social insect

A Tip for Book Lovers

If you go to libraries and if you shop at Thriftbooks (both of which I recommend) then you may already know this fact. But if you don’t, let me enlighten you;

These places are breeding grounds for BED BUGS.

No this is not me telling you to stop. No this is not me calling that places dirty or gross. This is just the consequence of book sharing. Because these books trade hands and houses in a wonderful and perfect system of intellectual freedom. And I think that’s beautiful. But when a book trades houses that many times it’s prone to pick up something. That something is usually bed bugs.

Due to their natural structuring, books are ideal homes. And once a book returns to the library or the warehouse, these bedbugs wiggle out and find more places to burrow and breed.

And here’s another fun fact. Unlike ants, bed bugs are not social insects. They don’t like each other. So if you think you can just put down a single trap and catch them all, you’re wrong. They don’t work like that. If you poison one, it won’t go home and do a secret handshake with a hundred other of its friends. It’ll just die. If you kill one, you’ve only killed one.

Why am I telling you this? To scare you? To ward you away? Of course not. I’m just here to make sure you’re aware AND to introduce you to something that could save you a shit ton of grief.

The moment you bring the book home or take it out of its packaging, PUT THAT FUCKER INTO THE FREEZER.

NO. THAT’S NOT A JOKE. MOVE THE LEAN CUISINE OUT OF THE WAY AND POP THAT SUCKER INTO THE FREEZER!!!

Extreme cold and extreme heat kills bed bugs. And since we’re not Trump and holding book burnings is generally looked down upon, we do the next best thing. Freeze it. No, it won’t damage the book. A few days in there will only leave it cold and bug free. But if you’re worried, pop it into a large Ziplock before you do.

Read safe and stay bug free, my bookish friends! 📚📚📖

8 Formidable Facts About Bees

Let’s hear it for the bees! (Let’s give the bees a ha-aa-aa-aaand!)

Spring is (supposedly) on its way, so we want to send a little love and appreciation to all the bees out there, making our everyday possible. Join us in celebrating these 8 reasons to celebrate our tiny, but mighty friends.

1. Bees make our surroundings beeee-autiful. In addition to pollinating our crops, bees are responsible for pollinating all of the things that make spring sing. And they’re no novices - they’ve been producing honey from flowering trees (fruit trees, nut trees, and bee-yond) for 10-20 million years! From the TED-Ed Lesson The case of the vanishing honeybees - Emma Bryce

2. Bees are social insects. Honey bees live together in large, well-organized family groups and engage in a variety of complex tasks not practiced by solitary insects. Communication, complex nest construction, environmental control, defense, and division of the labor are just some of the behaviors that honey bees have developed to exist successfully in social colonies. And they are not the least bit lazy: one single bee colony can pollinate 300 million flowers each day. From the TED-Ed Lesson The case of the vanishing honeybees - Emma Bryce

3. Bees are above words. They communicate through ‘dance’ and pheromones. By performing what’s referred to as the ‘waggle dance’, bees can share information about the direction and distance to patches of flowers yielding nectar and pollen, to water sources, or to new nest-site locations. From the TED-Ed Lesson Why do honeybees love hexagons? - Zack Patterson and Andy Peterson

4. Bees make great wingmen. Bees are very busy little matchmakers. The bees’ side of the whole “birds and the bees” business is to help plants find mates and reproduce. Today, around 170,000 plant species receive pollination services from more than 200,000 pollinator species, a good many of which are bees! In return, flowering plants are an abundant and diverse food source for pollinators. For instance, fossil records suggest that bees may have evolved from wasps that gave up hunting after they acquired a taste for nectar. From the TED-Ed Lesson How bees help plants have sex - Fernanda S. Valdovinos

5.Bees put food on our tables. Bees pollinate our crops on an industrial scale, generating over one-third of U.S. food production. Their work alone has contributed an estimated $15-20 billion of value to the U.S. agricultural business. From the TED-Ed Lesson The case of the vanishing honeybees - Emma Bryce

6. Bees can totally pack up a car better than you. Honeybees are some of nature’s finest mathematicians. Not only can they calculate angles and comprehend the roundness of the earth, these smart insects build and live in one of the most mathematically efficient architectural designs around: the beehive. Charles Darwin himself wrote that the honeycomb is a masterpiece of engineering. It is “absolutely perfect in economizing labor and wax.” From the TED-Ed Lesson Why do honeybees love hexagons? - Zack Patterson and Andy Peterson

