Bugs: It’s What’s For Dinner
Westerners aren’t quite used to the idea of eating bugs, but it’s common practice in many cultures. In Thailand, the weaver ant is prized and the Japanese love yellow jacket wasp larvae. Africans eat termites in many forms, including frying, steaming, sun-dried, or ground into a powder. In fact, nearly 2000 insect species are considered edible.
One chef in Britain is welcoming insects to the menu, at Grub Kitchen. Adam Holcroft wants to show British natives how edible and tasty insects are in a variety of forms. Some of the dishes include bug burgers, as well as ice cream, or “bamboo fudge worm ice cream.”
The 37-year-old said: "We're treating them as a normal food item, incorporating insect protein as an ingredient but using normal flavours we're familiar with and everyday food items we recognise.”
Not every patron will want bugs, so the menu offers the usual meat-centered options. But Grub Kitchen will cater the culinary adventuresome crowd, who is willing to step out of the crowd and add a side of grasshoppers to the dinner plate.
Queen of the Stink Bugs Turns Passion Into Art
In Pennsylvania, there is a woman toiling away to bring stink bugs into a new light. She has discovered the many virtues of using these critters in paintings, jewelry, pendants, and more.
Maryel Henderson has been making art for decades, and has always been interested in the natural world. Prior to exploring stink bugs as a medium, she painted portraits of animals in non-native habitats, like polar bears in swimming pools or lizards on ceiling fans.
But she is now known, at least by her husband, as the “stink bug whisperer.” She experimented with using the shell of the stinkbug – a familiar yet unique shape that resembles a shield – on pendants. These sold well, and she’s branched out into a wider array of stink bug art. This month, Henderson has opened a new art space at Marketview Arts in York, PA, where she will display the gamut of stink bug creations.
The work ranges in price from $40 to $900, depending on the piece and size. Larger paintings go for more money, but stink art pendants start at less than $50.
Henderson can’t fully explain her love of stink bugs, but notes that it may have to do simply with their vulnerability and individuality. "They're just clumsy and cute and awkward, and they kind of walk around like they're going through life minding their own business," she said.
The Secret Life of Acrobatic Ants
Ants have long been known to share an important trait with humans: adaptation. New research on a variety of ants called “trap jaw” shows the remarkable ability to have adapted a predatory weapon (the “trap jaw”) as an escape tool as well.
Because of the way their jaws snap shut with great speed (for killing) these ants are able to also use this tremendous force to fly through the air. The mechanism works like this: when an ant snaps its jaw closed against another surface (for instance, the ground), the resulting impact sends it airborne.
While entomologists have long known about this ant super-power, recent researchers in Florida discovered that the flying ability isn’t just for fun.
These ants use their specialized, built-in jaw power as a means to fly, and have adapted to use flying as a means of escape.
Controlled experiments conducted by Frederick J. Larabee, a University of Illinois grad student, showed that the flying ability helps these ants evade the traps of an ant nemesis, the ant lions. Working under adviser Andrew V. Suarez, Mr. Larabee reported in the journal PLOS One. In his lab investigations, he noted that about half the time the trap-jaw ants were threated they scurried up walls, but in fifteen percent of cases they employed their flying super powers to escape the clutches of the lion ants.
Fruit Fly Information
At one time or another, we've all experienced fruit flies in our home or kitchen. But did you know they don’t actually come from fruit?
In this video below by Pestworld, learn the facts of fruit flies. For instance, instead of coming from decaying fruit itself they are actually attracted to the yeast produced by fermenting fruit and can track it from great distances. They are also to easily come into our homes, as their tiny size allows them to sneak through even the smallest of cracks. Plus, sometimes their eggs may already be on the fruit we purchase at the store.
So what can you do? Always check fruit that is left out for signs of over ripening. The riper the fruit, the more likely fruit flies will appear.
There are many different types of summer pests although some of the most prominent home invaders include ants, cockroaches, and termites. Of course outdoors will bring us a different set of pests – mosquitoes, ticks, and flies are some of the most prevalent.
Are these pests dangerous?
Summer pests are much more than a nuisance – consider these statistics:
- Termites destroy more homes each year than fires and floods combined; they cause over 5 BILLION dollars of damage.
- Stinging insects send 500,000 people to the emergency room each year.
- Recent medical studies show that cockroach allergens trigger asthma attacks in children.
Should we expect more summer pests than usual in our area this year?
We should expect an average amount of pests – comparable to last year – this summer. A good indicator of pest pressure is winter moisture. We didn’t have a terribly wet winter this year, so we should have an average summer for pests.
How can a homeowner get rid of summer pests once they are inside their home?
The best way to eliminate summer pests once they ALREADY infest your home is to call a pest professional.
What steps can homeowners take to reduce the likelihood of summer pests inside their homes?
There are many steps homeowners can take to reduce the likelihood of occasional invaders:
- Keep all kitchen areas clean (including floors). Kitchen appliances should be kept free of spills and crumbs. Clean shelves regularly and store foods such as cereal, flour, and dog food in resealable containers.
