Tag Archive: insect

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 …

Continue reading »

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 …

Continue reading »

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 …

Continue reading »

Sep 10

Why are moths attracted to flames? (and other mini questions)

The natural world is full of small niggling questions. How do fish in the ocean drink? Why are zebras black and white? What came first, the chicken or the egg? We occasionally ponder these queries but then we quickly move on, perhaps thinking the answer will be either too complicated or too mundane. As it …

Continue reading »

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 …

Continue reading »

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 …

Continue reading »

Aug 24

Big Question: How Does Metamorphosis Work?

As children, we all learn stories about certain very hungry caterpillars that eat and eat and eat until, one day, they spin a cocoon and eventually emerge as a beautiful butterfly. Indeed, the transformation of a small, wriggling caterpillar into a graceful butterfly is a perfect metaphor for change. But the process has become such …

Continue reading »