Sections

Services

Information

UK United Kingdom

Insects

Analysis and Comment (22)

A queen bee tended by her workers … but take away her pheromones and they start to act strangely. A queen bee tended by her workers … but take away her pheromones and they start to act strangely. Flickr/KrisFricke

Smells like queen spirit: royal pheromones in insect colonies

Much like people, insect colonies like to know if her majesty is at home. In the ants, bees, wasps and termites (the “big four” of the social insect world), the queen has long been suspected of using special…
The Holy Grail of myrmecology: the Dinosaur Ant. The Holy Grail of myrmecology: the Dinosaur Ant. Ajay Narendra

Australian endangered species: Dinosaur Ant

The Dinosaur Ant (Nothomyrmecia macrops) is so-called because it is a “living fossil”. It is arguably one of the closest living examples of what some of the earliest true ants might have been like, both…
Vesk’s Plant-louse lives only on a single species of wattle. Vesk’s Plant-louse lives only on a single species of wattle. Melinda Moir

Australian endangered species: Vesk’s Plant-louse

Vesk’s Plant-louse (Acizzia veski) was discovered in 2007 within the Stirling Range National Park, a biodiversity hotspot of southwestern Australia. It is not a true “louse” but is a species of Hemiptera…
A couple of these and a nice chianti. A couple of these and a nice chianti. Severin Tchibozo

Insects are key for food security in a growing world

Protein is a shrinking part of the diets of humans and animals. The deficiency is spreading rapidly across the world, but is particularly pronounced in Africa, even though many sources of protein can be…
Not cute, but crucial. Not cute, but crucial. Alvesgaspar

Wasps deserve to be loved

Recently a newspaper asked its readers to propose species that were, ecologically speaking, “useless”, such that their loss would not have any great knock-on effect on other species or biological cycles…
World-renowned naturalist and film-maker Sir David Attenborough visits Melbourne Zoo to meet the miraculous Phasmid, or Lord Howe Island Stick Insect. World-renowned naturalist and film-maker Sir David Attenborough visits Melbourne Zoo to meet the miraculous Phasmid, or Lord Howe Island Stick Insect. JOE CASTRO/AAPIMAGE

Slimy, scaly and forgotten: we need to fund our invertebrates

In Australia, the “cute and cuddlies” receive the vast amount of publicity and conservation management dollars. Little is left for the small, scaly and slimy species that many consider just plain creepy…
A lot cleverer than he looks. A lot cleverer than he looks. vpickering

We’ve been looking at ant intelligence the wrong way

How intelligent are animals? Despite centuries of effort by philosophers, psychologists and biologists, the question remains unanswered. We are inclined to tackle this question using a top-down approach…
The metallic-coloured Schayer’s Grasshopper from Tasmania. The metallic-coloured Schayer’s Grasshopper from Tasmania. David Rentz

Australian endangered species: Schayer’s Grasshopper

There are some 700 known species of grasshopper in Australia. But, fewer than half have been described. This is creating an information gap, and some species have fallen in. Schayer’s Grasshopper (Schayera…
Insects constitute a source of higher quality protein for humans than we can obtain from plants. Insects constitute a source of higher quality protein for humans than we can obtain from plants. BBC World News

Icky insects are actually tasty treats that are good for you

In the early 1980s, I was a member of a team of nutritionists who analysed bush food samples sent by “The Bush Tucker Man” (Major Les Hiddins) from northern Australia to the Defence Nutrition laboratory…
Isolated and remote, the Kimberley could be home to untold numbers of new and endemic insects. Isolated and remote, the Kimberley could be home to untold numbers of new and endemic insects. Bruce Webber

Two million species and counting: completing the catalogue of life

We have just returned from a month collecting insects in the National Heritage-listed Kimberley region of Western Australia. Together with the Wunambal Gaambera and Dambimangari Aboriginal Corporations…
This female Territory Imitator probably shouldn’t be on the IUCN’s Red List. But very little is known about this obscure group of insects. This female Territory Imitator probably shouldn’t be on the IUCN’s Red List. But very little is known about this obscure group of insects. David Rentz

Australian endangered species: Katydids

Consider the katydids. Katydids are related to grasshoppers and crickets. They are generally long-legged, have long antennae and are nocturnal. The majority are herbivores but some are carnivorous. Several…
Not all mosquito repellents are equal. Not all mosquito repellents are equal. Flickr/sachman75

