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Category: Amazing Insects

Amazing insect stories, insects in pop culture, and answers to common bug questions

honey bee and stewart platform

How a Honey Bee’s Waggle is Inspiring Aerospace Design

Engineers may recognize the internal muscle structure of a honey bee abdomen for its resemblance to a Stewart platform, a mechanical device that enables six degrees of freedom in movement. Researchers who have found its natural equivalent in bees say the discovery is already informing their work in designing articulating nose cones for rockets.

yellowjacket - Vespula squamosa

Yellowjackets: A Look at Opportunistic Raiders of Honey Bee Hives

Yellowjackets are nuisance predators of honey bees, preying on them and pillaging their honey. But bees fight back, and healthy hives are rarely at risk. Learn more about yellowjackets, their interactions with bees, and what sets yellowjackets apart from hornets and other fellow wasps.

Toxorhynchites rutilus mosquito larva feeding

Meet the Mosquito With a Big Appetite—for Other Mosquitoes

The mosquito species Toxorhynchites rutilus is harmless to humans but is a voracious predator of other mosquitoes. Researchers in Houston, Texas, are hoping the "mosquito assassin" could be put into action as a tool for controlling mosquitoes that carry human pathogens—if they can find an efficient way to raise the predator mosquitoes in the lab.

Pacific cicada killer - Sphecius convallis

When Cicada-Killer Wasps Become Cicada-Stealer Wasps

Hunting cicadas and lugging them back to a nest is hard work for a cicada-killer wasp. But sometimes all that hard work goes to waste, when a fellow wasp swoops in and lays her egg on the other wasp's prey. And that's if the cicada isn't stolen by a bird first.

four species of Euwallacea

So Many Shot Hole Borers: New Research Charts Four Nearly Identical Species

Tiny beetles once known as tea shot hole borers are actually a group of four distinct species that appear almost exactly the same to even the trained eye. In a new study, researchers combine both physical measurements and molecular genetics to better define the members of the Euwallacea fornicatus cryptic species complex.

Need to Mail Mosquitoes? Pack Them Up Nice and Snug

Several emerging mosquito-management methods require the transport of mosquitoes to precise locations. There, lab-reared mosquitoes—for instance, sterilized males—mix with wild mosquitoes and hinder the population's ability to reproduce or transmit disease. But, getting mosquitoes from lab to wild presents logistical challenges. A team led by researchers at New Mexico State University are tackling this problem and have made a surprising discovery about just how tightly live mosquitoes can be packed up.

Harmonia axyridis

Tabloid Sensationalism Aside, Lady Bugs Are Still Fascinating

Despite headlines to the contrary in British tabloids this fall, harlequin ladybird beetles are not killing off native species by giving them a sexually transmitted fungal infection. "There have been stories mixing up various research findings into quite sensational headlines, which is a shame because these fungi and the ladybirds are fascinating in their own right," says ecological entomologist Helen Roy, Ph.D., of the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in Wallingford, England.

Diadasia rinconis mating scramble

Busy Bees: An Up-Close Look at One Bee Species’ Scramble to Mate

With high-speed, high-definition cameras, researchers at the University of Arizona got an unprecedented look at the mating habits of the solitary bee species Diadasia rinconis and gained new insights into their courtship behaviors and the selective pressures those behaviors produce.