The Successful Artist Who Preserves Dead Insects Before Replacing Their Innards With Machinery Parts

It may be hard to believe, but for thousands of years, insects have been a source of inspiration for many artists. One of the earliest cave paintings ever found depicts insects, and Renaissance artists used a type of red paint that was made from ground up cochineal insects. However, one artist from China is using insects in a way that has never been thought of before, and needless to say, his art is quite strange. Zhang Yuebai is an artist and insect enthusiast who creates sculptures made of hollowed out insect corpses.

Zhang orders a variety of different insect species from online vendors. Once the insect-filled packages arrive to his home, Zhan removes every bit of each insect’s innards. Although this may sound like a macabre act, Zhan feels as though his artwork is ultimately a celebration of insects. Once an insect’s guts are removed, Zhand dips the insect’s body into preservative chemicals. Once this is complete, holes are drilled into the hardened insect corpse so that he can place several mechanical parts inside of the hollowed out body. These mechanical parts include gears from watches and sometimes even valuable gemstones. Zhan also builds armor for his insects using the same types of materials. The final products looks like a sort of robo-insect.Waco Spider Control

According to Zhang, who is only 23, his insect sculptures can take a long time to complete, as the process requires patience and precision. Zhang does not just work with insects, but enjoys working with the occasional arachnid as well.  He once accidentally broke the legs of a preserved spider that he was making into one of his sculptures. The insect sculptures created by Zhang retain their natural colors, and he moves each sculpture into positions that are fitting for a particular species. For example, Zhang admires the mantis shrimp for its powerful claws, so he made a sculpture with one that featured a mechanical spring mechanism on its claws, which, according to Zhang, represents the force behind each slash of a mantis shrimp’s claw. Zhang takes pride in knowing that he is the only artist of his kind in all of China. However, he is probably the only artist of his kind in the world. Many of Zhang’s sculptures are sold for prices of around two to three thousand dollars.

Do you believe that Zhang’s artwork is inhumane toward insects?

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World’s Biggest Insect and Arachnid Fossil Beds Right Here in the United States

When I think of fossils, the creatures that tend to come to mind first are dinosaurs, and I always imagine that they are found in far off, isolated locations in the desert, similar to the one portrayed at the beginning of Jurassic Park. But fossils come in all shapes and sizes, and one of the most important fossil sites for insect and arachnids in the world is actually located right in the good old USA. The large site is also not in the desert, but rather a forest in Colorado. To top things off, you don’t even have to be an archeologist or scientist to visit this famous site. The Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument welcomes all visitors to view this incredible site and even walk through the forest and get up close and personal with some of their oldest fossils in their natural habitat.Waco Spider Control

Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is one of the world’s most diverse and richest fossil sites. You won’t see any giant bones jutting up from the ground. These fossil beds, which were discovered in 1873, contain a whopping 50,000 specimens, including 1,700 animal and plant species. 1,500 of those species are comprised of insects and arachnids, with insects such as spiders, beetles, flies, wasps, cockroaches, aphids, ants, as well as almost all of the species of butterflies in the country. The most popular part of the fossil site is the Ponderosa Loop, and half-mile-long and wheelchair-accessible hike that brings you right to some of their most famous fossils, including the “Big Stump”, the largest petrified redwood in the entire monument, originally reaching over 230 feet in height. That is one giant tree, fossilized or not. It’s like stepping back in time to when dinosaurs and giant insects roamed the Earth, long before we came along.

Have you ever visited a fossil site? What did you see there and what was your experience like?


How Do Tarantulas Support Their Body Weight And Dead Prey While Crawling Up Vertical Surfaces?

You don’t have to spend much time browsing social media sites before finding a proud pet owner’s picture of their four-legged companion. Nobody has a problem with this because dogs and cats are cute animals that do adorable things. However, some pet owners post pictures of their beloved tarantulas to social media sites as well. Unlike pictures of dogs and cats, many people respond to pictures of tarantulas with horror. It is becoming more and more common for tarantula enthusiasts to post pictures of their pet arachnid’s supposedly cute “paws.” Little do many know, but the tip of a tarantula’s leg resembles a paw of sorts. For example, the “paws” belonging to the pinktoe tarantula are often found pictured and posted on social media sites, as this species of tarantula must have the most picture-worthy feet of any tarantula species, just as their common name would suggest. Of course, tarantulas do not have paws; instead, tarantulas have dense patches of hair called “claw tufts.” Claw tufts are an important feature as they allow bulky tarantulas to climb vertically along a variety of different surfaces.

