I am not an entomologist.
Far from it. However, observing, capturing and playing with (and possibly dismembering) a few insects as a young girl are
some of my early memories of being a child "scientist".
For my Masters degree, I decided to study cell biology, and specifically
the ultrastructure of muscle development. The model I chose to work with was Manduca Sexta or the tobacco hornworm. I studied the larva, not the
adult. In the image below, which is the larva? Where is the pupa?
The larva is the
seafoam green "caterpillar" and the pupa is the cocoon. As you can see in the image, there are three stages of this
insect's life cycle shown, one is missing. Do you know what it is?
(It's the egg!) Although we could argue that there are a few "instar"
stages of the larvae not shown--Recall that instars are stages of gradually increasing sizes of the larva after moltings.
Another question. Does this insect
display complete or incomplete metamorphosis?
By the presence of the cocoon, I hope you guessed complete
metamorphosis! In the cocoon (the pupa), the insect will excrete digestive juices to destroy much of the larva's body, leaving
a few cells intact. Some of the remaining cells will begin the growth of the adult, using the nutrients from the broken down
of that is just a little reminder of some basics. What I want to do today is to recommend three books about insects, all of
them taking slightly different looks at the world of insects from the technical/beautiful to the fascinating/intriguing to
the bizarre/humorous, and they are all arranged in alphabetical order. I have recommended three books for you, (however,
I did NOT review them in alphabetical order by their titles OR authors):
For your convenience, here are a few of the links featured in the video:
Below is the video
called The Billion Bug Highway You Can't See, produced by NPR, a well done animation which features some commentary by May
Berenbaum, whose book, The Earwig's Tale, was featured in my recommendation. Oddly enough, this is also the topic of
the chapter on "Air" in Insectopedia
I want to share some amazing photos
which come from this original article. The very patient and talented photographer was able to capture dew on sleeping insects just before dawn! Amazing! My favorite
is the grasshopper (middle of top row) that looks like it is encrusted with jewels. And, by the way, grasshoppers undergo
incomplete metamorphosis, meaning there is no pupal stage, just series of moltings of nymphs.
I was in the UK last week, where
they take their science seriously. I will tweet about my (nerdy) time there fairly soon. In the meantime, I need to delve
into bioinformatics and genomics for a new online course I am developing. When I know a lot more about those topics, I will
figure out how to present those to you in a fun way, too!.