insects

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Science

When Given Colored Construction Paper, Wasps Build Rainbow Colored Nests

April 6, 2016

Christopher Jobson

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It’s unnerving to discover a wasp’s nest dangling outside your house, but perhaps it would be a tad less so with the help of biology student Mattia Menchetti who cleverly realized he could give colored construction paper to a colony of European paper wasps. By gradually providing different paper shades, the wasps turned their homes into a functional rainbow of different colors. This isn’t the first time scientists have encountered insects producing colorful materials with the aid of artificial coloring. In 2012, residue from an M&M plant caused local bees to make blue and green honey, and a similar—though admittedly more tragic—incident involving bees and the dye used in Maraschino cherries occured recently in New York. You can see more of Menchetti’s experiment on his website. (via Booooooom)

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Art

Stirring the Swarm: A Horde of 10,000 Ceramic Beetles Crawl Across Gallery Walls

March 9, 2016

Christopher Jobson

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Like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, UK artist Anna Collette Hunt leads swarms of 10,000 ceramic insects in a traveling exhibition that first appeared several years ago in the towers of Wollaton Hall, England, home to a significant natural history collection. Hunt compares her marching throngs of beetles and butterflies to an awakening of sorts, the idea that her installations depict a reanimation of these long-dormant creatures framed behind glass or lost in drawers. From a statement about her process:

The exhibition is a result of Anna’s preoccupation with historic houses. After recurring visits to Wollaton Hall, she was repeatedly drawn to Entomology, particularly to the fragility of the aging beetles within the collection and by the possible stories that could be crafted from them. The body of work was made in several stages: Anna created the original models and their moulds, then a team of assistants made and glazed the individual elements. Some insects have a trickle of gold lustre, which references the traditional technique of presenting insects in museum collections by pinning each one to a board. This particular aspect has also fallen into the story, where the enchanted beetles bleed gold from their wounds.

The collection of ceramic insects has been installed in numerous places over the last five years, and Hunt also offers a “full scale infestation service” where tailor made swarms can be installed into almost any location. You can see more views of Stirring the Swarm on her website. (via Colossal Submissions)

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Photography Science

Macro Photographs of Nature’s Tiniest Architects by Nicky Bay

February 29, 2016

Kate Sierzputowski

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Bagworm moth larva (Psychidae), all images courtesy of Nicky Bay

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Bagworm moth larva (Psychidae)

Nicky Bay (previously here and here) is the master of capturing the exceptionally small, photographing insects typically passed over without acknowledgement or recognition. The Singapore-based photographer stays acutely aware of these tiny creatures, using macro photography to highlight each minuscule detail. While taking a closer look at the micro world found deep in the rainforest, Bay began to notice tiny structures built by his favorite subject. The bug buildings appear manmade—tiny log cabins, gates, tents, and fortresses blocking each insect from the world just beyond their carefully placed twigs and segments of silk.

My favorite microscopic discovery of Bay’s was the Bagworm moth larva’s twisting stack of twigs it builds to protect itself as it grows inside. These stacked structures are almost perfect in their symmetry, each side built with twigs that are equal in length and width. Another favorite is the Arctiinae moth pupa’s cage produced from caterpillar hair and silk, a semi-protective fortress that appears almost like chicken wire.

Ray has collected several other examples of these tiny architects, including a web tower and silk-covered tent which you can see over on his macro photography blog. You can also follow his day-to-day macro photography on Facebook.

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Bagworm moth larva (Psychidae)

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Web tower structure, image by Jeff Cremer

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Arctiine moth pupa (Cyana sp.)

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Arctiine moth pupa (Cyana sp.)

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Arctiine moth pupa (Cyana sp.)

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Arctiine moth pupa (Cyana sp.)