When compared to other arachnids, tarantulas are relatively heavy. In order to support their weight and the weight of their prey while climbing vertical surfaces, a tarantula’s hairy feet adhere to many surfaces. These hairs are visible to the human eye, but each visible hair is covered with hundreds of thousands of smaller hairs called “setules.” Setules are so small that an electron microscope is required to see them. The heavier the tarantula species, the more setules it has. For example, researchers found that a species of jumping spider known as Evarcha arcuata has a total of 600,000 setules, which is necessary for this species as it hunts and carries prey regularly up vertical surfaces. Smaller arachnids do not possess the hairy claw tufts that tarantulas possess because their low body weight does not require dense patches of setules. However, the relatively small huntsman and jumping spiders possess setules, as they are the only spider groups that are capable of crawling upside down along a ceiling while carrying prey as large as a toad in their fangs.

Have you ever found a spider crawling along your ceiling?

Waco Scorpion Control

Several Species Of Spider, Scorpion And Insect Glow, But Not Like Lightning Bugs

You likely have nostalgic childhood memories of catching fireflies in a mason jar. If you happen to be one of the few kids who never captured lightning bugs, then you must have, at least, been in awe of their seemingly magical ability to flash a bodily glow at evenly spaced intervals. Even after reaching adulthood, it is hard not to recognize fireflies as possessing a truly unique ability. After all, how many other insects, or any type of organism, do you know of that can glow? Algae, maybe? Well, as it happens there are many arthropod species that are capable of glowing, but why they glow is another question that science has yet to answer. Certain spider, scorpion, and even cockroach species are known for their glowing ability.  Considering all the natural phenomena that science has come to explain, it is surprising to learn that researchers only understand the physiology behind the glowing ability of certain scorpion species, and of course, lightning bugs.

The glow of lightning bugs and other arthropods is known as “bioluminescence.” However, the internal bodily mechanisms that produce bioluminescence in lightning bugs is entirely different in scorpions. Scorpions glow by means of “fluorescence,” which still falls under the category of luminescence as opposed to incandescence. The exoskeletons of scorpions contain certain molecules that absorb ultraviolet light before re-emitting visible light. The outermost layer of a scorpion’s exoskeleton is called the “epicuticle,” and this is where the glow originates. The reason why some insects glow under UV light is not fully understood. Although humans cannot see UV light, insects can see it, whether they glow or not. The outside world appears quite different when UV light can be detected. One reason as to why insects see UV light may be to locate shelter. This theory was proposed after researchers put tiny UV light-blocking goggles on scorpions. These goggled scorpions seemed to have more difficulty than normal when it came to locating shelter. Another theory suggests that scorpions and other insects inherited the ability to detect UV light as an adaptation that allowed them to tolerate the intense sunshine that their earlier sea-dwelling ancestors had not been exposed to. While these theories are plausible, there may be no way of discovering why insects adapted to detect UV light.

Would you find it interesting to wear glasses that allow you to detect UV light so that you could see the world like an insect?






Fall Into A Pest Proofing Routine

With summer on its way out, many homeowners may think their pest problems will wane, too. That’s not the case, according to iPest Solutions. In fact, with a new season comes different pest challenges to face and another round of pest proofing to do for the home. Pests like mice, rats, cockroaches and spiders will look for shelter in warm homes as the weather grows cooler, which is why iPest Solutions encourages homeowners to integrate pest proofing into their routines for the fall season.

Each season poses different opportunities for pest invasions, yet one thing remains the same—no one wants these critters entering their homes where they present property and health threats. Rodents, for example, are a more common fall pest and can contaminate food and damage drywall and electrical wires throughout a home. Cockroaches can trigger allergies and asthma, especially in children. These pest implications are far from desirable, which is why we must combat them.

