soaring right into their rock shelter. The nest would then explode and its inhabitant would be trapped. I, personally, like to imagine it as the dawn of time’s version of high stakes ding dong ditch.

2. Greco-Roman Era:

As if there wasn’t enough shadiness and betrayal happening during this time period (Caesar, I’m looking at you), should you scorn your neighbor, you might have found yourself on the receiving end of a basket full of, wait for it…. venomous spiders and scorpions! I mean, Edible Arrangements who?

3. World War II:

During a time when the world was literally a revolving ball of chaos, the Japanese decided that they wanted to take it a step farther and engineered plague infected fleas. Yes, you read that correctly. Plague. Infected. Fleas. They sprayed the fleas into the masses of their Chinese enemies using a fleet of low-flying aircraft. It is estimated that roughly 440,000 Chinese died from disease as a result of this attack. To put it mildly, that was totally uncool guys.

4. The Cold War:

Not wanting to be left out of the party, the United States “allegedly” made plans to build a facility that would “allegedly” have the capacity to produce nearly 100 million yellow fever infected mosquitoes per month. These mosquitoes “may or may not” have been intended to be released amongst the United States very good friends at the time, the Soviet Union. “Allegedly,” of course.

5. The Cold War (Again):

Even though we just mentioned the United States and what they could have been up to with those mosquitoes, another project was also taking place whose name alone makes it impossible not to mention. Ladies and gentleman, in 1954 the taxpayers of the United States unknowingly funded “Operation Big Itch” (Pause for laughter). Operation Big Itch, also known as “The Big Itch,” (also known as completely ridiculous) involved testing munitions loaded with fleas. Not surprisingly, the entire project came to an untimely end when the fleas aboard an aircraft escaped and wreaked havoc on the entire crew. Close, but no cigar.

6. Modern Day:

While you currently have no need to live in fear of heat seeking bees or other fun pests descending upon your home unannounced, there are still scientists studying the potentials of entomological (that means bug) warfare. In recent years, there has been a large push in the research and development of robotic insects to be used in high risk combat situations deemed unsafe for human soldiers.

Either way, you can rest assured in knowing that as time continues, scientists are working tirelessly to come up with new and creative uses for our pal, the pest.

I mean honestly, what could possibly go wrong?

Bugs As Weapons

 

Table For One At The Bug Buffet

“Every year, you will eat seven to eight bugs while you’re sleeping.”

I’m sure you’ve heard this before. But, before duct taping your mouth shut becomes part of your nightly routine, know that this statement is completely false.

As gag reflex inducing as it may sound, scientists are arguing that adding insects to your diet might actually be incredibly beneficial to your health and to the environment as a whole. In reality, about eighty percent of the world’s population eat insects in their everyday lives. In many countries, such as China, certain insects are actually considered a delicacy.

Scientist Marcel Dicke is arguing that not only is it a good idea, it is imperative that we add insects to our diet. According to his research, the typical human being already consumes around 500 grams of bug per year, whether they know it or not. She also argues that as the population continues to grow, it only makes sense that we would begin to consume a food source that is readily available and abundant.

His argument breaks down as follows:

  1. Seventy percent of our agricultural land is being taken up to produce livestock. However, to feed our growing population, the agricultural production rate needs to also increase by seventy percent. Which is not likely.

2. Eating meat puts our health at risk because some of our meat sources, like pigs, are so much like us that they can transmit diseases. Not only transmit but “proliferate [viruses], and because of their kind of reproduction, they can combine and produce a new virus” that could make masses of humans ill.

3. The livestock market is incredibly wasteful. Dicke argues that it takes ten kilograms of food to produce one kilogram of beef. Why not simply add insects, which are rich in protein as well, to our diet and yield nine kilograms of insect meat with little to no waste?

4. Raising and eating insects will reduce negative impacts on the environment that livestock produce. These include things like greenhouse gases that are produced from livestock manure.

5. Insects are incredibly healthy containing significantly less calories and far more proteins and vitamins than foods we are typically eating day to day.

In his opinion, Western countries are slow to jump on the bug train simply due to a challenge in mindset. Most Westerners view bugs as a gross nuisance rather than an enticing food source. It is his hope that in the future, Western countries will follow the lead of countries like Laos, China, and even the Netherlands whose citizens regularly consume bugs in their daily diets. And I’m assuming that they enjoy them?

What do you think? Should we make a reservation for you at the bug buffet?

Watch Marcel Dicke’s TED talk on about why he thinks we should add bugs to our diet:

WW- “Bee” Smackdown!!!

“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”

A quote famously delivered by Muhammad Ali describing the ideal fighting style might be being taken a little too seriously in the animal kingdom. In Australia, Dawson bees are not only fighting, but actually exterminating their own kind. What are these bees fighting over, you ask? The same thing men have been fighting over for centuries…the affections of a woman.

