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The steampunk insect. photochem_PA

In defence of the stink bug

Stink bug. As names go it is a PR disaster, each of the words alone hardly endearing, and, in combination, wholly off-putting. Which is a shame because stink bugs have a perky charm, a distinctive style…
The Australian Emperor Dragonfly is only a handful compared to its ancestors who measured more than 60cm. Flickr/Daniel lightscaper

Insects are the great survivors in evolution: new study

The time and date of the origin of insects and their pattern of evolution and survival over millions of years is revealed in a new study, published today in Science magazine. Insect relationships have…
Where the rainforest meets the plantation: there are probably a lot more insects. Ryan Woo for Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)

Palm oil plantations are bad for wildlife great and small: study

Palm oil plantations have an overall negative impact on biodiversity, according to research released this week. The study, published in Nature Communications, found palm oil plantations are home to fewer…
A male Onthophagus vacca, the species of dung beetle being released this week in Western Australia. CSIRO

French beetles flown in to clean up Australia’s cattle dung

The average cow drops between 10 and 12 dung pads (also known as “pats”) every day and just one of those cow pads can produce up to 3,000 flies in a fortnight. With more than 28 million cattle in Australia…
Showing my true colours. Derek Hennen

Scientists at work: capturing beautiful millipedes in Ohio

I stumbled through the forest, attempting to find a path I knew was there. It didn’t take that long to find the decaying bridge, now being overtaken by blackberry and multiflora rose. That is where I had…
Good news, entomologists! Tiny insects, such as this Australian weevil, can be scanned and viewed in full colour and 3D from anywhere in the world. John Tann/Flickr

A big tick for entomologists: new 3D colour scans of insects

Observation is a cornerstone of science – we learn much about the universe and how it works just by looking at it. But observation can be a huge challenge. It’s easy to forget that human eyes allow us…
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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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…

Scientists shut down insects sex drive

A neuropeptide that regulates sexual activity and reproduction in insects has been identified by a team of entomologists…

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