7. Bees are hooked on coffee, too. When bees pollinate coffee plants, they consume low doses of caffeine from the coffee flower nectar, which means that bees are **BUZZZZZING** from a caffeine high just like us, AND helping us to get our coffee fix on the daily! From the TED-Ed Lesson The case of the vanishing honeybees - Emma Bryce

8. Honeybees are disappearing at astonishing rates. Not to be a **buzzkill**, but here’s a not-so-fun fact. In the past decade, the U.S. honeybee population has been decreasing at an alarming and unprecedented rate. Bee mortality rates in commercial production have more than doubled in the last decade, and in 2015, 40% of bee colonies were reported lost in just a single year. There are a variety of factors causing Colony Collapse Disorder, and scientists everywhere are working to prevent further loss of bees. Keep reading to see how you can help. From the TED-Ed Lesson The case of the vanishing honeybees - Emma Bryce

Love bees as much as we do? Well, let’s give the bees a hand, for real! Plant some bee-friendly flowers this spring and remember, when bees have access to good nutrition, we have access to good nutrition through their pollination services

anonymous asked:

Helloooo. 1. Do you run the ScientificPokedex blog? and 2. Do you think there could be an actual scientific explanation for Zoroark's illusion ability?

 Hellooo! Number 1, No I do not run the @scientificpokedex blog but they do an amazing job, big props to them!

Number 2. Hmm that’s tricky, so we want a real life example of an animal convincing another animal that it is something it’s not, so not clever camouflage and accurate visual mimicry, as with a stick insect for example, but rather where one animal has been tricked, it is under the illusion that another animal is something it is blatantly not. Well then, we need to talk about

  p h e r o m o n e s 

alrighty, so pheromones are defined as a chemical secreted by an organism that triggers a social/behavioural response in another organism, usually of the same species. They are used everywhere in nature, from tiny single celled prokaryotes up to big lumbering mammals such as ourselves. Uses of pheromones include territory marking, avoidance of inbreeding with close relatives, alarm signals, and advertising sexual availability and fertility. Specialised pheromones called ‘necromones’, released by the decomposing bodies of certain animals, repel living animals of the same species so that they don’t go near the bodies and potentially catch the disease that killed the dead dude. 

Those are just a few of the uses nifty chemicals, but as usual insects one up other animal groups in the diversity of ways in which they use them. The highly sophisticated and complex societies of eusocial hymenoptera (bees, ants, and wasps) are only possible through the use of pheromones, for example from coordinating colony activities e.g. defending the colony from predators, to exchanging information,  allocating tasks to different castes, social policing, regulating reproduction, and the use of trail pheromones, e.g. when ants lay a path of pheromones towards a food source, and then lay over a repellant pheromone over that trail, cancelling the message once the food source is gone. 

Because these social insects are so reliant on pheromones, they are ripe for abuse from other animals who can exploit their chemical society, and this is how I am going to lead it back to Zoroark. 

Meet Phengaris alcon, or the Alcon Large Blue butterfly

 Yes a very pretty looking butterfly, but don’t let appearances fool you. It’s caterpillars hatch on leaves like regular caterpillars, and stay there for a few weeks, munching away and growing, but after a certain point, they just drop off the leaves and onto the ground. There they release a pheromone which smells exactly like the pheromone released by the larvae of certain ant species. When these ants come across the caterpillars, they are fooled into thinking that these caterpillars are indeed their own larvae, despite being a different colour and much bigger than the ant larvae, i.e. they look completely different. 

The ants bring the caterpillars back to their nest, where they clean, feed, look after and protect the caterpillars, sometimes even at the expense of their own larvae when food is short. The caterpillars feed and grow in a safe environment, eventually metamorphosing into a chrysalis, then into an adult butterfly, where they then crawl out of the nest scot-free and begin life in the skies, having had a great start in life all down to some smelly trickery and illusion. 

(see below, Phenagris chrysalises next to ant larvae, with the ants none the wiser!)

Other Phenagris species will mimic the Queen ant rather than the larvae, and thus get a more royal treatment (though the true queen is never convinced so this is a more risky strategy), or some instead of just getting fed by the ants like a cuckoo will ravage and eat all the ant larvae when it gets in the nest, without retribution by the ants. 

(this video is fantastic and shows the whole lifecycle, plus a bonus pheromone related plot twist near the end!)

