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Insect

Gear teeth of a juvenile Issus coleaptratus (Photo: University of Cambridge)

Among the mechanical components not found in nature is the spur gear. That is, until now. Zoologists of the University of Cambridge have discovered that the juvenile form of the leaf-hopper Issus coleoptratus has a set of gear-like linkages between the two jumping legs to synchronize the legs during a jump.  Read More

Farm 432 is a device for kitchens that continually breeds and collects fly larva as a rene...

Flies are usually considered unwelcome guests in the kitchen, but one industrial designer is aiming to turn them into a renewable food source. Katharina Unger's Farm 432 concept is a fly-breeding device for home use that continually collects fly larva as a protein source for less squeamish diners. As unappetizing as it may sound, the designer hopes that convincing the Western world to add insects to its diet could help increase the planet's overall food supply.  Read More

The Kite Mosquito Patch is worn on the clothing like a decal, and is said to keep mosquito...

Depending on what part of the world you live in, mosquitoes can range from being an annoyance, to acting as carriers of life-threatening diseases such as malaria and West Nile virus. Sprays containing deet do a fairly decent job of keeping the mozzies at bay, but they’re also highly toxic. Less-nasty sprays, bracelets and other devices are also available, although (as I can attest to from personal experience) they tend not to be very effective. Now, however, a group of California-based entrepreneurs are developing what could be the ultimate deterrent – the Kite Mosquito Patch.  Read More

The tick rover drags an insecticide-laced cloth behind it (Photo: VMI Photos by John Rober...

It's summertime in the Northern Hemisphere, and that means the bugs are out – specifically, ticks. In light of the ensuing infestation, otherwise known as the annual repopulation, three professors at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) have crossed the business of pest control with the world of robotics by last month testing their robotic "tick rover" to determine its efficiency at removing the blood suckers from the yard.  Read More

Using genetic engineering to alter the Aedes aegypti mosquito's sense of smell could revea...

It has long been believed that detecting carbon dioxide was one of the ways that mosquitoes target their human prey. But the fact that mosquitoes tend to favor certain people over others indicates that some other odor also plays a part in the attraction. Researchers at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) have genetically engineered mosquitoes to alter their sense of smell, which could provide the understanding required to block the pesky pests' attraction to humans.  Read More

CurvACE reproduces the architecture of the eyes of insects and other arthropods

Robots are getting down to the size of insects, so it seems only natural that they should be getting insect eyes. A consortium of European researchers has developed the artificial Curved Artificial Compound Eye (CurvACE) which reproduces the architecture of the eyes of insects and other arthropods. The aim isn't just to provide machines with an unnerving bug-eyed stare, but to create a new class of sensors that exploit the wide field of vision and motion detecting properties of the compound eye.  Read More

Harvard's RoboBees could one day work together in search and rescue operations (Photo: Kev...

Almost since the beginning of their existence, robots have taken inspiration from one of nature's wonders: insects. Technological limitations typically prevent these robots from matching the small size of their many-legged muses, resulting in gargantuan examples like Festo's BionicOpter dragonfly. In stark contrast is Harvard's RoboBee, which is the first in the world to demonstrate controlled flight by an insect-sized robot.  Read More

Scientists have copied the structure of insect eyes to create a 180-degree hemispherical c...

Contrary to what certain cartoons may have us believe, insects’ compound eyes don’t produce a grid of tiny identical images. Instead, each of their many optical facets supply one unique section of a single composite image – sort of like the individual pixels that make up one digital image. Now, a team of scientists has replicated that eye structure, to create an ultra-wide-angle camera.  Read More

The movements of a fruit fly larva were observed under scanning electron microscope (Image...

Whether you're a researcher wishing to study living insects in conditions requiring a lethal vacuum, or you're that insect in the vacuum simply wishing not to die, scientists have found a solution to your problem. Using only a common chemical and a scanning electron microscope (SEM), a team at the Hamamatsu University School of Medicine developed a process that allows insects to survive in a vacuum of about a millionth of atmospheric pressure. Not just a new technique in biologists' toolkit, this research adds a small piece to our understanding of how life – insect, human, or otherwise – might be sustained outside the narrow constraints our bodies demand.  Read More

A bacterium, after being 'deflated' by a cicada wing's array of blunt spikes

Imagine if you took a water balloon and placed it on a bed of widely-spaced blunt nails. While the nails wouldn’t be pointy enough to pierce the balloon’s rubber skin, eventually the weight of the water would cause the rubber suspended between the nails to rupture. Well, it turns out that the clanger cicada uses the same principle to kill bacteria that settle on its wings. That finding could result in a new generation of antibacterial materials.  Read More

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