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Thank God for Insects (Benefits of Bugs)

Compiled by Karl C. Priest January 11, 2009 (revised 9-21-17)
THE POINT IS PROFOUNDLY MADE IN THIS COMPILATION. INSECTS ARE TOO FANTASTIC TO HAVE COME ABOUT LIKE TRUE BELIEVERS IN EVOLUTIONIOISM (TBEs) CLAIM!

Biomimetics: Design by Nature

biomimetics—applying designs from nature to solve problems in engineering, materials science, medicine, and other fields.

Insects offer an embarrassment of design riches. (emphasis added) Glowworms produce a cool light with almost zero energy loss (a normal incandescent bulb wastes 98 percent of its energy as heat), and bombardier beetles have a high-efficiency combustion chamber in their posterior that shoots boiling-hot chemicals at would-be predators. The Melanophila beetle, which lays its eggs in freshly burned wood, has evolved (Karl’s comment: Bunk! Leave out “evolved” and you remove the propaganda and it changes noting about the FACTS.) a structure that can detect the precise infrared radiation produced by a forest fire, allowing it to sense a blaze a hundred kilometers away. This talent is currently being explored by the United States Air Force. (http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2008/04/biomimetics/tom-mueller-text)

Note: There is likely an abundance of examples of amazing insects of which I am unaware.

There are several examples in my article "Evolutionists Tacitly Admit Creation" and some may be duplicated in that article and this one. (Please let me know of any duplicates below.)

Insects are, in my opinion, God’s choice to demonstrate His omnipotent artistic and engineering abilities. Dr. Joseph Mastropaolo refers to God’s creation as a demonstration of “vast originality”. Dr. Mastropaolo points out that, “All reproduced organisms are never identical. Even identical twins are not identical.” My presentation (Insects: Incredible and Inspirational) reveals some of the incomprehensible fantastic facts about insects that are not on this webpage. Also, the presentation, discloses the importance of insects to the survival of all forms of life (including humans) on the earth.

What about the pesky, dirty fly? There are more similarities between humans and fruit flies than you might first think. We share about 60 per cent of our genes with them* - and scientists at Cambridge University are taking a close look at the insects to see if new things can be learned about our own bodies. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-126867)

Separate pages are provided for FLIES and ANTS.

Below, in no particular order (new ones added after the Importance of Insects section), are facts (from real science**) that overwhelming support the statement that we should “Thank God for Insects”.

“Vast originality represents a vast intelligence, not evolution, because endless originality requires infinite wisdom for the most difficult of intellectual tasks.” (Dr. Joseph Mastropaolo)

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Someone asked me if there was any insect that was put here just to torment mankind. Although some insects (mosquitoes and roaches, for example) are great pests (dangerous in the case of mosquitoes) they all have a part in the balance of creation. Roaches recycle and mosquitoes pollinate and are part of the food chain. My questioner asked about bedbugs.

I am not sure what bedbugs did in the original perfect creation that God called “good.” However, bedbugs have some benefits.

Pedanius Dioscorides a famous Greek physician, botanist, pharmacologist and surgeon attributed at least 11 medicinal virtues to bed bugs! Such as applying bed bugs mixed with tortoise blood to wounds. She also wrote that In Chinese medicine, the 1789 book entitled “Recipes for Restoring Life” and the 1590 book “A system of Pharmacopoeia” called for the following bed bug concoctions:

“Bedbugs used for the treatment of lip-turning furuncle. Pound seven bedbugs thoroughly with some cooked rice and apply the paste on the lesion. It will effect a quick cure.”

“For Stinking and gangrenous ulcers, pound some bedbugs with Shui Lung Ku ( a mixture of oil and lime used for filling cracks in a boat), mix with sesame oil and apply locally.

“In case of chronic ulceration with a gaping wound, apply locally some bedbugs, the heads of which should be removed.”

Bugs in the System: Insects and Their Impact on Human Affairs by May R. Berenbaum, 1996 by Addison Wesley, Cambridge, MA

From an August 2011 article I found:

The advantage of studying bed bugs, he said, is that we share many components of our immune system. As a result, scientists can learn much from manipulating the bugs' sex lives to study the consequences on lifespan and offspring production - some of these trade-offs could be relevant to humans.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14716106

Note: Bedbugs are basically harmless, but an infestation is irritating. They were under control until liberals banned ertain insecticides.

What about termites and roaches? See below, and say, “Praise God for those critters!”

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Importance of Insects

Without insects, our lives would be vastly different. Insects pollinate many of our fruits, flowers, and vegetables. We would not have much of the produce that we enjoy and rely on without the pollinating services of insects, not to mention honey, beeswax, silk, and other useful products that insects provide…Insects are very important as primary or secondary decomposers. Without insects to help break down and dispose of wastes, dead animals and plants would accumulate in our environment and it would be messy indeed…They are the sole food source for many amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Insects themselves are harvested and eaten by people in some cultures. They are a rich source of protein, vitamins, and minerals, and are prized as delicacies in many third-world countries. In fact, it is difficult to find an insect that is not eaten in one form or another by people…And insects make our world much more interesting. (http://extension.entm.purdue.edu/radicalbugs/default.php?page=importance_of_insects) Insects perform a vast number of important functions in our ecosystem. They aerate the soil…Burrowing bugs such as ants and beetles dig tunnels that provide channels for water, benefiting plants.
http://www.riverdeep.net/current/2002/03/030402t_insects.jhtml

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Running roaches, flapping moths create a new physics of organisms

By analyzing the rules governing the locomotion of these creatures, "physics of living systems" researchers are learning how animals successfully negotiate unstable surfaces like wet sand, maintain rapid motion on flat surfaces using the advantageous mechanics of their bodies, and fly in ways that would never work for modern aircraft. The knowledge these researchers develop could be useful to the designers of robots and flying vehicles of all kinds… Engineered systems use feedback about the effects of their actions to adjust their future activities, and animals do the same to control their movement. Scientists can manipulate this feedback to understand how complex systems are put together and use the feedback to design experiments rather than just analyzing what is there… Animals are composed of many systems operating at multiple time scales simultaneously -- brain neurons, nerves and the individual fibers of muscles with molecular motors. These muscle fibers are arranged in an active crystalline lattice such that X-rays fired through them create a regular diffraction pattern. Understanding these multiscale living assemblages provides new insights into how animals manage complex actions.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/09/170919123112.htm


MRSA-Killing Drugs From Cockroach, Locust Brains?

The next time you're about to zap a cockroach with bug-killing spray, think about this: that creepy crawler may actually help you beat infections. Powerful chemicals in the brains and nervous systems of the lowly cockroach, as well as the swarming locust, can lay waste to antibiotic-resistant staph and dangerous forms of E. coli bacteria, fueling hope that they might be the basis of new antibiotics to replace those rendered useless against these infectious species, according to British researchers.
http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Germs/roach-locust-brains-hold-key-superbug-antibiotics/story?id=11577962

Stick insect leads antibiotic hunt, Norwich researchers say

A microbe in the gut of a stick insect could help scientists to unravel the puzzle of antibiotic resistance… "If we can unravel that then it opens the way to understanding antibiotic resistance and this will enable us to build a chemical strategy against it. "It will also help us build into new antibiotics a mechanism to counter any resistance."
http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-norfolk-23903861

Butterfly Wing Optics Help to Cheaply Create Bright, Realistic Holograms

Color in nature is usually a product of pigments that absorb certain wavelengths of light and reflect others. But these butterflies boost the brilliance of their iridescent wings by bouncing light across microscales instead of absorbing it. As some wavelengths are canceled out through interference, a brilliant pure blue is reflected back to the viewer…Menon has launched a private company called PointSpectrum to continue developing the hologram technology, which he hopes will soon compete with bulky virtual reality headsets in providing immersive holographic experiences at theme parks, movie theaters, schools, and more.
https://www.livescience.com/59929-butterfly-wing-optics-help-to-cheaply-create-bright-realistic-holograms.html

Dragonfly brains predict the path of their prey

An article published today in the journal eLife by researchers at the University of Adelaide and Lund University has offered more insights into the complexity of brain processing in dragonflies than has previously been understood…"Our team is convinced that these results will have practical applications, especially in the development of artificial control and vision systems, such as self-steering vehicles and bionic vision."
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170725083702.htm

Oxford scientists just solved the mystery of how mosquitos fly using super high-speed cameras

Despite solving the bumble bee paradox some time ago, which stated the bumble bee should not be able to fly under normal rules of aerodynamics, until now science was been unable to explain how mosquitoes managed to flap their wings through such a short angle and still produce enough lift… The team believes the technique could inspire innovative designs for micro-scale flying devices in future. "We have smallish drones but we have nothing down to the size of an insect and certainly not down to the size of a mosquito where the whole body is only a few millimetres long. And any of these small drones you can buy, which are normally quadcopters, they work really well when you fly them inside but as soon as you take them outside and there's the hint of a breeze or any gusts they tend to fall out of the sky or at least be very, very hard to control. Insects on the other hand deal really, really well with even quite windy conditions. So understanding how they can do this is going to be advantageous to us in the future," said Walker.
http://www.businessinsider.com/scientists-solved-the-mystery-how-mosquitos-fly-wings-flap-uk-oxford-2017-4

Biologist looks at butterflies to help solve human infertility

(An) interdisciplinary research led by Morehouse in the Morehouse Research Lab and Nathan Clark, biologist in the Clark Research Lab at the University of Pittsburgh looked closer at the complex structures and mechanisms within male butterfly ejaculates and the adaptive responses in the female butterfly reproductive tract. The researchers hope these study findings will aid in understanding the complex human reproductive cycle and the occasional problems that originate on a molecular level…By looking at reproduction as both a source of cooperation and conflict between the sexes, the researchers are finding clues from this study on a behavioral and molecular level that can be an important link for solving certain unexplained causes of human infertility.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170627142837.htm

Moth eyes inspire new screen coating, making reading in sunlight a lot easier

Screens on even the newest phones and tablets can be hard to read outside in bright sunlight. Inspired by the nanostructures found on moth eyes, researchers have developed a new antireflection film that could keep people from having to run to the shade to look at their mobile devices.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170622104033.htm

How do genes get new jobs? Wasp venom offers new insights

Amid the incredible diversity of living things on our planet, there is a common theme. Organisms need to acquire new genes, or change the functions of existing genes, in order to adapt and survive. How does that happen? "The great diversity of parasitoid venoms and abundance of these species (estimates run as high as 600,000 parasitoid species on earth), combined with the fact that parasitoid venoms (evo bunk deleted) (can) manipulate metabolic processes, suggests that they are potentially an immense untapped cornucopia for drug discovery."
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170622143035.htm

Mystery of butterflies iridescent wing scales resolved

Who is not fascinated by the wonderful iridescent colours of butterfly wings? Those who want to find out more about this phenomenon will realise that often the colour is not generated by pigments, rather by periodic structures made of chitin, a structure-forming polysaccharide. These so-called photonic crystals give rise to structural colour by only reflecting specific wavelengths of the incoming solar spectrum…Photonic crystals are also relevant to modern materials science. These intriguing 3D structures with their unique optical properties may serve as prototypes for novel functional materials with applications in fields such as photovoltaics.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170523104340.htm

Unfolding the folding mechanism of ladybug wings

The study's findings, which help explain how the wings can maintain their strength and rigidity during flight, while becoming elastic for compact folding and storage on the ground, provide hints for the innovative design of a wide range of deployable structures, from satellite antennas to microscopic medical instruments to articles for daily use like umbrellas and fans…"The ladybugs' technique for achieving complex folding is quite fascinating and novel, particularly for researchers in the fields of robotics, mechanics, aerospace and mechanical engineering," says Saito. Understanding how ladybugs can achieve the conflicting requirements of fortifying their hindwings with strength and stability for flight, while also making them pliable for folding and compact storage after landing has significant implications for engineering science.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170515150714.htm

Wax worm caterpillar will eat plastic shopping bags: New solution to plastic waste?

Generally speaking, plastic is incredibly resistant to breaking down. That's certainly true of the trillion polyethylene plastic bags that people use each and every year. But researchers reporting in Current Biology on April 24 may be on track to find a solution to plastic waste. The key is a caterpillar commonly known as a wax worm…"We are planning to implement this finding into a viable way to get rid of plastic waste, working towards a solution to save our oceans, rivers, and all the environment from the unavoidable consequences of plastic accumulation."
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170424141338.htm

Hair spacing keeps honeybees clean during pollination: Researchers quantify the cleaning process

According to the study, a honeybee can carry up to 30 percent of its body weight in pollen because of the strategic spacing of its nearly three million hairs. The hairs cover the insect's eyes and entire body in various densities that allow efficient cleaning and transport…."Our findings may also be used to create mechanical designs that help keep micro and nanostructured surfaces clean."
https://phys.org/news/2017-03-hair-spacing-honeybees-pollination-quantify.html

Termite gut holds a secret to breaking down plant biomass

In the Microbial Sciences Building at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the incredibly efficient eating habits of a fungus-cultivating termite are surprising even to those well acquainted with the insect's natural gift for turning wood to dust. According to a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, when poplar wood undergoes a short, 3.5-hour transit through the gut of the termite, the emerging feces is almost devoid of lignin, the hard and abundant polymer that gives plant cells walls their sturdiness. As lignin is notorious for being difficult to degrade, and remains a costly obstacle for wood processing industries such as biofuels and paper, the termite is the keeper of a highly sought after secret: a natural system for fully breaking down biomass… . Future research will focus on determining which enzymes or bacterial systems might be at work in the gut. If that super enzyme or process can be replicated outside of the termite, it could result in a dramatic improvement in the way we process wood and make biofuels, improving economics and cutting energy use.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170417155028.htm

Honey bees have sharper eyesight than we thought

"Today, honey bees are still a fascinating model among scientists, in particular neuroscientists," Dr Rigosi says. "Among other things, honey bees help to answer questions such as: how can a tiny brain of less than a million neurons achieve complex processes, and what are its utmost limits? In the last few decades it has been shown that bees can see and categorize objects and learn concepts through vision, such as the concept of 'symmetric' and 'above and below'… "Importantly, these findings could also be useful in our work on designing bio-inspired robotics and robot vision, and for basic research on bee biology," he says.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170406091449.htm

Research unravels mysteries of mouthparts of butterflies

Imagine that the way flies and butterflies drink nectar and other fluids can be imitated for use in medicine, potentially to deliver life-saving drugs to the body -- and also how this method can save their own lives in times of drought. (The concluding paragraph of this report contains laughable non-science homage to evolutionism.)
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170413164207.htm

Mosquitoes wing it: New research shows how

The unique mechanisms involved in mosquito flight have been shared for the first time in a new Oxford University collaboration, which could inform future aerodynamic innovations, including tiny scale flying tech…Understanding the mechanisms that enable mosquitos and other flying insects to fly in their unique way, could support the development of aerodynamic innovations such as tiny scale flying tech, like piezoelectric actuators.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170330115241.htm

Neural Summation in the Hawkmoth Visual System Extends the Limits of Vision in Dim Light

Most of the world’s animals are active in dim light and depend on good vision for the tasks of daily life. Many have (evolutionist propaganda omitted and replaced with “designed”) that permit a performance superior to that of manmade imaging devices ]. In insects, a major model visual system, nocturnal species show impressive visual abilities ranging from flight control, to color discrimination, to navigation using visual landmarks or dim celestial compass cues…Moreover, these strategies may be of benefit not only to animals, but also to manmade seeing systems optimized for variable light levels, by implementing algorithms that mimic these strategies in video processing software.
http://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(16)00080-4


Insects inspire crash-proof drone

A drone with wasp-like wings can bounce back into shape after crashing. Drone makers often try to protect their devices by using stiff, bulky frames, but these tend to fail during high-speed impacts. Conversely, wasps have wings with flexible joints that allow the wings to deform during collisions. Stefano Mintchev and his colleagues at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne created a remote-controlled drone) with flexible fibreglass arms. Combining rigid and soft materials into one device could help to improve the resilience of mobile robots, the authors say. (Bold font added.--Karl)
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v543/n7644/full/543153a.html

Water-repellent nanotextures found to have excellent anti-fogging abilities

Some insect bodies have (Useless evolution reference deleted.--Karl) the abilities to repel water and oil, adhere to different surfaces, and eliminate light reflections. Scientists have been studying the physical mechanisms underlying these remarkable properties found in nature and mimicking them to design materials for use in everyday life. Several years ago, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory developed a nanoscale surface-texturing method for imparting complete water repellency to materials -- a property inspired by insect exoskeletons that have tiny hairs designed to repel water by trapping air…Now,…they have further shown that the optimized nanotextures have excellent anti-fogging abilities…(T)he research provides a fundamental understanding that may inform new designs for condensing coils of steam turbine power generators, car and aircraft windshields, and other materials prone to fogging…Scientists have previously observed that the wings of cicadas, which are covered by nanosized cone-shaped textures, have the ability to repel fog by causing water droplets to spontaneously jump off their surface -- a phenomenon caused by the efficient conversion of surface energy to kinetic energy when two droplets combine. Motivated by this example from nature (“Nature” is a True Believer in Evolutionism substitute for “God.—Karl), the team investigated how reducing texture size and changing texture shape impacts the anti-fogging ability of a model surface. (Bold font added.--Karl)
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170302115810.htm

The value of nutrition and exercise, according to a moth

Quick! Name the top-performing athletes in the animal kingdom. Cheetah? Try again. Blue whale? Nope. Here's a clue: If you take a walk in the desert on a moonlit night, you might see them, darting from flower to flower and hovering in midair: moths of the hawkmoth family (Sphingidae)… To extract nectar from a flower, they must hover in front of the flower before darting off to the next one. But how can these organisms perform such feats on a diet that's mostly sugar? New research by University of Arizona biologists not only offers an explanation, but also suggests that these animals stay healthy not despite, but because of, their sugary diet… Researchers in the lab of Goggy Davidowitz in the Department of Entomology in the UA's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences discovered that hawkmoths (also known as Manduca moths) have (evolution tripe deleted) a strategy that helps them minimize the muscle damage inflicted by the oxidative stress generated during sustained flight…The team found that the insects actually use the sugar in their diet to make their own antioxidants. They accomplish this by shunting the carbohydrates they consume to a metabolic pathway that evolved early on in the evolution of life: the pentose phosphate pathway. Humans, too, have this pathway, but it cannot, on its own, produce all the antioxidants needed, which is why athletes drink antioxidant-laced sports drinks and parents tell their children to eat their veggies… "Manduca is a well-suited model system to study this metabolic pathway, which is the same for bacteria and sequoia trees," Levin explains. "If we understand how the moth is doing it, you can find out how we do it. And we can learn about what goes wrong with our sugar consumption."
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170222215334.htm

Biomimicry: Beaks on trains and flipper-like turbines

Dragonflies that can propel themselves in any direction, sharks with skin with tiny scales that help them swim faster, termites able to build dens that always keep a steady and comfortable temperature inside - those examples are just a drop in the ocean of amazing nature-designed solutions… Businesses are usually interested in the first two categories, she adds - and a great example of the shape-based type is the Mirasol displays produced by a US mobile phone chip maker, Qualcomm. Unlike regular screens with backlight or e-ink, these displays, which are still being developed, create colour by mimicking the way a butterfly's wings reflect sunlight…The displays play video just like any other tablet or smartphone, but have a much longer battery life and softer-for-the-eyes effect of e-ink readers. "The innovation has been inspired by the same natural principles that enable the reflective shimmer you see from a butterfly's wings or a peacock's feather," says Cheryl Goodman, senior marketing director of Qualcomm. She explains that all the displays need for illumination is ambient light, thus being "both low power and viewable in a variety of lighting environments, including direct sunlight". The company says that the products are pretty much ready and just need some final touches before appearing on the market - with a number of firms already toying with idea of using them in their products.
http://www.bbc.com/news/business-15480620

Ants stomp, termites tiptoe: Predator detection by a cryptic prey

"We discovered termites are quieter than ants, although there is one specific type of ant that hunts on its own, therefore has to be quiet. It is almost as silent as termites. Interestingly, another termite species that specialises in stealing food of other termites is also much quieter than its host." Why is this knowledge important? Learning how termites extract and synthesise a specific sound/vibration signal amidst a cacophony of other sounds could lead to advances in technologies based on acoustic signatures, Dr Oberst says. Termites are highly cryptic masters of surveillance and concealment. Those in defence and counter-espionage could learn from their unique skills, the researchers say.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170222102615.htm

Scientists decipher the nanoscale architecture of a beetle's shell

Beetles wear a body armor that should weigh them down -- think medieval knights and turtles. In fact, those hard shells protecting delicate wings are surprisingly light, allowing even flight. Better understanding the structure and properties of beetle exoskeletons could help scientists engineer lighter, stronger materials. Such materials could, for example, reduce gas-guzzling drag in vehicles and airplanes and reduce the weight of armor, lightening the load for the 21st-century knight.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170222145802.htm

Dragonfly wings can rip apart bacteria without antibiotics

Special bacteria-killing surfaces constitute a highly active area of research and development. Strategies to construct them vary widely…That latter example, which falls into a broad category known as nano-textured surfaces (NTS), is of particular interest, because it also exists in nature. The nanostructure of black silicon is very similar to that of dragonfly wings.  And just like their elemental counterpart, dragonfly wings kill bacteria…Gaining insights into how nature works will invariably help those scientists wishing to mimic it. And it provides an interesting explanation for why dragonfly wings are so clean.
http://www.sciencealert.com/dragonfly-wings-can-rip-apart-bacteria-without-antibiotics

Moth gut bacterium defends its host by making antibiotic

Nearly half of all insects are herbivores, but their diets do not consist of only plant material. It is not uncommon for potentially harmful microorganisms to slip in during a feast. In a study published on January 19 in Cell Chemical Biology, researchers report that these insects use an ironic strategy to resist microbial infections. A bacterial species commonly found in the gut of the cotton leafworm and other moths secretes a powerful antimicrobial peptide, killing off competitors while defending its host against pathogens…In future studies, the researchers will examine whether similar mechanisms exist in other insect species and look for additional toxic compounds that shape the microbiome during host development. In the end, the findings could have widespread implications for agriculture and health. For example, antimicrobial peptides could be used as food preservatives, and understanding the role of indigenous gut residents could contribute to the development of novel biocontrol strategies against herbivorous insect pests. "Our study also provides interesting approaches for medical research," Shao says. "Many conventional antibiotics are facing increasing problems of resistance. (evolutionism tripe deleted) (B)acteriocins have great potential as alternatives to conventional antibiotics."
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170119134628.htm

Bug eyes: Tiny glasses confirm 3D vision in insects

Study leader, Jenny Read, Professor of Vision Science who is supported by the Leverhulme Trust said: “Despite their minute brains, mantises are sophisticated visual hunters which can capture prey with terrifying efficiency. We can learn a lot by studying how they perceive the world. “Better understanding of their simpler processing systems helps us understand 3D vision, and could lead to possible new algorithms for 3D depth perception in computers."… The Newcastle University team will now continue the research examining the algorithms used for depth perception in insects to better understand human vision and to develop new ways of adding 3D technology to computers and robots.
(http://www.ncl.ac.uk/press/news/2016/01/3dglassesformantises/) "So much is still waiting to be discovered in this system. If we find that the way mantises process 3D vision is very different to the way humans do it, then that could open up all kinds of possibilities to create much simpler algorithms for programming 3D vision into robots." (Note: Evolutionist propaganda altered from “ how 3D vision evolved” and “how human vision evolved” to fit real science. Notice, nothing of value changed. See blue font. The word “created” was italicized and put in red font to show how that True Believers in Evolutionism have to Tacitly Admit Creation. Karl)
https://www.cnet.com/au/news/praying-mantises-wear-tiny-3d-glasses-for-science/

Raw materials for meatballs, falafel from mealworms and crickets

A research team has developed food ingredients from mealworms and crickets which, due to their promising structure and flavor, have the potential to be used in the manufacture of foods such as meatballs and falafel…Because insect fractions effectively bind water and fat, they are particularly suitable as ingredients in various solid foods. The fractions were tested as a raw material for meatballs and falafel balls in VTT's test kitchen, by replacing 5-18% of meatball or falafel dough with insect fractions. Insects are rich in high-quality protein -- a small addition of the insect fractions into falafel dough even tripled the protein content of falafel balls. Many consumers and the food industry are already interested in insects as a dietary source of protein. However, their industrial exploitation will require identifying the characteristics of insect raw materials and developing them into a form that is suitable for use in the food industry.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170119083542.htm

Plants modified to express fruit fly gene used to detoxify contaminated land

Scientists have discovered that a gene found in the common fruit fly can be successfully expressed in a plant and used to detoxify land contaminated with TNT. The breakthrough could pave the way for millions of hectares of land contaminated by munitions to be cleaned up…When scientists engineered the plants to express the glutathione transferase (DmGSTE6) gene found in fruit flies, they found that plants expressing the gene were more resistant to TNT and were better able to remove it from contaminated soil than wild-type plants without the gene. The fruit fly has an enzyme which attaches itself to the TNT molecule and is able to modify it and make it less toxic, not only to the plant itself, but the environment.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/12/161207091315.htm

Honeybee memories: Another piece of the Alzheimer's puzzle?

A breakdown of memory processes in humans can lead to conditions such as Alzheimer's and dementia. By looking at the simpler brain of a honeybee, new research published in Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, moves us a step towards understanding the different processes behind long-term memory formation…"Honeybees have an amazing capacity to learn and remember," says the researcher. "They can count up to four, and orientate themselves by learning patterns and landmarks. They are also social insects that interact, teach and learn, making them successful foragers. Bees remember how to find a food source, how good the source was, and how to return to the hive." As such, the honeybee can form complex memories through processes much like those happening in human brains. But, the honeybee brain is simpler and they have a smaller genome. This makes them an ideal model for investigating how the different processes needed for long-term memories happen…"By understanding how changes to the epi-genome accumulate, manifest and influence brain function, we may, in the future, be able to develop treatments for brain diseases that also develop over a lifetime.”
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/12/161208125919.htm

Honey bee teenagers speed up the aging process of their elders

Despite her title, the queen is not deciding who does what in the honey bee colony. How work is distributed between nestmates in these societies is not fully understood….The newly discovered role of young workers in honey bee social organisation adds to our knowledge of how demography shapes colony functioning. 'These social regulation mechanisms of food collection allow the fast adaptation of the colony to a changing environment'…These findings are significant for our understanding of social organization in insects, which often inspires technological innovations. They also provide information on general aging processes beyond social insects. Indeed, honey bees are used as model system to understand aging in other organisms, including humans…In addition to producing honey, wax, propolis and royal jelly, honey bees contribute to the pollination of a large variety of commercial food crops -- a service valued at over 150 billions Euros globally. Moreover, honey bees together with other insects pollinate many wild flowers and are therefore central to the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems, of which the economical value is order of magnitudes higher.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/12/161206094614.htm

Could honey bee brood be the future of food?

Honey bee brood -- the larvae and pupae of drones -- has great potential as a food source. It is already eaten as a delicacy in many countries, including Mexico, Thailand and Australia. It has a nutty flavor with a crunchy texture when eaten cooked or dried, and is a versatile ingredient used in soups and egg dishes. It also has high nutritional value, similar to beef in terms of protein quality and quantity. With human population set to reach 9 billion by 2050, eating insects is gaining attention as a possible way to feed the world. A paper published in the Journal of Apicultural Research shows how honey bee brood -- the larvae and pupae of drones -- has great potential as a food source.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/11/161128085133.htm

Tricking moths into revealing the computational underpinnings of sensory integration

Our nervous systems are remarkable translators, channeling information from many sources and initiating appropriate behavioral responses. But though we know how a lot about how neurons work, scientists do not fully understand how the nervous system integrates stimuli from different senses. You may smell smoke and feel heat, but how does the brain combining and interpret these different stimuli, signaling you to phone the fire department? It turns out that insects are attractive models to investigate questions about integrating information from different sensory pathways.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/11/161102130727.htm

The buzz about edible bugs: Can they replace beef?

The researchers analyzed grasshoppers, crickets, mealworms and buffalo worms for their mineral contents and estimated how much of each nutrient would likely get absorbed if eaten, using a lab model of human digestion. The insects had varying levels of iron, calcium, copper, magnesium, manganese and zinc. Crickets, for example, had higher levels of iron than the other insects did. And minerals including calcium, copper and zinc from grasshoppers, crickets and mealworms are more readily available for absorption than the same minerals from beef. The results therefore support the idea that eating bugs could potentially help meet the nutritional needs of the world's growing population, the researchers say.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161026104806.htm

Cicada wings inspire antireflective surfaces

A team of Shanghai Jiao Tong University researchers has used the shape of cicada wings as a template to create antireflective structures fabricated with one of the most intriguing semiconductor materials, titanium dioxide (TiO 2). The antireflective structures they produced are capable of suppressing visible light -- 450 to 750 nanometers -- at different angles of incidence. Why cicada wings? The surfaces of the insect's wings are composed of highly ordered, tiny vertical "nano-nipple" arrays, according to the researchers. As they report this week in Applied Physics Letters, from AIP Publishing, the resulting biomorphic TiO 2 surface they created with antireflective structures shows a significant decrease in reflectivity.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161011131253.htm

'Shadow method' reveals locomotion secrets of water striders

Intrigued by the floating mechanisms of water striders and the updated Archimedes’ principle, which states that floating force equals the expelled liquid volume, researchers sought to discover how the pressed depth and supporting force of water surface acted upon a water strider’s six legs…And don't be surprised to see advanced bionic robots based on the locomotion principles of small insects in the near future -- as soon as techniques to fabricate these structures and their control and powering systems can be developed.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161017123729.htm

String pulling bees provide insight into spread of culture

Bumblebees can learn to pull strings for food and pass on the ability to a colony…bees were able to solve the problem of pulling the string to reach a sugar water reward by themselves while most others could learn to pull the string when trained…Naïve bees were then able to learn the task by observing a trained demonstrator bee while this skill was passed down through several generations of learners, ensuring its longevity in the population…"Despite the obvious differences between humans and other animals, understanding social learning and culture in animals holds a key to understanding the…roots of the peculiarities of social learning and culture in humans."… "We are ultimately interested in finding out what might be possible neural solutions to underpin such refined skills in bees. How can they do it with such small brains, and how can their miniature nervous systems manage such a diversity of behaviours and cognitive tasks?
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161004141432.htm

Giant Thai insect reveals clues to human heart disease

What can a Thai water bug teach us about our muscles, especially the heart? A lot, says Professor of Biological Science Kenneth Taylor. New research by Taylor published in Science Advances gives scientists better insight into how the heart muscle works and how sometimes it fails… Scientists have long examined the flight muscles from Lethocerus indicus as a way to better understand how the human heart works. Both the insect's flight muscle and a mammal's heart beat rhythmically…This detailed image "shakes up the muscle field," Taylor said. He hopes this breakthrough leads to novel treatments for cardiomyopathy in the future.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160930214038.htm

Good food puts bees in good mood

After bumblebees drink a small droplet of really sweet sugar water, they behave like they are in a positive emotion-like state, scientists have discovered… Further experiments indicate that neurochemicals involved in emotional processing in humans may play a role in the emotion-like behaviours seen in bees. The researchers hope the results will prompt further investigation into how small rewards affect bees perception of the world…and determine the underlying mechanisms of emotional states in the brain.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160929142329.htm

Hearing the same sound twice in each ear helps insects locate their mates

n incredibly advanced hearing system which enables a group of insects to listen to the same sound twice with each ear, helping them to locate the sound's origin with pinpoint accuracy, has been discovered…As these insects are too small to have ears in their heads, their location in the legs coupled with the tubing system allows the insect to hear a sound four times; twice in each ear…"Understanding this highly sensitive and very delicate mechanism provides a fascinating insight into how these insects use their ears to locate potential mates and might also inspire other areas of research, such as engineering or micro-robotics."
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161003130417.htm

Gut bacteria explain insects' tolerance to a toxic diet

The microbial communities of toxic plant feeders in the Albufera lake in Valencia, Spain have been the focus of recent research. Aside from explaining the insects’ tolerance to a toxic diet, the findings may have applications in bioremediation: a waste management technique that involves the use of organisms to remove or neutralize pollutants from a contaminated materials.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160921084722.htm

Insects are helping us develop the future of hearing aids

Hearing aids are still large, uncomfortable and as yet unable to deliver the rich and wonderful sounds we take for granted. Yet there may be a new way for us to replace damaged hearing from an unlikely source – the insect world…Could studying crickets allow us to learn something about how to design a small speaker that is also loud, just as you need for a hearing aid?...Among the best studied insects in bio-acoustics is the locust…Interestingly, some insects are even making us question what exactly a microphone can be. Mosquitoes and fruit flies, as examples…Biology, medicine and engineering have traditionally been quite separate disciplines. But by combining them, as we have in these projects, we can develop new engineering solutions…there’s plenty more inspiration that could come from our miniature mechanical specialists, the insects.
http://theconversation.com/insects-are-helping-us-develop-the-future-of-hearing-aids-64619

Natural scale caterpillar soft robot is powered and controlled with light

Researchers at the Faculty of Physics at the University of Warsaw, using the liquid crystal elastomer technology, originally developed in the LENS Institute in Florence, demonstrated a bioinspired micro-robot capable of mimicking caterpillar gaits in natural scale… For decades scientists and engineers have been trying to build robots mimicking different modes of locomotion found in nature. Most of these designs have rigid skeletons and joints driven by electric or pneumatic actuators. In nature, however, a vast number of creatures navigate their habitats using soft bodies -- earthworms, snails and larval insects can effectively move in complex environments using different strategies… Designing soft robots calls for a completely new paradigm in their mechanics, power supply and control.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160818102611.htm

Luna moth's long tail could confuse bat sonar through its twist Researchers at the University of Washington and Johns Hopkins University took a detailed look at the acoustics of the common luna moth, to see how long tails could throw off predators that use echolocation to pursue prey. The research advances understanding of predator-prey interactions, insect behavior and evolution. The study could also shed light on how to track sonar targets -- or evade sonar detection -- in other settings.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160815190146.htm

Radar tracking reveals the 'life stories' of bumblebees as they forage for food

Bees provide an invaluable service to both natural and agricultural ecosystems by pollinating flowers. Understanding how they use the space available to them, and how and when they find food, will provide valuable insights into how to manage landscapes to benefit plants, insects and agricultural crops.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160804152719.htm

Could these cyborg beetles save lives?