Aussies vs mozzies: a user’s guide to repellents

Mosquito-borne disease is a serious concern, with millions of people worldwide impacted by pathogens spread by these blood-sucking insects. In Australia, there are more than 5,000 cases of human illness…
Despite having “simple” brains, dragonflies appear to be capable of more complex tasks than was first thought. Despite having “simple” brains, dragonflies appear to be capable of more complex tasks than was first thought. Henry McLin

Enter the dragonfly: insect shows human-like visual attention

Being able to focus on an important object or task while surrounded by distractions is a valuable skill. It’s an ability that’s probably widespread in the animal kingdom, but is best known in large mammals…
Who made this mess, and why? Who made this mess, and why? David Midgley

Unravelling the mystery of eucalypt scribbles

Some natural phenomena are so familiar to us that they feature in our lives and culture, yet we know precious little about them. Sometimes we don’t even know how little we know. Take the subject of our…
Invertebrates can seem alien and “other”, but the world can’t get by without them. Invertebrates can seem alien and “other”, but the world can’t get by without them. Thomas Shahan

Ignoring invertebrate conservation is simply spineless

Invertebrates are all around us – crawling, squirming and buzzing about their business. From forests canopies to ocean depths, they form about 80% of the known species on Earth. By virtue of their sheer…
Goodnight, sleep tight? Not if these critters have anything to do with it. Goodnight, sleep tight? Not if these critters have anything to do with it. Lynn Friedman

VIDEO: bed bugs at London 2012

In a co-production between SBS World News Australia and The Conversation, University of Sydney’s Cameron Webb explains why bed bugs will almost certainly bite at the London Olympics. It’s creepy. Enjoy…
Bed bugs are among the souvenirs you could bring home from a trip to the London Olympics. Bed bugs are among the souvenirs you could bring home from a trip to the London Olympics. Armed Forces Pest Management Board

Will bugs bite at the London Olympics?

Travelling to the London Olympics? What do you expect to bring back? Some amazing sporting memories? A medal? How about some bed bug bites, or, worse still, a few bugs to kick off an infestation at home…
DNA barcoding uses a few standard genes to provide a sure-fire genetic species identification method. DNA barcoding uses a few standard genes to provide a sure-fire genetic species identification method. Conor Lawless

Genetically linked, a continent apart: the rise of DNA barcoding

We’ve written previously on The Conversation about how taxonomy – the science of describing and naming species – can be quite a subjective science. But taxonomists can broadly be split into two camps…
Biting insects cause allergic reactions because of their saliva, while stinging insects inject venom when they bite. Biting insects cause allergic reactions because of their saliva, while stinging insects inject venom when they bite. Emilio Floris/Wikimedia Commons

Taking the ouch and itch out of insect bites

Mosquitoes, biting midges, bedbugs, ticks and fleas will make a meal of us given the opportunity. And it isn’t the pain or annoyance of the bite but our bodies' reactions that often cause greater problems…
What’s in a name? A whole lot of booty, and some Latin, as it happens. What’s in a name? A whole lot of booty, and some Latin, as it happens. asterix611

Beyoncé is a fly … but why?

Late last week CSIRO announced that a new species of horse fly had been named after pop diva Beyoncé’s bottom. The story generated a real buzz across traditional and social media both in Australia and…
GM crops are used in Australia to thwart pests such as the Cotton Bollworm (which also destroys corn). GM crops are used in Australia to thwart pests such as the Cotton Bollworm (which also destroys corn). AAP/University of Melbourne

Will superbugs overwhelm insect-resistant GM crops?

A recent report in the Wall Street Journal spoke of rootworms in the US state of Iowa that had evolved resistance to a strain of genetically modified (GM) corn developed especially to thwart those rootworms…
Flesh-flies frequently give birth to maggots on corpses of human and other animals. Flesh-flies frequently give birth to maggots on corpses of human and other animals. sankax

Forensic entomology: the time of death is everything

FORENSICS AUSTRALIA – Insects are everywhere. Their ubiquitous nature, and the fact they represent the largest biomass of animals on the earth, means there are hardly any terrestrial niches – except when…

Research and News (3)

Research Briefs (14)

Cicada wings that kill bacteria

Cicada wings have been discovered to be the first natural surface to kill bacteria through their structure. Researches at…

Insects drive rapid plant evolution

Evolutionary change is occurring rapidly around us, every day, as insects impose natural selection pressures on plants. Using…

Hormones determine insect metamorphoses

Pulses of steroid hormones are responsible for differentiating an insect’s lifecycle metamorphoses, researchers at Washington…

Modified fungus targets fire ants

A fungus normally used for killing insects has been modified by scientists at the University of Florida to specifically kill…