To help homeowners battle pests all year round, including in the fall, iPest Solutions recommends these pest-proofing tips for the fall season:

  • Screen attic vents and openings to chimneys.
  • Eliminate moisture sites, including leaking pipes and clogged drains.
  • Seal cracks and crevices on the outside of the home using caulk and steel wool. Pay close attention where utility pipes enter the structure.
  • Store food in airtight containers and dispose of garbage regularly in sealed receptacles.
  • Replace loose mortar and weather stripping around the basement foundation and windows.
  • Store firewood at least 20 feet away from the house; keep shrubbery well trimmed.
  • Install door sweeps and repair damaged screens.
  • Inspect items such as boxes of decorations and grocery bags before bringing them indoors.

How Did Civil War Soldiers Avoid Eating Insect-Infested Foods?

Serving as a soldier in any war seems like a nightmare, and this is especially true for wars fought decades ago when casualty rates were dramatically high on all sides. Avoiding enemy fire in the midst of war seems challenging, but surprisingly, many soldiers from past wars had to worry about their food more than the enemy. For example, during the Civil War, both Union and Confederate soldiers were forced to take special precautions in order to avoid consuming insects like weevils and maggot-contaminated meals and rations.

In order to keep the thousands of individual soldiers alive during the Civil War massive amounts of food had to be supplied at ground zero. As you can imagine, this food became contaminated with insects quickly. Union soldiers were given rations that contained a little more than a pound of meat per day. Sometimes, soldiers kept leftover meat in their rucksacks. If the meat was not already contaminated with bugs, then it surely would become contaminated later on. Various forms of meat were often contaminated with maggots or other insect larvae. In order to decontaminate these meat products, they were stored within pickled brine, but this only made the meat taste terrible.

Wheat crackers were also commonly issued to soldiers, but these crackers may have been even more insect-populated than the meat. These crackers were commonly called “worm castles” by Union soldiers. According to one soldier, the crackers were more heavily infested with weevils than maggots, but both were usually abundant. The crackers were called worm castles as the worm-looking larvae would create intricate designs within the hardened crackers. Another soldier mentioned finding more than 30 “worms” on his crackers, and such findings were typical. The “worms” that the soldiers referred to were likely flour moths and rice weevils. Despite the insect-contaminated food, soldiers were, nevertheless, grateful for the rations as food was in low supply. As far as Civil War soldiers were concerned, maggots and weevils were better fed than they were.

Do you think that you could eat insect-contaminated food if you were in a state of starvation?

You Would Not Believe How Useful Grasshoppers Are In The Field Of Medical Science

The scientific exploration of human physiology has long given rise to ethical concerns. History shows that several medical researchers have overstepped the boundaries of moral decency by sacrificing human lives in the pursuit of effective medical treatments. For example, it is certainly not unprecedented for medical researchers to purposely infect healthy study participants with certain diseases solely to test the efficacy of certain drugs. The Tuskegee experiments are probably the most well known studies of this kind. In order to ensure that human lives are not harmed in the pursuit of medical knowledge, researchers use certain animals as models in medical experiments. Rats and mice, for example, are commonly used as models in medical experiments since their physiological processes are largely analogous to a humans. However, even mice and rats can suffer as a result of medical experimentation. This is why more primitive lifeforms are sought as models in medical studies. Luckily fruit flies, despite their relative physiological simplicity, have many physical attributes in common with humans. Although fruit flies are useful in medical research, very few people are aware that grasshoppers have even more in common with humans when it comes to physiological functioning.

Researchers have only understood how physiologically similar grasshoppers are to humans for around 50 years, and to this day, nobody really understands why these distantly related animals share so many physiological attributes in common. Grasshoppers have been successfully used in experiments that test how humans are affected by psychoactive drugs. The central nervous system of grasshoppers and humans is similar enough that the two act out similar behavioral side-effects in response to psychoactive drug consumption. In fact, grasshoppers are even useful for understanding how the cardiopulmonary functioning of humans can be affected by psychoactive drug intake. Thousands of pre-med students have learned about the process of cell division in humans by observing how this process occurs in grasshoppers. Grasshoppers have also proven useful for determining which substances act as carcinogens in the human body. In some respects, grasshoppers may be the most useful stand-ins for humans in studies that aim to determine how abnormal cell division occurs in response to certain environmental toxins.