Scientists in Singapore have created cyborg beetles that they believe could help save lives. The research, which is not without controversy, is looking at whether the bugs could be used to find people after major disasters.
http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-36828515

How honey bees 'telescope' their abdomens

Honey bees are able to wiggle their abdomens in a variety of ways…Specialized membranes that connect a honey bee's abdominal segments are thicker on the top of the abdomen than on the bottom, allowing curling in just one direction. Honey bee abdomens contain up to nine overlapping segments that are similar to little armored plates. A thin, flexible layer of cells called the folded intersegmental membrane (FIM) connects the tough outer plates, allowing each concentric segment not just to attach to its neighbor, but to slide into the next one…a design that the paper's authors suggest is ripe for exploration by more engineers, perhaps for use in aircraft design or other applications.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/07/160725104109.htm

Firefly Light Helps Destroy Cancer Cells; Researchers Find That The Bioluminescence Effects Of Fireflies May Kill Cancer Cells From Within

In a new study, researchers from London inserted the firefly gene that activates bioluminescent light into modified cancer cells, hoping to set off a chain of events that has a proven track record at fighting the disease. This light source, known as Luciferin, caused the modified cancer cells to glow much like it does with the firefly. When a photosensitizing agent was added, the combination proved lethal… Already, a separate team has shown that it's feasible to deliver the luciferase gene to prostate cancer cells. As a mobile light source, the firefly gene may have far-reaching applications. "Luciferase could be transferred to primary tumors, and from there it could migrate to cancer cells that spread."
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/04/030421084227.htm

Flying insects defy aerodynamic laws of airplanes, researchers find

The maneuvers of flying insects are unmatched by even the best pilots, and this might be due to the fact that these critters don't obey the same aerodynamic laws as airplanes, a team of researchers has found…The net force that results depends on the flight speed as well as the flapping motions, all of which the authors include in a new drag law. (T)he authors think that their findings could help guide the design of tiny flying robots that mimic the wing motions of insects.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/07/160711120526.htm

Like humans, lowly cockroach uses a GPS to get around, scientists find

Due to their simpler brain, further studies on cockroaches that would be difficult--if not impossible--on mammals may yield new insights into how humans orient themselves and navigate. Or, what goes awry in people who have extreme trouble getting their bearings…Because they can focus on individual cells instead of areas of the brain, they may be able to directly see such things as which neuromodulators and hormones contribute to the process of orienting--which may be applicable to other animals, including people
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/07/160707131151.htm

Tiny Drones Can See The World Like Insects Do

Tiny insect drones could be useful for disaster-area surveillance or delivering supplies to people in accessible places. But the technology is still new, and they run a high risk of running into each other in confined spaces. Now researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology have created an artificial eye and navigation system for these drones based on insects’ vision… This isn’t the first attempt  to put streamlined insect-inspired sensors into drones, but it’s the first time it’s been done for such tiny drones (others have tried to hook them up with bulky digital cameras). Insect-style vision works well for drones because it doesn’t have very high resolution, but it is highly sensitive to objects’ movement or changes in how light is reflected—perfect for maneuvering drones through small spaces with lots of obstacles.

The artificial eye the Swiss researchers designed weighs only two milligrams… Since they have already developed the algorithms and design of the photosensor, the researchers plan to configure several artificial eyes on one drone to create a more sophisticated visual system, allowing it to take off, land, and stabilize its flying position while in the air. They also plan to develop a strip of artificial eyes into “vision tape,” a flexible patch that can be attached to any type of surface, such as other types of robots or even furniture or clothing.
http://www.popsci.com/new-insect-sight-tiny-drones

Robots Are Using Dragonfly Eyes To Better Track Moving Objects (Not the same as the nest item.)

The tiny insects see in low-res, but are masters of motion tracking. Some robots of the future will see the world through the eyes of insects. In a study published this week in the Journal of The Royal Society Interface, researchers have developed software that lets machines track moving objects with the same precision as dragonflies. Although dragonflies have puny brains and vision with extremely low resolution, they are still able to catch prey with greater than 95 percent accuracy against oft-cluttered backgrounds such as swarms of other insects. What’s more, they can do this while flying upwards of 60 miles-per-hour.
http://www.popsci.com/robots-are-getting-better-vision-thanks-dragonfly-eyes

Dragonfly Brains May Inspire Future Robotic Vision Systems

The underlying processes of insect vision have been the research subject for Dr Steven Wiederman and Associate Professor David O'Carroll from the University's Centre for Neuroscience Research (ACNR). Wiederman and O’Carroll have been applying their findings to robotics and artificial vision systems…"The exact mechanisms that occur in the brain for this to happen are of great interest in visual neurosciences generally, as well as for solving engineering applications in target detection and tracking. Understanding how visual systems work can have a range of outcomes, such as in the development of neural prosthetics and improvements in robot vision. "A project is now underway at the University of Adelaide to translate much of the research we've conducted into a robot, to see if it can emulate the dragonfly's vision and movement. This project is well underway and once complete, watching our autonomous dragonfly robot will be very exciting," he says.
http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1112925122/dragonfly-on-off-switch-inspires-robotics-081613/

Bee Techniques Could Help Drones Stop Crashing Into Things

If drones are going to be effective fliers, they could stand to take a page from insects ' book of tricks. Researchers at the University of Sheffield are now turning to honeybees to figure out how they manage to avoid running into things…In the paper published in PLOS Computational Biology, the researchers propose a new computer model of how bees navigate and avoid crashes, with the idea that it could help autonomous robots do the same.
http://www.popsci.com/new-bee-inspired-model-could-help-drones-stop-crashing-into-things

Tiny Compound-Eye Camera Sees The World Like (Insects) Do

This new camera gives you a bug's-eye view of life—literally. With 180 individual imaging elements arranged in a dome, it works like insects' compound eyes. Like insect eyes, it's got great depth perception and can see nearly 180 degrees all around it. Researchers have made different compound eye cameras for years. The research could go into future spy cameras or endoscopes, those thin, long cameras doctors use to look inside body cavities. This new prototype, however, is exceptionally small and rounded, its creators wrote in a paper published today  in the journal Nature.

The team of engineers, from the U.S., South Korea, Singapore and China, developed tiny imaging devices that each work a bit like an ommatidium—the individual "small eyes" that make up an insect compound eye. The lens at the top of the camera's imaging devices are analogous to ommatidium corneas, while the posts the lenses sit on are like ommatidium cones.
http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-05/compound-eye-camera-sees-world-ants-do

Bug-Like Robotic Drones Becoming More Bug-Like, With Bulging Eyes and Tiny, Sensing Hairs

Micro air vehicles, or MAVs, make for a tantalizing option for intelligence and surveillance agencies looking to surreptitiously gather information or deliver surveillance devices without being seen. But MAVs--usually modeled after small birds or insects-- are notoriously unstable in flight and difficult to maneuver in cluttered environments. So the Pentagon is   handing out research contracts   to make the DoD's little robotic bugs more stable by making them more bug-like. Specifically, the DoD wants big bulging bug eyes and hairy wings for its MAVs. The main problem with MAVs has to do with the way they respond (or don't respond) to dynamic environments--things like shifting or gusting winds, moving bodies, and other variables that have to be accounted for in realtime. MAVs are tiny, so there's not a lot of space for computing assets or sensor payloads, and that leads to a sort of intractable problem: how can engineers make these things smaller and more capable while also adding increased situational awareness and better in-flight processing? When facing a tough problem like this  a little biomimicry  never hurts, and that's exactly where the Pentagon is looking with its recent contracts http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2011-10/big-robotic-drones-become-
more-bug-bulging-eyes-and-tiny-sensing-hairs

Mighty mealworms: Solution for food insecurity, pollution

Biology students at Wake Forest University are using mealworms to solve two global problems -- food sustainability and plastic pollution.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160511161018.htm

When dung beetles dance, they photograph the firmament

Researchers have now taken a new step in understanding the existence of these unique beetles: when the beetles dance on top of a ball of dung, they simultaneously take a photograph -- a snapshot -- of how celestial bodies are positioned…(T)he results of how dung beetles find their way in the world can become significant in the development of navigation systems in driverless vehicles.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160512125422.htm

Honeybees more likely to regulate hive's 'thermostat' during rapid temperature increases

Honeybees use their wings to cool down their hives when temperatures rise, but new University of Colorado Boulder research shows that this intriguing behavior may be linked to both the rate of heating and the size of a honeybee group…The research may have implications for future studies on how self-organization and decentralized information gathering can influence biological and artificial environments alike.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160509085111.htm

Scientists turn to fireflies to improve OLED efficiency

Many insects, birds, fish, and amphibians emit light as a way to communicate with each other, but the species that produces light most efficiently is the firefly. In a new study, researchers have investigated the optical properties of the firefly's light-emitting cuticle, which is not smooth like most human-made lights, but instead is patterned with tiny hierarchical structures. Inspired by these features, the researchers replicated the patterns to create a bioinspired organic light-emitting diode (OLED), resulting in a 60% increase in the light extraction efficiency and 15% wider angle of illumination…The researchers created precise molds of these structures to use as the optical layer of an OLED. Consequently, the same features that help fireflies communicate their courtship signals have turned out to also contribute to improving advanced lighting and display applications. "Our breakthrough technology is the large-scale fabrication of inclined microstructures and highly ordered nanostructures on each inclined microstructure," Jeong said. "We strongly believe that these biologically inspired OLEDs open a new paradigm for engineering biomimetics for lighting applications."
http://phys.org/news/2016-04-scientists-fireflies-oled-efficiency.html

Mushrooms hold potential for sustainable building materials (Wasps)

To address the size limitation of the material—mycelium biocomposites risk contamination by mould and bacteria if they exceed a half-metre in thickness—Dahmen developed a new process that drew inspiration from a wasps' nest discovered in the empty greenhouse that would house the project. "I was really amazed at the honeycomb structure, because it's a highly efficient way of occupying space," he said, holding a piece of wasps' nest to display its dense grid of hexagonal chambers. "It's scalable, it can go in any direction, and it's extremely spatially efficient."
http://phys.org/news/2016-04-mushrooms-potential-sustainable-materials.html

Neural Integration Underlying a Time-Compensated Sun Compass in the Migratory Monarch Butterfly

Each fall, eastern North American monarch butterflies ( Danaus plexippus) fly up to 4,000 km to specific overwintering sites in central Mexico. Throughout this journey, monarchs constantly correct their flight direction to maintain a southerly orientation, using a time-compensated sun compass…The model that we have built closes the loop between the time and azimuth stimuli and orientation control. As such, it provides an important framework for future studies of the monarch sun compass. Our framework can be used to design electrophysiological and flight recordings experiments to compare responses in monarchs’ neurons and model units and to determine the detailed architecture of neural circuits that implement the integration mechanism postulated by our model. It also provides a simple mechanism for navigation that can be used in devices that do not have the benefit of a global positioning system.
http://www.cell.com/cell-reports/fulltext/S2211-1247%2816%2930328-X

Insect eyes enable drones to fly independently

After studying how insects (bees) navigate through dense vegetation, researchers have come up with a system that can be applied to flying robots. By adapting the system to drones, they can be made to adjust their speed to their surroundings and fly on their own -- completely without human intervention and control… “Really, the coolest thing is the fact that insects have developed simple strategies to cope with difficult problems for which engineers have still to come up with a solution.”
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160406124937.htm

Fat stunts growth of tobacco hornworm caterpillars

Fat metabolism pathways are similar among vertebrates, including humans and invertebrates such as the tobacco hornworm caterpillar. According to the study's authors, understanding the role of fats in insects could help understand human metabolic diseases.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160404170431.htm

Insect wings inspire antibacterial surfaces for corneal transplants, other medical devices

Someday, cicadas and dragonflies might save your sight. The key to this power lies in their wings, which are coated with a forest of tiny pointed pillars that impale and kill bacterial cells unlucky enough to land on them. Now, scientists report they have replicated these antibacterial nanopillars on synthetic polymers that are being developed to restore vision.
http://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/pressroom/newsreleases/2016/march/cicada-nanopillars.html

New research unveils graphene 'moth eyes' to power future smart technologies

"Moths' eyes have microscopic patterning that allows them to see in the dimmest conditions. These work by channelling light towards the middle of the eye, with the added benefit of eliminating reflections, which would otherwise alert predators of their location. We have used the same technique to make an amazingly thin, efficient, light-absorbent material by patterning graphene in a similar fashion."… The next step is to incorporate this material in a variety of existing and emerging technologies. We are very excited about the potential to exploit this material in existing optical devices for performance enhancement, whilst looking towards new applications. Through Surrey's EPSRC funded Graphene Centre, we are looking for industry partners to exploit this technology and are keen to hear from innovative companies who we can explore the future applications of this technology with us."
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160226143935.htm

The secret of beetles that waterski so fast they vanish

“I’m surprised that they have something this elegant…Understanding the motion of the beetles could help us develop robots that move across water quickly. Many current designs are based on water striders, which move more slowly. Mukundarajan also thinks studying the beetle’s wings could give insight into a   phenomenon that occurs when an aircraft is flying low .
https://www.newscientist.com/article/2079427-the-secret-of-beetles-that-waterski-so-fast-they-vanish/

Bee brains as never seen before

"We've also been looking at how tiny-brained bumblebees find practical solutions to challenging routing problems. Understanding how comparatively simple brains can find functional solutions to complex problems may be very important in allowing us to develop smarter and simpler ways to do the same."
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160304123452.htm

Bendy bugs inspire roboticists

Insects, whether they creep or fly, live in a world of hard knocks. Who has not stepped on a cockroach, then raised her shoe to watch the creature get up and scoot under a door? Bees and wasps, for their part, face a never-ending obstacle course of leaves, stems, and petals—bumblebees crash their wings into obstacles as often as once a second. Now, researchers are learning how these creatures bend but don't break. The results do more than explain why cockroaches are so hard to kill. By mimicking the combination of rigid and flexible parts that gives insect exoskeletons and wings their resilience, biomechanicists are making robots tougher. It's quite the contrast from the way engineers have designed most of their machines, but may lead to better robots for search and rescue.
http://science.sciencemag.org/content/351/6274/647

Pulling water from thin air

Inspired by a desert beetle, cactus and pitcher plant, researchers design a new material to collect water droplets.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160224150731.htm

Correcting a misconception: Stick insect's propulsion joint discovered

Researchers analyze the movement of the six-legged stick insect. Each of the stick insect's six legs is moved mainly by three joints. These joints are connected to the insect's body in an L-shaped manner. A hip joint (Thorax-Coxa joint), around which the leg moves backwards, connects the leg to the body. A second hip joint (Coxa-Trochanter joint) connects the hip with the thigh. Around this joint, the leg moves downwards. Finally, the knee joint (Femur-Tibia joint) connects the thigh to the lower leg, and moves the leg outwards, investigators report (Karl’s comment: There is o way something that complicated evolved.)… For decades, textbooks have claimed that the force for maintaining body posture and driving movement was controlled independently by different joints. Now, as biologist Chris Dallmann reports, "this is not correct."… These new findings will not only result in textbook revisions, but will also be tested on the robot Hector, which is based on a stick insect. "The robot is similar to a stick insect and is equipped with elastic leg joints,"
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160216090339.htm

Jump! Go Ahead, Jump, Little Springtail

By researching this topic I thought of a few applications for technologies based on the Collembola’s spring mechanisms. Click mechanisms at the scale of a springtail’s springing mechanism could possibly aid stent design or inspire development of other deployable structures that snap open or closed based on certain environmental conditions. Maybe small springing mechanisms can be incorporated in groups and serve as strain sensors on bigger structures. And who wouldn’t welcome millimeter-sized robots that can perform in a futuristic “flea circus”?
http://insectsdiditfirst.com/category/locomotion/
(Karl’s comment: I know some classification schemes claim springtails are not true insects.)

Snow Fleas

Most Springtails, though, have antifreeze in their blood . Usually the cryoprotectants are sugar-based, just like the glycol we use in automobile antifreeze. There is a fair amount of interest in the anti-freezing proteins in springtails  for human organ preservation  for longer times before transplantation.
http://www.wired.com/2014/01/snow-fleas/

Cockroach inspires robot squeezes through cracks

Not only can they squish themselves to get into one-tenth-of-an-inch crevices, but once inside they can run at high speed even when flattened in half… What the researchers found has inspired a robot that can rapidly squeeze through cracks -- a new capability for search-and-rescue in rubble resulting from tornados, earthquakes and explosions… Using the roach technique as inspiration, Jayaram designed a simple and cheap palm-sized robot that can splay its legs outward when squashed, then capped it with a plastic shield similar to the tough, smooth wings covering the back of a cockroach. Called CRAM, for compressible robot with articulated mechanisms, it was able to squeeze into and run through crevices half its height. "In the event of an earthquake, first responders need to know if an area of rubble is stable and safe, but the challenge is, most robots can't get into rubble," said Robert Full, a professor of integrative biology at UC Berkeley. "But if there are lots of cracks and vents and conduits, you can imagine just throwing a swarm of these robots in to locate survivors and safe entry points for first responders."..The work is supported by the Army Research Laboratory through the Micro Autonomous Systems and Technology (MAST), a Collaborative Technology Alliance involving industry, universities and the U.S. Army.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160208182904.htm

This is what a wasp sees to learn the way home

"Our findings tell us how wonderfully autonomous, flexible, and robust wasps are with their ability to know places in the world and shuttle back and forth between them."… Zeil notes that the wasps' homing abilities make them "smarter" than anything humans now know how to build. On that note, he says, it will be interesting to apply and explore what they've learned in flying robots. "It will be interesting to implement the learning and homing rules we found into flying robots to test the validity and limits of our findings," he says. "We want to understand what trick the insects are using to acquire the competence of homing."
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160211140421.htm

Beetle-inspired discovery could reduce frost's costly sting

In a discovery that may lead to ways to prevent frost on airplane parts, condenser coils, and even windshields…The inspiration for the work came from an unlikely source -- the Namib Desert Beetle, which makes headlines because it lives in one of the hottest places in the world, yet it still collects airborne water…Creating frost-free zones on larger surfaces could have a variety of applications -- consider the water that forms and freezes on heat pump coils or the deicing with harsh chemicals that has to take place on wind turbines or airplane wings…It could result in huge cost savings."
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160122083436.htm

Insects are a sustainable source of omega-3

nsect oil is a possible new source of the healthy omega-3 fatty acid. Insects make fatty acids by nature and can live on organic waste…The industry is interested in sustainable fatty acids like omega-3 and lauric acid. The main source for omega-3 is currently fish…(H)umans need to take in a certain amount of fatty acids. Lauric acid (also to be found in coconut oil for example) is supposed to have bactericidal and virus obliterate qualities. Furthermore, the use of insect oil in for example cosmetics is obvious.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160111122520.htm

Bug eyes: Tiny 3D glasses confirm insect 3D vision

Miniature glasses have proved that mantises use 3-D vision, providing a new model to improve visual perception in (computers and) robots.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160107123956.htm

Dogfighting bees perform aerial combat right at researcher’s front door

With a new Star Wars film still fresh in the theaters, fans are abuzz with thoughts of the high-flying exploits of brave fighter pilots. For Dr. Brandon Jackson of Longwood University, the buzz is slightly more literal. Using consumer-grade recording equipment and some technical ingenuity, he is exploring the feints, parries, and ripostes of tiny flying warriors right at his front doorstep… Carpenter bees intrigue Jackson for their defensive "dogfighting" behaviors…. There has been an increased push in the scientific community toward understanding the intricacies of aerial combat in nature, and Jackson's work provides an important tool for conducting the critical research to uncover the answers.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160106092024.htm

Antireflective Coating: Sugar-based carbon hollow spheres that mimic moth eyes

Antireflective coatings are used to cut surface glare in everything from eyeglasses and camera lenses to solar cells, TV screens and LED devices. Now researchers from Research Institute for Nuclear Problems of Belarusian State University in Belarus and Institut Jean Lamour-Université de Lorraine in France have developed a novel, low-cost, ultra-lightweight material that could be used as an effective anti-reflective surface for microwave radiation based on the eyes of moths… The physiology also makes the moth eye one of the most effective antireflective coatings in nature. It has already successfully been mimicked by scientists for developing high-performance antireflective coatings for visible lights -- albeit coatings that are often expensive to fabricate and difficult to customize. The new material cuts down reflections from microwaves rather than from visible light -- invisible energy from a different part of the energy spectrum. Blocking microwave reflection is an important application for precise microwave measurements, and the coating may be used as a radar absorbing material in stealth technology, a technique that makes make an airplane invisible to radar, or police traffic radar that uses microwaves to measure car speed… Bychanok said the work pointed out that moth-eye-like two-dimensional ordered structures based on hollow conducting spheres are promising systems for microwave radiation absorption applications.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160105223546.htm

Study of a pregnant cockroach paves a new direction in genetics research

The sequencing of the first genome involving a cockroach species may one day serve as a model system comparable to how research on mice can apply to humans. In this case, the model could hold new revelations about how stress during pregnancy could affect both the mother and her offspring…"We're on the edge of creating an exciting new resource for examining how a mother nourishes her babies before birth, a process typically associated with mammals," says Jennings… Jennings adds that the housing and feeding of the insects also is considerably less expensive than traditional animal research models such as mice, a savings of hundreds of dollars compared with the care for just one mouse.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160105133257.htm

Zombified caterpillars forced to carb-load by parasitoid wasps

Bernardo has been examining host diet manipulation to determine if any empirical evidence can back up what has largely been just a hypothesis. She's found support that diet manipulation might be possible for one special parasitoid wasp, considered a "master manipulator."… Bernardo also thinks this research fits into a new field called ecoimmunology. Ecoimmunology uses concepts in ecology and evolution to investigate the causes behind diseases and specific problems in immune function. Bernardo's research could add a new facet to this field -- host manipulation. Obesity is a major health concern in the US, and specific kinds of gut microbes might not only influence how we digest food, but which foods we want to eat.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160105102326.htm

'RoboBees' with Laser Eyes Could Locate Disaster Victims

Mechanical eyes that shoot laser beams could one day help robot bees fly without crashing into obstacles, researchers say. These laser eyes could also one day help people control smartphones, tablets, laptops, wearable technology and other mobile devices using only gestures, the researchers added. Currently, researchers are developing biologically inspired, bee-size flying robots dubbed RoboBees. These devices might one day find use in everything from pollinating crops to locating disaster victims.
http://www.livescience.com/52822-robot-bees-with-laser-eyes.html

Power up: Cockroaches employ a 'force boost' to chew through tough materials

The study, published today in PLOS ONE, shows that cockroaches activate slow twitch muscle fibres only when chewing on tough material such as wood that requires repetitive, hard biting to generate a bite force 50 times stronger than their own body weight…Weihmann explains that gaining a better understanding of how the delicate structure of the head capsule withstands such powerful forces over an insect's lifetime could also have interesting applications for bioinspired engineering…With increasing miniaturisation, such designs will become increasingly important. Recent technical implementations in this direction are for instance micro probes inserted into blood vessels or micro surgical instruments."
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151111170725.htm

New discoveries on a bug with bifocals

(N) ew research reported by the University of Cincinnati and supported by the National Science Foundation is the first to examine how the complex eye system of an invertebrate - the Sunburst Diving Beetle - coordinates the development of its components. Despite the complexity of their eyes, including a bifocal lens, extremely rapid eye growth of the Sunburst Diving Beetle occurs during the transitions between larval stages. In addition, they temporarily go blind as the eye is quickly redeveloped…."Studying the invertebrate mechanism, we can learn more on the basic principles which apply beyond invertebrates."
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151104121038.htm

Biologists find keys to driving a cockroach

The scientists believe this finding provides insight into the control of movement, not just in insects, but likely all animals that walk. The cockroach's system is also a useful model for building robots that can maneuver around obstacles on their own, self-driving cars and for controlling drones the researchers said…Ritzmann is among a group of scientists at Case Western Reserve who suggest that robots would be more autonomous and useful, and autopilot and driverless cars would benefit, if makers would include systems like the sensorimotor complex insects use to maneuver and navigate. This research is a step toward that, he said, "but we have to better understand how animals solve these issues first."
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151022141727.htm

Tiny dancers: Can ballet bugs help us build better robots?

