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Insect

Not so long ago the only things that came in a bottle of alcohol (beside the alcohol itself) were the occasional odds and ends that fell in as it was being made, or some fruit that was deliberately shoehorned in to make it look decorative. Today there seems to be a craze for all sorts of objects jammed into bottles of spirit – scorpions, worms, and other creepy crawlies being particularly common. Actually distilling the essence of an insect to make an alcoholic beverage rather than just pickling it in a bottle, however, is a different prospect altogether. But now a company in the UK has done just that, by using an extract from ants to create a special type of gin. Read More
Studying insects in flight can be difficult. They're usually tethered in place, although this may affect the manner in which they fly. That's why scientists from the University of California, Berkeley and Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) took a different approach – they installed an electronic backpack on giant flower beetles, allowing them to be remotely controlled while in free flight. The technology not only gave the researchers a better insight into how the insects fly, but it could also find use in areas such as search-and-rescue. Read More
Most modern aircraft, cruise missiles, spacecraft – in fact, almost all flying vehicles – use an accelerometer for flight stabilization. Living creatures that fly, on the other hand, rely on their own innate sense of balance determined by environmental observation and inbuilt organ-based systems. Now French researchers have designed a bio-inspired, sight-based system that could be used in conjunction with accelerometers to vastly increase the autonomous capabilities of drones by endowing them with more natural flying abilities. Read More

Entomologist and wildlife photographer Piotr Naskrecki is not squeamish. He recently allowed two human bot fly larvae to grow to maturity under his skin and documented the process in a short film. Read More

Do you have termites in your home? If not, would you like to? Not ones that are living in the wooden structure of the building itself, of course – that'd be no fun. Instead, the Termitat securely houses a colony of Pacific Dampwood Termites within a clear acrylic housing, where you can watch them going about their business on a daily basis. It's like an ant farm, except instead of dirt it has a disc of Douglas Fir wood, and instead of ants it has ... well, termites. Read More

British scientists have already looked to principles employed by butterfly wings, as a means of thwarting currency counterfeiters. Now, researchers from China's Southeast University have developed another such technology, that's inspired by a different insect – a color-changing longhorn beetle known as Tmesisternus isabellae. Read More

If you're ever trapped in a collapsed building and are calling for help, you might want to think twice before squashing any cockroaches that wander your way – one of them might have been sent to find you. Researchers from North Carolina State University are currently laying the groundwork for such a scenario, by getting cyborg-like "biobot" cockroaches to move towards sounds. Down the road, such insects may be used to locate victims at disaster sites. Read More

Lathering yourself in mosquito-repelling lotions might not be ideal, but it's better than those red swellings that would otherwise pop up on any exposed skin. The Invisaband releases a natural oil to confuse mosquitoes' senses, saving you from bites and applying layers of oily repellents. Read More

Jiminy Cricket may be able to do more than guide our consciences: he, or his kin, may also provide food security solutions for a growing and hungry world. However, the notion of insects-as-food struggles to find widespread traction amid problems with standardization of food safety standards, government disinterest and only a small body of research. So is there a future for cricket sushi or fried silk worms? Read More
We've been hearing a lot about the development of tiny flying sensor-equipped robots, that could be sent into areas such as disaster sites to seek out survivors or survey the damage. However, why go to the trouble of designing those robots from scratch, when there are already ready-made insects that are about the right size? That's the thinking behind research being conducted at North Carolina State University, which is aimed at converting moths into "biobots." Read More
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