insects

Why the summer sound of noisy crickets is growing fainter

Why the summer sound of noisy crickets is growing fainter

To make this familiar summer sound, the male cricket holds his nerve and “stridulates” – rubbing his back legs together in order to entice a female. He knows this makes him vulnerable. What a female cricket can find, so too can the predators and parasites that wish to consume or infect him.

Everything you never wanted to know about bed bugs, and more

Everything you never wanted to know about bed bugs, and more

If some insects could save the world, others do their best to seriously complicate life on Earth. Among them the prize perhaps goes to the bed bug, which after decades of absence has returned to our homes, hotels and public facilities to seriously disturb us.

How mosquitoes get away before you can slap them

How mosquitoes get away before you can slap them

Strong, rapid wing beats with hardly any push off let mosquitoes make a fast getaway. The technique is in stark contrast to other insects, like flies, that push off first and then start beating their wings frantically, often tumbling uncontrollably in the process. That strong push off also lets us know they’re there before they have a chance to escape.

Conservation efforts must include small animals. After all, they run the world

Conservation efforts must include small animals. After all, they run the world

Humans like to think that they rule the planet and are hard wired to do so. But our stewardship has been anything but successful. The last major extinction event, 66 million years ago, was caused by a meteorite. But the next mass extinction event, which is under way right now, is our fault.

To bee or not to bee – why some insects pretend to be dangerous

To bee or not to bee – why some insects pretend to be dangerous

In the summer of 2011, panic gripped a small community in Gatineau, Quebec. Hundreds of small, striped insects were buzzing around a children’s playground. The playground was evacuated and entomologists were called in to establish whether or not the animals were dangerous. The answer was no, but it is easy to see why local residents were concerned. The animals that had taken up residence in the playground were hoverflies, a family of harmless fly species that have built up quite an arsenal of tricks to convince would-be predators that they are dangerous.

Why we should learn to love all insects – not just the ones that work for us

Why we should learn to love all insects – not just the ones that work for us

Insects, which include more than a million described species, represent roughly two-thirds of the biodiversity on Earth. But they have a big PR problem – many think of insects as little more than crop-eating, disease-carrying jumper-munchers. But in reality, species fitting this bill are but a tiny part of an enormous picture.