Category: Insects

Dec 04

Formicarium: Sneaky Spiders, Exploding Ants & More

I’ve recently been informed about a new strategy/simulation game called Formicarium that is in development. The aim of the game seems to involve taking control of an ant colony, building a nest, collecting sufficient resources, and protecting it from enemies (you can see their Kickstarter page here or their official website here for more information). It’s certainly an …

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May 11

Inside the Honeybee Hive of Horror

In folklore, the honeybee has been used as an example of perfect social order, co-operation and hard work. But this is not an association of free insects who have agreed to work together out of self-interest. Apart from the queen, every member of the colony is effectively a slave, and their lives are terminated just …

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Apr 30

Animal Record Holder: Longest Sperm

The male fruit fly has giant testes. They account for 11% of his body mass. And for good reason. In most animal species, the female produces relatively few eggs and the male produces vast quantities of sperm, but the fruit fly does it a little differently. The male fruit only makes a few sperm cells …

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Feb 22

Animal Relationships: Ants and Aphids

One of the most vital turning points in the history of humanity was when we started to domesticate animals. Now, instead of going out to hunt animals for their meat in the wilderness, we could keep large groups of them close to our villages, enabling us to permanently settle down in one area. Not only …

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Nov 19

Bizarre Animal of the Week: Strepsiptera

You know you’ve got a major problem when you have another organism living inside your body, eating your innards, controlling your growth and sticking out of your rear end. If that isn’t worthy of an emergency trip to the hospital, I don’t know what is. But wasps don’t have hospitals, so if this sort of …

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Oct 29

Zombie Caterpillars and Voodoo Wasps

Caterpillars have it rough. For every butterfly that you see, countless more will have perished as either caterpillars or pupae at the hands of parasitic wasps. These wasps land on innocent caterpillars as they are contentedly munching away on leaves, inject their eggs into them and then fly away; the eggs hatch within the caterpillar …

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Oct 26

The Burying Beetle’s Guide to Parenting

All Hallow’s Eve will soon be upon us, so Extraordinary Animals will be looking at creatures with even more macabre and sinister behaviours than usual. We’ll be starting off proceedings with this insect, the sexton beetle. Even if we disregard the beetle’s rather ghoulish alternate names – the burying beetle, the grave-robber beetle, the carrion …

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Sep 05

Minibeast Safari

No African safari is complete without seeing rhinos, giraffes or lions. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a leopard. All four are big, high-profile animals, worthy of anyone’s bucket list. But beneath our feet (or possibly crawling over them) are minibeasts that share the same name as the megafauna mentioned above – the leopard …

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Aug 28

The Killer Brain Surgeon: Emerald Cockroach Wasp

From a piece of rotting wood in a forest in North America comes a cockroach. It’s an ancient yet typically loathsome insect that likes to invade our homes, eat our food and spread disease. Today, however, it’s minding its own business – it’s on the lookout for some food, preferably some decaying organic matter. As …

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