When it's time to design new robots, sometimes the best inspiration can come from Mother Nature. Take, for example, her creepy, but incredibly athletic spider crickets. Johns Hopkins engineering students and their professor have spent more than eight months unraveling the hopping skills, airborne antics and safe-landing patterns of these pesky insects that commonly lurk in the dark corners of damp basements. The team, which hopes to pave the way for a new generation of small but skillful jumping robots, will present its findings Nov. 23…at the 68th annual meeting of the American Physical Society's Division of Fluid Dynamics. The Johns Hopkins team members believe non-human creatures may be the best models in designing mechanical helpers to carry out certain important tasks. Figuring out how critters move, they say, could lead to planetary rovers that crawl like caterpillars or winged drones that hover like hummingbirds. So what design tips did the researchers manage to glean from these spindly six-legged bugs? An adult human who wanted to replicate the cricket's leap would have to jump 300 feet or more—roughly the length of a football field. And, most times, spider crickets manage to land safely on their feet…"Ultimately, the application would be in really tiny robots," said Palmer, who is from Exeter, N.H. Deploying tiny high-jumping robots to travel over rugged, uneven ground, she said, would utilize a more efficient and probably less expensive form of locomotion, compared to flying robots or humans on foot.
http://phys.org/news/2015-10-tiny-dancers-ballet-bugs-robots.html

Unraveling the secret of silk that's more alive than dead

The finest garment-quality silks are made gently, by boiling silkworm cocoons just enough to dissolve a rubbery coating before spinning the fibers into thread…Today, silk is being examined for a wide range of medical uses, ranging from membranes to scaffolding to foster the healing of wounds. Silks used in research and medical settings undergo much harsher processing, a chemical ordeal that effectively "kill" the silk and removes many of the qualities that make it such a wonderful substance in the first place. ..(T)he finest, smoothest, strongest of these synthetic silks are still dead, and therefore a poor substitute for silk that is alive, the unprocessed, straight-from-the-silkworm's-mouth fiber…The first step was to understand what a silkworm actually does when it spins its dope into cocoon, and then figure out a way to replicate the action in the lab.
http://phys.org/news/2015-10-unraveling-secret-silk-alive-dead.html

These social bees farm and eat fungus or die

Researchers have discovered that a social, stingless bee from Brazil feeds its larvae on a special type of fungus grown in the nest. Without it, very few young survive…Interestingly, a very similar fungus of the genus Monascus has been used in Asian cultures for centuries as a food preservative. Related fungi are known to secrete chemicals with anti-microbial, anti-cancer, and other health benefits. "This symbiotic relationship may reveal new substances that can be applied to human and bee health…
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151022124342.htm

Queen or worker? Flexibility between roles relies on just a few genes

"We are excited about discovering molecular mechanisms which in these wasps and ants allow easy switching between workers and queens. There are some applications of these principles to human stem cells to make them more plastic, potentially leading to better stem cell therapies in the future."
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151019154113.htm

How the stick insect sticks (and unsticks) itself

“When the first microscopes were invented in the 17th century, one of the first things scientists looked at was a fly's foot. The purpose of the fluid that you find on insects' feet has remained a fascinating question ever since," says Labonte. But it's not just an age-old question that this research is helping to answer. The researchers say there may be lessons to learn for modern humanmade devices. "Understanding how insects control adhesion could have applications where adhesion is needed in a dynamic context, for instance in the production of small electronic devices, where it's necessary to pick up and place down tiny parts with ease and accuracy," adds Federle. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151007084344.htm

Silkworm structures drive push for new materials

Research published in the peer-review Journal of the Royal Society Interface on Wednesday presents a close look at the structure and physical properties of silkworm cocoons. The paper’s research efforts could move scientists closer toward coming up with tomorrow’s design principles for materials inspired by silkworm cocoons. Those materials might provide important advancements in materials for such areas as defense and manufacturing…Some advanced materials that could benefit from that understanding might end up in the manufacture of car panels, helmets and protective suits for mine workers. The study’s research was funded by a grant from the U.S. Air Force…“Clearly,” according to a statement from the Oxford Silk Group, “this is something we should aim to copy when designing and making fibers for the future.”
http://phys.org/news/2012-05-silkworm-materials.html

Coexistence of both gyroid chiralities in individual butterfly wing scales of Callophrys rubi

The wing scales of the Green Hairstreak butterfly Callophrys rubi consist of crystalline domains with sizes of a few micrometers, which exhibit a congenitally handed porous chitin microstructure identified as the chiral triply periodic single-gyroid structure…Both findings are needed to completely understand the photonic purpose of the single gyroid in gyroid-forming butterflies. More importantly, they show the level of control that morphogenesis exerts over secondary features of biological nanostructures, such as chirality or crystallographic texture, providing inspiration for biomimetic replication strategies for synthetic self-assembly mechanisms.
http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2015/09/30/1511354112.short

Flexible Robo-Legs Could Help Helicopters Stick Tricky Landings

Helicopters of the future could use insectlike robotic legs to land in unlikely places — like the slopes of steep hills or the decks of rocking boats.
http://www.livescience.com/52181-darpa-helicopter-robotic-landing-gear.html

How termite mounds ‘breathe’

For decades, scientists have marveled at the towering mounds some termites construct and wondered how they work…Although the scientists only examined one termite species, the ventilation system is likely the same in others with similar mounds. Such insight could inspire developments in passive architecture, which seeks to eliminate the need for active heating and cooling systems in buildings using strategies such as natural ventilation and efficient insulation, the scientists say.
http://news.sciencemag.org/biology/2015/08/how-termite-mounds-breathe

Brazilian wasp venom kills cancer cells by opening them up

The social wasp Polybia paulista protects itself against predators by producing venom known to contain a powerful cancer-fighting ingredient…"Cancer therapies that attack the lipid composition of the cell membrane would be an entirely new class of anticancer drugs," says co-senior study author Paul Beales, of the University of Leeds in the UK. "This could be useful in developing new combination therapies, where multiple drugs are used simultaneously to treat a cancer by attacking different parts of the cancer cells at the same time."
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150901134941.htm

Butterfly wings help break status quo in gas sensing

Pioneering new research by a team of international scientists, including researchers from the University of Exeter, has replicated the surface chemistry found in the iridescent scales of the Morpho butterfly to create an innovative gas sensor. The ground-breaking findings could help inspire new designs for sensors that could be used in a range of sectors, including medical diagnostics, industry, and the military… Dr. Timothy Starkey, researcher at the University of Exeter, said: "Our research into these bio-inspired sensors demonstrates the huge value in applying the scientific learnings from the biological world to develop technologies for real world applications."
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150901100309.htm

Butterflies heat up the field of solar research

A team of experts from the University of Exeter has examined new techniques for generating photovoltaic (PV) energy -- or ways in which to convert light into power. They showed that by mimicking the v-shaped posture adopted by Cabbage White butterflies to heat up their flight muscles before take-off, the amount of power produced by solar panels can increase by almost 50 per cent. Crucially, by replicating this 'wing-like' structure, the power-to-weight ratio of the overall solar energy structure is increased 17-fold, making it vastly more efficient.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/07/150731070212.htm

Rough-and-Tumble Roach Bots Barrel Over Obstacles

Robots inspired by cockroaches can use the shape of their bodies — particularly, their distinctive round shells — to maneuver through dense clutter, which could make them useful in search-and-rescue missions, military reconnaissance and even on farms, according to a new study.
http://www.livescience.com/51310-cockroach-robots-barrel-over-obstacles.html

How the legs of water striders repel water

"We anticipate that the self-removal behavior of droplets on Gerris legs will inspire the design of novel robust superhydrophobic materials for many practical applications, such as self-cleaning surfaces, antidew materials, dropwise condensers, and microfluidic devices."
http://phys.org/news/2015-07-legs-striders-repel.htm
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Staying cool: Saharan silver ants' heat-deflecting adaptations

Researchers have discovered two strategies that enable Saharan silver ants to stay cool in one of the world's hottest environments…(T)he ants use a coat of uniquely shaped hairs to control electromagnetic waves over an extremely broad range from the solar spectrum (visible and near-infrared) to the thermal radiation spectrum (mid-infrared), and that different physical mechanisms are used in different spectral bands to realize the same biological function of reducing body temperature… Their discovery that that there is a biological solution to a thermoregulatory problem could lead to the development of novel flat optical components that exhibit optimal cooling properties. "Such biologically inspired cooling surfaces will have high reflectivity in the solar spectrum and high radiative efficiency in the thermal radiation spectrum," Yu explains. "So this may generate useful applications such as a cooling surface for vehicles, buildings, instruments, and even clothing."
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150618145812.htm

Robot eyes will benefit from insect vision

The way insects see and track their prey is being applied to a new robot under development at the University of Adelaide, in the hopes of improving robot visual systems. The project--which crosses the boundaries of neuroscience, mechanical engineering and computer science--builds on years of research into insect vision at the University… "Robotics engineers still dream of providing robots with the combination of sharp eyes, quick reflexes and flexible muscles…This bio-inspired "active vision" system has been tested in virtual reality worlds composed of various natural scenes.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150610131453.htm

How the hawkmoth sees, hovers and tracks flowers in the dark

Using high-speed infrared cameras and 3-D-printed robotic flowers, scientists have now learned how this insect juggles these complex sensing and control challenges -- all while adjusting to changing light conditions. The work shows that the creatures can slow their brains to improve vision under low-light conditions -- while continuing to perform demanding tasks. What the researchers have discovered could help the next generation of small flying robots operate efficiently under a broad range of lighting conditions… "If we want to have robots or machine vision systems that are working under this broad range of conditions, understanding how these moths function under these varying light conditions would be very useful," Sponberg said.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150611144246.htm

Insect mating behavior has lessons for drones

Male moths locate females by navigating along the latter's pheromone (odor) plume, often flying hundreds of meters to do so. Two strategies are involved to accomplish this: males must find the outer envelope of the pheromone plume, and then head upwind. Can understanding such insect behavior be useful for robotics research? Yes, according to two entomologists whose research using computer simulations shows that such insect behavior has implications for airborne robots (drones) that ply the sky searching for signature odors.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150529193643.htm

Within colors of bees and butterflies, an optical engineer's dream is realized

Evolution has created in bees, butterflies, and beetles something optical engineers have been struggling to achieve for years—precisely organized biophotonic crystals that can be used to improve solar cells, fiber-optic cables, and even cosmetics and paints, a new Yale-led study has found… Engineers, chemists, and physicists currently find it difficult to control the self-assembly of synthetic polymers to achieve the desired shape of molecules over a large area, Saranathan said. "Arthropods such as butterflies and beetles, which have evolved over millions of years of selection, appear to routinely make these photonic nanostructures using self-assembly and at the desired optical scale just like in modern engineering approaches," said Richard Prum, the William Robertson Coe Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and senior author of the paper.
http://phys.org/news/2015-05-bees-butterflies-optical.html

Aerodynamics: Vortices and robobees
A growing understanding of insect flight is helping scientists to build tiny flying robots.

With such a suite of aerodynamic tricks, it is no wonder that engineers are using bees as inspiration in the design of aircraft…The turbulence that a passenger jet experiences is many times smaller than its speed and lift, yet it causes a lot of discomfort to those on board; microbursts of air have caused planes to crash. A better understanding of how bees handle these forces might lead to new ways to cope with them in aeroplanes. “It's teaching us how to harness some of the unsteady effects and flow that we try to squash out.”... By carrying out experiments with bees in a wind tunnel, Humbert is learning how the insects' sensors alter how they fly. Based on these insights, he is working with the aerospace industry to alter the designs of drones. Improved drones for urban use could come within a year or two, he says. Systems to smooth out passenger plane flights, which would need new sensors and motors that can react quickly enough, may take longer. Some scientists are trying to build machines that fly in the same way as bees. “We're trying to use the motions insects use, expecting to achieve similar forces and the ability to fly,” says Jeffrey Pulskamp, a mechanical engineer at the Army Research Laboratory in Adelphi, Maryland. A fleet of tiny, expendable airborne robots would have both military and civilian applications. They could, for example, fly into buildings that have collapsed following an earthquake, hurricane or bomb blast. “Imagine being able to send a team of autonomous little vehicles in there to sense people or temperatures or chemicals,” says Humbert, whose group is one of several working with Pulskamp's team. Robotic bees could fit into spaces that larger drones cannot go, slipping into crevices (and attracting less attention). Robotic bees could even be used as artificial pollinators, temporarily substituting for real bees…All of these challenges — flight, navigation, control, power — will require several more years of work if scientists are to replicate the abilities that natural selection bestowed on bees. It took 50 years to explain how bees fly, and scientists still have not discovered all their secrets.
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v521/n7552_supp/full/521S64a.html

Animal behaviour: Nested instincts

Honeybees' leaderless organization provides researchers with insight into unrelated systems that have similarly decentralized control — such as the brain or the stock market. “They are compelling models for the study of social life and social behaviour,” Robinson says. “They live in highly complex societies that show extreme forms of integration, cooperation and communication.” A huge part of the honeybee's appeal is that researchers can study the insect's behaviour at every level of biology, from their overall social structure to the minutia of genetics and epigenetics — as well as the interplay between these levels. Only with this complete picture can researchers hope to understand how such simple insects coordinate their behaviour so precisely and with such complexity. “The bee is well suited to address these questions at different levels of biological organization,” Robinson says…Examining layer after layer of the honeybee Russian doll gives researchers more than just insight into bee behaviour. Within the hive, says Robinson, are “all the traits that are important to us in understanding complex systems, whether our own society or our own bodies”.
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v521/n7552_supp/full/521S60a.html

How some beetles produce a scalding defensive spray

Understanding the (bombardier) beetles' ability to survive these intense internal explosions may help in designing blast-protection systems; this study shows how the sophisticated and specialized biological design of the system works to simultaneously achieve defensive and protective functions.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150430145122.htm

Low-reflection wings make glasswing butterflies nearly invisible

Transparent materials such as glass, always reflect part of the incident light. Some animals with transparent surfaces, such as the moth with its eyes, succeed in keeping the reflections small, but only when the view angle is vertical to the surface. The wings of the glasswing butterfly that lives mainly in Central America, however, also have a very low reflection when looking onto them under higher angles… Interestingly, the butterfly wing does not only exhibit a low reflection of the light spectrum visible to humans, but also suppresses the infrared and ultraviolet radiation that can be perceived by animals. This is important to the survival of the butterfly. For research into this so far unstudied phenomenon, the scientists examined glasswings by scanning electron microscopy…The findings open up a range of applications wherever low-reflection surfaces are needed, for lenses or displays of mobile phones, for instance. Apart from theoretical studies of the phenomenon, the infrastructure of the Institute of Microstructure Technology also allows for practical implementation. First application tests are in the conception phase at the moment. Prototype experiments, however, already revealed that this type of surface coating also has a water-repellent and self-cleaning effect .
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150422084352.htm

Arctic beetles may be ideal marker of climate change

Researchers need to find ways to measure how the changes in climate are affecting biodiversity. One of the best places to look may be down at our feet, at beetles. That`s because, as a research team discovered after doing the first large-scale survey of Arctic beetles, these six-legged critters are not only abundant in number but also diverse in feeding habits and what they eat is closely linked to the latitude in which they are found. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150422142302.htm

Cyborg beetle research allows free-flight study of insects

Hard-wiring beetles for radio-controlled flight turns out to be a fitting way to learn more about their biology…“This is a demonstration of how tiny electronics can answer interesting, fundamental questions for the larger scientific community.”
http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2015/03/16/beetle-backpack-steering-muscle/

Festo unveils robotic…butterflies…

Festo's interest in flying objects continues in what's arguably the most visually impressive demonstration of the bunch. The eMotionButterflies bring together expertise gained from the company's BionicOpter and eMotionSpheres projects. They exhibit collective behavior and are able to autonomously avoid crashing into each other in real-time thanks to a networked external guidance and monitoring system.
http://www.gizmag.com/festo-bionicants-flexshapegripper-emotionbutterflies/36765/

Festo demonstrates BionicOpter dragonfly robot

The dragonfly is quite the show off when it comes to flying. It can hover in mid-air, maneuver in all directions, and glide without so much as a beat of its wings. After succeeding in capturing the essence of a herring gull with the SmartBird, the folks over at German pneumatic and electric automation company Festo challenged themselves with the creation of a robotic addition to the dragonfly family – the BionicOpter.
http://www.gizmag.com/festo-robot-dragonfly-bionicopter/26874/

Insects to Feed the World Conference

The conference clearly highlighted the rapidly growing and dynamic nature of using insects for food and feed worldwide, and revealed far more of the potential and current activities around using insects and their products, including for health care as well as for providing raw materials for the non-food sectors.
> The potential of insects for human food and animal feed is highly relevant in view of: their good nutritional quality; human population growth, and corresponding higher demands for animal proteins in the form of meat and fish; the fast rising costs and quantities needed of major protein sources (for example fishmeal and soy) to feed the growing number of farmed animals; and the high environmental impact of our current high meat consumption food habits and animal farming practices that use feed grains that could be directly consumed by humans.
> A wide range of socio-economic opportunities based on using insects are accessible at any scale of production both in developed and developing countries. These include creation of jobs, enterprise development, foodandanimal feed production, organic waste processing and increased global trade.
pdf available at https://www.wageningenur.nl/en/show/Insects-to-feed-the-world.htm

How mosquitoes walk on water

Understanding the science of mosquito legs could be useful for the development of miniature water-striding robots, researchers say.
http://news.sciencemag.org/physics/2015/03/how-mosquitoes-walk-water

Baby mantises harness mid-air 'spin' during jumps for precision landings

High-speed videos reveal that, unlike other jumping insects, the juvenile praying mantis does not spin out of control when airborne. In fact, it both creates and controls angular momentum at extraordinary speeds to orient its body for precise landings. The smaller you are, the harder it is not to spin out of control when you jump… The next big question for the researchers is to understand how the mantis achieves its mid-air acrobatics at such extraordinary speeds. “We can see the mantis performs a scanning movement with its head before a jump. Is it predicting everything in advance or does it make corrections at lightning speed as it goes through the jump? We don’t know the answer between these extreme possibilities,” said Burrows.  

Sutton added: “We now have a good understanding of the physics and biomechanics of these precise aerial acrobatics. But because the movements are so quick, we need to understand the role the brain is playing in their control once the movements are underway.” Sutton believes that the field of robotics could learn lessons from the juvenile mantis. “For small robots, flying is energetically expensive, and walking is slow. Jumping makes sense – but controlling the spin in jumping robots is an almost intractable problem. The juvenile mantis is a natural example of a mechanical set-up that could solve this,” he said.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150305125222.htm

Float like a mosquito: Mechanical logic may inspire aquatic robots, better boats

By examining the forces that the segments of mosquito legs generate against a water surface, researchers at the China University of Petroleum (Huadong) and Liaoning University of Technology have unraveled the mechanical logic that allows the mosquitoes to walk on water, which may help in the design of biomimetic structures, such as aquatic robots and small boats.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150303123700.htm

Moths' Eyes Inspire Reflection-Free Displays

A new way to recreate the special patterns found on moths' eyes onto plastics could lead to remarkably reflection- and glare-free display screens for televisions, cell phones and more. Makers of transparent plastic screens have long envied the lusterless eyes of moths…
http://www.livescience.com/6526-moths-eyes-inspire-reflection-free-displays.html

Why Bees Always Have a Safe landing

Whether landing on a picnic table, underneath a flower petal, or on a wall of a hive, bees always manage to touch down without crashing or tumbling. Now, for the first time, scientists have figured out how these insects maneuver themselves onto all sorts of surfaces, from right side up to upside-down. The bees' technique, which depends mostly on eyesight, may help engineers design a new generation of automated aircraft that would be undetectable to radar or sonar systems and would make perfectly gentle landings, even in outer space. " This is something an engineer would not think of while sitting in an armchair and thinking about how to land an aircraft," said Mandyam Srinivasan, a neuroscientist at the Queensland Brain Institute at the University of Queensland and the Australian Research Council's Vision Centre in Brisbane. "This is something we wouldn't have thought of if we hadn't watched bees do their landings."... "We don't know how they're doing it," he said, "But they're doing it."… It's a graceful and acrobatic motion that would be well suited to aircraft design… "It's a beautiful way of landing using biological autopilot," he said of the bees… A honeybee's brain is the size of a sesame seed and weighs about a milligram. Yet, bees and other insects manage to perform complicated tasks, including smooth upside-down landings. Figuring out the rules that simple animals use to translate vision into motion, Douglas Altshuler, a biologist at the University of California, Riverside, said, could help engineers design machines that mimic nature in unexpected ways.
http://www.nbcnews.com/id/34577557/ns/technology_and_
science-science/t/why-bees-always-have-safe-landing/#.VPPVorstHVI

Edible forest insects, an overlooked protein supply

Many people, and some forest managers, con­sider insects mainly as pests. However, insects have many benefcial roles, such as facilitat­ing pollination, seed dispersal, soil texture improvement and litter decomposition. They provide products such as honey, beeswax and dyes.  Some insects are also used for medicinal purposes. Moreover, many insects are important as food - an excellent source of protein, carbohydrates and vitamins - for humans and domestic animals alike. The amino acid composition of most food insects compares favourably with the reference stan­dard recommended by FAO and the World Health Organization (WHO) (Bukkens, 2005).

Insects contribute significantly to people's food security and livelihoods in many deve­loping countries, mainly in Africa and Asia, but they are also eaten in some parts of Latin America and in some developed countries (e.g. Japan). Insects can be a regular, seasonal or occasional part of the diet, not usually because people have no meat to eat, but because they consider insects a delicacy. The most commonly eaten insects are grass hoppers, termite eggs, beetle and honey-bee larvae, silkworms and caterpillars…

Insects don't only nourish; they also heal. Ants belonging to the genera Atta and Camponotus (carpenter ants), for example, were used in ancient times (as reported, for example, in early Hindu writings) to stitch wounds (International Biotherapy Society, 2000), and the practice is still used in traditional healing in sub-Saharan Africa. Individual ants are placed so that their powerful jaws close on the edges of the skin and draw them together. The head is then cut off, and the jaws remain frmly attached until the wound is healed.  A biotherapy adopted today by some practitioners in the United States, Western Europe and the Near East, known by military doctors before the advent of anti biotics, is the use of live maggots - primarily blowfies (family Calliphoridae) - to clean and disinfect heavily infected wounds. The maggots dissolve dead tissue by secreting digestive juices and then ingest the lique­fed tissue and bacteria (Handwerk, 2003). In the Himalayan highlands of Bhutan, Nepal and Tibet, the parasitic fungus Cordyceps sinensis grows in caterpillars, consuming and killing its hosts. The mummifed caterpillars are collected and used in Tibetan medicine; they traditional are sold in China as a power booster…

In addition to (or because of) their impor­tance as food, edible insects may also have a favourable impact on the conservation of forest and woodland…

Insect harvesting, processing and sale are labour-intensive activities requiring no major capital investment or landownership, and as such are within reach of poor people, espe­cially women and children, enabling them to achieve substantial cash gains.
www.fao.org/docrep/.../i1758e06.pdf

Moths shed light on how to fool enemy sonar  

It's hard to hide from a bat: The camouflage and mimicry techniques that animals use to avoid becoming a meal aren't much use against a predator using echolocation. But a new study shows that moths can outsmart sonar with a flick of their long tails. The study appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows luna moths spin their trailing hindtails as they fly, confusing the sonar cries bats use to detect prey and other objects… The findings could have implications on sonar development for the military…
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150218191559.htm

Burrow amplifies sound: mole cricket

"The male mole cricket Gryllotalpa vineae digs a double-mouthed burrow in the ground, which functions as a horn-like amplifier to amplify and direct sound; the invention looks something like an early gramophone." Bioinspired products and Application Ideas: High fidelity speakers. Also, perhaps by studying the mole crickets' burrows, we can learn how to dampen sounds using topography and landscaping in building sites. Industrial Sector(s) interested in this strategy: Construction, acoustics
http://www.asknature.org/strategy/c592d86cd6d478c22f0f387f3258bd9d#.VMJ177stFjo

New forensic entomology observations expand knowledge of decomposition ecology

Forensic entomologists rely on certain insects that are typically found on corpses. Blow flies, for examples, can hone in on dead animals and lay eggs within minutes, and forensic entomologists can gather clues by examining the developmental stages of the larvae and the pupae. Dermestid beetles are also associated with dead bodies. In fact, their larvae are sometimes used by museums and by taxidermists to strip the flesh off of bones. A new study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology shows that other insects -- ones that are not normally associated with human corpses -- also interact with dead bodies, which may provide more clues for forensic entomologists in the future.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/01/150122084857.htm

Fleas’ ‘Feet’ Unleash That Spectacular Leap

When fleas jump, it is no ordinary leap. The insects can shoot as high as 38 times their body length, about three inches. And the acceleration is so intense that fleas have to withstand 100 Gs, or 100 times the force of gravity. “You and I pass out if we experience five Gs,” said Malcolm Burrows, an expert on insect jumping at the University of Cambridge. Dr. Burrows and his Cambridge colleague Gregory Sutton obtained the fleas from Tiggywinkles to try to answer a question that had vexed naturalists for centuries: how fleas manage their spectacular jumps…Dr. Sutton thinks that superior springs are just one of several important lessons fleas can teach engineers. They might also learn how to build robots that can leap over rough terrain. “Insect jumping is incredibly precise and incredibly fast,” said Dr. Sutton. “If you could build a robot that could do that, it would be fantastic.” But Dr. Sutton acknowledged that some of the most important secrets of fleas remain to be worked out. No one knows how fleas lock their springs in place and then release them, for instance. And no one knows how fleas snap their two rear hindmost legs at the same time. If they weren’t so precise, the insects would spin wildly off course. “If you’re half a millisecond off, you’re done, and we have no idea how they do it,” Dr. Sutton said. “It’s one step at a time — we’re just going have to take on the next problem and solve that.”
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/15/science/15flea.html?_r=0

Reconstruction of Virtual Neural Circuits in an Insect Brain

Some of the key reasons for using insects in brain research are: Insect brains are convenient model systems to understand complex nervous systems in general. Although insects are unlikely to possess cognitive functions anywhere near those of mammals, they display rich behavioral repertoires comprising for example mating behavior, collision avoidance, goal-oriented behaviors, and sophisticated spatial navigation capabilities.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2752316/

First steps for Hector the robot stick insect

The robot is called Hector, and its construction is modelled on a stick insect. Inspired by the insect, Hector has passive elastic joints and an ultralight exoskeleton. What makes it unique is that it is also equipped with a great number of sensors and it functions according to a biologically inspired decentralized reactive control concept: the Walknet … Through the biologically inspired elasticity of the drives, Hector can adapt flexibly to the properties of the surfaces over which it is walking … Both the visual and the tactile systems are inpired (sic) by those of insects -- their work spaces and their resolutions are similar to those of animal models. 'A major challenge will now be to find an efficient way to integrate these far-range sensors with the posture sensors and joint control sensors. Hector is the ideal research platform on which to do this,' says Volker Dürr.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141216112921.htm

Biomimetic dew harvesters: What the desert beetle could teach us about improving drinking water collection

Insects are full of marvels -- and this is certainly the case with a beetle from the Tenebrionind family, found in the extreme conditions of the Namib desert. Now, a team of scientists has demonstrated that such insects can collect dew on their backs -- and not just fog as previously thought. This is made possible by the wax nanostructure on the surface of the beetle's elytra…They bring us a step closer to harvesting dew to make drinking water from the humidity in the air. This, the team hopes, can be done by improving the water yield of human-made dew condensers that mimick the nanostructure on the beetle's back…The cooling capability is ideal, they demonstrated, because the insect's back demonstrates near-perfect infrared emissivity.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141208105345.htm

Learning anti-microbial physics from cicada

Inspired by the wing structure of a small fly, an NPL-led research team developed nano-patterned surfaces that resist bacterial adhesion while supporting the growth of human cells… Transplant medicine, wound healing and graft surgery have particularly strict requirements for infection-free cell and tissue growth. Encouragingly, approaches in support of this are not limited to the use of antibiotics. A notable solution is provided by an unlikely source - the cicada. The wings of this small fly display bactericidal nanoscale pillar structures. Each of these pillars is a pike of several tens of nanometers in diameter and is separated from other pikes at regular nanometer intervals. Densely packed on the wing surfaces, these pillars arrange into nanopatterns which pierce the membranes of   bacterial cells  on contact, tearing bacteria apart.
http://phys.org/news/2014-11-anti-microbial-physics-cicada.html

Insects play important role in dealing with garbage on NYC streets

A new study from North Carolina State University shows that insects and other arthropods play a significant role in disposing of garbage on the streets of Manhattan. "We calculate that the arthropods on medians down the Broadway/West St. corridor alone could consume more than 2,100 pounds of discarded junk food, the equivalent of 60,000 hot dogs, every year -- assuming they take a break in the winter," says Dr. Elsa Youngsteadt, a research associate at NC State and lead author of a paper on the work. "This isn't just a silly fact," Youngsteadt explains. "This highlights a very real service that these arthropods provide. They effectively dispose of our trash for us."… "This means that ants and rats are competing to eat human garbage, and whatever the ants eat isn't available for the rats," Youngsteadt explains. "The ants aren't just helping to clean up our cities, but to limit populations of rats and other pests."
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141202082407.htm

Gut bacteria from a worm can degrade plastic

Plastic is well-known for sticking around in the environment for years without breaking down, contributing significantly to litter and landfills. But scientists have now discovered that bacteria from the guts of a worm known to munch on food packaging can degrade polyethylene, the most common plastic. Reported in the ACS journal   Environmental Science & Technology , the finding could lead to new ways to help get rid of the otherwise persistent waste, the scientists say… The researchers turned to a plastic-eating moth larva, known as a waxworm. They found that at least two strains of the waxworm's gut microbes could degrade polyethylene without a pretreatment step. They say the results point toward a new, more direct way to biodegrade plastic.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141203111130.htm

Cockroach Cyborgs Could Save Your Life One Day

Cockroaches, much maligned for generating harmful health conditions and making your skin crawl, could yet come to your rescue in a natural disaster one day in the not too distant future. That's because a team of researchers from North Carolina State has developed a technology that turns the insects into cockroach cyborgs , or biobots, that can be steered -- say, through the rubble of a disaster area, like one ravaged by a tornado -- using microphones. And while the thought of a "cockroach cyborg" is somewhat terrifying, the researchers say that the controllable pests could actually serve a vital role in search and rescue efforts by mapping out disaster sites and helping emergency personnel hone-in on survivors' calls for help… Because cockroaches can easily reach areas that humans can't, rescuers can send an insect into say, a collapsed building, have it move around the area defined by the invisivible fence, and map out the site and location of survivors without putting the lives of emergency personnel at risk. The idea here is that the roach could "hear" your call for help through the microphones in its backpack and automatically move toward you, allowing emergency crews to find your exact locale beneath the rubble.
http://www.weather.com/science/news/cockroach-cyborg-north-carolina-state 

Eating insects… (Karl’s note: There is much more on this subject below.)

