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Insect

Scientists have unlocked the secret to scorpions' ability to withstand sand-blasting, and ...

As any graffiti-removal specialist will tell you, sand-blasting is definitely an effective method of removing substances that have bonded onto hard surfaces. Unfortunately, sand or other abrasive particles suspended in air or liquid also have a way of eroding not just spray paint, but pretty much anything they encounter. As a result, items such as helicopter rotor blades, airplane propellers, rocket motor nozzles and pipes regularly wear out and need to replaced. Interestingly enough, however, scorpions live their entire lives subjected to blowing sand, yet they never appear to ... well, to erode. A group of scientists recently set out to discover their secret, so it could be applied to man-made materials.  Read More

WiSPr is a tiny wireless acoustic sensor designed to detect termites by 'hearing' them eat...

Thanks to their habit of remaining concealed, the first indication people get that termites have invaded their home is after they’ve already wreaked their particular brand of wood-eating havoc. According to Associate Professor Adam Osseiran of Western Australia’s Edith Cowan University, the yearly damage bill in the U.S. for termite damage tops US$12 billion, while in Australia they cause an estimated $1 to $3 billion damage each year. In attempt to reduce such damage, Osseiran and his team have developed an acoustic sensor that is so sensitive it can detect termite infestation by “hearing” them chew through timber.  Read More

Researchers have developed a biofuel cell to enable the development of 'insect cyborgs' (I...

Research into developing insect cyborgs for use as first responders or super stealthy spies has been going on for a while now. Most research has focused on using batteries, tiny solar cells or piezoelectric generators to harvest kinetic energy from the movement of an insect’s wings to power the electronics attached to the insects. Now a group of researchers at Case Western Reserve University have created a power supply that relies just on the insect’s normal feeding.  Read More

Arthropod cuticle, found in insects, spiders and crustaceans, has provided inspiration for...

Web-slinging arachnids already have researchers toiling away looking to replicate the remarkable properties of spider silk. Now spiders, along with their insect and crustacean arthropod cousins, have provided inspiration for a new material that is cheap to produce, biodegradable, and biocompatible. Its creators say the material, dubbed "Shrilk," has the potential to replace plastics in consumer products and could also be used safely in a variety of medical applications, such as suturing wounds or serving as scaffolding for tissue regeneration.  Read More

Golden orb web spiders, such as the red-legged golden orb-web spider (pictured), could hel...

Ants. What a pest. Once you get them in your house it can be a real mission to get rid of them. But it seems the Golden orb web spider has developed a way to keep its home clear of the little buggers. The secret uncovered by researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the University of Melbourne relates to a chemical compound the spider adds to its web that appears to repel ants. So not only are spider webs providing inspiration for better adhesives and stronger materials, they may also provide the basis for new, environmentally friendly, ant-repelling pesticides.  Read More

An insect fitted with a piezoelectric generator to harness energy from the insect's wings ...

Insects have served as the inspiration for a number of Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs) that could be deployed to monitor hazardous situations without putting humans in harm’s way. Now researchers at the University of Michigan College of Engineering are proposing using actual live insects enhanced with electronic sensors to achieve the same result. The insect cyborgs would use biological energy harvested from their body heat or movements to potentially power small sensors implanted on their bodies in order to gather vital information from hazardous environments.  Read More

Anopheles Gambiae mosquito

You're in the middle of a great chat with friends on a warm summer night, and then "ouch" a mosquito interrupts your conversation with a bite on your forearm. Experimental physicist Szabolcs Marka hopes to make this occurrence a thing of the past, but in this case it's not aerosol spray or roll-on-repellant keeping the bugs at bay, it's a wall of light.  Read More

Surrounded by other team members, Achim Oesert from the University of Kiel hangs from the ...

As is so often the case these days for those searching for a better way to stick stuff together, researchers from the Zoological Institute at the University of Kiel in Germany have turned to the biology of gravity-defying ceiling walkers, such as geckos and insects. These creatures served as inspiration for a new dry adhesive tape that not only boasts impressive bonding strength, but can also be attached and detached thousands of times without losing its adhesive properties.  Read More

Ant Farm Revolution contains an LED lamp, which allows users to project images of the ants...

Ah, the ant farm. It's somehow nice to know that in the age of apps and iPods, kids still like to watch colonies of ants fastidiously going about their daily business. The humble ant farm hasn't remained unchanged by technology, however. For some time now, instead of dirt or sand, commercially-available kits have instead come with a clear green gel. The ants are not only able to tunnel through this goop, but it also serves as their source of food and water. Educational toy company Uncle Milton is now taking the concept a step farther, with its Ant Farm Revolution. It's a cylindrical gel ant farm, with a built-in LED lamp that casts giant silhouettes of its ants on the user's ceiling ... or presumably onto the outside wall of a neighbor's house.  Read More

Scientists are experimenting with using genetically engineered spider silk proteins in the...

Spider silk is pretty amazing stuff. Pound for pound, it has a tensile strength close to that of steel while being one-fifth as dense, it’s tougher than Kevlar, and it can stretch to almost one-and-a-half times its length without breaking. As if that wasn’t enough, it now appears that a genetically engineered version of the substance could be used for delivering genes into human cells.  Read More

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