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Bagworm Moth

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Bagworm moth larva (Psychidae)

 

 



History Science

A VW Beetle Spotted in the Insect Collection at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History

January 8, 2016

Christopher Jobson

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While walking through the Cleveland Museum of Natural History earlier this week, Redditor muppaphone spotted a toy VW Bug hidden amongst a collection of taxidermied beetles. Most likely the joke of a good-humored curator, commenters suggest museums frequently hide objects like this for observant patrons to discover. Love it. (via Laughing Squid)

 

 



Craft

Welded Insects Produced From Salvaged Metal Scraps by John Brown

December 18, 2015

Kate Sierzputowski

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Gathering spare pieces of metal, John Brown assembles his findings into sculptures of colorful butterflies, insects, and birds. Although the assemblages are formed from salvaged materials like nails and bicycle chains, the pieces somehow remain delicate, wings appearing just as thin as a butterfly’s own. After welding each piece together, Brown finishes the sculpture by painting the wings with oil paint, accurately copying the markings of specific species such as the Holly Blue and Red Admiral butterflies.

The Wales-based sculptor has lived in the rural west of his country for the past eight years, inspired by the fauna-rich valleys that compose the region. You can see more of his metal insects and other welded figures on his Facebook and Etsy page. (via Lustik)

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Art Photography

Blooms of Insect Wings Created by Photographer Seb Janiak

November 11, 2015

Christopher Jobson

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Mimesis – Fecunditatis, 2014. Chromogenic print. Format 180 x 180cm (70.9 x 70.9 in)

Mimesis is an ongoing photomontage project by Paris-based photographer Seb Janiak that depicts the wings of insects as the petals of flowers. Janiak is deeply interested in the mechanisms behind mimicry in nature, where an organism develops appendages, textures, and colors that directly mirror its surroundings. This process involves a strange interaction between different organisms he describes as “a complex co-evolutionary mechanism involving three species: the model, the imitator and the dupe.”

To create each artwork Janiak scours antique stores and taxidermist shops to find examples of wings which he then photographs at extremely high resolution. The pieces are digitally edited and pieced together into flower-like forms (a sort of meta mimic of a mimic) which are then output as chromogenic prints measuring nearly 6 feet square.

The Mimesis series, which now comprises 22 pieces, was shown for the first time at the Photo Shanghai art fair last September. The series also won an IPA Lucy award earlier this year. All images courtesy the artist. (via My Modern Met)

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Mimesis – Lubon Tranquillitatis, 2014. Chromogenic print. Format 180 x 180cm (70.9 x 70.9 in)

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Mimesis – Lubhyati Solitudinis, 2014. Chromogenic print. Format 180 x 180cm (70.9 x 70.9 in)

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Mimesis – Lacus Luxuriae, 2014. Chromogenic print. Format 180 x 180cm (70.9 x 70.9 in)

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Mimesis – Hibiscus Trinium, 2012. Chromogenic print. Format 180 x 180cm (70.9 x 70.9 in)

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Mimesis – Aphyllae Maleakht, 2014. Chromogenic print. Format 180 x 180cm (70.9 x 70.9 in)

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Mimesis – Precognitus Christium, 2014. Chromogenic print. Format 180 x 180cm (70.9 x 70.9 in)

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Mimesis – Tradescantia Ganymedia, 2012. Chromogenic print. Format 180 x 180cm (70.9 x 70.9 in)

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Mimesis – Precognitus Christium, 2014. Chromogenic print. Format 180 x 180cm (70.9 x 70.9 in)

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Mimesis – Ornithogale Venusiaïs, 2012. Chromogenic print. Format 180 x 180cm (70.9 x 70.9 in)

 

 



Art Craft

Incredible Balloon Sculptures of Animals and Insects by Masayoshi Matsumoto

June 2, 2015

Christopher Jobson

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Don’t show these to your kids unless you want them to be completely underwhelmed by every balloon animal they see for the rest of their lives. Japanese balloon twister Masayoshi Matsumoto makes some of the most intricate balloon sculptures I’ve ever encountered. From prickly iguanas to glowing sea creatures it seems no life form is too difficult for Matsumoto to faithfully interpret using nothing but balloons. You can follow more of his work on Tumblr and on FB. (via Neatorama)

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