The United Nations even recently called bugs the "food of the future." … In terms of energy-in, energy-out, it's a no-brainer: "They can make about 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of insect meat for every 2 kg of feed, while cows need 8 kg (17.6 pounds) of feed just to make 1 kg of beef," writes   Russell McLendon here on MNN . In fact, insects of all types have a better feed-to-meat ratio than any warm-blooded animal — partially because they don't waste energy on heating their bodies. And insects definitely don't pollute groundwater and rivers with their waste like pigs and cows are  notorious for doing .  
http://www.mnn.com/food/healthy-eating/blogs/eating-insects-is-
better-than-eating-meat-but-is-it-any-more-ethical

Insect research heads down path to start-up company with NSF I-Corps program

A team of researchers at the University of Nevada, Reno have strayed from the lab to the boardroom in an effort to build a business based on discoveries from years of research studying insect enzymes , they have now created a business and are bringing to market a product based on their enzymes. Plans are underway to put the technological processes into mass production with the launch of a specialized chemical production company, EscaZyme Biochemicals…, a chemical company that produces traps and lures for bark beetles , a tiny insect that can decimate a forest in just a few years. "Our customers are governments, ranchers, timber companies, ski resorts, anyone who is interested in forest health and management," Ott said. "The company we visited is interested because our process produces very easily the compounds they need; a process that is usually time consuming and can be hazardous."
http://phys.org/news/2013-02-insect-path-start-up-company-nsf.html

Robot that moves like an inchworm could go places other robots can't

The peculiar way that an inchworm inches along a surface may not be fast compared to using legs, wings, or wheels, but it does have advantages when it comes to maneuvering in small spaces. This is one of the reasons why researchers have designed and built a soft, worm-like robot that moves with a typical inchworm gait, pulling its body up and extending it forward to navigate its environment. The robots could one day be used in rescue and reconnaissance missions in places that are inaccessible to humans or larger robots…In nature, the inchworm is the larvae phase of the geometer moth and measures about an inch or two long. The small green worm has two or three legs near its front, and two or three foot-like structures called "prolegs" at its rear end. Although they don't have bones, inchworms have complex muscle systems that allow them to perform a variety of body movements, including standing up vertically on their back prolegs… In addition, the inchworm robot is simple, lightweight, and quiet. These features make the robot useful not only for rescue and reconnaissance missions, but also as a potential material for smart structures and wearable devices. In the future, the researchers plan to focus on improving the robot's mobility using an independent control system. "We want to apply the locomotion and control algorithm of the inchworm-inspired robot to other motor-based robots in order to make quiet, flexible, yet load-carrying machines," coauthor Sung-Hoon Ahn, Professor at Seoul National University, told  Phys.org. "We also want to extend our smart soft composite technology to other types of mechanisms, such as soft artificial limbs, soft electronic appliances, transforming automobiles, etc."
http://phys.org/news/2014-11-robot-inchworm-robots.html

Watch! Termite robots build structures with amazingly simple rules

Imagine a team of workers that can tirelessly build and rebuild complicated structures even under daunting and dangerous conditions. They already exist – they’re called termites. Now, inspired by these mound-building insects, Harvard University scientists have created a mini-swarm of surprisingly simpleminded robots that can work together to construct buildings much larger than themselves. The findings, described in the journal Science, present an important step toward designing robots that may one day be able to build research facilities in the deep ocean, buildings on Mars or even levees at a flood zone during an emergency – jobs that are far too hazardous or expensive for human workers to do.
http://articles.latimes.com/2014/feb/14/science/la-sci-sn-bioinspired-robots-
termites-build-no-plan-20140213

The Beauty and Brilliance of Termite Mound Architecture

Scientists are studying the mound’s system of temperature control, recycling and structure in order apply them to emerging green technologies.
http://scribol.com/environment/the-beauty-and-brilliance-of-termite-mound-architecture

Longhorn beetle inspires ink to fight counterfeiting

From water marks to colored threads, governments are constantly adding new features to paper money to stay one step ahead of counterfeiters. Now a longhorn beetle has inspired yet another way to foil cash fraud, as well as to produce colorful, changing billboards and art displays. In the journal   ACS Nano, researchers report a new kind of ink that mimics the beetle's color-shifting ability in a way that would be long-lasting and difficult to copy … . For inspiration, Gu's team turned to   Tmesisternus isabellae, a longhorn beetle that can shift from gold to red and back again, depending on the humidity. The researchers designed an ink that they can finely tune to change color, for example, from bright green to yellow or red when exposed to ethanol vapors. It can also return to its original color. The ink is also durable, resistant to bleaching when exposed to light and can be applied to hard or flexible surfaces. (emphasis added)
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141105101240.htm

The tiger beetle: Too fast to see: Biologist looks into how the speedy predator pursues prey

The tiger beetle, relative to its size, is the fastest creature on Earth. Some of these half-inch-long beetles cover about 120 body lengths per second (at about five miles per hour). The fastest human can do about five body lengths. To take the sprinting gold from the tiger beetle, a person would have to hit 480 miles per hour. BUT! The tiger beetle has a problem. At peak speeds, everything becomes a blur. They can't gather enough light with their eyes, and vision is compromised. It can still perceive the pursued but not at all clearly… This research, Zurek says, reveals a novel and potentially widespread mechanism for how behavioral decisions can be made based on visual "rules" in dynamic situations, where both the observer and the target are moving.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141106152903.htm

Researchers take cells from chrysalis and use them to grow butterfly wings in the lab

Many butterfly wings, it turns out, are not actually colored by pigments or dyes—instead, their wings are made of transparent three-dimensional structures that only appear to look the color they do because of the way they filter and bend light. Because of the small size and intricate nature of these structures, scientists, despite considerable effort, have been unable to reproduce them—they'd like to be able to do so, however, because it would mean creating coatings that would never fade… The pair of researchers were hoping that the cells would continue producing wing structure material as long as they received nutrients, but discovered part of the process resulted in the destruction of the cells. Undeterred, they turned to a type of beetle that creates a shell structure that is in the same form as opal, the gemstone (by producing differing sized nanospherical structures in an array). Those cells kept producing, they found, as long as they were fed, producing a seemingly never ending stream of material… The two researchers are confident that their studies show that it should, at least theoretically, be possible to create a type of paint, or covering for use on a wide variety of products made from the cells produced from a beetle.
http://phys.org/news/2014-10-cells-chrysalis-butterfly-wings-lab.html

Butterfly wings behind anti-counterfeiting technology

The highly advanced wing structures are the result of many millennia of evolution. (NOTE: See BWAH HAH HAH HAAAA!-- Karl)

http://phys.org/news/2011-01-butterfly-wings-anti-counterfeiting-technology.html

Colorful Butterfly Wings Inspire Counterfeit-Proof Tech

To stop identity thieves and counterfeiters, a group of researchers is looking for inspiration from an unlikely source: butterflies. In order to attract a mate, the male Pierella luna butterfly of Latin America uses its wings to perform an advanced optical trick known as reverse color diffraction. Thanks to the microstructure of its wings — made up of tiny scales curled slightly upward at the end to diffract light — the butterfly appears to change color when it's viewed from different angles. Now, researchers at Harvard University have figured out a way to use artificial photonic materials to mimic the Pierella luna's attractive light show. They've created what's known as a diffraction grating, a surface that splits white light into its individual wavelengths of color and sends those colors traveling in different directions. When the photonic material is viewed from one angle, it looks to be one color, but from a different angle, the color appears to change. This is a 2014.
http://www.livescience.com/48167-butterfly-wings-photonic-material.html

Engineer Sees Big Possibilities in Micro-robots, Including Programmable Bees

Robots that fly. Robots you wear. Robots the size of nickels. These new classes of robots all have one thing in common—every aspect of them must be conceived and created from scratch. There are no designs, materials, manufacturing processes, or off-the-shelf components for them. Electrical engineer Robert Wood's   Microrobotics Lab at Harvard University   is at the forefront of engineering such robots, which can fly lighter, slither through narrower spaces, and operate at smaller sizes than anything imagined before… The ways the robots might one day help humans are astonishing, he says, potentially transforming fields like medicine and agriculture. Take RoboBees, colonies of autonomous flying micro-robots that Wood's team has been developing for years. He says that they could one day perform search-and-rescue expeditions, scout hazardous environments, gather scientific field data, even help pollinate crops…"If you want to make something a centimeter big that can fly, several hundred thousand solutions already exist in nature," he says…"We're collaborating with other researchers to create and test new ultramicro batteries, fuel cells, or wireless power-transfer methods," he says. Wood is also working to develop bio-inspired vision sensors, which he says "would let the bees navigate by measuring velocity, the same way a fly avoids being swatted by sensing the speed of your hand." His ultimate vision is for a synchronized swarm of  RoboBees. Colleagues at Harvard are designing algorithms based on the behavior of real-life termites and bees that could control the ability of a swarm of flying robots to work together. "With social insects, no single individual has the whole plan," says Wood, "but somehow they team up to build fantastic structures." He wants to program the robot bees to detect certain levels of heat or carbon dioxide, so that they could search a collapsed building for survivors and act as beacons to guide rescuers. In other possible scenarios, RoboBees could be sent in multiple directions, for instance to help track a chemical spill, before returning to a central "hive" to upload information. RoboBees are already extremely lightweight, portable, and agile, but Wood also wants them to be so inexpensive that they're disposable. "Those advantages could give them very unique practical applications within perhaps 20 years." (9-26-14)
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/08/140825-micro-robots-robert-
wood-emerging-explorer-science-engineering-technology/

‘Honeybee’ robots replicate swarm behaviour

Computer scientists have created a low-cost, autonomous micro-robot which in large numbers can replicate the behaviour of swarming honeybees. Colias - named after a genus of butterfly - is an open-platform system that can be used to investigate collective behaviours and be applied to swarm applications. Robotic swarms that take inspiration from nature have become a topic of fascination for robotics researchers, whose aim is to study the autonomous behaviour of large numbers of simple robots in order to find technological solutions to common complex tasks… Colias was created by a team of scientists led by the University of Lincoln, UK, with Tsinghua University in China. It has been proven to be feasible as an autonomous platform - effectively replicating a honeybee swarm. Its small size (4cm diameter) and fast motion (35cm/s) means it can be used in fast-paced swarm scenarios over large areas…“ Colias has been used in a bio-inspired scenario, showing that it is extremely responsive to being used to investigate collective behaviours. Our aim was to imitate the bio-inspired mechanisms of swarm robots and to enable all research groups, even with limited funding, to perform such research with real robots.”.. A similar but more complex mechanism has been found in locust vision, where a specific neuron called the ‘lobula giant movement detector’ reacts to objects approaching the insects’ eyes… The next step for the  Colias research team is to work on an extension of the vision module using a faster computer processor to implement bio-inspired vision mechanisms. (9-18-14)
http://www.alphagalileo.org/ViewItem.aspx?ItemId=145475&CultureCode=en

Physicists solve longstanding puzzle of how moths find distant mates

Physicists have come up with a mathematical explanation for moths' remarkable ability to find mates in the dark hundreds of meters away. The researchers said the results could also be applied widely in agriculture or robotics … The way in which male moths locate females flying hundreds of meters away has long been a mystery to scientists.

Researchers know the moths use pheromones to locate their mates. Yet when these chemical odors are widely dispersed in a windy, turbulent atmosphere, the insects still manage to fly in the right direction over hundreds of meters with only random puffs of their mates' pheromones spaced tens of seconds apart to guide them…"It could also help engineers improve the design of sniffers, olfactory robots guided by chemical scents to search for bombs, toxic chemicals and flammable leaks," he added. "Leaks could be located this way because they release tiny volatile substances into the atmosphere that could be tracked by robots." (10-21-14)
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141021101604.htm

Paving the way for cyborg moth 'biobots'

North Carolina State University researchers have developed methods for electronically manipulating the flight muscles of moths and for monitoring the electrical signals moths use to control those muscles. The work opens the door to the development of remotely-controlled moths, or "biobots," for use in emergency response.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140820091705.htm

The beetle's white album: Beetle shells could inspire brighter, whiter coatings and materials

 The physical properties of the ultra-white scales on certain species of beetle could be used to make whiter paper, plastics and paints, while using far less material than is used in current manufacturing methods. The   Cyphochilus  beetle, which is native to South-East Asia, is whiter than paper, thanks to ultra-thin scales which cover its body. A new investigation of the optical properties of these scales has shown that they are able to scatter light more efficiently than any other biological tissue known, which is how they are able to achieve such a bright whiteness.  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140815102227.htm

How Bee Venom Might Fight Cancer

Locked within the honeybee's painful sting is a toxin that could fight cancer, CNN reports.
http://m.newser.com/story/192398/how-bee-venom-might-fight-cancer.html

Butterflies could hold key to probes that repair genes

New discoveries about how butterflies feed could help engineers develop tiny probes that siphon liquid out of single cells for a wide range of medical tests and treatments, according to Clemson University researchers…For materials scientists, the goal is to develop what they call "fiber-based fluidic devices," among them probes that could eventually allow doctors to pluck a single defective gene out of a cell and replace it with a good one, said Konstantin Kornev, a Clemson materials physics professor. "If someone were programmed to have an illness, it would be eliminated," he said… They are now advancing to a new phase in their studies. Much remains unknown about how insects use tiny pores and channels in the proboscis to sample and handle fluid. "It's like the proverbial magic well," said Clemson entomology professor Peter Adler. "The more we learn about the butterfly proboscis, the more it has for us to learn about it.".. "It can be very thick like nectar and honey or very thin like water," he said. "They do that easily. That's a challenge for engineers.".. Researchers want the probe to be able to take fluid out of a single cell, which is 10 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair, Kornev said. The probe also will need to differentiate between different types of fluids, he said. The technology could be used for medical devices, nanobioreactors that make complex materials and flying "micro-air vehicles" the size of an insect. "It opens up a huge number of applications," Kornev said. "We are actively seeking collaboration with cell biologists, medical doctors and other professionals who might find this research exciting and helpful in their applications

Researchers are turning their attention to smaller insects, such as flies, moths and mosquitoes, but the focus will remain on the proboscis. Another challenge is figuring out how to keep the probe from getting covered with organic material when it's inserted into the body, he said. That's why researchers are beginning to turn their focus to an insect almost everyone else shoos away. "It seems the flies are able to pierce an animal's tissue, take up the blood and not get the proboscis gummed up and covered with bacteria," Adler said. Tanju Karanfil, associate dean of research and graduate studies in the College of Engineering and Science, said the study has underscored the importance of breaking down silos that separate researchers from different departments so they can work for the common good.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140805132512.htm

Butterfly wings inspire cosmetics and bomb detectors

A tropical butterfly might not be the first place to look when seeking inspiration for the latest bomb sniffing technology for the US military, but the brightly coloured iridescent wings of a blue morpho provides one example of a promising branch of science - bio-inspiration … "They are aesthetically beautiful," he said, "But scientifically, from the perspective of the physics which underpin the colour, they are hugely interesting. They are complicated. They are adapted to serve a set of complicated functions. The optical ingenuity that's responsible for the appearances which we see is tremendous." .. The structure which gives the beetle Cyphochilus its extraordinary whiteness is contributing to the development of a type of super light white paper …

The shimmering green surface of the Margaritaria nobilis seed (common name - the bastard hogberry) has inspired scientists to design a fibre which changes colour as it is stretched. As tension is applied to the thread it changes from red to green and then yellow. The colour is determined by the thickness of the nano-structures. This has great potential for use in micro-surgery. A surgeon operating remote equipment would know exactly how much tension to apply to surgical thread by observing the colour change …

But for perhaps the most unlikely example of bio-inspiration we must return to the blue morpho butterfly. The air gaps between the Christmas Tree structures can be used to trap other vapours, changing the optical appearance of the surface accordingly. "The American military are particularly interested in explosive agent vapour detectors," said Professor Vukusic, "Can such a system be ultra-sensitive to a range of explosive materials? In the long term there is certain potential for it. The morpho wing itself would not be used, but a mimic of it, more highly applied, is currently being developed."
http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-28214684

Producing hydrogen with sunlight--Collecting light with artificial moth eyes

All over the world researchers are investigating solar cells which imitate plant photosynthesis, using sunlight and water to create synthetic fuels such as hydrogen. Empa researchers have developed such a photoelectrochemical cell, recreating a moth's eye to drastically increase its light collecting efficiency… As a next step the researchers plan to investigate what the effect of several layers of microspheres lying on top of each other might be. The work on moth eye solar cells is still in progress!  (Karl’s comment: The caption to a diagram in the original article is “How the ‘moth eye solar cell’ is created, and how it collects light.” Emphasis mine.)
http://www.empa.ch/plugin/template/empa/3/148620/---/l=2

Testing 3D vision in praying mantises

Analysing how mantises see in three dimensions could give us clues about how 3D vision evolved and lead to novel approaches in implementing 3D recognition and depth perception in computer vision and robotics. (Karl’s note: The homage to evolutionism is unneeded.)
http://www.ncl.ac.uk/press.office/press.release/item/testing-3d-vision-in-praying-mantise
s

Nature inspires drones of the future

(A) group of researchers from Harvard University have developed a millimetre-sized drone with a view to using it to explore extremely cramped and tight spaces. The microrobot they designed, which was the size of a one cent coin, could take off and land and hover in the air for sustained periods of time. In their new paper, the researchers have demonstrated the first simple, fly-like manoeuvres. In the future, millimetre-sized drones could also be used in assisted agriculture pollination and reconnaissance, and could aid future studies of insect flight. Once deployed into the real world, drones will be faced with the extremely tricky task of dealing with the elements, which could be extreme heat, the freezing cold, torrential rain or thunderstorms. The most challenging problem for airborne robots will be strong winds and whirlwinds, which a research team, from the University of North Caroline at Chapel Hill, University of California and The Johns Hopkins University, have begun to tackle by studying the hawk moth.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140523094257.htm

Chemists mimic bombardier beetles to safeguard ATMs

A team of chemists in Switzerland has developed a new way to protect cash inside of ATM machines from thieves—by automatically setting off a nasty chemical reaction if the machine is molested… As the team describes it, their idea was inspired by the bombardier beetle which releases a hot nasty chemical when bitten by a predator. The chemical reaction comes about due to the release of an enzyme that mixes with hydrogen peroxide held inside the beetle's body. Instead of releasing an enzyme, the system envisioned by the team in Switzerland relies on a thin membrane being broken by would-be thieves… The researchers suggest that their system could also be modified for use in other applications as well, such as inside medical implants (certain conditions would lead to the automatic release of drug perhaps) or as a pest deterrent on crops.
http://phys.org/news/2014-03-chemists-mimic-bombardier-beetles-safeguard.html

Inspired by moth eyeballs, chemists develop gold coating that dims glare

All that's gold does not glitter, thanks to new work by UC Irvine scientists that could reduce glare from solar panels and electronic displays and dull dangerous glints on military weapons… The material is also highly hydrophobic, meaning it repels liquids. Angry residents of Newport Beach, Calif.; certain cities in England and Australia; and elsewhere have complained vociferously about neighbors installing highly reflective solar panels that unintentionally beam blinding sunlight onto their properties. In addition, troops risk enemy detection when sunshine bounces off weaponry. And cellphone displays can be unreadable in bright light. The new coating could solve these issues. UC Irvine's Office of Technology Alliances has filed a patent application for the work. "We're excited about where this technology might lead and who could be interested in exploring the commercial opportunities that this new advancement presents," said senior licensing officer Doug Crawford. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140404140405.htm

Bees' perfect landing inspires robot aircraft

Scientists at The University of Queensland (UQ) have discovered how the honeybee can land anywhere with utmost precision and grace – and the knowledge may soon help build incredible robot aircraft. By sensing how rapidly their destination ‘zooms in’ as they fly towards it, honeybees can control their flight speed in time for a perfect touchdown without needing to know how fast they’re flying or how far away the destination is. This discovery may advance the design of cheaper, lighter robot aircraft that only need a video camera to land safely on surfaces of any orientation…
http://www.uq.edu.au/news/article/2013/10/bees-perfect-landing-inspires-robot-aircraft

Engineers plan to upload bee brains to flying robots

Engineers from the universities of Sheffield and Sussex are planning on scanning the brains of bees and uploading them into autonomous flying robots that will then fly and act like the real thing. Bionic bees -- or perhaps that should be "beeonic" -- could, it is hoped, be used for a range of situations where tiny thinking flying machines should be more useful than current technology, which might mean seeking out gas or chemical leaks, or people who are trapped in small spaces. They might even help pollinate plants in places where natural bee populations have fallen due to the still-mysterious Colony Collapse Disorder… "Not only will this pave the way for many future advances in autonomous flying robots, but we also believe the computer modelling techniques we will be using will be widely useful to other brain modelling and computational neuroscience projects".
http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2012-10/03/robot-bee-brains

Dragonflies have human-like 'selective attention'

In a discovery that may prove important for cognitive science, our understanding of nature and applications for robot vision, researchers at the University of Adelaide have found evidence that the dragonfly is capable of higher-level thought processes when hunting its prey… "We believe our work will appeal to neuroscientists and engineers alike. For example, it could be used as a model system for robotic vision. Because the insect brain is simple and accessible, future work may allow us to fully understand the underlying network of neurons and copy it into intelligent robots," he says.
http://www.adelaide.edu.au/news/news58341.html

New waterproof surface is 'driest ever'

US engineers have created the "most waterproof material ever" - inspired by nasturtium leaves and butterfly wings… Similar ridges (of the lotus) are found in nature on the wings of the Morpho butterfly and the veins of nasturtium leaves… "For years industry has been copying the lotus. They should start thinking about copying butterflies and nasturtiums. "I'm looking forward to working with the fabrics industry to develop new clothing that stays dry longer. What will be the next Gore-Tex?"… Applying these textures to turbine blades in power stations and windfarms could significantly boost efficiency… The designs could also be woven into textile fabrics, he believes. “Sportswear, lab coats, military clothing, tents - there are a whole range of situations where you want to stay dry," he said. "Now we need to bring in the designers - how can you make a fabric that has these new features?"
http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-25004942

Aquatic insect inspires new submarine design

Superhydrophobicity, one of most important interfacial properties between solids and liquids, plays a crucial role in the water boatman's swimming, balance, and breathing in water and in its escape ability from water area under unfavourable conditions, according to a new study. SHI Yanlong and his group from the College of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Hexi University investigated the superhydrophobicity of the water boatman's hind wings… The water boatman can swim freely and breathe in water… The superhydrophobicity of the water boatman's hind wings enables it to swim freely, breathe in water with the assistance of air trapped on its hind wings' surfaces, and escape easily from water area under unfavourable conditions without being affected by moisture. Water boatman robots with strong wave resistance and high walking stability on water could be outfitted with miniature biochemical sensors, the biomimetic boatman robots may be used to monitor chemicals at water area for environmental monitoring and cleaning applications, and can be teleoperated or controlled autonomously.
http://www.nanomagazine.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=
article&id=1750:aquatic-insect-inspires-new-submarine-design&catid=38&Itemid=159

How stick insects honed friction to grip without sticking

"We investigate these insects to try and understand biological systems, but lessons from nature such as this might also be useful for inspiring new approaches in human-made devices," said Labonte. He uses the example of a running shoe as a possible human-made item that could be enhanced by stick insect engineering: "If you run, you don't want your feet to stick to the ground, but you also want to make sure you don't slip."
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140219075446.htm

Leg hairs hold secret to walking on water

 The results, reported today in   Proceedings of the Royal Society A  not only provide an insight into the remarkable ability of these insects, but has implications for the design of miniature rafts and water strider-inspired robots that can float stably and move easily across water. Nature abounds with examples of water-repelling surfaces such as the lotus leaf and insects' wings that have already inspired a number of technological advances.
http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2014/03/05/3956647.htm

Self-cleaning silicone gel insect wings

Now, Gregory Watson of the James Cook University, in Townsville, Queensland, working with colleagues there and at Griffith University, and the universities of Queensland, and Oxford, are hoping to mimic these properties by using the surface of insect wings as a template for producing plastics, or polymeric, materials with novel surface properties. If they are successful, they might then develop self-cleaning, water-resistant, and friction-free coatings for a wide range of machine components, construction materials, and other applications, including nano- and micro-electromechanical systems (NEMS and MEMS) and lab-on-a-chip devices for medical diagnostics and environmental sensing. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091111111259.htm

Termites inspire hydrophobic materials

Termite wings are the latest inspiration from nature for scientists developing new materials that repel water… The researchers took a close look at how termite wings repelled water and found an ingenious two-tiered "anti-wetting" system… Watson and colleagues are now in the process of trying to replicate the termite wing surface… He says understanding how termite wings repel water could have useful applications in designing self-cleaning surfaces like tiles and windows, as well as low-drag surfaces for ship hulls. While many surfaces in nature have inspired scientists to create new materials, Watson says water-repelling termite wings are unique.
http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2010/02/08/2809284.htm

Jumping dew drops keep cicada wings clean

Watson says cicada wings are just one of many natural blueprints we can adapt to create a whole new generation of self-cleaning surfaces that can rid themselves of dirt, bacteria and other environmental contaminants. "These applications include self-cleaning windows, hospital surfaces, environmentally green surfaces, construction materials, pipes, kitchen surfaces, roof tiles, machine components and water resistant surfaces," he says. "The door is also open for further investigation into how such self-propelled droplets might be used to deposit chemical packages onto the surfaces of micro biosensors and nano-delivery systems. "This could open up a whole new area of scientific research," he says.
http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2013/04/30/3747559.htm

Prospecting with Termites

A number of companies will take samples from termite mounds to learn more about the metals that are in the soil underneath the mounds. Sampling from termite mounds is far easier and cheaper than sampling by drilling deep underground. An added advantage is that termites bring soil to the surface a few particles at a time. The above ground mound reflects a large number of very small samples of soil from many locations underground. Prospecting termite mounds has become so important, it has spawned its own discipline, “Geozoology”. Sampling the termite mounds allows companies to focus their claims and further testing based on knowledge of the underlying minerals.
http://livingwithinsects.wordpress.com/2010/12/16/prospecting-with-termites/

How stick insects honed friction to grip without sticking

"We investigate these insects to try and understand biological systems, but lessons from nature such as this might also be useful for inspiring new approaches in human-made devices," said Labonte. He uses the example of a running shoe as a possible human-made item that could be enhanced by stick insect engineering: "If you run, you don't want your feet to stick to the ground, but you also want to make sure you don't slip."
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140219075446.htm

Blinded by speed, tiger beetles use antennae to 'see' while running

A tiger beetle “runs so fast it can no longer see where it's going. Cornell University researchers have discovered that, unlike insects that wave their "feelers" around to acquire information, tiger beetles rigidly hold their antennae directly in front of them to mechanically sense their environments and avoid obstacles while running, according to a study published online in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B… autonomous vehicles could employ protruding antennae to sense their surroundings, as some of the first robots were fitted with, said Gilbert. "It would be cheaper than cameras," he said. "For some applications, an antennae might be a solution, it is certainly one that worked evolutionarily for tiger beetles."
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140211113704.htm

With their amazing necks, ants don't need 'high hopes' to do heavy lifting

The engineers are studying whether similar joints might enable future robots to mimic the ant's weight-lifting ability on earth and in space… One day, this research could lead to micro-sized robots that combine soft and hard parts, as the ant's body does. Much work in robotics today involves assembling small, autonomous devices that can work together… A large robot based on that design might be able to carry and tow cargo in microgravity, though, so it's possible that we may one day employ giant robot ants in space, "or, at least, something inspired by ants," Castro said.

Another key feature of the design seems to be the interface between the soft material of the neck and the hard material of the head. Such transitions usually create large stress concentrations, but ants have a graded and gradual transition between materials that gives enhanced performance -- another design feature that could prove useful in human-made designs… But a difficult problem will emerge if the researchers try to create large robots based on the same design.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140210161230.htm

'Snow Flea Antifreeze Protein' Could Help Improve Organ Preservation

Scientists in Illinois and Pennsylvania are reporting development of a way to make the antifreeze protein that enables billions of Canadian snow fleas to survive frigid winter temperatures. Their laboratory-produced first-of-a-kind proteins could have practical uses in extending the storage life of donor organs and tissues for human transplantation, according to new research. In the study, Stephen B. H. Kent and colleagues point out that scientists have tried for years to decipher the molecular structure and produce from chemicals in a laboratory the so-called "snow flea antifreeze protein.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080721093707.htm

Edible antifreeze promises perfect ice cream

Edible antifreeze developed by a US researcher could keep ice cream tasty and smooth, and prevent other frozen foods from being ruined. The antifreeze contains proteins similar to those that help "snow flea" insects survive winter without freezing solid.
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn13178-edible-antifreeze-
promises-perfect-ice-cream.html#.UwINrruPJlY

The Scoop on Termite Poop: Five Cool Facts

Some of those exotic microbes could be helpful to humans as well. In one example, a cancer researcher found that a particular microorganism in a termite’s hindgut, roughly equivalent to a human’s colon, produces more centrin than any other creature known. Centrin is a protein that is related to cell division, and studying how centrin works has helped researchers pinpoint its role in runaway cell division—in other words, cancer.
http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2013/09/24/the-scoop-on-termite-poop-five-cool-facts/

Termite Power: Can Pests' Guts Create New Fuel?

Tiny microbes that live inside termites may one day help cure the world's energy woes, according to scientists. The researchers are trying to understand how bacteria that help termites digest wood and other plants release the hydrogen that's trapped in the material. "We don't understand the full details of how the process occurs," said Jared Leadbetter, an environmental microbiologist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. "But once we learn more about it, many things become possible."

For example, he says, biotech engineers could mass-produce the tiny microbes for hydrogen production on an industrial scale. The hydrogen could then power hydrogen fuel cells, a type of battery that emits only water.

Daniel Kammen, director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley, agreed there are hurdles to overcome, but he said the potential applications are "very positive." "Neat stuff can happen in this area," he said.

Kammen imagines a day when "little digesters"—a termite germ-derived technology—sit in people's garages and process piles of woody waste to produce enough hydrogen to power cars and homes. The concept would mean no more trips to the gas station or having to pay the electric company for power.

"This is a fascinating group of insects that do a fascinating activity and play important roles in the global ecosystem," he said.

If they can figure out which enzymes—or proteins inside the microbes—break apart the wood into materials like hydrogen, the researchers in principle could scale up the process for industrial applications. And given all the wood chips and leftover waste from harvesting trees and other crops, that would be a "novel way of converting low-value starting material into a higher value product," Leadbetter said.
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/03/0314_060314_termite.html

If You’re Going To Live Inside A Zombie, Keep It Clean

The jewel wasp is worth getting to know just because it exists. But now it’s possible that we might someday benefit from that knowledge in the most practical way imaginable. What is good for jewel wasps might prove good for us. The mellein found in fungi is effective against MRSA, the deadly strain of skin bacteria that is resistant to most antibiotics. When scientists tested out the micromolide from plants on the bacteria that causes tuberculosis, it proved to be among the most powerful anti-TB drugs ever found. Now the jewel wasp turns out to be a factory for similar antibiotics, which might turn out to be even better than what’s been found in fungi or plants. To Herzner, that possibility cries out for exploration, because right now the antibiotics we use to cure our own infections are failing at a distressing rate. http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2013/01/07/if-youre-
going-to-live-inside-a-zombie-keep-it-clean/

The Secrets of a Bug's Flight

Researchers have identified some of the underlying physics that may explain how insects can so quickly recover from a stall in midflight -- unlike conventional fixed wing aircraft, where a stalled state often leads to a crash landing. The analysis, in which the researchers studied the flow around a rotating model wing, improves the understanding of how insects fly and informs the design of small flying robots built for intelligence gathering, surveillance, search-and-rescue, and other purposes.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131112095343.htm

Beetles in Rubber Boots: Scientists Study Ladybugs' Feet

The knowledge of the working principles of insects' microstructures holds great potential for the development of new materials, which could be of use to humans… A lot of insects are able to climb up walls or walk upside down on surfaces. The new study shows for the first time what astonishing materials allow for these abilities. Using special microscopy techniques, confocal laser scanning microscopy and atomic force microscopy, Michels and his colleagues investigated the legs of ladybirds… Increasing scientific knowledge of nature's tricks (See BWAH HAH HAH HAAAA! and Helping Evolutionists Get It Right. Karl) represents important fundamental research for the future development and improvement of surface active materials… However, the material composition of the ladybird's adhesive hair is so complex that there is currently no material available, which would make such a reproduction possible. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130814144746.htm

How Long Do Insects Last?

But until now nothing was known about the fatigue properties of the second-most common natural material in the world: insect cuticle… Cuticle is an extremely versatile biological material. If we understood how it acts under repeated loads, we might be able to design more durable biomimetic materials for many kinds of applications." As a first step, the team looked at the cuticle of the desert locust. "These locusts are capable of flying across oceans and deserts, often for days or weeks at a time"..."These results are obviously just a first step. Studying insect cuticle is not only thought-provoking from the engineering point of view, where our findings might help us to develop more durable composite materials.”
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130508131743.htm

Researchers Look to Butterflies to Improve Flight

A better understanding of the aerodynamic properties of butterfly wings may lead to improved human-made flight, according to research at The University of Alabama recently funded by the National Science Foundation… “If we understand the butterfly wing, there could be other applications,” Lang said. Modeled scales could improve airflow in micro area vehicles, or MAVs, miniature, unmanned, aerial robots primarily used for military reconnaissance and surveillance purposes. With bio-inspired geometries on its wings, MAVs could carry a larger payload or use less fuel. Lang speculated that in the future solar cells could be modeled after butterfly scales on wings that could provide energy and improve flight. (The researchers are aerospace and mechanical engineering professors. Karl)
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131106122029.htm

Swarming Insect Provides Clues to How the Brain Processes Smells

Using locusts, which have a relatively simple sensory system ideal for studying brain activity, he found the odors prompted neural activity in the brain that allowed the locust to correctly identify the stimulus, even with other odors present…The locusts could recognize the trained odors even when another odor meant to distract them was introduced prior to the target cue…"It took only a few hundred milliseconds for the locust's brain to begin tracking a novel odor introduced in its surrounding… His research seeks to take inspiration from the biological olfactory system to develop a device for noninvasive chemical sensing. Such a device could be used in homeland security applications to detect volatile chemicals and in medical diagnostics, such as a device to test blood-alcohol level.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131125164222.htm

New waterproof surface is 'driest ever'

US engineers have created the "most waterproof material ever" - inspired by nasturtium leaves and butterfly wings… The new "super-hydrophobic" surface could keep clothes dry and stop aircraft engines icing over, they say… Applying these textures to turbine blades in power stations and windfarms could significantly boost efficiency…The designs could also be woven into textile fabrics, "Sportswear, lab coats, military clothing, tents - there are a whole range of situations where you want to stay dry," he said…"Now we need to bring in the designers - how can you make a fabric that has these new features?" (emphasis added See “BWAH HAH HAH HAAAA!”)
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-25004942

Can honey bees really be trained to detect cancer in ten minutes?