Do you believe that there exists an ethical line that cannot be crossed when it comes to medical experiments on insects?


Insects Get Stressed Out Too

We all feel stressed out from time to time. It is a natural biological response to outside stimulus and the need to continually adapt in an ever-changing environment. Humans aren’t the only creatures that get stressed out, though. The truth is pretty much everything living you can think of on this planet gets stressed out, even insects. Just like humans, insects need the stress response to react to threats and other changes in their environment. Without it they wouldn’t survive this harsh world.

What do they get stressed out about, you ask? Well, that’s pretty easy; the exact same things we get stressed over. Since insects have a central nervous system, their stress response is actually much more similar to ours than you probably think. According to Sonny Ramaswamy, the Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture as well as an entomologist, insects get stressed out if they are in a hot environment, a cold one, an environment where they are hungry, just to name a few. Our senses work to locate potential threats through our eyes, ears, and other sensory organs. When these sense a threat, they send a signal to the amygdala part of our brain. When we get stressed our amygdala, which is the part of our brain sensing potential threats, triggers the release of hormones, cortisol in particular. Cortisol is often called the stress hormone and boosts blood sugar. Adrenaline is also released, increasing our heart rate and preparing us to react to whatever threat is present.

The process is quite similar in insects. When they sense a potential threat with their eyes, antennae, etc., those sensors alert their brain, just like ours do. The brain releases stress hormones, in particular octopamine, which is similar to epinephrine, which is related to glucocorticoids. Just like with humans, these stress hormones help the insect prepare to deal with whatever potential threat they are facing. Insects can also alert other insects to their stress with the release of alarm pheromones. Think of it as the human equivalent to shouting for help.

Do you think you’ve ever seen an insect stressed out? Can you remember how they were acting?


You Would Not Believe How Insects Have Been Used By Humans In Combat

Human beings are no strangers to warfare. The course of human history is rife with violence. Whether or not war is a natural part of human nature can be debated, but the historical use of insects in warfare cannot be denied. Academics have been studying the role of insects in human-waged wars for quite some time, and the practice has even earned its own term. This term is “entomological warfare”, and this particular method of combat has both failed and succeeded at numerous points throughout mankind’s history. Experts have classified three types of entomological warfare. The first involves the direct use of insects as weapons, the second involves the use of insects to infest and destroy crops, and the third involves the use of insects as agents of infectious disease. Most recently, insects have been used as inspiration for innovative forms of military technology. As you can probably guess, the direct use of insects as weapons of war is the most primitive form of entomological warfare.

Insects have been used as weapons in warfare since at least the Roman era. During this time, at around two hundred BCE, King Barsamia defended the ancient middle eastern city of Hatra from Roman military advances by using venomous scorpions as weapons. Combatants gathered scorpions, assassin bugs and other venomous insects from the desert region before placing them in terracotta pots to be launched at the Roman Army. The advancing Roman Army soon retreated in response to the terror that the insects incited. Several texts describe the Roman soldiers as being in intense pain as a result of stings and bites from the insects.

During the twentieth century, many countries suspected their opponents of using insects to destroy their crops. For example, in 1944, Great Britain accused Germany of dropping Colorado potato beetles into their crops in order to decimate a large portion of Britain’s food supply. North Korea accused the US of crop infestation following the American military campaign in Vietnam. The Japanese used humans as subjects during experiments that tested the effectiveness of vector-borne diseases as weapons of mass destruction. Technically, the use of insects as instruments of warfare is against international law, as the Geneva Conventions banned the use of all forms of biological weapons in war. However, many countries are referring to flying insects as inspiration for developing advanced military drones.

Do you believe that some nations are secretly developing weapons of mass destruction in the form of insect-borne pathogens?