(Often) Urban Invertebrates in the News

As July draws to a blissfully breezy end I offer a collection of the most insectually interesting articles that I’ve come across this month.  moth-er

Elena Tartaglia with some moths of New York and New Jersey. Source: @SciFri.

NPR’S Science Friday did a lovely little story on National Moth Week (which just ended on Saturday). In it Flora Lichtman interviews the adorably awkward Elena Tartaglia on why moths are worth our appreciation (in case you weren’t already aware). She also explains why they are so obsessed with the light over your door. Flora asks Elena about her new favorite moth: the Rosy Maple! Hooray. Also of interest–a Science Friday video that explains how hummingbird moths are able to so resemble their avian counterparts.

Variegated Meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum)

Variegated Meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum). Source: http://www.migratorydragonflypartnership.org

Xerces is helping to present a free webinar on dragonfly life and conservation which will take place on August first–tomorrow! There is a possibility of obtaining education credits, too. If you love dragonflies you can also participate in some citizen science for the Migratory Dragonfly Partnership, which is working to better understand their migrational patterns. 


ALB. Source: Wikipedia.

These dog days of summer mean that the Asian Longhorned Beetle is out and about. If you live in New York state and have a pool you can participate in a survey to help control the spread of this destructive insect.

Bees have been big newsmakers lately, primarily due to tragedy. In the wake of the largest poisoning of bumblebees ever, Xerces has called for the end of the cosmetic pesticide that caused it, dinotefuran, aka Safari. There is also a congress-bound petition to stop Safari here

An article from Treehugger sums up new research regarding the increasingly disastrous relationship between chemically-ridden America and honeybees.

The researchers…collected pollen from hives on the east coast, including cranberry and watermelon crops, and fed it to healthy bees. Those bees had a serious decline in their ability to resist a parasite that causes Colony Collapse Disorder. The pollen they were fed had an average of nine different pesticides and fungicides, though one sample of pollen contained a deadly brew of 21 different chemicals. Further, the researchers discovered that bees that ate pollen with fungicides were three times more likely to be infected by the parasite.


Bumblebee all up in a tomato blossom. [Highly fascinating] source: http://pollinator.com/. 

 In less dire news, the Times published a truly fascinating story in which Carl Zimmer artfully describes the bumblebee, the pollen that it feeds upon, and the effect that this culinary act has on pollination. In short, when a bee lands on, for example, a tomato flower (or a blossom from one of the other tens of thousands of plants which rely upon bumblebees for pollination), it immediately starts working to find pollen to eat. “‘It sounds like a bee is giving you a raspberry'” as it is

“in fact…creating resonating vibrations to loosen the pollen grains inside the [flower’s] tubes. ‘The bees are turning themselves into living tuning forks.'”

As the bee holds and shakes the flower, it causes microscopic pollen within to pinball against the tubes’ walls. Eventually they “gain so much energy that they blast out in a cloud that coats the bee.” The insect then gathers the grains to sacks on its legs so that it may feed the hive’s larvae later. Some pollen, however, remains on the bee’s fur and will dust off when the creature alights upon another blossom, hopefully leading to the inception of a brand new Brandywine, Sungold, or other blessedly summery fruit.

monarch drawing

Source: etsy.

Lastly, I have a detailed post cooking on the current state of the monarch butterfly. Until it’s published, however, here’s a link to a board that I’ve put together on Pinterest, Monarch Life Support. It’s a growing resource on monarch education which includes plenty of information on ways that we common folk can help this beloved, yet struggling, creature survive. Please let me know of other resources to add to the board and I’ll pin ’em up.

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