insects

Sex-Reversed Cave Bugs Pack Spiny Female Penises

Fine Young (Animal) Cannibals

Fine Young (Animal) Cannibals: Cannibalism is a bit yucky in the human world, but for animals it's just a matter of economics. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Julie expore the world of cannibalistic insects and their kin.

Insect Love Song

Insect Love Song: The night is alive with insects. To our human ears their song is mere cacophony, but it's actually a vast web of communication signals. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Julie decode the Insect Internet for the meanings behind insect songs.

Pass the Infected Caterpillar Himalayan Viagra

Researching Tibet is like reading about some fantastic other world, where psychonaut monks chart the realms beyond death and body breakers offer up corpses as alms to the scavengers of the sky. So it should come as no surprise to learn that Tibetans also dig up a strange root that's allegedly "half vegetable, half caterpillar" and sell it for bank as an energy booster and aphrodisiac.

This installment of Mind-Blowing Video is going to be all over the place, so BEAR WITH ME and for Carl's sake don't play them all at once. First up, let's hit the trailer for the best nature documentary you probably never saw. Why? Because when France's 1999 film "Microcosmos" traveled to the US, distributes went with this horrible promotion art instead of the original. Hey, "A Bug's Life" was doing big business, so why WOULDN'T you repackage the film with a cheesy shot of a mantis in shades?

It's Friday and spring is in the air, so let's watch a video about bugs in the air. In fact, let's watch a video about roughly 3 billion bugs soaring along invisible highways in the sky. This one comes courtesy of NPR and Radiolab's Robert Krulwich and is but one of several audio stories they've set to animation recently. And yes, you'll hear about the lone termite that braved altitudes of 19,000 feet. That's as high as the summit of Mount McKinley.

Amazing Infestations!

From hordes of caterpillars in Liberia to the Australian mice plagues, infestations can occur in almost any part of the world. Join Robert and Allison as they explore some of the world's largest -- and strangest -- infestations.

Insect Self Defense #32: Bleed All Over the Place

Face it, no matter how many YouTube videos you watch on the subject, trying to disarm a gun-toting attacker is probably going to get you shot. Thus, I suggest an alternative course of action -- a biomimetic self defense strategy patterned after the armored ground crickets (Acanthoplus discoidalis) of Southern Africa.

Will there ever come a day when all humans live in peace, with every child born into a united brotherhood of man? Well, keep writing folk songs, hippie, because we're still killing each other. Meanwhile, colonies of Argentine ants around the globe are gathered around tiny campfires singing Kumbaya.. The ants are known for building massive super colonies (consisting of colonies sometimes hundreds of miles apart), and according to BBC News, these may be part of a worldwide mega-colony. You can take members of the larger super colonies in Europe, Japan and the United States, place them among another colony an ocean away and they'll all get along swimmingly. There's no territorial angst, they just jump in and help. They seem to identify the same chemical signals and are, essentially, members of the same widespread community, rivaling only that of humans.

A few weeks ago, an old friend of mine was bemoaning her inability to understand men. I told her to take a close look at insects and everything will begin to seem a lot more cut-and-dried. Not to say you can solve all gender-related issues by looking at a beehive, but the more I look at insects, the more it becomes clear that the females are the real members of any given species and the men are essentially an adaptation necessary to breeding. A little while ago, I posted about termite queens that produce asexually to make a clone of themselves, who carry on mating with the termite king after they've reached the end of their shorter life span. Well, the same publication, the UK's Royal Society B, has hit us with another whopper: Amazonian ants that have given up on sexual reproduction altogether. Yes, they're an all-female species.