A Portuguese designer has created a contraption which she says can detect cancer using trained bees…'The bees can be trained within 10 minutes.'…Bees can be trained to detect bombs and one company called Insectinel is training 'sniffer bees' to work in counter-terrorist operations… Research carried out by scientists has suggested that bees can accurately diagnose diseases such as tuberculosis, lung and skin cancer as well as diabetes.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2510800/Can-honey-bees-really
-trained-detect-cancer-minutes.html

Software Uses Cyborg Swarm to Map Unknown Environs

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed software that allows them to map unknown environments -- such as collapsed buildings -- based on the movement of a swarm of insect cyborgs, or "biobots." "We focused on how to map areas where you have little or no precise information on where each biobot is, such as a collapsed building"… Here's how the process would work in the field. A swarm of biobots, such as remotely controlled cockroaches, would be equipped with electronic sensors and released into a collapsed building or other hard-to-reach area. The biobots would initially be allowed to move about randomly. Because the biobots couldn't be tracked by GPS, their precise locations would be unknown. However, the sensors would signal researchers via radio waves whenever biobots got close to each other… The new software then uses an algorithm to translate the biobot sensor data into a rough map of the unknown environment.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131016112708.htm

X- Ray Science Taps Bug Biology to Design Better Materials and Reduce Pollution

Researchers using the cutting-edge X-ray technology at the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Photon Source (APS) were able to take an inside look at several insects, gathering results that go beyond learning about insect physiology and biology. What they found could provide a blueprint for a material used for artificial ligaments, a chemical-free way to protect crops from insects and a new insight on how human muscles function…Designing a synthetic version of the silk could create an underwater adhesive used for liquid stitches. But even more valuable is its potential use as the first artificial human tendons and ligaments. The fly silk's long fibers make it behave a lot like collagen material used in connective tissues, and its ability to adhere in wet conditions make it viable as an internal implant… Although few gym rats want to admit it, whispery moth wings and bulging human biceps aren't that different. What we learn from them can teach us more about human muscle mechanics to potentially improve physical therapy treatments and further understand diseases attacking the muscular system.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130918143341.htm

The Scent of Love: Decomposition and Male Sex Pheromones

The life cycle and sequence of arrival of these flies and beetles is so predictable that it can be used by forensic scientists to estimate time of death.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120813203024.htm

Unknown Species and Larval Stages of Extremely Long-Legged Beetles Discovered by DNA Test

Such beetles are often highly sensitive to water pollution and are therefore greatly valued as bioindicators. The researchers aim at providing basic knowledge and identification tools for tropical species that are potentially useful as freshwater bioindicators.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111018095122.htm

McGill students win $1-million prize for idea of using insects to battle hunger

From the beetle larvae consumed by African tribesmen to the fried grasshoppers sold by street vendors in Thailand, insects have always been a regular part of the human diet. Today, over two billion people worldwide regularly eat insects, according to a recent report from the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization. And as populations swell in the developing world, insects could well become the key to global food security.
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/mcgill-students-to-
battle-global-food-insecurity-with-insect-farming/article14513314/

Living Gears Help This Bug Jump

Thanks to modern fabrication techniques like 3-D printing, engineers are now free to explore less orthodox gear shapes. They are looking for gears that work best for specific applications — as in tiny machines. "There's a lot of debate over how you design these kinds of machine parts over very small size ranges," Sutton says. Planthopper gears certainly are tiny. Each tooth is only about 20 micrometers wide — a fraction of the width of a hair. And the teeth of the insect gears are more curved and hooked than typical man-made gears. "What we have is a prototype for incredibly small, high-speed, high-precision gears."
http://www.npr.org/2013/09/13/219739500/living-gears-help-this-bug-jump

Secrets of the Cicada's Sound

At the 21st International Congress on Acoustics (ICA 2013), held June 2-7 in Montreal, the team, based at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) in Newport, RI, will present their latest results analyzing the cicada's sound -- first steps toward making devices that would mimic it for remote sensing underwater, ship-to-ship communications, rescue operations and other applications.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130530152846.htm

Hovering Is a Bother for Bees: Fast Flight Is More Stable

According to the authors the results could be useful in the development of small flying machines like robotic insects. "Dynamic flight stability is of great importance in the study of biomechanics of insect flight," said Mao Sun. "It is the basis for studying flight control, because the inherent stability of a flying system represents the dynamic properties of the basic system. It also plays a major role in the development of insect-like micro-air vehicles."
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130314110609.htm

Roaches Inspire Robotics: Researchers Use Common Cockroach to Fine-Tune Robots of the Future

He and his fellow researchers are delving deeper into the neurological functioning of the cockroach. This, he says, will give engineers the information they need to design robots with a more compact build and greater efficiency in terms of energy, time, robustness and rigidity. Such superior robotics can be even used to explore new terrain in outer space.
(http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110207101022.htm)
Projects that highlight both the flight of the locust and the crawling of the soft-bodied caterpillar are also underway. Locusts are amazing flyers, Prof. Ayali notes. Scientists are studying both their aerodynamic build and their energy metabolism for long-distance flights. Recordings of their nervous systems and simultaneous video tracking to observe the movement of their wings during flight can be expected to lead to better technology for miniscule flying robots. As for caterpillars, engineers are trying to recreate in soft-bodied robots what they call the creatures "endless degrees of freedom of movement." "Caterpillars are not confined by a stiff structure -- they have no rigid skeletons," says Prof. Ayali. "This is exactly what makes them unique."
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110207101022.htm

Insects Inspiring New Technology: Autonomous Navigation of Mobile Robots Based On Locust Vision

Scientists from the University of Lincoln and Newcastle University have created a computerised system which allows for autonomous navigation of mobile robots based on the locust's unique visual system. The work could provide the blueprint for the development of highly accurate vehicle collision sensors, surveillance technology and even aid video game programming… For example, insects can respond to approaching predators with remarkable speed. This research demonstrates that modelling biologically plausible artificial visual neural systems can provide new solutions for computer vision in dynamic environments. For example, it could be used to enable vehicles to understand what is happening on the road ahead and take swifter action."… This research offers us important insights into how we can develop a system for the car which could improve performance to such a level that we could take out the element of human error."
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130221084608.htm

Researchers find new way to mimic the color and texture of butterfly wings

As it turns out, we have plenty to gain from butterflies. Yang has a grant to develop butterfly-inspired hydrophobic coatings for drier, cleaner and hence more efficient solar panels. But it doesn't stop there - Yang has a vision of butterfly cities. She's working with architects to create a low-cost version of her artificial butterfly wing material. "Specifically, we're interested in putting this kind of material on the outside of buildings," Yang said. "The structural colour we can produce is bright and highly decorative." The butterfly building would be connected to a chip that would let its owner change its colours and transparency at will. Because the material is water-resistant, it wouldn't need to be cleaned as often. (http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/shortsharpscience/2012/10/butterfly-wing-wafers-to-clad.html) Both superhydrophobicity and structural color are in high demand for a variety of applications. Materials with structural color could be used in as light-based analogs of semiconductors, for example, for light guiding, lasing and sensing. As they repel liquids, superhydrophobic coatings are self-cleaning and waterproof. Since optical devices are highly dependent on their degree of light transmission, the ability to maintain the device surface's dryness and cleanliness will minimize the energy consumption and negative environmental impact without the use of intensive labors and chemicals. "Specifically, we're interested in putting this kind of material on the outside of buildings," Yang said. "The structural color we can produce is bright and highly decorative, and it won't fade away like conventional pigmentation color dies. The introduction of nano-roughness will offer additional benefits, such as energy efficiency and environmental friendliness. "It could be a high-end facade for the aesthetics alone, in addition to the appeal of its self-cleaning properties. We are also developing energy efficient building skins that will integrate such materials in optical sensors." (http://phys.org/news/2012-10-mimic-texture-butterfly-wings.html) A new study has revealed that the stunning iridescent wings of the tropical blue Morpho butterfly could expand the range of innovative technologies. Scientific lessons learnt from these butterflies have already inspired designs of new displays, fabrics and cosmetics. Now research by the University of Exeter, in collaboration with General Electric (GE) Global Research Centre, University at Albany and Air Force Research Laboratory, and funded by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), has discovered that the physical structure and surface chemistry of the Morpho butterfly's wings provides surprising properties that could offer a variety of applications ranging from photonic security tags to self cleaning surfaces and protective clothing and to industrial sensors.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130909172211.htm

Deciphering Butterflies' Designer Colors: Findings Could Inspire New Hue-Changing Materials

Butterfly wings can do remarkable things with light, and humans are still trying to learn from them. Physicists have now uncovered how subtle differences in the tiny crystals of butterfly wings create stunningly varied patterns of color even among closely related species. The discovery, reported today in the Optical Society's (OSA) open-access journal Optical Materials Express, could lead to new coatings for manufactured materials that could change color by design, if researchers can figure out how to replicate the wings' light-manipulating properties… Cheah thinks the lessons learned from Papilio butterfly wings could lead to designer materials that wouldn't need to be painted or dyed one specific color. The same article of clothing, for example, could reflect a subdued color during the workday, and a more ostentatious one at night. "You would just tune your structure to produce the color you want," says Cheah. The team next plans to investigate color-generating mechanisms in other insect body structures, such as the metallic effect produced by iridescent beetle shells.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130717105936.htm

Butterfly Wings + Carbon Nanotubes = New 'Nanobiocomposite' Material

Leveraging the amazing natural properties of the Morpho butterfly's wings, scientists have developed a nanobiocomposite material that shows promise for wearable electronic devices, highly sensitive light sensors and sustainable batteries.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130828103448.htm

Bugs Inspire Better X-Rays: Nanostructures Modeled Like Moth Eyes May Boost Medical Imaging

Using the compound eyes of the humble moth as their inspiration, an international team of physicists has developed new nanoscale materials that could someday reduce the radiation dosages received by patients getting X-rayed, while improving the resolution of the resulting images… "The moth eye has been considered one of the most exciting bio structures because of its unique nano-optical properties," he says, "and our work further improved upon this fascinating structure and demonstrated its use in medical imaging materials, where it promises to achieve lower patient radiation doses, higher-resolution imaging of human organs, and even smaller-scale medical imaging. And because the film is on the scintillator," he adds, "the patient would not be aware of it at all."
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120703162622.htm

Anti-Reflective Coatings: Beauty Is in the Moth's Eyes

If you wear glasses, you are probably reading this article by looking through a tiny, transparent layer of nanomaterial. Anti-reflective coatings (ARCs), based on nanomaterials that reduce the amount of reflected light, are used in most optical devices, including glasses, photo lenses, TV screens, solar cells, LED lights and many others… Some of the most efficient ARCs are made by mother nature and are found in the eyes of insects…According to the inventors, the resulting coatings have a cost similar to that of classic ARCs and can be easily customized. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120427095623.htm

Insect Eyes Inspire Improved Solar Cells: Anti-Reflective Film Based On Moth Eyes Increases Efficiency of Photovoltaics

Mimicking the moth eye's microstructure, a team of researchers in Japan has created a new film, suitable for mass-production, for covering solar cells that can cut down on the amount of reflected light and help capture more power from the sun… They also believe the film could be applied as an anti-reflection coating to windows and computer displays.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110120125110.htm

Artificial Bee Eye Gives Insight Into Insects’ Visual World

Despite their tiny brains, bees have remarkable navigation capabilities based on their vision. Now scientists have recreated a light-weight imaging system mimicking a honeybee's field of view, which could change the way we build mobile robots and small flying vehicles… In the future, the researchers hope to include UV to fully reflect a bee's colour vision, which is important to honeybees for flower recognition and discrimination and also polarisation vision, which bees use for orientation. They also hope to incorporate models of the subsequent neural processing stages…”… we are confident that it is useful for many purposes, e.g. for the simulation of bee-like agents in virtual environments and, in combination with presented imaging system, for testing bee-inspired visual navigation strategies on mobile robots."
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100805203343.htm

Self-filling water bottle takes cues from desert beetle

A US start-up has turned to nature to help bring water to arid areas by drawing moisture from the air. NBD Nano aims to mimic the way a beetle survives in an African desert to create a self-filling water bottle capable of storing up to three litres every hour. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-20465982) Sorenson said the company is looking to incorporate the bottle in greenhouses or green roofs in the immediate future, but later on will be looking to see how far they can scale up to supply larger agricultural goals. ( http://phys.org/news/2012-11-self-filling-bottle-cues-beetle.html) A number of companies have recently been researching nature-inspired solutions to real-life problems. Electronics firm Qualcomm studied light reflection on butterfly wings to design its Mirasol e-reader display.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-20465982

Cicadas Get a Jump On Cleaning

Using a specially designed high-speed video imaging system, the engineers captured the jumping water droplets on a cicada wing, as well as the associated self-cleaning processes…"These new insights can help guide the development of man-made surfaces that are not dependent on any external forces and are therefore truly self-cleaning."… "Self-cleaning surfaces using the jumping-drop mechanism can work at any orientation, which is a huge advantage for applications with unfavorable orientations with respect to gravity, such as mobile electronics and building roofs." (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130429154101.htm) Watson says cicada wings are just one of many natural blueprints we can adapt to create a whole new generation of self-cleaning surfaces that can rid themselves of dirt, bacteria and other environmental contaminants. "These applications include self-cleaning windows, hospital surfaces, environmentally green surfaces, construction materials, pipes, kitchen surfaces, roof tiles, machine components and water resistant surfaces," he says. "The door is also open for further investigation into how such self-propelled droplets might be used to deposit chemical packages onto the surfaces of micro biosensors and nano-delivery systems. "This could open up a whole new area of scientific research," he says. http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2013/04/30/3747559.htm

Footage reveals how insects use their bodies to hover

The researchers are studying insect flight to "distil the biological principles of flight control". This, they say, will help them to accurately engineer flying robots that use these same principles.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-22130854

Thin-film solar cells could become more efficient – thanks to moths' eyes

Now, a new moth eye-inspired film may further help solar cells become more efficient.
http://www.gizmag.com/moth-eye-thin-film-interference/27561/

Harnessing Flea Power To Create Near-Perfect Rubber

The remarkable, rubber-like protein that enables dragonflies, grasshoppers and other insects to flap their wings, jump and chirp has major potential uses in medicine, scientists conclude in an article in the journal ACS Macro Letters ("Resilin-Based Materials for Biomedical Applications"). It evaluates the latest advances toward using a protein called resilin in nanosprings, biorubbers, biosensors and other applications. Kristi Kiick and colleagues explain that scientists discovered resilin a half-century ago in the wing hinges of locusts and elastic tendons of dragonflies. The extraordinary natural protein tops the best synthetic rubbers. Resilin can stretch to three times its original length, for instance, and then spring back to its initial shape without losing its elasticity, despite repeated stretching and relaxing cycles… Scientists have modified resilin with gold nanoparticles for possible use in diagnostics, engineered mosquito-based resin to act like human cartilage and developed a hybrid material for cardiovascular applications. “This increasing amount of knowledge gained from studies on natural resilin and resilin-like polypeptides continues to inspire new designs and applications of recombinant resilin-based biopolymers in biomedical and biotechnological applications,” the scientists state. (http://www.nanowerk.com/ne ws2/newsid=31880.php) . It could be used as a high-efficiency rubber in industry, spinal disc implants, heart and blood valve substitutes, and perhaps even to add some extra spring to the heels of running shoes.
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/materials-05zv.html

How tiny insects survive the rain

As well as helping explain how the insects (mosquitos) thrive in damp, humid environments, the research could ultimately help researchers to design tiny, flying robots that are just as impervious to the elements.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/18294324

Robot ants: mini-machines mimic insect colony

There are many other research and engineering projects that take inspiration from nature (ants) to solve problems or design robots, as Dr Paul Graham, a biologist from the University of Sussex, explained. "The classic example," he said, "is the way in which we design information networks to move packets of data around…This, he explained, is the basis of an algorithm called ant colony optimisation which has already been used in telecoms networks.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/21956795

Human-Like Brain Disturbances In Insects: Locusts Shed Light On Migraines, Stroke And Epilepsy

A similarity in brain disturbance between insects (locusts) and people suffering from migraines, stroke and epilepsy points the way toward new drug therapies to address these conditions.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090702170207.htm

Ladder-Walking Locusts Use Vision to Climb, Show Big Brains Aren't Always Best

As well as illustrating how insects can achieve similar results to mammals by using simpler mechanisms, the findings deepen our understanding of locusts' neural circuits. This is important because locusts have been a model organism for studying limb control for the past 40 years. Insects such as the locust have been crucial to many breakthroughs in neuroscience, and insects are often the inspiration for limb control in robotics.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091227212400.htm

Transparent, Thin and Tough: Why Don't Insect Wings Break?

The researchers believe that the vein pattern found in insect wings thus might inspire the design of more durable and lightweight artificial 'venous' wings for micro-air-vehicles.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120822181255.htm

Robo-fly uses micro energy to buzz

The paper describes how they build the device, which is part of a larger "robo-bee" project to build swarms of tiny insect-like robots that can be used to hunt for missing people, spy on enemies, track toxic pollutants or even pollinate crops if real bees are wiped out by disease… Wood says the robo-bee project is resulting in a lot of spin-off technologies that can be used for other sorts of micro-manufacturing…"These devices have a high coolness factor," he says. "It's easy to get kids excited about this. This is what you could be doing if you chose a career in science and engineering."
http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2013/05/03/3751356.htm

Natural anesthetic in honeybee bites

Honeybees never cease to amaze us... their bite contains a natural anesthetic. This discovery was made by a team of Greek and Cypriot researchers, in collaboration with the CNRS Laboratoire Evolution, Génomes et Spéciation. In a study published in the journal PLoS ONE, the researchers show that bites from domestic honeybees (Apis mellifera) contain a compound, 2-heptanone (2-H), that acts as an efficient natural anesthetic. This finding has been patented, so 2-H can now be commercially produced as a local anesthetic, which offers the additional advantage of low toxicity to humans and animals… Because 2-H has low toxicity compared with classic anesthetics, this natural substance is likely to find many applications in both human and veterinary medicine.
http://phys.org/news/2012-11-natural-anesthetic-honeybee.html

Tiny Brained Bees Solve a Complex Mathematical Problem

As well as enhancing our understanding of how bees move around the landscape pollinating crops and wild flowers, this research, which is due to be published in The American Naturalist , has other applications. Our lifestyle relies on networks such as traffic on the roads, information flow on the web and business supply chains. By understanding how bees can solve their problem with such a tiny brain we can improve our management of these everyday networks without needing lots of computer time. Dr Raine adds: "Despite their tiny brains bees are capable of extraordinary feats of behaviour. We need to understand how they can solve the Travelling Salesman Problem without a computer. What short-cuts do they use?' (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101025090020.htm) By tracking the bees, the scientists think they may even be able to turn the insects' flight plan into a solution to a tricky mathematical problem…"The bees may be able to help us solve the travelling salesman problem," The research team is still in the process of studying the patterns of bee flight. But once they have tracked and mapped each busy little pollinator's journey, they may be able to use the information to design new networks for humans. "As more networks develop, and existing ones grow, the problems of information routing and traffic flow become increasingly more difficult to solve," says Dr Raine. "One potential solution would be to continually allocate more and more computational power to solve these increasingly hard problems. "But studying the mechanisms used by bees… could provide us with techniques to very quickly determine workable routes through networks."
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11328076

Stealth Behavior Allows Cockroaches to Seemingly Vanish

Aside from helping scientists understand animal (cockroach) locomotion, these findings will go into making better robots.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120606193851.htm

Robotic Insects Make First Controlled Flight

Inspired by the biology of a fly… Applications of the RoboBee project could include distributed environmental monitoring, search-and-rescue operations, or assistance with crop pollination, but the materials, fabrication techniques, and components that emerge along the way might prove to be even more significant. For example, the pop-up manufacturing process could enable a new class of complex medical devices.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130502142649.htm

Digital camera gives a bug's-eye view

A digital camera that functions like an insect's compound eye is reported in the journal Nature this week… The development team, led from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, US, believes its new imaging system could eventually find uses in surveillance and for endoscopic investigations of the human body. In their report, the researchers also suggest such cameras could be fitted to tiny aerial vehicles one day that behaved like robotic insects. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-22372442) These cameras could be used where wide viewing angles are important and space is at a premium — in advanced surveillance systems, for example…
http://www.nature.com/news/digital-camera-gives-a-bug-s-eye-view-1.12914

Secrets Eye Flies as a Source of New Medical Technology!

An inexpensive optical devices that inspired the design of the fly’s eye opens the door for the development of new imaging devices in medicine (medical imaging device)… Rosen stated that this equipment, which works on the principle of a fly’s eye, so promising, and bring glad tidings that the use of this device, an endoscope that is uncomfortable or “camera pill” to swallow in the imaging of the abdomen (abdominal scans) will be a relic of the past
http://speres.com/secrets-eye-flies-as-a-source-of-new-medical-technology/

Using the eyes of insects such as dragonflies and houseflies as models, a team of bioengineers at University of California, Berkeley, has created a series of artificial compound eyes. These eyes can eventually be used as cameras or sensory detectors to capture visual or chemical information from a wider field of vision than previously possible, even with the best fish-eye lens, said Luke P. Lee, the team's principal investigator. Potential applications include surveillance; high-speed motion detection; environmental sensing; medical procedures, such as endoscopies and image-guided surgeries that require cameras; and a number of clinical treatments that can be controlled by implanted light delivery devices. Their first applications may be in ultra-thin camera phones. After that, he expects to see them used in camcorders for omnidirectional surveillance imaging and such uses as small, hidden, wearable cameras.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060428135325.htm

New Camera Inspired by Insect Eyes

An insect's compound eye is an engineering marvel: high resolution, wide field of view, and incredible sensitivity to motion, all in a compact package. Now, a new digital camera provides the best-ever imitation of a bug's vision, using new optical materials and techniques. This technology could someday give patrolling surveillance drones the same exquisite vision as a dragonfly on the hunt…A wide-angle, compact camera would be ideal for a high-flying, motion-sensing surveillance drone or a miniature, snakelike endoscopic medical device, Rogers says. Next, the team will tinker with the radius and curvature of the flexible ommatidia array to see what other optical feats the camera is capable of.
http://news.sciencemag.org/2013/05/new-camera-inspired-insect-eyes?rss=1

Lens Combines Human and Insect Vision to Focus Wide-Angle Views

A lens invented at The Ohio State University combines the focusing ability of a human eye with the wide-angle view of an insect eye to capture images with depth. The results could be smartphones that rival the photo quality of digital cameras, and surgical imaging that enables doctors to see inside the human body like never before… With further development, the technology could be useful in laparoscopes for medical testing and surgery. With laparoscopy, doctors insert tiny wide-angle cameras into the patient's body in order to see as much tissue as they can without cutting the patient open. But such lenses don't offer a sense of depth: they show all objects -- both near and far -- in focus at all times. This poses a problem for doctors; if they mistake a close object for a far away one, they could accidentally graze healthy tissue with the scope or surgical instruments. "With our lens, doctors could get the wide-angle view they need, and still be able to judge the distance between the lens and tissue. They could place instruments with more confidence, and remove a tumor more easily, for example," Zhao said. The lens could ultimately find a home in smartphones. Because phone cameras don't have moving parts, they use a "fixed focus" lens, which treats a scene the same way a wide-angle lens does: all objects are in focus, so depth is missing. Phone cameras can't truly zoom in on objects, either. They just crop an image and enlarge it, which greatly reduces quality. With a shape-changing lens, a phone could potentially take pictures with the same depth and zoom as a more expensive digital camera.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130918111219.htm

Scientists Mimic Fireflies to Make Brighter LEDs: New Bio-Inspired Coating That Increases LED Efficiency by 55 Percent

The nighttime twinkling of fireflies has inspired scientists to modify a light-emitting diode (LED) so it is more than one and a half times as efficient as the original… The overlayer, which increased LED light extraction by up to 55 percent, could be easily tailored to existing diode designs to help humans light up the night while using less energy… In Optics Express papers, Bay, Vigneron, and colleagues first describe the intricate structures they saw when they examined firefly lanterns and then present how the same features could enhance LED design.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130108112453.htm

Nanotechnology Used to Harness Power of Fireflies

Scientists at Syracuse University found a new way to harness the natural light produced by fireflies (called bioluminescence) using nanoscience. Their breakthrough produces a system that is 20 to 30 times more efficient than those produced during previous experiments.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120615114104.htm

Biochemical Buzz On Career Changes In Bees

Scientists from Brazil and Cuba are reporting that honey bees (are) a mainstay for behavioral research that cannot be done in other animals…
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090406101808.htm

Honey Bee Gene Targeting Offers System to Understand Food-Related Behavior

"Honey bees are much less complex than mammals and humans, but [we] share many major genes," said Wang, "therefore, honey bees have become an emerging system for us to understand food related behavior in humans."…(It could) provide insight into human insulin pathways, potentially giving us an opportunity to learn how to control human dietary behavior.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130725104548.htm

Bees Get a Buzz from Flower Nectar Containing Caffeine

"Although human and honeybee brains obviously have lots of differences, when you look at the level of cells, proteins and genes, human and bee brains function very similarly. Thus, we can use the honeybee to investigate how caffeine affects our own brains and behaviours."
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130307145257.htm

New Insight Into How Bees See Could Improve Artificial Intelligence Systems

New research from Monash University bee researcher Adrian Dyer could lead to improved artificial intelligence systems and computer programs for facial recognition. Dr Dyer is one of Australia's leading bee experts and his latest research shows that honeybees can learn to recognise human faces even when seen from different viewpoints. Dr Dyer said the research could be applied in the areas of new technology, particularly the development of imaging systems.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090123101211.htm

Old Bees' Memory Fades; Mirrors Recall of Humans and Other Mammals

Scientists at Arizona State University have discovered that older honey bees effectively reverse brain aging when they take on nest responsibilities typically handled by much younger bees. While current research on human age-related dementia focuses on potential new drug treatments, researchers say these findings suggest that social interventions may be used to slow or treat age-related dementia… In general, researchers are interested in creating a drug that could help people maintain brain function…(http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120703172547.htm) The scientists believe that their findings with bees offer a new means to model and understand the variability found in brain function between individuals; where some individuals' memories remain intact, while others' learning behavior becomes inflexible with age. (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101019171707.htm) The scientists are planning to use them as a model to study general aging processes in the brain, and they even hope that they may provide some clues on how to prevent them…” We thus hope to study the mechanisms responsible for age-dependent effects, like oxidative damage, and also to discover new ways to act against these aging processes.” (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090701082718.htm) Norwegian researcher Gro Amdam has succeeded in reversing the aging process in the bee brain -- findings which she believes may bring hope to people with dementia.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110321102118.htm

Dancing Honeybees Use Democratic Process When Selecting a New Home

Humans can learn much about democratic decision-making by looking at bees, Seeley says. If the members of a group have common interests, such as the bees in a swarm, then the keys to good collective decision-making are to ensure the group contains diverse members and an impartial leader -- and conducts open debates.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100928153151.htm

Sleep-Deprived Bees Have Difficulty Relearning

According to Menzel, the concept that something during sleep reactivates a memory for consolidation is a basic theory in sleep research. However, the human brain is far too complex to begin dissecting the intricate neurocircuits that underpin our memories, which is why Menzel has spent the last four decades working with honey bees: they are easy to train, well motivated and it is possible to identify the miniaturised circuits that control specific behaviours in their tiny brains.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121025095531.htm

How Manuka Honey Helps Fight Infection

Honey may reduce healing times in patients suffering mild to moderate burn wounds. A systematic review by Cochrane Researchers concluded that honey might be useful as an alternative to traditional wound dressings in treating burns. ( http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081007192524.htm) If we can discover exactly how manuka honey inhibits MRSA it could be used more frequently as a first-line treatment for infections with bacteria that are resistant to many currently available antibiotics." (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090907013759.htm) A new research published in the July 2010 print edition of the FASEB Journal explains for the first time how honey kills bacteria. Specifically, the research shows that bees make a protein that they add to the honey, called defensin-1, which could one day be used to treat burns and skin infections and to develop new drugs that could combat antibiotic-resistant infections…. "Honey or isolated honey-derived components might be of great value for prevention and treatment of infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria." (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100630111037.htm) This research may increase the clinical use of manuka honey as doctors are faced with the threat of diminishingly effective antimicrobial options. "We need innovative and effective ways of controlling wound infections that are unlikely to contribute to increased antimicrobial resistance…"The use of a topical agent to eradicate bacteria from wounds is potentially cheaper and may well improve antibiotic therapy in the future. This will help reduce the transmission of antibiotic-resistant bacteria from colonised wounds to susceptible patients." ( http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110412201713.htm) — Manuka honey could help clear chronic wound infections and even prevent them from developing in the first place, according to a new study published in Microbiology… Manuka honey has been reported to inhibit more than 80 species of bacteria… This is significant as chronic wounds account for up to 4% of health care expenses in the developed world."
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120131205919.htm

The green leafhopper jumps with near-constant acceleration

The green leafhopper, Cicadella viridis, was investigated during the take-off phase of the jump, through high-speed video recordings (8000 frames s−1)… The results of this study are of broad relevance in different research fields ranging from biomechanics to robotics.
http://jeb.biologists.org/content/216/7/1270.abstract

U.S. Military Looks to Beetles for New Sensors

The researchers want to mimic the beetles' sensors, which are finely tuned to detect infrared radiation in the spectrum put off by forest fires. Robotic devices built with this technology could detect chemical or infrared emissions more cost-efficiently than current technology. For example, the U.S. Department of Defense has a variety of systems that use infrared sensors, such as eat-seeking missiles, but in order for the sensors to work they must be cooled to freezing temperatures, which is expensive. "If you get rid of the need for cooling but maintain sensitivity you have a tremendous gain in weight, size, complexity, maintenance, durability, et cetera," said Hugh DeLong, a contract officer with the U.S. Air Force's Air Force office of Scientific Research in Arlington, Virginia... Schmitz says the applications of this technology are many, including every field of application where other technical infrared sensors are used today. "That means we could detect infrared radiation emitted from low-temperature infrared sources like animals or humans as well as infrared radiation emitted from very hot surfaces or fires," he said.
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/03/0314_030314_secretweapons3_2.html

Tiny Flying Robots Modeled on Insects

Scientists from around the world are reverse-engineering the mechanics of insects as they design midget robots to scout battlefields, search for victims trapped in rubble, and record images as they hover over distant planets. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/03/0313_030313_secretweapons2.htm

E-Noses: Testing Their Mettle Against Fly Noses

Scientists from CSIRO’s Food Futures Flagship have made a breakthrough in efforts to extend the sensory range of ‘electronic noses’ (e-noses) by developing a system for comparing their performance against the much-superior nose of the fly. Although e-noses already have many uses – such as detecting spoilage in the food industry and monitoring air quality – they are not as discriminating as biological noses...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090729092541.htm

Gut movements in caterpillars inspire soft-body robot design

"Weird movements" in the abdomens of freely crawling caterpillars are making headlines in the fields of engineering and biology, says Jake Socha, Virginia Tech assistant professor of engineering science and mechanics. Beyond evolutionary implications, the findings are already contributing to the design and development of soft material robots... Their findings are already finding their way into designing maneuverable and orientation-independent soft material robots. The next step for these 'softbots' includes a diverse array of potential uses, such as shape-changing robots capable of engaging in search-and-rescue operations, space applications for which a 'gravity-agnostic' crawler would be highly valued, and medical applications in which a biocompatible, soft robot would reduce incidental tissue damage and discomfort.
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-07/vt-gmi072010.php

