Articles on Insects

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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. 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? 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. 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…

Insects drive rapid plant evolution

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

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…
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). 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. 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…

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