Yes, these bees actually fight and die for the attentions of particular lady bees. The worst of it is, sometimes they get so caught up in their whole West Side Story act, that they actually end up accidentally killing the female that they were initially fighting over. What a buzz kill. Get it?! Buzz kill?! Okay, I digress.

Apparently, this particular species are known as “burrowing” bees. This means that they spend the majority of the year hidden away in nests that they have built deep into the soil of the Australian outback. But, once a year the mood strikes and they venture out of their burrows to seek a mate, their true ladylove.

Not wanting to be late to the party, the male bees actually come out of the burrows earlier than the females. The smaller males peruse around the local flower patches, gazing longingly at the burrow entrances where the bigger bees hang out. By hang out, I mean stalk. Within seconds of the female bees emergence from the safety of their burrows, the majority of the male population have already killed one another and those remaining have mated with 90% of the females.

Imagine being that female bee. You’ve had a nice year long slumber and when you finally surface, you’re met by the sight of hundreds of dead suitors and one crazy-eyed bee demanding to “bee” your one and only (last bee joke, I swear).

Watch a video of the bees during battle:

According to scientists, Dawson bees are one of the only species in the world that fight and kill their own kind in combat situations. And get this: because the majority of the male bees are killed during these scuffles, the female bees simply carry on, unaffected, in a testosterone-free community, raising the next generation of Dawson’s. Power to the lady bees!

queen bee

Sounds like chivalry really could “bee” dead for Dawson bees.

(Sorry, I truly could not resist)

 

How Monarch Butterflies Are Actually Nature’s Nurses

Imagine you’re feeling ill. You feverishly drag yourself to the doctor’s office and find yourself sitting atop a sterile table awaiting the arrival of the physician. The door opens and in flies a monarch butterfly, carrying a thermometer, waiting for you open wide and say, “Aaaaahhh.”

Okay, that’s just crazy. A monarch butterfly could never lift a thermometer.

However, recent scientific developments have suggested that monarch butterflies are exhibiting behaviors that model the same goal as our medical professionals. They are using medicinal means to protect and heal their young.

Jaape de Roode, a biologist who specifically studies these insects states,

I study monarchs because they get sick. They get sick like you. They get sick like me. And I think what they do can tell us a lot about drugs that we can develop for humans.”

What they can do, he found, is make a decision to lay their eggs on species of milkweed (the only plant monarch larvae eat) that has medicinal qualities as opposed to other species that do not display those same characteristics.

Monarch butterflies are often afflicted with a disease called ophryocystis elektroscirrha (don’t even try). This disease, that is essentially a parasite, infects the butterflies and greatly reduces their lifespans, hinders their ability to fly, and often kills them before they reach adulthood. This naturally occurring insect control has devastating impacts on butterfly populations.

De Roode found that some species of milkweed contained properties that naturally defend against these symptoms. He also found that mothers chose to lay their eggs on the medicinal milkweed sixty eight percent of the time. The spawn of these butterflies were studied as they grew on a diet of the milkweed. De Roode found that the offspring of these mothers lived longer and were considered “less sick” than the offspring that had been laid on the other grouping. Essentially, the mother butterflies were seeking out plants that administered the healing traits and protected their future young.

De Roode regards this revelation with incredible optimism expressing,

The discovery that these animals can also use medication opens up completely new avenues, and I think that maybe one day, we will be treating human diseases with drugs that were first discovered by butterflies, and I think that is an amazing opportunity worth pursuing.”

Watch his TED talk on his experiments with monarch butterflies: HERE.

RoboBee: Coming Soon To A Swarm Near You

Picture this: you’re taking a stroll on a balmy summer day. The sun is shining and the flowers are in full bloom, but wait… Suddenly you hear a mechanical buzzing noise and a robot no bigger than a penny lands delicately on your arm. But don’t swat it! That little bee is worth ten million dollars.

robobee

This is a RoboBee.

It was invented by the scientists at Harvard University and while it won’t likely be swarming your local meadows anytime soon, its development team hopes to put it to far more beneficial uses in the near future.

In fact, they’re hoping this buzzing bot will one day be able to assist in search/rescue missions, pest control, and artificial pollination efforts. Due to their small size, having only a three centimeter wingspan, developers are anticipating that they will be able to travel to locations (both rural and urban) that larger robots or human beings cannot. The United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency funded early models of Robobees with the intention that one day, they will be able to provide stealth surveillance in battlefield and high-risk situations.

However, creating a functioning robot on such a small scale presented many challenges. The first challenge was to make them fly. To do so, the scientists on the Harvard team invented a way of creating artificial muscles that allowed the wings to beat 120 times per second. As if that were not enough to make the rest of us look like simpletons, the scientists are now working on a means of giving Robobee the ability to use what they are calling “swarm intelligence” so that they can make decisions for themselves.

Not to mention, in recent developments, the Robobees are actually able to use static electricity to land and stick to surfaces. Also, in the name of leaving no stone unturned, Robobee can now dive into and swim beneath water.

robobee next to a flower

What will be next for the Robobee? Could it “bee” world domination?

I guess only time will tell.