Eat This, Not That: Why Mantids Eat Everything But the Gut of Some Caterpillar Prey

mantid with monarch caterpillar

By Leslie Mertz When a Chinese mantid (Tenodera sinensis) grabs a nice, plump monarch caterpillar (Danaus plexippus), it not only “bites into the fleshy bits” but also eventually gnaws deeply enough to rip through the lining of the gut, the contents of which are propelled out of the still-alive larva as it writhes, describes biologist […]

From Turtle Shell to Poop Umbrella, This Is One Unusual Group of Beetles

By Leslie Mertz Tortoise beetles are a bizarre group. They look somewhat like tiny turtles with a colorful, or in some species translucent, carapace (the upper shell in turtles), and they engage in some unusual behaviors, including carrying an “umbrella” made of their feces. “I adore these beetles — everything they do is kind of […]

New Knowledge and a New Tool to Help Control Billbugs in Turfgrass

By Leslie Mertz Turfgrass covers three times more land area than any other irrigated crop in the United States, and brings in tens of billions of dollars in annual revenues. Yet one of the major pests of this crop still remains a mystery in many parts of the country, according to Madeleine Dupuy, lead author […]

A New Resource for Fighting the Mexican Rice Borer

By Leslie Mertz A moth caterpillar called the Mexican rice borer (Eoreuma loftini) that has already taken a heavy toll on sugar cane and rice crops in Texas has now moved into Louisiana and Florida, and continues to spread through the Gulf Coast region. A new article in the Journal of Integrated Pest Management provides […]

Nanopillars on Rat-tailed Maggots Reduce Bacterial Colonization

By Leslie Mertz If an insect ever needed a little love, it would be the immature stage of the drone fly (Eristalis tenax), which is known as a “rat-tailed maggot.” As it turns out, a biologist in London has taken this drone fly larva to heart and, in so doing, discovered never-before-seen structures that appear […]