Insect antennae II.

Adult insects rely on their antennae to detect odours (smells!) which tell them all about what’s happening in their neighbourhood. Whether there is anything to eat nearby; whether there are any members of the opposite sex looking for a partner; who else is about, and so on. They wave their wonderful wands around and pick…

Iridescence in insects

Iridescence is when surfaces – such as the wings of butterflies – appear to change brightness and colour as the angle of view, or the angle of illumination, changes. The iridescent wings of Morpho butterflies are some of the best examples. The spectral reflectance changes with the angle of incidence – i.e. the viewing angle…

Insect cuticle

We mammals are quite fortunate in having bones! They reside inside us, and our skeleton grows as we grow. Insects on the other hand, have an external skeleton, or exoskeleton, and must shed it periodically, as they enlarge in size. The insect cuticle is secreted by a single layer of epidermal cells that covers the entire…

Order, order! Insect diversity.

If insects could talk – English preferably! – I would like to ask them what they think is the key to their great success! In particular, I would like to ask a member of each Order of insects, to describe the main innovations and adaptations which have led to the success of their particular group.…

Who ate the dung beetles?

In September this year, I was walking along a forest ride in Galicia, NW Spain, looking out for insects and butterflies. I particularly like photographing these beautiful dung beetles (Trypocopris pyrenaeus var. coruscans) which are often associated with horse dung (below). The creatures responsible for depositing this lovely dung across the hills of Galicia, are…