Dragonfly Inspires Hi-Tech Hovercraft for Mars

Dragonflies possess not only compound eyes like other insects, but additional “simple” eyes called ocelli (sing., ocellum) with full-field retinas like mammalian eyes. These function as a “horizon sensor/attitude reference system,” according to an engineer trying to copy it. In an engineering project supported by the military and aerospace, Dr. Jaavan Chahla and an Australian team have built mechanical ocelli that allow small drone planes and helicopters to mimic the dragonfly’s ability to achieve low-altitude flight without hitting obstacles. In a presentation at JPL August 13, he showed film clips of flight tests that apply the dragonfly’s processing of “optical flow”, the information that comes from a shifting angles of light as you move. Since this is not dependent on heavy inertial guidance systems, magnetic compasses or other flight technologies, it permits the development of low-mass flight hardware suitable for Mars, which has no useful magnetic field… Commenting on the dragonfly’s abilities, Chahla stated that it (and other insects) are able to process huge amounts of data with 8–19 millisecond response – a volume of data man-made sensors have trouble managing. Yet they do it with a tiny brain with 0.01% the neurons in a human brain.
http://crev.info/2004/08/dragonfly_inspires_hitech_hovercraft_for_mars/
ref: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12650645

Roaches Inspire Robotics: Researchers Use Common Cockroach to Fine-Tune Robots of the Future

He and his fellow researchers are delving deeper into the neurological functioning of the cockroach. This, he says, will give engineers the information they need to design robots with a more compact build and greater efficiency in terms of energy, time, robustness and rigidity. Such superior robotics can be even used to explore new terrain in outer space. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110207101022.htm

Lessons from cockroaches could inform robotics

Running cockroaches start to recover from being shoved sideways before their dawdling nervous system kicks in to tell their legs what to do, researchers have found. These new insights on how biological systems stabilize could one day help engineers design steadier robots and improve doctors' understanding of human gait abnormalities.
http://www.ns.umich.edu/new/multimedia/videos/21233-lessons-from-cockroaches-could-inform-robotics

Cockroaches and Running Robots

While the average human being probably doesn’t find the sight of a cockroach dashing through the kitchen at 1 a.m. anything short of disgusting, researchers at Oregon State think it’s inspiring. They are using the creature, a biological and engineering marvel, as “bioinspiration” for the world’s first legged robot that can run over rugged terrain.... Schmitt thinks that the running robots could serve a valuable role in military operations, law enforcement or space exploration, and the technology could also be used to improve prosthetic limbs.
http://www.psmag.com/science-environment/cockroaches-and-running-robots-6983/

Mini helicopter masters insect navigation trick

As insects fly forwards the ground beneath them sweeps backwards through their field of view. This "optical flow" is thought to provide crucial cues about speed and height. For example, the higher an insect's altitude, the slower the optical flow; the faster it flies, the faster the optical flow. Franceschini is currently talking to helicopter manufacturers about developing optical flow regulators for their aircraft. Such feedback mechanisms would be lightweight and trivial to develop and could help prevent crashes, he claims.
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11152-mini-helicopter-masters-insect-navigation-trick.html

Japanese Researchers Closer to Creating Hybrid Robot Insects

After about thirty years of examining insects' brains Prof Kanzaki looks forward to become the first to open the door in the field of insect-machine hybrids. His main goal has always been to understand human brain and be able to rebuild connections that were damaged by an accident of diseases. However, before starting digging into the human brain he decided to pay a closer look to the micro-brains of insects.
http://www.infoniac.com/hi-tech/japanese-researchers-closer-to-creating-hybrid-robot-insects.html

Moth takes the driver's seat in smell-tracking robot

In the future, we may have autonomous robots that follow scents to track down gas leaks, rescue disaster victims trapped in debris, or perform other duties. While the algorithms that drive such robots could perhaps just be made up from scratch, scientists from the University of Tokyo are instead looking to the insect world for inspiration... The research team’s paper was published today in the journal Bioinspiration and Biomimetics...
http://www.gizmag.com/robot-driving-silkmoths/26109/pictures

How a Locust's Eardrum Could Lead To Tiny Microphones

Professor Daniel Robert is the research leader at Bristol: "We have found that different sound frequencies elicit very different mechanical responses in the locust hearing system. By studying these tiny nanoscale movements and understanding how sound waves are turned into mechanical responses we may be able to develop microphones based on the functions of natural hearing. These could detect very faint sounds and analyse their frequency, something that current microphones cannot pick up.""Mosquitoes hear through their antenna and this comprises around 15,000 sensory cells, as many as in the human ear. We have found that just like humans, mosquitoes have the capacity for active hearing. This means that they can generate their own vibrations to amplify incoming sounds and improve the sensitivity of their hearing. They are able to stop this positive feedback when sounds create enough vibration on their own. How the mosquito does this is poorly understood but if we can gain a better understanding it could open up the way to developing tiny sensors, robust enough to work in a range of acoustic environments but able to detect nanoscale sounds at frequencies of human interest."
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/03/060331153727.htm

Rainforest Insects Hear Like Humans

Deep in the South American rainforest, katydids perk up their tiny ears to listen for the clicking of bats. Apart from being on the insects' forelegs, those ears are remarkably similar to our own, new research shows. And by imitating the tiny structures, researchers speculate, engineers might create microscopic acoustic sensors... and should inspire engineers to make extremely small, sensitive microphones that can hear in ultrasonic frequencies, as well as improve medical devices like hearing aids.
http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2012/11/rainforest-insects-hear-like-hum.html

A Pheromone-Guided Mobile Robot that Behaves like a Silkworm Moth with Living Antennae as Pheromone Sensors

Since antennae on a silkworm moth are very sensitive as compared to conventional artificial gas sensors, they can be used as living gas sensors that detect pheromone molecules. A simple recurrent artificial neural network was used to control pheromone-tracing behavior in the manner of a living male silkworm moth. This neural network generates mothlike behavior while interacting with the environment. The turning behav ior, in particular, is a suitable tactic for small intelligence when a robot misses pheromone molecules. Our neural network is so simple that it can be very easily used as the controlling devices for micro- robots, which have a small amount of space for intelligence. Our robot is a hybrid system that combines living organisms and artificial machines, and is therefore a new type of robot... Therefore, real-world experiments with living antennae may provide a fascinating interface between computer simulation and neuroethology.
http://ijr.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/17/9/924

Mechanics of Insect and Bird Flight

Because obviously understanding the nervous system correlates of how it controls flight must be quite important, because I know people are interested in working out if insects can do this, can we therefore make a better computer programme to control our planes and our artificial flying machines better.
http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/content/interviews/interview/674/

Scientists discover how to send insects off the scent of crops

To secure our future food supply we must look for new and innovative ways to prevent and control pests and diseases. This is an interesting finding that could be applied across a number of important insect pests and may have far reaching implications for preventing human disease as well.”
http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/media/releases/2009/090924_scientists_discover
_ how_to_send_insects_of_the_scent.html

Floppy Wings = Efficient Flight

Conserving power by minimizing drag is crucial for desert locusts that sometimes must fly 300 kilometers at a time--orders of magnitude farther than small, battery-powered helicopters can, Thomas says. Engineers trying to design tiny aircrafts "drool" at the insect's endurance...
http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2009/917/3

From foe to friend: Mosquitoes that transmit malaria may help fight the disease

Scientists identify gene behind malaria-resistant mosquitoes...
For many years, the mosquitoes that transmit malaria to humans were seen as public enemies, and campaigns to eradicate the disease focused on eliminating the mosquitoes. But, as a study published today in Science shows, the mosquitoes can also be our allies in the fight against this common foe, which kills almost one million people a year and heavily impairs the economies of affected countries.
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-10/embl-fft092809.php

Silk, the ancient material of the future

Silk! It's been around for more than 5,000 years but scientists have reverse engineered the silk cocoon. The ancient material is soft, luxurious and...incredibly versatile for the future. New uses and manufacturing techniques for silk have been discovered and you can use it as a vein replacement, bone replacement, optical fibers, microneedles, cups, holograms and more. Silk has been used as currency, combat armor, drug storage, light refracting combat armor that would effectively make the wearer invisible  by running an electric charge through the silk exterior armor. As strong if not stronger than Kevlar, silk is a most amazing material. The strongest known natural fiber. And it can be synthesized with nothing more than water and protein at room temperature. This silk can replicate information stored on a CD, holograms can be imprinted on it. Information can be stored and retrieved at will just as a CD does. It can be molded into virtually any shape. It can be used as screws, nuts and bolts. Even be used as artificial veins and bones. From microelectronics to optical fibers to making a hologram, this new material can be used for a variety of purposes. If you're afraid of getting pricked by a needle at the doctor's office, you could choose instead a piece of silk that's even smaller than a follicle of hair! Silk can replicate information stored on a CD, holograms can be imprinted on it. Information can be stored and retrieved at will just as a CD does. It can be molded into virtually any shape. It can be used as screws, nuts and bolts. Even be used as artificial veins and bones. The applications of it is endless.  Silk is sustainable, biodegradable, biocompatible, edible and technological.
http://www.ted.com/talks/fiorenzo_omenetto_silk_the_ancient_material_of_the_future.html
http://blog.youthventure.org/2011/07/silk-ancient-material-of-future.html
http://gizmodo.com/5802352/silk-is-the-magical-material-of-the-future
http://www.sixandfourum.com/patches'-corner/silk-the-ancient-material-of-the-future/

Penn Researchers Find New Way to Mimic the Color and Texture of Butterfly Wings

The colors of a butterfly's wings are unusually bright and beautiful and are the result of an unusual trait; the way they reflect light is fundamentally different from how color works most of the time.  A team of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania has found a way to generate this kind of "structural color" that has the added benefit of another trait of butterfly wings: super-hydrophobicity, or the ability to strongly repel water..."A lot of research over the last 10 years has gone into trying to create structural colors like those found in nature, in things like butterfly wings... Both superhydrophobicity and structural color are in high demand for a variety of applications. Materials with structural color could be used in as light-based analogs of semiconductors, for example, for light guiding, lasing and sensing. As they repel liquids, superhydrophobic coatings are self-cleaning and waterproof. Since optical devices are highly dependent on their degree of light transmission, the ability to maintain the device surface's dryness and cleanliness will minimize the energy consumption and negative environmental impact without the use of intensive labors and chemicals. Yang has recently received a grant to develop such coatings for solar panels..."Specifically, we're interested in putting this kind of material on the outside of buildings," Yang said. "The structural color we can produce is bright and highly decorative, and it won't fade away like conventional pigmentation color dyes. The introduction of nano-roughness will offer additional benefits, such as energy efficiency and environmental friendliness.  "It could be a high-end facade for the aesthetics alone, in addition to the appeal of its self-cleaning properties. We are also developing energy efficient building skins that will integrate such materials in optical sensors."
http://www.upenn.edu/pennnews/news/penn-researchers-find-new-way-
mimic-color-and-texture-butterfly-wings

Sticky feet send insect-bot climbing up the walls

All insects squirt a sticky fluid from their feet as they walk. This creates a liquid "bridge" between foot and surface, forming a strong glue-like bond through surface and molecular tension. Minghe Li, a roboticist at Tongji University in Shanghai, China, is trying to replicate this effect to create the next generation of climbing robots. He has designed an insect-bot that releases a mixture of honey and water onto its feet when it wants to climb. This fluid creates the liquid bridges favoured by insects. But the prototype has not been as successful as an insect.
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20928015.000-sticky-feet-send-
insectbot-climbing-up-the-walls.html

Why Fly into a Forest Fire? It's One Way to Meet a Lot of Great Bugs

Their flaming passions encompass both finding new members of the fire-bugs club and understanding the insects' (beetles' and wasps') infrared-sensing organs, which are so unusual that the U.S. Air Force is trying to mimic them. And Schiff and his colleagues are also investigating why insects flock to fire zones in the first place.
http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Why+fly+into+a+forest+fire%3F%3B+it's+one+
way+to+meet+a+lot+of+great+bugs.-a071569346

Color-Changing "Blast Badge" Detects Exposure to Explosive Shock Waves

Mimicking the reflective iridescence of a butterfly's wing, investigators at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and School of Engineering and Applied Sciences have developed a color-changing patch that could be worn on soldiers' helmets and uniforms to indicate the strength of exposure to blasts from explosives in the field.
http://www.uphs.upenn.edu/news/News_Releases/2010/11/blast-badge-indicates-brain-injury-risk/

Inspired by a beetle that draws water from the air, scientist creates self-filling water bottle

“We see this being applicable to anything from marathon runners to people in third-world countries, because we realize that water is such a large issue in the world today, and we want to try to alleviate those problems with a cost-efficient solution. We are looking to incorporate this in greenhouses or green roofs in the immediate future, and then later on, we’re looking to see how far we can really scale this up to supply maybe farms or larger agricultural goals.”.. Cofounder Deckard Sorensen says the device design mimics the way that the Namib Desert beetle pulls the water it needs to survive from extremely dry air. One product they talk about is the water bottle that constantly refills itself. http://thenextweb.com/shareables/2012/11/21/inspired-by-a-beetle-that-
draws-water-from-the-air-scientist-creates-self-filling-water-bottle/

The National Geographic Ultimate Explorer television program Creepy Healers airs Sunday

Today doctors use medicinal maggots to clean wounds by dissolving dead tissue and to disinfect them by killing bacteria. These actions stimulate proper healing. "I call them microsurgeons," said Edgar Maeyens, Jr., a doctor in Coos Bay, Oregon, who employs maggot treatment. "They can do what we can't do with scalpels and lasers."
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/10/1024_031024_maggotmedicine.html

Periodic Cicadas Help Scientists Study Superfast Muscle

(F)or scientists at the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), the periodic cicada also offer clues about how high-speed and high- performance muscles work, and how this knowledge might someday make human muscle work better...The question is, 'how do they manage to outperform us?' Can we somehow and someday engineer these features into 'designer muscles' that work faster and stronger and last longer? Can we use this engineered muscle to restore and enhance normal muscle function to people with degenerative muscle diseases?"
http://www.niams.nih.gov/news_and_events/spotlight_on_research/2007/cicada_muscle.asp

Advanced Optics...on Butterfly Wings

Long before engineers sought to create microscopic devices that manipulate light for electronics, known as photonics, Nature had developed animals that reflect light with smaller and more complex structures than any manufactured by man. New research shows that the wings of the morpho rhetenor butterfly reflect its brilliant blue colors not from pigment but from extremely small scaffolding within the scales of the butterfly's wings. These types of structures represent a sophisticated level of complexity researchers someday hope to attain through biomimetics, engineering that mimics the natural world.
(http://www.livescience.com/92-advanced-optics-butterfly-wings.html) Applications of photonics are ubiquitous. Included are all areas from everyday life to the most advanced science, e.g. light detection, telecommunications , information processing, lighting , metrology , spectroscopy , holography , medicine (surgery, vision correction, endoscopy, health monitoring), military technology , laser material processing, visual art, biophotonics , agriculture , and robotics .
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photonics#History_of_photonics

From Butterfly Wings to Metamaterials

John Pendry explains how the wing structure of the Blue Adonis butterfly inspired and informed his cutting-edge research into 'metamaterials'. Organisms such as the Blue Adonis possess unique microstructures on their wing surface which diffract blue light and lend them their iridescent blue appearan ce. In a similar way, metamaterials are being built from modified microstructures and components smaller than the wavelength of the light. By bending light around objects they are being used in the development of new materials including the world’s first invisibility cloak.
http://www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resource/From-Butterfly-Wings-to-Metamaterials-6207057/

Probes inspired by butterflies

Inspired by the feeding tube of butterflies, US scientists have made a flexible and porous artificial proboscis that could be used to collect tiny liquid samples. The probe can be operated remotely to collect hazardous liquids.
http://blogs.rsc.org/nr/2011/10/20/probes-inspired-by-butterflies/

How a mosquito survives a raindrop hit

A raindrop hitting a mosquito in flight is like a midair collision between a human and a bus. Except that the mosquito survives...Mosquito tricks may also inspire engineers designing swarms of tiny flying robots, or interest physicists and mathematicians studying complex fluid dynamics at this scale.
http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/341280/title/How_a_mosquito_survives_a_raindrop_hit

Insects: The Original White Meat

Residents of at least 113 nations eat bugs...Throughout the tropics and subtropics, however, certain insects, such as adult termites or various grubs, can be preferred to the flesh of birds, fish or traditional meat animals. In fact, the team found that crickets contained more than 1,550 milligrams of iron, 25 milligrams of zinc and 340 milligrams of calcium per 100 grams of dry tissue... just three crickets would provide an individual’s daily iron requirement. Many insects had a fairly high concentration of essential amino acids—types that humans need but can’t make...The quality of insect proteins is usually good too, compensating, Bukkens says, for what is lacking in largely vegetarian diets. Diners who want to reduce the size of their environmental footprint might reassess their aversion to bugs, DeFoliart says. Insects typically eaten by people are vegans—at least for much of their life cycles, he says—and generally “clean-living in their choice of food and habitat.” ... bugs can tap food sources normally worthless in conventional meat production, such as cacti, bamboo shoots, mesquite and woody scrub brush. What’s more, insects turn more of what they eat into tissue that can be consumed by others. For crickets fed diets comparable in quality to the feed given to conventional Western livestock, diet conversion efficiency is about twice as high as for broiler chicks and pigs, four times higher than sheep and nearly six times higher than steers...For the crickets, DeFoliart has calculated, this translates into “a true food conversion efficiency close to 20 times better than that of beef.” Gracer likens these differences to gas-guzzling versus gas-sipping vehicles: “Cows and pigs are the SUVs of the food world. And bugs—they’re the Priuses, maybe even bicycles.”
http://windstar.org/uncategorized/insects-the-original-white-meat/

At German Airports, Bees Help Monitor Air Quality

Airports in Germany have come up with an unusual approach to monitoring air quality. The Düsseldorf International Airport and seven other airports are using bees as “biodetectives,” their honey regularly tested for toxins. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/29/business/29airports.html?_r=1

Future foods: What will we be eating in 20 years' time?

(I)nsects may become the next food frontier for space cuisine. The Space Agriculture Task Force, affiliated with the Japanese space agency, is looking for ways to feed astronauts on extended missions, like on a stint to Mars.  (http://discovermagazine.com/2007/nov/is-this-the-new-space-food/) A team of Chinese scientists are proposing that silkworms-the mulberry-leaf-munching larvae of silkmoths-can be easily reared on long-term space flights and provide valuable protein (as in, meals) for astronauts.  (http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/discoblog/2009/01/15/yum-silkworms-could-be-the-next-astronaut-food/) Rising prices mean we are now starting to see the return of meat as a luxury. As a result we are looking for new ways to fill the meat gap." So what will fill such gaps and our stomachs - and how will we eat it? It's a win-win situation. Insects provide as much nutritional value as ordinary meat and are a great source of protein... They also cost less to raise than cattle, consume less water and do not have much of a carbon footprint. Plus, there are an estimated 1,400 species that are edible to man... burgers and sausages are likely to resemble their meat counterparts... A large chunk of the world's population already eat insects as a regular part of their diet. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-18813075) Rising prices mean we are now starting to see the return of meat as a luxury. As a result we are looking for new ways to fill the meat gap." So what will fill such gaps and our stomachs - and how will we eat it? It's a win-win situation. Insects provide as much nutritional value as ordinary meat and are a great source of protein... They also cost less to raise than cattle, consume less water and do not have much of a carbon footprint. Plus, there are an estimated 1,400 species that are edible to man... burgers and sausages are likely to resemble their meat counterparts... A large chunk of the world's population already eat insects as a regular part of their diet.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-18813075

Silk moth's antenna inspires better nanopores

By mimicking the structure of the silk moth's antenna, researchers have developed a better nanopore - a tiny tunnel-shaped tool that could advance understanding of a class of neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer's... Due to their small footprint and low power requirements, nanopores could also be used to detect biological warfare agents.
http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/news/4098/silk-moths-antenna-inspires-new-nanotech-tool

Butterfly wings could lead to advanced, low-cost thermal imaging devices

Morpho butterfly scales decorated with single-walled carbon nanotubes, efficiently detect mid-wave infrared light as visible iridescence changes. GE’s butterfly-inspired design could enable a new class of thermal imaging sensors with enhanced heat sensitivity and response speed.

Some examples include:

>Thermal Imaging for advanced medical diagnosis — to better visualize inflammation in the body and understand changes in a patient’s health earlier.
>Advanced thermal vision — to see things at night and during the day in much greater detail than what is possible today.
>Fire thermal Imaging— to aid firefighters with new handheld devices to enhance firefighter safety in operational situations
>Thermal security surveillance — to improve public safety and homeland protection
>Thermal characterization of wound infections — to facilitate early diagnosis.
http://www.kurzweilai.net/butterfly-wings-could-lead-to-advanced-low-cost-thermal-imaging-devices

Diamond Weevil's Rainbow Bling Really Is Diamond

"Materials scientists could look to these scales to inspire new materials, but we don't yet know how they are made," said biophysicist Bodo Wilts of the University of Groningen, co-author of a Dec. 21 study of the scales in Journal of the Royal Society Interface.
http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/12/diamond-weevil-rainbow-scales/

REVIEW: Sex on Six Legs: Lessons on Life, Love & Language from the Insect World

And therein lies the true fascination of insect studies: they have a lot to teach us. Cutting-edge biology—genomes and nerve cells and evolutionary paths—is most effectively studied with bugs.
http://www2.macleans.ca/2011/09/28/review-sex-on-six-legs-lessons-on-life-love-
language-from-the-insect-world/

Here’s Looking at You, Katydid

Zuk describes ingenious experiments showing that some social insects can recognize individuals of their own species while others can recognize individual humans (a finding with implications for facial recognition software or for helping people overcome face blindness), and that insects aren’t just “milling masses of sameness.”
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/04/books/review/sex-on-six-legs-by-marlene-zuk-book-review.html

Book Review: Marlene Zuk's 'Sex on Six Legs'

(I)n the future, insects could potentially be used to enhance the lives of humans. If bees can be taught to count, as they can be, it's possible that they can help us understand and help humans with learning disabilities. If a neurochemical abnormality in "amnesiac" fruit flies affects their memories, then there's hope that the same neurochemical in humans could be targeted to affectively treat our own memory disorders.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gee-henry/post_2326_b_930860.html

Excerpt: Sex On Six Legs

The bees' ability is exciting not only because it helps demolish that boundary of the backbone with regard to intelligence, but because being forced to design the experiments required to demonstrate counting in a creature so different from us makes us strip down our methods to their essentials. Finding out if your three-year-old can count is one thing. But how do you come up with a test for counting, or learning in general, when your subjects can't talk, walk on two legs, point to anything, or even get rewarded with something they want, the way most people can? If we can design ways to study animals with these limitations, maybe it will help us work more effectively to test humans with limited abilities, or even design computer programs that could substitute for the abilities that are lacking…Computerized facial recognition would be a boon to security and crime-fighting agencies, and studying the mechanisms behind the bees' ability might yield insights into how to create such programs.

Some humans themselves cannot distinguish among human faces, a condition known as prosopagnosia, or face blindness, thought to be due to a genetic defect; one estimate claims that 2.5 percent of the population suffers from some form of it…In severe cases, sufferers cannot recognize their own face in a photograph. It seems to be related to the inability to navigate in the environment, which means that bees might be particularly suitable for using as models for studying the disorder.. Being able to break down a behavior such as recovering after a distraction into components so fine that we can determine exactly which gene is responsible for which part of learning is possible only in insects, at least so far, but maybe someday we will be able to extend this kind of detailed understanding to our own learning difficulties. What's more, the prospect of altering or curing defects in memory with gene therapy in insects suggests that similar treatments may eventually substitute for drugs or surgery in humans, a solution that could have fewer side effects and be targeted more precisely than current approaches.
http://www.npr.org/books/titles/139555362/sex-on-six-legs-lessons-on-life-
love-and-language-from-the-insect-world?tab=excerpt#excerpt

(What good are yucky caterpillars? The next three articles (and some below) answer the question.--Karl)

Caterpillars Inspire New Movements in Soft Robots

Researchers have been examining the diverse behaviours of caterpillars to find solutions for the new generation of search and rescue soft robots. Despite their extreme flexibility and adaptability, current soft-bodied robots are often limited by their slow speed, leading the researchers to turn to terrestrial soft-bodied animals for inspiration. Some caterpillars have the extraordinary ability to rapidly curl themselves into a wheel and propel themselves away from predators. This highly dynamic process, called ballistic rolling, is one of the fastest wheeling behaviours in nature. Researchers from Tufts University, Massachusetts, saw this as an opportunity to design a robot that mimics this behaviour of caterpillars and to develop a better understanding of the mechanics behind ballistic rolling. "Due to the increased speed and range, limbless crawling robots with ballistic rolling capability could be deployed more generally at a disaster site such as a tsunami aftermath. The robot can wheel to a debris field and wiggle into the danger for us."
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110426213039.htm

Caterpillars Crawl Like None Other: Unique Means of Animal Locomotion Has Implications for Robotics, Human Biomechanics

(T)the Tufts-led team reported that the gut of the crawling tobacco hawkmoth caterpillar (Manduca sexta) moves forward independently of and in advance of the surrounding body wall and legs, rather than moving along with them. Collaborating with Tufts were researchers from Virginia Tech and Argonne National Laboratory. "Understanding this novel motion system may help efforts to design soft-bodied robots."
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100722132332.htm

Biomimetic Technologies Project Will Create First Soft-Bodied Robots


A group of researchers at Tufts University has launched a multidisciplinary initiative focused on the science and engineering of a new class of robots that are completely soft-bodied. These devices will make possible advances in such far flung arenas as medicine and space exploration. Barry Trimmer, professor of biology, and David Kaplan, professor of biomedical engineering, are co-directors of the Biomimetic Technologies for Soft-bodied Robots project… These devices, he notes, will have direct applications in robotics, such as manufacturing, emergency search and retrieval, and repair and maintenance of equipment in space; in medical diagnosis and treatment, including endoscopy, remote surgery, and prostheses design; and in novel electronics such as soft circuits and power supplies. The Keck grant will provide the team with specialized equipment for use with soft materials and biomechanics experiments, according to Trimmer, whose work with caterpillars provides insights on how to build the world's first soft-bodied robot. Trimmer, a neurobiologist, has been studying the nervous system and biology since 1990 through grants from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. His goal has been to better understand how the creatures can control their fluid movements using a simple brain and how they can move so flexibly without any joints. He hopes to adapt his caterpillar research to this new project using the expertise of Tufts engineers. The new robots developed at Tufts will be continuously deformable and capable of collapsing and crumpling into small volumes. They will have capabilities that are not currently available in single machines including climbing textured surfaces and irregular objects, crawling along ropes and wires, or burrowing into complex confined spaces. "Soft-bodied robots could make many dangerous surgeries much safer and less painful," Trimmer adds. "They could also be used by NASA to repair space stations by reaching places that astronauts can't, perform more complicated tasks in industry that require flexibility of movement, help in hazardous environments like nuclear reactors and landmine detection, and squeeze more efficiently into tight spaces." "It has the potential to develop a new area of science and engineering with an immense impact on human and environmental health as well as in establishing a new mode of conducting academic research across departmental boundaries.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070128105355.htm

Beetle Bling: Researchers Discover Optical Secrets of 'Metallic' Beetles

Today, the brilliant gold- ( Chrysina aurigans) and silver-colored ( Chrysina limbata) beetles have given optics researchers new insights into the way biology can recreate the appearance of some of nature's most precious metals, which in turn may allow researchers to produce new materials based on the natural properties found in the beetles' coloring. In these beetles, the cuticle, which is just 10 millionths of a meter deep, has some 70 separate layers of chitin—a nitrogen-containing complex sugar that creates the hard outer skeletons of insects…"The detailed understanding of the mechanism used by the beetles to produce this metallic appearance opens the possibility to replicate the structure used to achieve it," Vargas says, "and thus produce materials that, for example, might look like gold or silver but are actually synthesized from organic media." This potentially could lead to new products or consumer electronics that can perfectly mimic the appearance of precious metals. Other products could be developed for architectural applications that require coatings with a metallic appearance. Vargas notes that in the solar industry, for example, chirped multilayer reflectors could be used as back layers supporting the active or light-absorbing medium, to improve the absorption of the back-reflected light.
http://www.osa.org/About_Osa/Newsroom/News_Releases/Releases/04.2011/MetallicBeetles.aspx

Butterfly wings behind anti-counterfeiting technology

The technology is first being applied to banknotes but it also has many more practical applications, such as authenticating legal documents, retail merchandise, concert tickets, stock certificates, visas, passports, and pharmaceuticals. Landrock and Kaminska both continue their work as part of Nanotech’s scientific team. The company’s Nano-Optic Technology for Enhanced Security (NOtES) product stems from an idea originating in the purest form of nature – insects using colorful markings to identify themselves. How this works is microscopic gratings composed of nanostructures interact with light to produce the shimmering iridescence seen on the Costa Rican morpho butterfly. The nanostructures act to reflect and refract light waves to produce the morpho’s signature blue wings and absorb other unwanted light. The highly advanced wing structures are the result of many millennia of evolution (NOTE: See BWAH HAH HAH HAAAA!-- Karl) and only recently have Nanotech's scientists discovered how to reproduce these structures reliably. While others have talked about the possibility of re-creating it, Nanotech has made this a reality.
http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-01-butterfly-wings-anti-counterfeiting-technology.html

Honey bee search strategy: Robot swarms to search Mars caves

In a recent paper published in Acta Astronautica, Aron Kisdi, a University of Southampton engineer, proposes an idea of utilizing a swarm of robots to search large areas of Mars and the caves which current robots have been unable to explore. The theory behind Kisdi’s robots incorporates the idea of quorum sensing, similar to that used by honey bees. Quorum sensing is a type of decision-making process used by groups to coordinate behavior and can be seen with honey bees when worker bees scout for new nest areas. Bees will leave the nest, gather information, and determine the best new location. Kisdi’s theory works on this same principle. A computer program has been created that functions in a similar way to the honey bees. This concept would be cheaper to build than the large rovers and allow for much more initial exploration, leaving the in-depth exploration for the rovers.
http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-03-honey-bee-strategy-robot-swarms.html

Beetle defence inspires University of Leeds research

The deadly defence system of a tiny African beetle has inspired award-winning research into a new generation of technology. A team of scientists from the University of Leeds have developed a technology which is based on the beetle's spray mechanism. They say it may lead to improvements in the automotive and health industries. The project took five years to develop from first concept to prototype. It said it could inspire new types of nebulisers, needle-free injections, fire extinguishers and powerful fuel injection systems. The university's professor of thermodynamics and combustion theory, Andy McIntosh, who led the research team, said: "Nobody had studied the beetle from a physics and engineering perspective as we did, and we didn't appreciate how much we would learn from it."
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leeds-11959381

Butterfly-Inspired Patch May Alert Soldiers to Brain Injury

A color-changing patch modeled after the iridescent wings of butterflies could give soldiers a heads-up on the severity of injuries sustained on the battlefield. About the size of a binder hole in loose-leaf paper, the patch is made of 3D photonic crystals — tiny structures whose geometry can be manipulated to control the way it interacts with light. Like butterfly wings, these crystals get their color from light bouncing off of the nanoscale lattice. The patches could be worn on a soldier’s helmet to provide medical personnel with blast-exposure information to help them diagnose brain injury — a typical injury sustained in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which are difficult to diagnose with today’s imaging technology, the researchers say. Yang also envisions uses for the patch beyond the battlefield. For example, it could also help gauge injury in football players and cyclists, or help diagnose damage to cell phones, computers, and other electronics.
http://www.livescience.com/9060-butterfly-inspired-patch-alert-soldiers-brain-injury.html

Firefly Glow: Scientists Develop a Hydrogen Peroxide Probe Based on Firefly Luciferin

