In “Super Fly” Jonathan Balcombe explores the world of the most annoying creature, moving beyond the buzz and drone.
Earth Day is a reminder that we are living creatures all the same.
Even in the densest human habitations, there are orders of magnitude more ants than there are of us, doing the hard work of making our crumbs disappear.
A study shows that pretending to be immobile — sometimes for an hour or more — helps larvae of insects called antlions outlast hungry predators.
Insects are a lot of things – but fragile they’re not. Sure, most can’t withstand the full force of a human foot, but for their size, they’re evolve to be extremely rugged and resilient. Insect-sized technology, on the other hand, is general another story.
That’s certainly been the historic case with scaled-down drones. The components, in particular, tend to become more fragile the more you shrunk them. In particular, motors both lose efficiency and weaken the smaller they get.
Earlier models from the MIT lab have relied on rigid ceramic-based materials. They did the job in terms of getting the robot airborne, but as the lab notes, “foraging bumblebees endure a collision about once every second.” In other words, if you’re going to build something this small, you need to ensure that it doesn’t break down the first time it comes into contact with something.
“The challenge of building small aerial robots is immense,” says MIT Assistant Professor Kevin Yufeng Chen.
New drone models, which the lab describes as resembling, “a cassette tape with wings,” are built with soft actuators, made from carbon nanotube-coated rubber cylinders. The actuators elongate when electricity is applied at a rate up to 500 times a second. Doing this causes the wings to beat and the drones to take flight.
The drones are extremely light weight, as well, coming in at around 0.6 grams – basically as much as a big bumble bee. There are still limitations to these early models. Namely, the system currently requires them to be hardwired to deliver the necessary charge – as seen in the below gif. It can be a bit of a mess. Other modifications are being made, as well, including a more nature-inspired dragonfly shape being used for newer prototypes.
Should such the lab be able to to produce such a robot untethered with imaging capabilities and a decent sized battery, the potential applications are immense for the tiny drones. You’ve got everything from simple inspections currently being handled by larger models to pollination and search and rescue.
Blickling Hall, a centuries-old building in England, is trying to protect its priceless tapestries, carpets and furniture with thousands and thousands of microscopic wasps.
America wasn’t ready for the pandemic. And it isn’t ready for the next contagion to strike our woodlands.
Joel Marrable, an Air Force veteran, was largely bedridden by cancer and “incapable” of defending himself when ants attacked him at a Veterans Affairs facility, his family said.
Scientists were surprised to find the insect’s preserved penis, which suggests it was an unknown species.
A team of scientists say they have figured out the cicada-like life cycles of the many-legged arthropods.
Some tree crickets amplify their calls with leaves, giving them an opportunity to mate that they otherwise might miss.
Asian honeybees have exhibited what scientists call a form of tool use to deter attacks by giant predatory wasps.
A surprise clutch of eggs has solved a century-old leaf insect mystery.
Before metamorphosis, monarch butterflies will aggressively head butt each other for access to their favorite food.
Officials vacuumed the country’s first nest of so-called murder hornets last month in Washington State. The invasive insects could multiply and kill native bee populations, endangering crops and ecosystems.
Officials said they planned to destroy the nest in Blaine, Wash., on Saturday before the voracious Asian giant hornets could multiply and lay waste to bees.
Contact with a puss caterpillar can cause a painful reaction as well as a rash, fever, muscle cramps or swollen glands, experts caution.
Gov. Jay Inslee apologized for transporting the pest to maggot-free counties in Washington, which produces about 70 percent of the nation’s apples. After the discovery, the hunt was on.
New research suggests there is a relationship between the diversity of a bee’s diet and the size of its croissant-shaped brain.
After what felt like a sting, a red blotch grew and darkened on his shin. And then a twin rash somehow showed up on the other leg.
A species of insect tags along with elephant seals as they spend months at sea, enduring the crushing pressure changes of the mammals’ dives.
When ants are accidentally marked as dead, they find a way to rejoin the living.
We usually think of insects as meals for vertebrates such as frogs. But arthropods may turn the tables more often than you think.
The E.P.A. has approved nootkatone, which is found in cedars and grapefruit. It repels ticks, mosquitoes and other dangerous bugs for hours, but is safe enough to eat.
It’s hot, Donald Trump is still president, the pandemic is still raging, and did I mention that it’s hot?
The thistledown velvet ant, which is actually a wasp, resembles creosote fuzz. But mimicry isn’t the reason, a new study suggests.
Homeowners use up 10 times more pesticide per acre than farmers do. But we can change what we do in our own yards.
You know they support pollinators and native wildlife, but you may not have a meadow where they’ll feel at home. Here’s what to do.
New research shows these ferocious insects don’t just hunt like robots.
We didn’t stop the coronavirus. But perhaps we can stop the giant hornets.
While the Asian giant hornet massacres honeybees in their hives, some bees have developed a remarkable defense: cooking the hornets alive.
Coronavirus has prompted many scientists to make space in their homes for their lab animals.