Even in this digital age, we continue to extract ideas and materials from insects and their relatives. However, the challenge of today may be to avoid a strictly utilitarian view of other organisms, whereby a species is expendable if it cannot demonstrate economic value that can be measured in dollars.
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.
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.
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.
Famous for their flashy colors, peacock spiders also emit vibrational signals during their mating dance. But why both kinds of courtship cues? And which kind matters more? Researchers have been studying peacock spiders to find out.