Silkworm: The Underappreciated Life Science Model Organism

silkworm larvae

By Keping Chen, Ph.D. The realm of insects is colorful and has been coexisting with human beings for countless generations. Insects appeared on earth more than 400 million years ago, and their descendants witnessed our evolution from upright, walking apes into complete human beings and observed the beautiful, magical, and endless waves of life on […]

Predicting Shifts in the Range of Invasive Insect Species in the Face of Climate Change

pea leafminer

By John P. Roche As average temperatures rise globally, the ranges of many species will be affected. Climate-induced shifts in the ranges of invasive species will be particularly important because of the high economic and ecological impacts of these species. And predicting the extent to which temperature increases could affect the range of invasive species […]

The Microscopic Spines That Many Bee Species Use to Hatch

bee larva hatching spine close-up

Perhaps you’ve seen the 2015 video from photographer Anand Varma (and shared again last week via National Geographic), a time-lapse of bee larvae hatching and growing in their cells: Watch: larvae grow into bees in this mesmerizing time-lapse https://t.co/JvRbXDMl2e — National Geographic (@NatGeo) July 19, 2017 What you can’t see in that video—in fact, what […]

How Flashy Wings, UV Light, and Seasons All Play a Role in One Butterfly Species’ Mating Rituals

Bicyclus anynana butterflies mating

By Edward Ricciuti   Males of an African butterfly, with the improbable nickname of “squinting bush brown,” are the Lepidopteran version of chick magnets—if their generation of caterpillars chills out while it grows up. Caterpillars of this butterfly (Bicyclus anynana) that develop during the cool dry season flip traditional sex roles as adults when ready to mate […]

What Puts the Blister Into Blister Beetles?

Epicauta chinensis blister beetle

By John P. Roche Blister beetles produce cantharidin, a 10-carbon isoprenoid molecule that is highly bitter and is toxic to most animals. Because cantharidin is so bitter, it discourages predators, and its production may have been selected for in blister beetles because of this bitterness. The molecule is found in only two insect groups: blister […]