Butterfly Wing Pattern

Butterfly Wing Patterns from “Junk” DNA

A century ago biologists suggested that butterfly wing patterns were formed from variations in a basic ground plan that was somehow manipulated to produce the distinct patterns in different butterfly species. Scientists at Cornell University and The George Washington University have now carried out a study that “explains how DNA that sits between genes – […]

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White Egret Orchid

Fascinating Fertility Fringe for Orchid

A beautiful white orchid known as the white egret orchid Habenaria radiata has distinctive petals with long fringes on each side of the flower.  These were thought to simply act as visual signals to attract their main pollinators, two species of nocturnal hawkmoths.  Scientists in Japan have studied the interaction between moths and orchids and […]

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Tiny insects flying

How Featherwing Beetles Fly

Featherwing beetles are the world’s smallest beetles – less than 0.4mm long.  They are named featherwing because their wings consist of bristles rather than a solid sheet of tissue as in other flying insects.  The individual bristles have outgrowths giving them a brushlike appearance and their wings are folded under a pair of wing cases, […]

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Trigona bee

Vulture Bees Lost and Gained Microbes

Almost all bees get their nutrients from flowers. Pollen provides protein and nectar provides carbohydrates. A group of scientists have found three closely related bees of the genus Trigona that feed off dead flesh, rather than flowers. These “vulture bees” get their protein by chewing pieces of flesh from dead animals and gain additional carbohydrates […]

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Clearwing Butterfly

All Revealed in See-Through Butterflies

All revealed in see through butterflies in SciTech Daily 17 June 2021, Science (AAAS) News 21 June 2021 and Journal of Experimental Biology 28 May 2021, doi:10.1242/jeb.237917. Clearwing, or glass wing butterflies have large transparent regions in their wings that are distinct from other transparent insect wings in that they are also very non-reflective, with […]

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Verroa Mites on Bee

Scientists “Evolve a Fungus” to Kill More Mites

Scientists “evolve a fungus” claims Science (AAAS) News 4 June 2021, and Scientific Reports 19 May 2021 doi:10.1038/s41598-021-89811-2. Researchers looking for a method of biological control of the Verroa mite, which has devastated honeybee colonies, have found a fungus that attacks and kills the mites. However, the fungus grows poorly in the warm temperatures of […]

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Dragonfly Flying

Alive or dead, they are flipping good at it!

Alive or dead, they are flipping good at it! Dragonfly backflips described in articles in ScienceDaily 9 February 2021, Imperial College London news 10 February 2021, and PNAS 10 February 2021 doi: 10.1098/rspb.2020.2676.  Dragonflies are noted for superb aerial manoeuvres, including flying backwards, but even the most agile flyer can be knocked off balance or […]

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Butterfly

Efficient Butterfly Flight

Efficient butterfly flight reported in BBC News 20 January 2021, ScienceDaily 21 January 2021 and Journal of The Royal Society Interface 20 January 2021 doi: 10.1098/rsif.2020.0854. Two researchers at the Swedish Lund University have studied the fluttery flight of butterflies, which has traditionally been considered ungainly and inefficient.  Per Henningsson and Christoffer Johansson commented in […]

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Iridescent Insect

Iridescent Camouflage

Iridescent camouflage found, according to reports in Science (AAAS) News, ScienceDaily, Telegraph (UK) 23 January 2020 and Current Biology 23 January 2020, doi: 10. 1016/j.cub.2019.12.013.  Iridescence is the bright, variable colour created by light being refracted in surface structures, e.g. peacock feathers and some butterfly wings.  It produces bright clear colours, so most evolutionary biologists […]

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Mosquito on Flower

Mosquitoes Analyse Flower Chemistry

Mosquitoes analyse flower chemistry, according to reports in ScienceDaily 22 January 2020 and The Daily University of Washington 6 February 2020 and PNAS 7 January 2020, doi:10.1073/pnas.1910589117.  Although mosquitoes have a well-earned reputation for biting people and sucking blood, their main food source is flower nectar.  As explained by Jeffrey Riffell, a professor of biology […]

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