An Introduction to Forensic Entomology

Jobs for entomologists outside of academia are mostly in the agricultural or educational sectors, but there is one career that tends to be forgotten: forensic entomology. The most famous forensic entomologist may be CSI: Las Vegas‘s Gil Grissom, but it is in fact a very active field in real life, both practically and in research. The …

When Humans Accidentally Invent Natural Products

Juvenile hormones are probably the single most important hormone in insects, playing crucial roles in development, especially in molting and metamorphosis. To underline their importance, a specific class of synthetic insectide, the insect growth regulators, is devoted only to messing around with juvenile hormone levels of target insects. Two enzymes are involved in …

RIP Niels Peder Kristensen (1943-2014)

Sad news for entomologists, entomological systematists, and lepidopterists: Professor Niels Peder Kristensen died on December 6th. His staff page contains all his biographical information. He spent the majority of his career in the prodigial Zoological Museum of the University of Copenhagen (now Natural History Museum of Copenhagen), where he did very …

The Twisted-Wing Parasites (Insecta: Strepsiptera)

The Strepsiptera, commonly called twisted-wing parasites, are an enigmatic order of obligately parasitic insects discovered by the “founder of entomology”, William Kirby, and characterised by him in Kirby (1813). Unrelated, this paper also contains the first mention of another order of insect, the Trichoptera (caddisflies). There are over 600 Recent …

Non-Human Languages: The Bee Dance Language

A honeybee hive is often located some distance away from the flowers the bees have to visit. In nature, it’s often so that flowers are concentrated in specific areas around the hive, rather than distributed evenly all around it (Steffan-Dewenter & Kuhn, 2003). It’s not so that a foraging bee …

What do insects use to sense their environment?

Another e-mailed question. Besides their eyes that give them a visual representaton of their environment, insects have a wide array of sensory hairs, sensillae, that give them information about temperature, humidity, chemicals, body position, and orientation. Sensillae can be individually distributed, or they can be grouped into sensory fields or …