A unique new probe based on luciferase, the enzyme that gives fireflies their glow, enables researchers to monitor hydrogen peroxide levels in mice and thereby track the progression of infectious diseases or cancerous tumors without harming the animals or even having to shave their fur. "The fact that in nature fireflies use the luciferin enzyme to communicate by light inspired us to adapt this same strategy for pre-clinical diagnostics," Chang says.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110211153929.htm

Air Force flight control improvements

Flying insects' altitude control mechanisms are the focus of research being conducted in a Caltech laboratory under an Air Force Office of Scientific Research grant that may lead to technology that controls altitude in a variety of aircraft for the Air Force. "This work investigates sensory-motor feedback mechanisms in the insect brain that could inspire new approaches to flight stabilization and navigation in future insect-sized vehicles for the military," said Dr. Willard Larkin, AFOSR program manager who's supporting the work of lead researcher, Dr. Andrew Straw of Caltech. The research is being conducted in a laboratory where scientists are studying how flies use visual information to guide flight in natural environments. Straw noted that the flies don't have access to GPS or other radio signals that may also be unavailable in, for example, indoor environments. "However, with a tiny brain they are able to perform a variety of tasks such as finding food and mates despite changing light levels, wind gusts, wing damage, and so on," he said. "Flies rely heavily on vision." In their next phase, the scientists will study more sophisticated flight behaviors, asking if the fly creates a long-lasting neural representation of its visual surroundings or whether flight is only controlled by fast-acting reflexes.
http://www.sciencenewsline.com/biology/2010120712000001.html

Insect eyes inspire improved solar cells

The eyes of moths, which allow them to see well at night, are also covered with a water-repellent, antireflective coating that makes their eyes among the least reflective surfaces in nature and helps them hide from predators in the dark. Mimicking the moth eye's microstructure, a team of researchers in Japan has created a new film, suitable for mass-production, for covering solar cells that can cut down on the amount of reflected light and help capture more power from the sun. They estimate that the films would improve the annual efficiency of solar cells by 6 percent in Phoenix and by 5 percent in Tokyo. Yamada and his colleagues found the inspiration for this new technology a few years ago after they began looking for a broad-wavelength and omnidirectional antireflective structure in nature. The eyes of the moth were the best they found.
http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-01-insect-eyes-solar-cells.html

Researchers use the common cockroach to fine-tune robots of the future

Prof. Amir Ayali of Tel Aviv University's Department of Zoology says the study of cockroaches has already inspired advanced robotics. Robots have long been based on these six-legged houseguests, whose nervous system is relatively straightforward and easy to study. But until now, walking machines based on the cockroach's movement have been influenced by outside observations and mainly imitate the insect's appearance, not its internal mechanics. He and his fellow researchers are delving deeper into the neurological functioning of the cockroach. This, he says, will give engineers the information they need to design robots with a more compact build and greater efficiency in terms of energy, time, robustness and rigidity. Such superior robotics can be even used to explore new terrain in outer space.
http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-02-common-cockroach-fine-tune-robots-future.html

An army of robotic insects

Cockroaches are not the only insects that have captured the scientific imagination. Projects that highlight both the flight of the locust and the crawling of the soft-bodied caterpillar are also underway. Locusts are amazing flyers, Prof. Ayali notes. Scientists are studying both their aerodynamic build and their energy metabolism for long-distance flights. Recordings of their nervous systems and simultaneous video tracking to observe the movement of their wings during flight can be expected to lead to better technology for miniscule flying robots. As for caterpillars, engineers are trying to recreate in soft-bodied robots what they call the creatures' "endless degrees of freedom of movement." "Caterpillars are not confined by a stiff structure — they have no rigid skeletons," says Prof. Ayali. "This is exactly what makes them unique."
http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-02-common-cockroach-fine-tune-robots-future.html

Robots imitate honey bees for aircraft aerobatics

Australian scientists have developed a novel autopilot that guides aircraft through complex aerobatic manoeuvres by watching the horizon like a honey bee. Allowing aircraft to quickly sense which way is "up" by imitating how honeybees see, engineers and researchers at The Vision Centre, Queensland Brain Institute and the School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering at The University of Queensland have made it possible for planes to guide themselves through extreme manoeuvres, including the loop, the barrel roll and the Immelmann turn, with speed, deftness and precision. “Our system, which takes 1000ths of a second to directly measure the position of the horizon, is much faster (than gyroscopes) at calculating position, and more accurate.” “We have created an autopilot that overcomes the errors generated from gyroscopes by imitating a biological system – the honeybees,” says Professor Mandyam Srinivasan. “Although we don't fully understand how these insects work, we know that they are good at stabilising themselves while making complicated flight manoeuvres by watching the horizon.”
http://www.physorg.com/news/2010-12-robots-imitate-honey-bees-aircraft.html

Dragonfly wings inspire micro wind turbine design

THE way a dragonfly remains stable in flight is being mimicked to develop micro wind turbines that can withstand gale-force winds. Obata and his colleagues have used this finding to develop a low-cost model of a micro wind turbine whose 25-centimetre-long paper blades incorporate bumps like a dragonfly's wing.
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20927975.000-dragonfly-wings-
inspire-micro-wind-turbine-design.html

The beetle cocoon that was manna for Moses

What the Israelites were gathering was the cocoon of the parasitic beetle Trehala manna from which trehalose gets its name… (Note: This is debatable as I discuss in my presentation “Bible Bugs” but, if true, it still does not negate God’s miraculous care of the children of Israel for forty years. Karl)
Trehalose is now being used as a preservative for antibodies, vaccines, enzymes and blood coagulation factors. In 1985, Bruce Roser discovered that if trehalose was added to solutions of proteins like these, which were then dehydrated, the products could be stored at temperatures above 40C and when rehydrated were still active. This offers an alternative way of preserving medical supplies in Third World countries, where 90 per cent of vaccines are wasted through lack of refrigeration facilities. "After years of storage at room temperature, trehalose-dried antibodies worked well. Even notoriously unstable enzymes, such as DNA-modifying and restriction enzymes, worked after being stored for a month at 70C," says Mr Roser. Another use could be to store blood. "Fresh blood has a shelf life of 42 days, after which it must be disposed of. Trehalose-dried blood could mean an end to the critical blood shortages that are suffered by the health service."
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/the-beetle-cocoon-that-was-
manna-for-moses-1306263.html

Roboroaches: Students Prepare to Control Roaches With Remote-Control Brains

By looking at what electrical impulses can do in a cockroach brain, co-founder Greg Gage hopes he can show the next generation of neuroscientists what the brain is made of before they ever get to college. "You could argue that there are slight differences between the neurons in cockroaches and in humans," he told AOL News. "But they are really similar: They both encode information the same way, and they both look the same way. So you can learn a lot about human physiology from studying these simple creatures."
http://www.aolnews.com/2011/03/15/roboroaches-students-prepare-to-control-
roaches-with-remote-con/

Suicide Grasshoppers Brainwashed by Parasite Worms

"Parasitic wasps can also make the host weave a special cocoon-like structure to protect the wasp pupae [offspring] against heavy rain," Thomas added. While revelations about the hairworm's antics may inspire a new generation of sci-fi aliens, the study team says their findings may also help the development of new medical treatments. Biron says mind-altering human pathogens—such as those that cause rabies, sleeping sickness, and toxoplasmosis—may manipulate their victim in similar ways. He said further understanding of biochemical communication between a parasite and its host may "ultimately assist researchers in the search for new drugs and vaccines." http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/09/0901_050901_wormparasite.html

Hornet Exoskeleton Harvests Solar Power

The researchers also found a number of energy processes unique to the insect. Like air conditioners and refrigerators, the hornet has a well-developed heat pump system in its body which keeps it cooler than the outside temperature while it forages in the sun. This is something that's not easy to do, says Bergman. To determine whether if the solar collecting prowess of the hornet could be duplicated, the team imitated the structure of the hornet's body but had poor results in achieving the same high efficiency rates of energy collection. In the future, they plan to refine the model to see if this "bio-mimicry" can give clues to novel renewable energy solutions.
http://www.scientificcomputing.com/news-DS-Weird-Life-Hornet-Exoskeleton-
Harvests-Solar-Power-010611.aspx

An engineered directional nanofilm mimics nature's curious feats

Being able to mimic these features at a larger scale would spur new advances in renewable energy and medicine. In a paper published in the October 10 issue of Nature Materials, a team of researchers from Penn State, the Naval Research Laboratory, and Harvard Medical School report on the development of an engineered thin film that mimics the natural abilities of water striding insects to walk on the surface of water, and for butterflies to shed water from their wings… the nanofilm is envisioned for use as a coating that would reduce drag on the hull of vessels and retard fouling. Potential industrial and energy related uses are as directional syringes and fluid diodes, pump-free digital fluidic devices, increased efficiency of thermal cooling for microchips, coatings for tires, and even in energy production from rain drops.
http://www.physorg.com/news/2010-10-nanofilm-mimics-nature-curious-feats.html

Research Highlights

Inspired by the natural design of the Hercules beetle, researchers have created a film that changes colour according to the ambient humidity.In muggy weather, microscopic pockets in the insect's shell trap water, transforming the beetle (Dynastes hercules; pictured) from khaki-green to black.
http://feeds.nature.com/~r/nature/rss/current/~3/Dnr7TD223ro/467370c

Honeybee democracies offer insights, says new book

When honeybees seek a new home, they choose the best site through a democratic process that humans might do well to emulate, says a Cornell biologist in his new book, "Honeybee Democracy" (Princeton University Press). Indeed, humans can learn much about democratic decision-making by looking at bees, Seeley said. If the members of a group have common interests, like the bees in a swarm, then the keys to good collective decision-making are to ensure the group contains diverse members and an impartial leader, and conducts open debates.
http://www.physorg.com/news204391141.html

Making bees less busy: Social environment changes internal clocks

Because bees and mammals' circadian clocks are similarly organized, the question is whether the clocks of other animals also strongly depend on their social environments. The next step is to find just how social exchanges influence gene expressions. Further research into this question may have implications for individuals who suffer from disturbances in their behavioral, sleeping, and waking cycles. Research into how these rhythms may be altered and even stabilized might identify new treatment options.
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-09/sfn-mbl091010.php

Insect brains are rich stores of new antibiotics

Cockroaches could be more of a health benefit than a health hazard according to scientists from the University of Nottingham, who have discovered powerful antibiotic properties in the brains of cockroaches and locusts. Simon Lee, a postgraduate researcher who is presenting his work at the Society for General Microbiology's autumn meeting in Nottingham, describes how the group identified up to nine different molecules in the insect tissues that were toxic to bacteria. These substances could lead to novel treatments for multi-drug resistant bacterial infections. The group found that the tissues of the brain and nervous system of the insects were able to kill more than 90% of Meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Escherichia coli, without harming human cells. Studying the specific properties of the antibacterial molecules is currently underway in the laboratory. "We hope that these molecules could eventually be developed into treatments for E. coli and MRSA infections that are increasingly resistant to current drugs," explained Mr Lee. "Also, these new antibiotics could potentially provide alternatives to currently available drugs that may be effective but have serious and unwanted side effects," he said.
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-09/sfgm-iba090210.php

Miniature auto differential helps tiny aerial robots stay aloft

Engineers at Harvard University have created a millionth-scale automobile differential to govern the flight of minuscule aerial robots that could someday be used to probe environmental hazards, forest fires, and other places too perilous for people. To fly successfully through unpredictable environments, aerial microrobots -- like insects, nature's nimblest fliers -- have to negotiate conditions that change second-by-second. Insects usually accomplish this by flapping their wings in unison, a process whose kinematic and aerodynamic basis remains poorly understood. "We suspect that similar passive mechanisms exist in nature, in actual insects," Sreetharan says. "We take our inspiration from biology…"
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-09/hu-mad090210.php

X-ray Movies Reveal Insect Flight, Muscle Motion

Watching flies fly may not seem like high-tech science, but for researchers using the Western Hemisphere's most brilliant X-rays, located at the Advanced Photon Source at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory, it not only helps explain how insects fly but also may someday aid in understanding human heart function. The authors note that the many similarities between insect muscle and other oscillatory muscles, including human cardiac muscle, mean that the research may be adaptable for other uses. “The data collected in these experiments," Irving said, "suggest new ways to study cardiac muscle that may allow us to explain how changes in its molecular machinery determine heart muscle performance. The fact that flight muscles are genetically mutable by the investigators raise the possibility they could serve as useful models of inherited human heart disease.”
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/01/050122141619.htm

Bombardier Beetle, Power Venom, And Spray Technologies

The bombardier beetle is inspiring designers of engines, drug-delivery devices and fire extinguishers to improve spray technologies…This new technology is likely to be of interest to firms making drug-delivery systems as it could prove far more reliable than the mechanically-driven spring technology used in, for example, inhalers. It could also provide a much more energy-resourceful mechanism for fuel-injection in car engines and even lead to a new generation of fire extinguishers that can both produce either a fine mist or large droplets depending on what type of fire needs to be put out.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080401170543.htm

Bug With Bifocals Baffles Biologists

The new article is an exploration of two eyes of the larvae of the sunburst diving beetle ( Thermonectus marmoratus). The two eyes have the bifocal lens, which the researchers have found in four of the larvae's 12 eyes, says researcher Elke K. Buschbeck, a UC associate professor of biology.
"We're hoping this discovery could hold implications for humans, pending possible future research in biomedical engineering," Buschbeck says. "The discovery could also have uses for any imaging technology," adds Stowasser.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100823121935.htm

Genome Comparison of Ants Establishes New Model Species for Molecular Research

By comparing two species of ants, Shelley Berger, PhD, the Daniel S. Och University Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and colleagues Danny Reinberg, PhD, New York University, and Juergen Liebig, PhD, Arizona State University, have established an important new avenue of research for epigenetics -- the study of how the expression or suppression of particular genes affects an organism's characteristics, development, and even behavior. "Many of the changes that underlie human disease are epigenetic in nature," Berger points out. "Using very sophisticated models like ants, the more we can understand how epigenetics might regulate these profound changes in physiology, the more we're going to understand about human development, aging and disease, and ultimately behavior."
http://www.uphs.upenn.edu/news/News_Releases/2010/08/ant-epigenetics/

Bee sting therapy causing a buzz in China

Bee sting therapy, which involves placing live bees on a patient's body at certain pressure points, dates back over 3000 years in China and was considered legal in 2007. It is similar to acupuncture in that it uses bees stingers instead of needles and the same principles, but the bees' toxin, which doctors say is a natural medicine, is essential, making the treatment like an injection. Doctors at the Kang Tai Bee Clinic, a traditional Chinese medical facility in northeast Beijing, say the therapy has proved effective in curing diseases such as rheumatism and arthritis, as well as a list of other ailments.
http://uk.reuters.com/article/2010/03/22/us-china-bees-idUKTRE62L19C20100322

Novel bee venom derivative forms a nanoparticle 'smart bomb' to target cancer cells

The next time you are stung by a bee, here's some consolation: a toxic protein in bee venom, when altered, significantly improves the effectiveness liposome-encapsulated drugs or dyes, such as those already used to treat or diagnose cancer. This research, described in the August 2010 print issue of the FASEB Journal ( http://www.fasebj.org), shows how modified melittin may revolutionize treatments for cancer and perhaps other conditions, such as arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and serious infections.
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-08/foas-nbv080210.php

Honey-The World's Best Wound Healer?

Would you have ever guessed that this delicious food made by honeybees is actually one of mankind’s oldest-known medicines? Dating as far back as 5,000 years, honey has been successfully used to treat burns, coughs and ulcers. Recent Research shows that honey is far superior to antiseptics and antibiotics. Israeli researchers took honey to the test. They applied the sweet, sticky food twice a day to wounds of nine infants after two weeks of intravenous antibiotic treatment and daily antiseptic cleansing failed to heal them. Following just five days of honey treatment, the babies’ wounds improved significantly. After 16 more days, they were closed, clean, and sterile. In a Yemeni study, honey was shown to have a significant advantage over antiseptics used for infected surgical wounds. Fifty women whose wounds became infected were divided into two groups. One group was treated with honey, the other with antiseptics. The patients in the honey group recovered within 7 to 11 days, whereas the antiseptic group needed 12 to 27 days.
http://www.facebook.com/notes/andreas-moritz/honeythe-worlds-best-wound-healer/378973284706

The Buzz: Targeting Cancer With Bee Venom

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have used an ingredient of bee venom called melittin to shrink or slow the growth of tumors in mice.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203803904574433382922095534.html?mod=WSJ_
hpp_LEFTTopStories#

Behind the secrets of silk lie high-tech opportunities

Tougher than a bullet-proof vest yet synonymous with beauty and luxury, silk fibers are a masterpiece of nature whose remarkable properties have yet to be fully replicated in the laboratory. Thanks to their amazing mechanical properties as well as their looks, silk fibers have been important materials in textiles, medical sutures, and even armor for 5,000 years. Silk spun by spiders and silk worms combines high strength and extensibility. This one-two punch is unmatched by synthetics, even though silk is made from a relatively simple protein processed from water. But in recent years scientists have begun to unravel the secrets of silk. These discoveries have provided the basis for a new generation of applications for silk materials, from medical devices and drug delivery to electronics. The Science paper notes that the development of silk hydrogels, films, fibers and sponges is making possible advances in photonics and optics, nanotechnology, electronics, adhesives and microfluidics, as well as engineering of bone and ligaments. Because silk fiber formation does not rely on complex or toxic chemistries, such materials are biologically and environmentally friendly, even able to integrate with living systems. Down the silk road of the future, Kaplan and Omenetto believe applications could include degradable and flexible electronic displays for sensors that are biologically and environmentally compatible and implantable optical systems for diagnosis and treatment.
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-07/tu-bts072910.php

If spiders and worms can do it, why can't we?

Imagine a material that is tougher than Kelvar or steel, yet remarkably flexible. It's something you can easily find in your attic or a lingerie store. It's as instantly recognizable today as it was to our early ancestors, yet we still aren't sure exactly how it's made. The miracle thread in question is natural silk, the ubiquitous fibers made by spiders and silkworms, which has been used throughout history for items ranging from stockings and parachutes to surgical sutures. Today scientists and engineers are creating a number of useful materials based on silk research. But many researchers believe these applications may just be the start of a whole web of useful new products and devices, if only we had a better understanding of just how these small creatures spin their precious thread. But no one knows how exactly the spiders and silk worms actually make silk. So why all of this focus on silk? Omenetto and Kaplan say that figuring out how to replicate and modify silk could lead to new breakthroughs in medicine, among other fields. Although silk is used in sutures today, the authors explain, it has to be coated in wax, which prevents the sutures from being gradually absorbed into the body. Modified silks could be wax free, Omenetto and Kaplan write, and could be used to safely administer drugs within the body or even create "degradable and flexible electronic displays for improved physiological recording" of a person's body.
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-07/nsf-isa072910.php

Gut movements in caterpillars inspire soft-body robot design

"Weird movements" in the abdomens of freely crawling caterpillars are making headlines in the fields of engineering… Using powerful x-rays generated by the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory in Argonne, Illinois, they were actually able to track  the tracheae of the caterpillars. Their findings are already finding their way into designing maneuverable and orientation-independent soft material robots. The next step for these 'softbots' includes a diverse array of potential uses, such as shape-changing robots capable of engaging in search-and-rescue operations, space applications for which a 'gravity-agnostic' crawler would be highly valued, and medical applications in which a biocompatible, soft robot would reduce incidental tissue damage and discomfort.
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-07/vt-gmi072010.php

Insulin signaling key to caste development in bees

Honeybees are vitally important to our economy through pollination of crops as well as production of honey, wax and royal jelly. Understanding bee biology is crucial to maintaining this industry in the face of problems like colony collapse disorder. Wolschin adds that bees also provide an important model system that can help us understand our own biology. For example, scientists have successfully reversed many signs of aging in worker bees. "That is pretty unique," says Wolschin. "You don't have other model organisms in aging research that can do that."
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-07/asu-isk071410.php

Tiny insect brains can solve big problems

Insects may have tiny brains, but they can perform some seriously impressive feats of mental gymnastics. According to a growing number of studies, some insects can count, categorize objects, even recognize human faces — all with brains the size of pinheads. Despite many attempts to link the volume of an animal's brain with the depth of its intelligence, scientists now propose that it's the complexity of connections between brain cells that matters most. Studying those connections — a more manageable task in a little brain than in a big one — could help researchers understand how bigger brains, including those of humans, work. Figuring out how a relatively small number of cells work together to process complex concepts could also lead to "smarter" computers that do some of the same tasks.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33974286/

Colors of Butterfly Wing Yield Clues to Light-Altering Structures

The crystal nanostructures that ultimately give butterflies their color are called gryoids. These are “mind-bendingly weird” three-dimensional curving structures that selectively scatter light, said Richard Prum… Prum over the years became fascinated with the properties of the colors on butterfly wings and enlisted researchers to help study them from the Departments of Chemical Engineering, Physics and Mechanical Engineering, as well as the Yale School of Engineering and Applied Science… Photonic engineers are using gyroid shapes to try to create more efficient solar cells and, by mimicking nature, may be able to produce more efficient optical devices as well, Prum said.
http://www.physorg.com/news195752252.html

Termites and Climate Control

Those who believe termites’ only function is to keep pest control companies in business may want to visit Eastgate Center in Harare, Zimbabwe. Besides being the country’s largest office building and shopping center, the mostly concrete skyscraper built in 2007 features a unique climate-control system inspired by the gigantic termite mounds found in the Zimbabwean bush. Beyond eliminating the need for a $3.5 million air-conditioning plant, the structure uses 10 percent less energy than a conventional building of comparable size.
http://www.miller-mccune.com/science-environment/termites-and-climate-control-3503/

Cockroaches and Running Robots

While the average human being probably doesn’t find the sight of a cockroach dashing through the kitchen at 1 a.m. anything short of disgusting, researchers at Oregon State think it’s inspiring. They are using the creature, a biological and engineering marvel, as “bioinspiration” for the world’s first legged robot that can run over rugged terrain. Schmitt thinks that the running robots could serve a valuable role in military operations, law enforcement or space exploration, and the technology could also be used to improve prosthetic limbs.
http://www.miller-mccune.com/science-environment/cockroaches-and-running-robots-6983/

Bumblebees for Crash Avoidance

Back in the 20th century, seatbelts and crash resistant materials were critical components of auto safety. Now engineers at Nissan Motor Company are implementing a bigger-picture approach by mimicking the world’s best collision avoiders, bumblebees. By integrating the oval-shaped personal space used by bees, Nissan’s “Safety Shield ” technology is being developed to allow vehicles to instantly change direction when a crash is imminent.
http://www.miller-mccune.com/science-environment/bumblebees-for-crash-avoidance-3500/

Hop, Jump and Stick; Robots Designed With Insect Instincts

Swarm robotics is offering innovative solutions to real-world problems by creating a new form of artificial intelligence based on insect-like instincts. Mirko Kovac, from EPFL's Laboratory of Intelligent Systems, is a young robotics engineer who has already made leaps forward in the field with his grasshopper-inspired jumping robot. He and his collaborators have created an innovative perching mechanism where the robot flies head first into the  object, a tree for example -- without being destroyed -- and attaches to almost any type of surface using sharp prongs. It then detaches on command. The goal is to create robots that can travel in swarms over rough terrain to come to the aide of catastrophe victims. Jumping, gliding and perching allow for mobility over rocky territory or destroyed urban areas. This new form of AI takes its inspiration from the insect world, but is more as an abstract reflection on their instincts and design principles than merely imitating their morphology. "I am fascinated by the creative process," says Kovac, "and how it is possible to use the sophistication found in nature to create something completely new.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100624091751.htm

Honey as an antibiotic: Scientists identify a secret ingredient in honey that kills bacteria

Sweet news for those looking for new antibiotics: A new research published in the July 2010 print edition of the FASEB Journal explains for the first time how honey kills bacteria. Specifically, the research shows that bees make a protein that they add to the honey, called defensin-1, which could one day be used to treat burns and skin infections and to develop new drugs that could combat antibiotic-resistant infections. "Honey or isolated honey-derived components might be of great value for prevention and treatment of infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria." "We've known for millennia that honey can be good for what ails us, but we haven't known how it works," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB Journal…
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-06/foas-haa063010.php

Bees help to beat MRSA bugs

Bees could have a key role to play in urgently-needed new treatments to fight the virulent MRSA bug, according to research led at the University of Strathclyde. The scientists found that a substance known as beeglue or propolis, originating from beehives in the Pacific region, was active against MRSA, which causes potentially fatal infections, particularly in hospital patients. "Beeglue is also a natural remedy widely-used in folk medicine for a variety of ailments…
http://www.strath.ac.uk/press/newsreleases/headline_300789_en.html

Natural Honeycombs Are An Engineering Feat


Natural honeycombs are an engineering feat, able to house and store honey, pollen and a brood whilst maintaining strength and integrity even through large temperature shifts. But whilst researchers have thoroughly examined the macrostructure of combs, few have studied their microstructure. The team argue that cellular solids created to truly mimic the microstructure of natural honeycombs would overcome many of the drawbacks of modern cellular materials and provide a remarkable degree of design flexibility.
http://news.engineering.cf.ac.uk/news/natural-honeycombs-are-an-engineering-feat.html

Tiny insect brains capable of huge feats

For the first time, researchers from the University's Discipline of Physiology have worked out how insects judge the speed of moving objects. "It appears they take into account different light patterns in nature, such as a foggy morning or a sunny day, and their brain cells adapt accordingly. "This mechanism in their brain enables them to distinguish moving objects in a wide variety of natural settings. It also highlights the fact that single neurons can exhibit extremely complex behaviour." His team is collaborating with industry to develop artificial eyes in robots, mimicking human and insect vision.
http://www.adelaide.edu.au/news/news39801.html

Butterfly wings may help scientists better understand photonic crystals

In order to get closer to making these photonic crystals, the three Penn State scientists devised a process that allowed them to replicate butterfly wings.
http://www.physorg.com/news139741656.html

Darpa hatches plan for insect cyborgs to fly reconnaissance

"Michigan is focusing on horned beetles, while MIT and Boyce Thompson are working with large moths," said Darpa spokesman Jan Walker. "The program's first major milestone is scheduled for January 2008, when the contractors have to demonstrate controlled, tethered flight of the insect." Insect swarms with various sorts of different embedded MEMS sensors--video cameras, audio microphones, chemical sniffers and more--could then penetrate enemy territory in swarms to perform reconnaissance missions impossible or too dangerous for soldiers. "For instance, with genetic engineering Darpa could replace the sex attractant receptor on the moth antennae with receptors for other things, like explosives, drugs or toxins," said Easton.
http://www.eetimes.com/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=202200707

Nanocoating Makes Perfectly Non-Reflecting Displays

A new nanocoating ensures a perfectly non-reflecting view on displays and through eyeglasses. The necessary surface structure is applied to the polymeric parts during manufacture, obviating the need for a separate process step. The hybrid coating has further advantages: the components are scratch-proof and easy to clean. Moths are the prototype. As they search for food at dusk they have to hide from predators. Their presence must not be betrayed by reflections on their facet eyes. On other insects these eyes shimmer, but the moth's eyes are perfectly non-reflecting. Tiny protuberances smaller than the wavelength of light form a periodic structure on the surface. This nanostructure creates a gentle transition between the refractive indices of the air and the cornea. As a result, the reflection of light is reduced and the moth remains undetected. Working in cooperation with industrial partners, the research scientists now aim to develop components for the auto industry, for example, which are not only attractive to look at but also hard-wearing and easy to clean.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100505092627.htm

From butterflies' wings to bank notes -- how nature's colors could cut bank fraud

Scientists have discovered a way of mimicking the stunningly bright and beautiful colours found on the wings of tropical butterflies. The findings could have important applications in the security printing industry, helping to make bank notes and credit cards harder to forge. The striking iridescent colours displayed on beetles, butterflies and other insects have long fascinated both physicists and biologists, but mimicking nature's most colourful, eye-catching surfaces has proved elusive.
According to Kolle: "We have unlocked one of nature's secrets and combined this knowledge with state-of-the-art nanofabrication to mimic the intricate optical designs found in nature." As well as helping scientists gain a deeper understanding of the physics behind these butterflies' colours, being able to mimic them has promising applications in security printing. "These artificial structures could be used to encrypt information in optical signatures on banknotes or other valuable items to protect them against forgery. We still need to refine our system but in future we could see structures based on butterflies wings shining from a £10 note or even our passports," he says.
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-05/uoc-fbw052810.php

Artificial butterfly in flight and filmed

Using motion analysis software, the researchers were able to monitor the ornithopter's aerodynamic performance, showing that flight can be realised with simple flapping motions without feedback control, a model which can be applied to future aerodynamic systems.
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-05/iop-abi051910.php

A Concise Summary of the General Nutritional Value of Insects

Edible insects may be closer now than ever before to acceptance in the western world as a resource that should be considered in trying to meet the world's present and future food needs. Insects have played an important part in the history of human nutrition in Africa, Asia and Latin America (Bodenheimer, 1951). They were an equally important resource for the Indians of western North America, who, like other indigenous groups, expended much organization and effort in harvesting them (Sutton, 1988). Hundreds of species have been used as human food. http://www.ent.orst.edu/burgettm/ent300_lecture21.htm

Astronauts May Eat Insects

These tasty critters are full of protein, which makes them a very healthy snack. This means that one day astronauts may be taking a bucket of bugs into space. It would be very hard for astronauts to bring a cow aboard or grow plants. But a colony of worms would be ideal for space travel. They are easily stored, and can reproduce during the flight.
http://www.windows2universe.org/headline_universe/space_insects.html

If only a robot could be more like a cockroach

He believes the research could help lead to better robots to search collapsed mines and buildings, to pilot drones, and for space exploration, where signals from Earth to a far off planet takes minutes, hours or longer. So, to make a robot that can turn, back up, climb over or burrow under and obstacle without the guidance of a far off rescue worker using computer controls, what could be better than mimicking an insect's comparatively simple brain? Easier said than done. To get these first recordings of neural activity, Research Assistant Allan Pollack spent more than a year perfecting techniques to perform brain surgery in an area the size of the head of a pin.
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-05/cwru-ioa050510.php

New Bee Sniffing Technology Can Detect Many Dangerous Vapors At Once

While bees are extremely important to our ecology, they are becoming important to our defense against biological and other weapons, as the bee’s discreet sense of smell, equivalent to a dog’s, is being exploited as a much cheaper way to detect various odors in the environment. As far back as 1999, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Controlled Biological Systems Program funded a bee-training program to detect buried landmines, so that many thousands of acres of the world’s land could be productively farmed without encountering landmines the ugly way. A bee’s natural instinct is to extend its proboscis when it encounters a desirable odor, anticipating the taste of a flower, let’s say. But the bees used in the 1999 DARPA experiment were trained, via classical Pavlovian conditioning, to respond to the odor of TNT instead. Their reward when they responded with a Proboscis Extension Reflex (PER), was a taste of sweet syrup. Then, trainers attached small diodes onto the backs of TNT-trained bees and used handheld radar tracking devices to chart where the bees went.
In 2010, bee training in the fields of defense and security, medicine, food, and building industries is big business. Bee training is essentially the same as it was in 1999, but the results are attained with more sophisticated and less expensive technology.
http://www.physorg.com/news188894292.html

Artificial Bee Silk a Big Step Closer to Reality

CSIRO scientist Dr Tara Sutherland and her team have achieved another important milestone in the international quest to artificially produce insect silk. They have hand-drawn fine threads of honeybee silk from a 'soup' of silk proteins that they had produced transgenically. These threads were as strong as threads drawn from the honeybee silk gland, a significant step towards development of coiled coil silk biomaterials. "It means that we can now seriously consider the uses to which these biomimetic materials can be put," Dr Sutherland said. "We had previously identified the honeybee silk genes and knew that that the silk was encoded by four small non-repetitive genes -- a much simpler arrangement which made them excellent candidates for transgenic silk production." Possible practical uses for these silks would be tough, lightweight textiles, high-strength applications such as advanced composites for use in aviation and  marine environments, and medical applications such as sutures, artificial tendons and ligaments.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100303092409.htm

New analysis of the structure of silks explains paradox of super-strength

Spiders and silkworms are masters of materials science, but scientists are finally catching up. Silks are among the toughest materials known, stronger and less brittle, pound for pound, than steel. Now scientists at MIT have unraveled some of their deepest secrets in research that could lead the way to the creation of synthetic materials that duplicate, or even exceed, the extraordinary properties of natural silk. The long-term impact of this research, Buehler says, will be the development of a new material design paradigm that enables the creation of highly functional materials out of abundant, inexpensive materials. This would be a departure from the current approach, where strong bonds, expensive constituents, and energy intensive processing (at high temperatures) are used to obtain high-performance materials.
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-03/miot-nao031110.php

Caddisflies' underwater silk adhesive might suture wounds

Like silkworm moths, butterflies and spiders, caddisfly larvae spin silk, but they do so underwater instead on dry land. Now, University of Utah researchers have discovered why the fly's silk is sticky when wet and how that may make it valuable as an adhesive tape during surgery. Their adhesive is able to bond to a wide range of surfaces underwater: soft and hard, organic and inorganic. If we could copy this adhesive it would be useful on a wide range of tissue types."
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-02/uou-gfg022610.php

Device could create real-life Spiderman

A device inspired by a tiny purple beetle that feeds on palm leaves could one day allow humans to walk up walls like the comic book hero Spiderman. The researchers, whose work was funded by the US military, hope to use their invention to develop gloves and shoes that will allow the wearer to climb up even the blankest of walls. The technology was inspired by the Palmetto tortoise beetle from Florida, which uses surface tension from tiny droplets of oil secreted by glands at the top of its legs to clamp its shell down onto a leaf when it is under attack from ants. Once attached, the beetle is capable of holding loads 100 times its own weight. Their research has been funded by Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which is the research and development wing for the US military. Such a device could prove useful for special forces looking to scale buildings quickly as the ability to reverse the grip of the device makes it easy to release limbs independently. With such small power demands, the device could easily be incorporated into clothing, according to Professor Steen. "At the moment we don't know what DARPA envisages the end use of our research will be, but having the ability to stick and release a load easily could have a number of uses."
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/7280275/Device-could-
create-real-life-Spiderman.html

Pesky aphid thrives despite weak immune system

Aphids are not just pests, Gerardo says. They are also potential resources for questions related to human health. "Humans need beneficial bacteria for proper digestion in the gut and to protect against cavities in the teeth," she says. "Some people feel sick when they take antibiotics because the drug kills off all the beneficial bacteria. If we can study the process of how to keep beneficial bacteria while clearing out harmful bacteria across several organisms, including aphids, we might be able to understand it better."
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-02/eu-pat021910.php

Bees recognize human faces using feature configuration

What is really amazing is that an insect with a microdot-sized brain can handle this type of image analysis when we have entire regions of brain dedicated to the problem. Giurfa explains that if we want to design automatic facial recognition systems, we could learn a lot by using the bees' approach to face  recognition.
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-01/tcob-brh012110.php

Why bees always have a safe landing-- Graceful and acrobatic motions would be well suited to aircraft design

Now, for the first time, scientists have figured out how these insects maneuver themselves onto all sorts of surfaces, from right side up to upside-down. The bees' technique, which depends mostly on eyesight, may help engineers design a new generation of automated aircraft that would be undetectable to radar or sonar systems and would make perfectly gentle landings, even in outer space. "This is something an engineer would not think of while sitting in an armchair and thinking about how to land an aircraft," said Mandyam Srinivasan, a  neuroscientist… "This is something we wouldn't have thought of if we hadn't watched bees do their landings." It's a graceful and acrobatic motion that would be well suited to aircraft design, Srinivasan said. Current landing systems use radiation-emitting systems, which are detectable and often undesirable for military applications."It's a beautiful way of landing using biological autopilot," he said of the bees. "We would like to make spacecraft that do smooth, flawless dockings.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34577557/

See "Fantastic Flight".