- Periodically sweep and vacuum floor areas in the kitchen, under furniture, and around dining areas. Pay particular attention to pet food and water dishes.
- Keep garbage areas clean. Garbage should be stored in sealed containers and disposed of regularly.
- Seal cracks, crevices, and other gaps around doors and windows. Doors and windows should always be kept closed or well screened.
- Check pipes and pipe areas around the house for leaks, cracks and gaps and seal and patch any problems if necessary. Leaky faucets should also be fixed.
- Keep basements, attics, and crawl spaces dry. If you have mold and mildew in your home or office crawlspace, it’s a symptom of an excess moisture problem.
- Inspect boxes, grocery bags and other packaging thoroughly. Insects have also been known to come in on potted plants and in luggage.
Crickets with a Side of Fries?
There has been a lot of buzz lately about insects, particularly crickets, becoming a protein packed snack for Americans. Not only that, but an eco-friendly way to feed the nearly 9 billion people that will live on earth in 2050.
According to Time.com, “Because insects emit far fewer greenhouse gases than livestock and consume way less water, they have a comparatively tiny ecological footprint, and they’re thought to thrive on basically anything, even organic waste.”
However, studies show that crickets do not have nearly as much protein as foods such as chicken and beef, so don’t expect them to become a meal replacement anytime soon. Good news for those of us who aren’t craving crickets!
According to Tom Turpin, a Purdue University entomology professor, behavioral studies in insects show that, like humans, insect’s sense of taste includes the ability to detect sweet, salty, acidic and bitter tastes. Of these four, only sweet is acceptable to insects. Unlike humans, inse3cts have no interest in the other three.
The sense of taste in humans is facilitated by taste buds located on the tongue. Most humans have around 10,000 taste buds with each is replaced about every two weeks. As we age, all the taste buds aren't replaced. So as we age our sense of taste dulls. Insects', on the other hand, sense of taste is associated with mouth parts, but they also have cells that function in similar fashion to our taste buds that are located on the antennae, legs and the ovipositor. These insect taste buds can be in the shape of a hair, a peg or a pit.
Caterpillars, for example, have taste censors in their mouths. The insect must take a bite to tell if the item is a suitable food. Many adult insects also take bites to determine whether or not to eat a plant. Honey bees use their proboscis to determine sweetness. Some insects use their feet to determine if something is good to eat. If it is, the insect puts down its proboscis in order to begin feeding. Many butterflies and flies walking on something that is good to eat which prompts what is known among entomologists as the tarsal taste and proboscis extension reflex. In other words, if you are standing on good food, the tongue comes out!
In other cases, when a female butterfly stands on a plant, she can also determine if the plant is a suitable host for her offspring. If so, she deposits an egg on the plant. In the same way, a female parasitic wasp can use her ovipositor to taste if another insect is a good potential host for her young.
In nature there are supposed to be only five tastes that make up the human palette. There is sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and savory. Everything else about our taste experience is supposed to come from the texture, aroma, and aesthetics. Yet there are tastes that we identify outside of those areas. For example, there is a carbon taste, a burned food or a metallic “taste.” A recent study from MIT has found a unique mechanism of photosensitivity in the roundworm. These simple organisms have been shown to detect light by tasting it. So just what does light taste like? Bleach.
Roundworms taste light indirectly as they detect hydrogen peroxide and other reactive substances that often result when fragile molecules are damaged by light. This has implications not just for vision, but for our understanding of taste, overall.
Human beings have strong and primitive reactions to the tastes and smell of spoiled food, but for the worm its ability to taste active molecules seems to be serving double duty. Not only does hydrogen peroxide signal environmental hazards, but the molecule-blasting effects of ultraviolet light. Sunlight isn’t strong enough to harm the worm, but the peroxide signal lets the worm know when it’s at or near the surface of soil.
Roundworms are parasites that can infect human beings. They usually reside the intestines. There are different kinds of worms that can cause infection. They range in length from 1 millimeter to 1 meter. Their eggs or larvae live in soil and enter the body when they attach to your hands and you touch your mouth. Some enter the body through the skin.
Like other parasitic diseases, roundworm infections usually happen in warm, tropical climates. Ascariasis is the most common roundworm infection. It affects as many as 1 billion people worldwide.
Spider Bites 101
Do all spiders bite? All spiders have fangs and venom, but thankfully, it’s rare that the common household spider is poisonous. In fact, of all the spiders prevalent in the Unites States, only two types can cause harm: the Black Widow and the Brown Recluse.
This video by Pestworld does a great job discussing these potentially dangerous spiders. For example, male Black Widows rarely bite, but female Black Widows bite as a defense mechanism, particularly if she is guarding eggs.
So what happens when someone gets bitten by a Black Widow? Symptoms include fever, increased blood pressure and nausea. If you think you’ve been bitten by a Black Widow seek medical attention right away.
The Brown Recluse also bites in defense and can produce open, ulcerating sores in their victims. Again, if you think you have been bitten, seek medical attention.
What else can you do if you’re worried about spiders? Call in a professional exterminator to evaluate your home.