Insect cells provide the key to alternative swine flu vaccination

Scientists in Vienna have developed a new technique for producing vaccines for H1N1, 'swine flu', based on insect cells. The research, published today in  the Biotechnology Journal, reveals how influenza vaccines can be produced faster than through the traditional method of egg-based production, revealing a new strategy for the fight against influenza pandemics. Using insect cells also bypasses the disadvantages of egg-based production, such as limited production capacity, allergic reactions to egg proteins and biosafety issues.
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-01/w-icp010410.php

Cockroaches Offer Inspiration For Running Robots

The sight of a cockroach scurrying for cover may be nauseating, but the insect is also a biological and engineering marvel, and is providing researchers at Oregon State University with what they call “bioinspiration” in a quest to build the world’s first legged robot that is capable of running effortlessly over rough terrain. If successful, Schmitt said, running robots could serve valuable roles in difficult jobs, such as military operations, law enforcement or space exploration. Related technology might also be applied to improve the function of prosthetic limbs for amputees, or serve other needs.
http://oregonstate.edu/ua/ncs/archives/2009/dec/cockroaches-offer-inspiration-running-robots

Butterfly proboscis to sip cells

A butterfly's proboscis looks like a straw -- long, slender, and used for sipping -- but it works more like a paper towel, according to Konstantin Kornev of Clemson University. He hopes to borrow the tricks of this piece of insect anatomy to make small probes that can sample the fluid inside of cells.
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-11/aiop-bpt111809.php

Nanotechnology biomimics insects

Researchers in Australia and the UK are flying the idea that insect wings could act as a model for making self-cleaning, frictionless, and superhydrophobic materials. Insects are incredible nanotechnologists…For instance, some wings are superhydrophobic, due to a clever combination of natural chemistry and their detailed structure at the nanoscopic scale. This means that the wing cannot become wet, the tiniest droplet of water is instantly repelled. Likewise, other insect wing surfaces are almost frictionless, so that any tiny dust particles that might stick are sloughed away with minimal force. Now(scientists) are hoping to mimic these properties by using the surface of insect wings as a template for producing plastics, or polymeric, materials with novel surface properties. If they are successful, they might then develop self-cleaning, water-resistant, and friction-free coatings for a wide range of machine components,  construction materials, and other applications, including nano- and micro-electromechanical systems (NEMS and MEMS) and lab-on-a-chip devices for medical diagnostics and environmental sensing.
http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=13433.php

Locust flight simulator…

The simulator could be a big step forward for the many teams around the world who are designing robotic insects, mainly for military purposes, though Thomas expects them to have a massive role as toys, too. "Imagine sitting in your living room doing aerial combat with radio-controlled dragonflies. Everybody would love that," he says.
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20327275.600-locust-flight-simulator-helps-robot-
insects-evolve.html?DCMP=OTC-rss&nsref=online-news

Secrets Of Insect Flight Revealed: Modeling The Aerodynamic Secrets Of One Of Nature's Most Efficient Flyers 

Researchers are one step closer to creating a micro-aircraft that flies with the manoeuvrability and energy efficiency of an insect after decoding the aerodynamic secrets of insect flight. The breakthrough result, published in the journal Science this week, means engineers understand for the first time the aerodynamic secrets of one of Nature's most efficient flyers – information vital to the creation of miniature robot flyers for use in situations such as search and rescue, military applications and inspecting hazardous environments.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090917144125.htm

Secrets Of Insect Flight Revealed: Modeling The Aerodynamic Secrets Of One Of Nature's Most Efficient Flyers

Researchers are one step closer to creating a micro-aircraft that flies with the manoeuvrability and energy efficiency of an insect after decoding the aerodynamic secrets of insect flight. The breakthrough result, published in the journal Science this week, means engineers understand for the first time the aerodynamic secrets of one of  Nature's most efficient flyers – information vital to the creation of miniature robot flyers for use in situations such as search and rescue, military applications and inspecting hazardous environments.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090917144125.htm

Nanometric Butterfly Wings Created

Martín-Palma points out that the structures resulting from replicating the biotemplate of butterfly wings could be used to make various optically active structures, such as optical diffusers or coverings that maximise solar cell light absorption, or other types of devices. " The compound eyes of certain insects are sound candidates for a large number of applications as they provide great angular vision. "The development of miniature cameras and optical sensors based on these organs would make it possible for them to be installed in small spaces in cars, mobile telephones and displays, apart from having uses in areas such as medicine (the development of endoscopes) and security (surveillance)", Martín-Palma says.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091008123233.htm

Butterfly wings may help scientists better understand photonic crystals

Lakhtakia and his colleagues believe that there are several applications that could be enhanced through research of these butterfly wing replicas. “This could lead to smaller electronic circuitry, since it could lead to ultraviolet optics to fabricate semiconductor devices.” He also sees uses at infrared wavelengths. “There aren’t many materials that are useful with infrared, but this could help. Some of the applications include sensors for the military and police.” He and his colleagues are most interested in the photonic capabilities, as well as the possibility that studying butterfly wings could lead to better solar energy concentrators.
http://www.physorg.com/news139741656.html

Butterflies and Photonic Crystals

If photonic crystals can have such a dramatic impact on butterfly thermal management, suggest the researchers, manmade photonic crystals may someday provide flexible thermal protection in extreme environments, possibly being incorporated into such things as space suits or desert garments. (L. P. Biro et al, Physical Review E, February 2003)
http://www.aip.org/enews/physnews/2003/split/622-1.html

Remote controlled bugs buzz off

Cyborg beetles may serve as useful models for "micro air vehicles", the Berkeley team say in their findings. The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa), which funds their research, has been pursuing a Nano Air Vehicle (NAV). "It's actually quite useful to find out about the dynamics of flight and the biomechanics of the insect," says Professor Starkey.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8302903.stm

Tufts University biologists unveil more mysteries of fireflies flash 

Fireflies have long been used by scientists for health related research and to answer basic biological questions. Other recent research has used chemicals from fireflies to test bacteria for antibiotic resistance, giving hope for human health in the battle against drug-resistant tuberculosis in developing countries.
http://news.bio-medicine.org/biology-news-2/Tufts-University-biologists-unveil-
more-mysteries-of-fireflies-flash-5077-1/

Catch the Buzz about Nature's Elastic Band

In a move that could signal an end to bad backs, writing in last week's edition of Nature a team of Australian scientists led by the Queensland researcher Dr Chris Elvin have successfully copied the insect gene that enables the wings of a bee to flap at least 500 million times during its life, and has catapulted "frog hoppers" into the Guinness Book of Records as the world's greatest jumpers. Resilin is essentially Nature's elastic band. It's extremely tough, it can store energy like a spring, which is how blood-hungry fleas bounce from one tasty host to another, and it can expand and contract very fast without  wearing out. Until now it has been impossible to produce this substance artificially…
http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/content/news/news/366/

The Good Cop with a Sting in His Tail

Scientists in America have been training 'sniffer wasps' to sniff out explosives, dead bodies and mouldy corn…Maybe in future airports will be hiring sniffer wasps instead of sniffer dogs.
http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/content/news/news/367/

How manuka honey helps fight infection
"Manuka and other honeys have been known to have wound healing and anti-bacterial properties for some time," said Dr Jenkins, "But the way in which they act is still not known. If we can discover exactly how manuka honey inhibits MRSA it could be used more frequently as a first-line treatment for infections with bacteria that are resistant to many currently available antibiotics". (Manuka Honey is produced by bees that gather nectar from the flowers of the Manuka bush. Karl)
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-09/sfgm-hmh090209.php

Silk-based optical waveguides meet biomedical needs

There is a growing need for biocompatible photonic components for biomedical applications – from in vivo glucose monitoring to detecting harmful viruses or the telltale markers of Alzheimer's. Optical waveguides are of particular interest because of their ability to manipulate and transport light in a  controlled manner in a variety of configurations. In an article featured on the cover of Advanced Materials, researchers at Tufts University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign demonstrated a new method for fabricating silk-based optical waveguides that are biocompatible, biodegradable and can be readily functionalized with active molecules. The Tufts-UIUC team successfully demonstrated light guiding through this new class of waveguides created by direct ink writing using Bombyx mori (silk worm) silk fibroin inks.
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-08/tu-sow083109.php

Japanese scientists to build robot insects

Police release a swarm of robot-moths to sniff out a distant drug stash. Rescue robot-bees dodge through earthquake rubble to find survivors. These may sound like science-fiction scenarios, but they are the visions of Japanese scientists who hope to understand and then rebuild the brains of insects and program them for specific tasks. Such modifications could pave the way to creating a robo-bug which could in future sense illegal drugs several kilometres away, as well as landmines,  people buried under rubble, or toxic gas, the professor said.
http://www.news.com.au/story/0,,25780913-2,00.html

Volvo Thinks Locusts Can Make Us Safer Drivers

Volvo is determined to build an injury-proof car by 2020, and the engineers working out the bugs developing so complex a vehicle hope to include a few as well. They’re studying the African locust to figure out how to make cars mimic the insect’s uncanny ability to avoid crashing into each other as they swarm.
http://www.wired.com/autopia/2008/09/volvo-thinks-lo/

Modeling biomimetic algorithms for velocity discrimination in motion of natural scenes.

After 30 years of physiological research, the visual processing pathway mediating wide-field motion detection in insects is among the best studied of all neural pathways. We are using knowledge acquired about the key stages of motion analysis, in combination with our recent studies of adaptive properties of insect motion detectors, to develop and model 'biomimetic' algorithms based on insect vision…Thus we may be well served by 'reverse engineering' the relatively simple brain of the fly. The aim is not to model specific biological processes in detail, but rather to derive inspiration from the neurobiological system to seek simple solutions to tasks that have posed major challenges to traditional engineering approaches…we are presently developing algorithms for incorporation into analog VLSI hardware based on local adaptive properties of insect motion detectors. We aim to develop motion-processing chips with applications in the area of flight control for autonomous aerial vehicles and passive motion detection for surveillance. Analog VLSI has very low energy consumption compared with digital computer technology, so that the potential cost and size requirements of control systems based on insect vision may be very modest, and suitable for adding low-cost embedded control elements to a variety of vehicle types, from miniature unmanned vehicles to collision avoidance detectors that can be embedded into the bumper bars of future cars.
http://www.eleceng.adelaide.edu.au/personal/davidoc/projects.html

Bio-Inspired Engineering of Exploration Systems

Insects (for example, honey bees and dragonflies) cope remarkably well with their world, despite possessing a brain that carries less than 0.01 percent as many neurons as that of the human. Although most insects have immobile eyes, fixed-focus optics, and lack stereo vision, they use a number of ingenious strategies for perceiving their world in three dimensions and navigating successfully in it. We are distilling some of these insect-inspired strategies to obtain unique solutions to navigation, hazard avoidance, terrain following, and smooth deployment of payload. Such functionality can enable one to reach previously unreachable exploration sites.
http://www.techbriefs.com/component/content/article/961

Beetle masters optics

Stealing the beetles’ tricks may also help researchers design materials with desirable optical properties, comments Michael Barnes of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Although it’s too early to say what specific devices might be created with inspiration from the beetle shell, “the scientific goal is to understand the 'what' and the 'how' of micro- and nanoscale structures in natural systems,” he says, “so that we can design our own systems for specific purposes.”
http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/45845/title/Beetle_masters_optics

Honeybees sterilise their hives

A number of studies have shown that propolis (a mixture made by honeybees) has a range of antimicrobial properties, but mostly in relation to human health. For example, numerous publications cite its effectiveness against viruses, bacteria and even cancer cells.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/earth/hi/earth_news/newsid_8152000/8152574.stm

Genes Let Creepy-crawly Creatures Survive Deep Freeze

Understanding how animals (artic springtail insects in this article) survive harsh cold environments will hopefully provide novel solutions for medical research and preserving tissues for transplant operations".
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090720191143.htm

Cyborg crickets could chirp at the smell of survivors

If yoou’re trapped under rubble after an earthquake, wondering if you'll see daylight again, the last thing you need is an insect buzzing around your face.  But that insect could save your life, if a scheme funded by the Pentagon comes off.
The project aims to co-opt the way some insects communicate to give early warning of chemical attacks on the battlefield - the equivalent of the "canary in a coal mine". The researchers behind it say the technology could be put to good use in civilian life, from locating disaster victims to monitoring for pollution and gas leaks, or acting as smoke detectors.
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20327165.900-cyborg-crickets-
could-chirp-at-the-smell-of-survivors.html?full=true&print=true

A young brain for an old bee

The scientists are planning to use them as a model to study general aging processes in the brain, and they even hope that they may provide some clues on how to prevent them… We thus hope to study the mechanisms responsible for age-dependent effects, like oxidative damage, and also to discover new ways to act against these aging processes."
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-07/sfeb-ayb062509.php

Beetle shell inspires brilliant white paper

An obscure species of beetle has shown how brilliant white paper could be produced in a completely new way. A team from Imerys Minerals Ltd. and the University of Exeter has taken inspiration from the shell of the Cyphochilus beetle to understand how to produce a new kind of white coating for paper. This higher performance could result in lighter weight paper with a very high degree of whiteness. Lighter paper would also reduce transportation costs, simultaneously reducing the economic and environmental cost of manufacture.
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-06/uoe-bsi061009.php

See Like a Bee, Fly Like a Fly

An aerospace engineer in Australia was inspired by insects to design a better way for missiles to find their targets. Aviation Week reported…It is planned to incorporate the final Bioseeker technology in a low cost, miniaturised and rugged add-on device that provides autonomous guidance to airborne systems, increasing their ability to acquire, track and strike moving targets.
http://www.dsto.defence.gov.au/news/5613/

Drug-Sniffing Wasps May Sting Crooks

Sneaky drug smugglers and terrorists may soon meet their match: a handheld chemical detector powered by trained wasps.
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/10/1027_051027_bombsniffwasps.html

Ancient Virus Gave Wasps Their Sting

Learning more about how these viruses work could have clinical applications, says Drezen. The polydnavirus acts as a gene vector, carrying much larger chunks of DNA to the caterpillar than any synthetic gene therapy agent can transport. Thus, studying these viruses could enhance gene-therapy techniques, Drezen says.
http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2009/212/2

Natural Solar Collectors On Butterfly Wings Inspire More Powerful Solar Cells

The discovery that butterfly wings have scales that act as tiny solar collectors has led scientists in China and Japan to design a more efficient solar cell that could be used for powering homes, businesses, and other applications in the future.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090204170548.htm

New Insight Into How Bees See Could Improve Artificial Intelligence Systems

New research from Monash University bee researcher Adrian Dyer could lead to improved artificial intelligence systems and computer programs for facial recognition..."What we have shown is that the bee brain, which contains less than 1 million neurons, is actually very good at learning to master complex tasks. Computer and imaging technology programmers who are working on solving complex visual recognition tasks using minimal hardware resources will find this research useful," Dr Dyer said.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090123101211.htm

Baby Beetles Inspire Scientists To Build 'Mini Boat' Powered By Surface Tension

Inspired by the aquatic wriggling of beetle larvae, a University of Pittsburgh research team has designed a propulsion system that strips away paddles, sails, and motors and harnesses the energy within the water's surface.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090121144105.htm  

Wasp inspires brain-boring surgical robot

Now, a team that includes Rodriguez y Baena is mimicking this mechanism to create a medical probe. The researchers have developed a prototype silicon needle consisting of two shafts with 50-micrometre-long fin-shaped teeth. Motors oscillate the two shafts to propel the device forwards in the same way as the wood wasp's ovipositor.
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20126926.300-wasp-inspires-brainboring-surgical-robot.html

View of Forest Insects Changing from Pests to Partners

>Insects aid decomposition, stimulate the breakdown of organic materials, enhance soil fertility and plant growth, burrow in soils and increase its porosity and water-holding capacity.
>Insects are herbivores that eat plants, influencing where they can grow. Sometimes they kill trees and other plants to reduce competition, and many times feed on trees without killing them in ways that actually improve the health and long-term growth of trees and forests.
>Insects are a key food source for vertebrates and other animals, and play a major role in the food chain.
>Insect are dispersal agents to carry seeds, fungal spores, and even other invertebrates from one place to another.
>Insects are pollinators, and in this role also help control the movement of plant species.

"When you have a highly destructive insect epidemic, what that really should be telling us is not that we have an insect problem, but that we have a   forest health problem," Schowalter said. "It's monocultures and fire suppression that cause insects to become nuisances. The pests that plague us are all too often of our own making."
http://oregonstate.edu/dept/ncs/newsarch/2001/Oct01/insects.htm

Butterfly wings used to print self-cleaning windows

Butterfly wings - and lotus leaves - are able to repel water with ease because of the microstructures on their surface. The densely packed microscopic bumps of the lotus leaf and the waffle-like structures found on butterfly wings both make it difficult for water droplets to spread out. As a result, the drops roll off, and they take dirt with them. This makes the surfaces ideal as the basis for self-cleaning windows and windshields.
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20026855.900-butterfly- wings-
used-to-print-selfcleaning-windows.html

Honey Adds Health Benefits

Antioxidant-rich honey is a healthy alternative to chemical additives and refined sweeteners in commercial salad dressings, said a new University of Illinois study.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081209125927.htm

Butterflies - causing a beauty flutter

Dr Abigail Ingram, a postdoctoral researcher at the Natural History Museum, is studying butterfly iridescence. Butterflies have two layers of scales on  their wings: the deeper basal one contains melanin, a pigment that absorbs light; the top cover scale reflects it. The complex 3-D structure of these scales, combined with the dual layers, creates the shimmering colours of the insect's wing. Dr Ingram is working with a leading cosmetics company to see if butterfly technology can be copied or adapted to create more luminescent, sparkling eye shadows, lipsticks and foundation. Butterflies also have an important place in our medical history. The mocker swallowtail (Papilio dardanus) is one of the butterflies you will be able to see at the Amazing Butterflies exhibition, which opened this week at the Natural History Musuem. It was the inspiration for a life-saving discovery, through its ability to closely resemble nasty-tasting species that birds avoid. Cyril Clarke, a Liverpool doctor who became a well-known medical geneticist, kept butterflies as a hobby. He realised that the butterfly's ability is an inherited trait and that the way it was passed from one generation to another was similar to the way the Rhesus blood groups were inherited in human beings. In the late 1950s, the babies of women who were rhesus negative often died or developed life threatening anaemia. Antibodies formed during a first  pregnancy caused problems in later pregnancies when they attacked the baby's red blood cells. Inspired by his butterflies, Dr Clarke developed anti-D, a way of destroying any antibodies that the mother had developed so that future pregnancies would be protected. Professor Parker agrees that whether a particular application takes off is dependent on the moment. He cites solar panels and flies as an example. There is a particular part of a fly's eye through which light passes with almost no reflection. Professor Parker's group copied this material, which is used on solar panels, resulting in a 10 per cent increase in energy capture. A decade ago, there was no commercial imperative to make solar panels more efficient.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article3682479.ece

Honeybees used to study effects of cocaine

Barron is confident that honeybees are as susceptible to cocaine's allure as humans, and is keen to find out more about the drug's effects. He hopes to identify the neural pathways that it targets to find out more about the mechanisms involved in human addiction and to find out whether the drug has as devastating an effect on honey bee society as it does on human society.
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-12/tcob-hbs121508.php

Cyborg cockroaches could power own electric 'brains'

Engineers have been attempting to gain control of insects' bodies for some time, to act as discreet spies or to take advantage of their advanced sense of smell to detect chemicals or explosives.
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20126884.200-cyborg -cockroaches-could-
power-own-electric-brains.html

Beetles used to study immunity

The immune system of the Tenebrio molitor beetle eliminates the great majority of bacteria infecting it within less than an hour, and then restricts the  development of resistant bacteria thanks to the production of antimicrobial peptides over several days, thus preventing the emergence of resistant bacteria. Might it not be possible to copy this model when designing drug therapies that would reduce the development in pathogens of multidrug resistance to antibiotics?
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081129095531.htm

(The next seven entries about biomimicry [(from bios, meaning life, and mimesis, meaning to imitate) is a new discipline that studies nature's best ideas and then imitates these designs and processes to solve human problems. http://biomimicryinstitute.org/about-us/what-is-biomimicry.html)] contain comments that fit BWAH HAH HAH HAAAA!, Evolutionists Tacitly Admit Creation, and Helping Evolutionists Get It Right. When mankind tries to understand and copy the works of the Creator he cannot avoid using words that make him unwillingly and perhaps unknowingly) identify themselves as being fools: The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. (Psalms 14:1a KJB) For it surely is a “heart” not a “head” matter. Karl)

Insects biomimicry for robots that hop, jump and stick

The goal is to create robots that can travel in swarms over rough terrain to come to the aide of catastrophe victims... This new form of AI (artificial intelligence) takes its inspiration from the insect world, but is more as an abstract reflection on their instincts and design principles than merely imitating their morphology... “I am fascinated by the creative process,” said Kovac, “and how it is possible to use the sophistication found in nature to create something completely new.”
http://www.robaid.com/bionics/insects-biomimicry-for-robots-that-hop-jump-and-stick.htm

Researchers Developing Cyborg Insects that Draw Energy From Their Own Wings

Researchers at the University of Michigan are currently working on a line of cyborg insects that would use the energy generated from their own wing motion to power sensors installed in tiny insect backpacks. The researchers see the insects being used in future first responder situations where they would investigate hazardous environments that could potentially be dangerous for humans to enter into. These little flying insecto-robots could be the first ones to scope out future nuclear disasters, areas where chemical warfare has been deployed, or even to survey land masses after natural disasters like volcanic eruptions or tsunamis.
http://inhabitat.com/researchers-developing-cyborg-insects-that-draw-energy-from-their-own-wings/

“Borg” insects – mini spies of the future?

Insects’ agility in flight is unmatched. It’s been an inspiration to many inventors as in inventing helicopters or other flying machines. Instead creating robots which resemble insects, a few groups of engineers decided to develop technology which controls insects. An unquestioned fact is that nature developed the insects far better than humans are trying to mimic while building robots which resemble animals (if nothing else it had far more time)... The Hybrid Insect Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems project (HI-MEMS), led by Amit Lal, aims to miniaturize all the technology necessary so that it fits within the body of a flying insect.
http://www.robaid.com/bionics/borg-insects-mini-spies-of-the-future.htm

Smack! Was that a Mosquito You Killed, Or a Drone?

(A) team of researchers at Johns Hopkins University is helping to develop a micro aerial vehicle (MAV for short) that will be no bigger than a bug...(Besides military reconnaissance) highly fuel efficient micro machines, MAV’s could become an essential part of the sustainable tech landscape, for example in wind turbine maintenance and other clean energy tasks, data collection, and environmental monitoring.
http://cleantechnica.com/2012/02/07/johns-hopkins-researchers-develop -mav-the-size-of-a-bug/

Unraveling a Butterfly's Aerial Antics Could Help Builders of Bug-Size Flying Robots

By figuring out how butterflies flutter among flowers with amazing grace and agility, the researchers hope to help small airborne robots mimic these maneuvers... U.S. defense agencies, which have funded this research, are supporting the development of bug-size flyers to carry out reconnaissance, search-and-rescue and environmental monitoring missions without risking human lives... Butterflies move too quickly for someone to see these wing tactics clearly with the naked eye, so Lin, working with graduate student Lingxiao Zheng, used high-speed, high-resolution videogrammetry to mathematically document the trajectory and body conformation of painted lady butterflies. They accomplished this with three video cameras capable of recording 3,000 one-megapixel images per second... Lin's newest project involves even smaller bugs. With support from a Johns Hopkins Provost's Undergraduate Research Award, he has begun aiming his video cameras at fruit flies, hoping to solve the mystery of how these insects manage to land upside down on perches.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120202151608.htm

Researchers observe flying insects to create smaller flying machines

A group of researchers from the University of Oxford is developing small aerial vehicles with flapping wings inspired by those found on insects... “Nature has solved the problem of how to design miniature flying machines”, said lead researcher Dr Richard Bomphrey, from the University of Oxford Department of Zoology. “By learning those lessons, our findings will make it possible to aerodynamically engineer a new breed of surveillance vehicles that, because they’re as small as insects and also fly like them, completely blend into their surroundings”...(A) an insect’s flapping wings combine both thrust and lift. If manmade vehicles could emulate this more efficient approach, it would be possible to scale down flying machines to much smaller dimensions than is currently possible... “This will require a much more detailed understanding than we currently have of how insect wings have evolved, and specifically of how different types of insect wing have evolved for different purposes”, said Bomphrey. “For instance, bees are load-lifters, a predator such as a dragonfly is fast and maneuverable, and creatures like locusts have to range over vast distances. Investigating the differences between insect wing designs is a key focus of our work. These ecological differences have led to a variety of wing designs depending on the task needing to be performed. It means that new vehicles could be customized to suit particular uses ranging from exploring hostile terrain, collapsed buildings or chemical spills to providing enhanced TV coverage of sports and other events”. Supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Bomphrey and his team use both cutting-edge computer modeling capabilities and the latest high-speed, high-resolution camera technology to investigate insect wing design and performance.
http://www.robaid.com/bionics/researchers-observe-flying-insects-to-create-smaller-flying-machine

Bugs of War

The Hybrid Insect Micro-Electro-Mechanical System (HI-MEMS) seeks to implant computer chips inside caterpillars before they undergo metamorphosis into moths or butterflies. Scientists hope to use that 1 circuitry to remotely control the flight path of insects so that they can someday be used to fly into enemy locations and transmit intelligence without ever being detected. Wicked Bugs by Amy Stewart
http://www.npr.org/2011/04/25/135638924/where-to-find-the-worlds-most-wicked-bugs

*Don’t get excited about the gene similarity—it is simply a mark of good design. Major creationist sites (ICR, AiG, CRS,CMI and others have debunked the famous “98% Chimp/Human DNA Similarity” evolutionist hoopla.

**Nearly every article from which these examples were obtained has the obigitory mantra of some reference to evolutionism. The reader should refer to the articles “ BWAH HAH HAH HAAAA!” and “Helping Evolutionists Get It Right” for a point of view regarding the pathetic attempts to attach “evolution” to the facts above.

Also see Does God Think Insects are Good?, Why Insects Exist, and Fantastic Flight. Other articles are: Hi-tech Butterflies, Astonishing Acrobatics—Dragonflies, Dragonfly Flight and The Designer, Dragon Flies: Marvelous Flying Machines, Cold Light, The Steady Gaze of Flies: An Engineering Marvel, Ear Now: An Incredible Design in a Tiny Fly is Inspiring Engineers, Scientists Finally Copy Creator’s Super-Rubber, A Sweet Revelation, Science Copies Beetle’s Sprayer, Bombardier Idea, and The Amazing Jewel Beetle.Check the LINKS page for others.