Basically using pheromones in this manner is a way of mimicking something you’re not despite looking nothing like your subject. The ants are under the complete illusion that these huge caterpillars are their own tiny young, despite input from other senses. So… what I am saying is that perhaps Zorua and Zoruark are very proficient chemical mimics and can emit strong pheromones that convince you that you are seeing a different pokémon than what’s standing in front of you. Maybe that, mixed with a hallucinogenic compound, neurotoxin, or other mind altering druggy substance (heck even laughing gas lol) to make you more suggestive. I dunno, it’s a huge stretch, but it’s an excuse to talk about Phenagris lol

Originally posted by axew

5

Castiel was US. He wasn’t just a kick ass angel who had trouble with social norms and preferred insects over people. He was us every time we made a mistake. He was us every time we needed to be heard and to be understood and to be seen. He was us every time we saw goodness in a bleak situation and held on to hope that the good, however small, would shine through. He was us every time we didn’t understand something but triedour best anyway. He was us every time we tried to show how much love we have in our little big hearts, and every time we had those hearts broken. He was us whenever we were disappointed in ourselves but chose to keep going. He was us when we were lost and looking for something, anything. He was us when we loved and lost and continued to love. He was us when we knew we could finally trust someone. He was us when we said “I Love You” and pretended like we didn’t need to hear it back. He was us when our loved ones failed to understand and we didn’t know how to make them. He was us when we finally forgave, and forgave ourselves. Cas wasn’t just an angel we lost trying to save the world. He was us, doing whatever we could to do the right thing when we finally found our way.
Thank you Cas, and thank you @mishacollins. You’ve given us more than we could ever quantify in anything, you won’t be forgotten.💜💙❤💚💛

xpmods  asked:

One of our players wants resources on writing a hivemind (specifically the Stepford Cuckoos/Five-In-One). Do you have anything on that? (Awesome blog btw - so helpful!)

Thank you so much @xpmods:)

Okay, so I had to look up the Stepford Cuckoos/Five-In-One (because I’m a loser and I’m not into superheroes), and I apologize if anything I say contradicts the Stepford Cuckoos’ abilities/powers. I’m not sure how to write for them specifically, but I do have some tips on writing a hive mind in general.

TIPS ON HOW TO WRITE A HIVE MIND

1. UNDERSTAND THE DEFINITION OF A HIVE MIND

Also know that there are different kinds of hive minds (Examples taken from Wikipedia)

1. Collective consciousness or collective intelligence, concepts in sociology and philosophy

2.Groupthink, in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome

3. The apparent consciousness of colonies of social insects such as ants, bees, and termites

4.Swarm intelligence, the collective behavior of decentralized, self-organized systems, natural or artificial

5.Universal mind, a type of universal higher consciousness or source of being in some esoteric beliefs

6. Group mind (science fiction), a type of collective consciousness

7. Egregore, a phenomenon in occultism which has been described as group mind

The kind we think about most is probably collective consciousness and the hive mind that is associated with insects.

So basically it means that everybody is connected to everybody. There are no secrets. There is no individuality. Just one huge ball of shared information that is constantly being added to the more the individuals included within the hive mind experience different situations.

In the writing world, however, there are no set parameters. You can take this information and go wherever you want with it. You’re a writer, after all, and that’s what you do! You aren’t obligated to follow the exact definition.

4. STUDY ANIMALS THAT FUNCTION USING A HIVE MIND

You don’t actually have to go outside and study them; I mean research their behaviors as well as drawbacks that they sometimes experience.

For example, ants are followers. They leave scent trails so that other ants know where they have been, and many ants follow the ones in front of them without any way to control themselves; they simply can’t help but follow the ants in front of them. (This explains why you always see groups of ants moving in single file lines)

“Most ants navigate by using eyesight, but some army ants are completely blind – and it’s possible for them to become disorientated and march in circles until they die of exhaustion.

It’s known as an ‘ant mill’ and is one of the strangest sights in nature.

Army ants navigate by following pheromone trails left behind by others. However, should enough of them lose the scent they begin to follow the ant immediately in front and a huge ant spiral forms.” Source [x]

Basically, the ant in the front of the line turns, and sometimes the line is so long that the ant in the front collides with other ants in the line. Naturally, the ant begins to follow. The ants are now caught in a vicious circle where everyone is following the person in front of them. And, as the article states, they eventually die of exhaustion.

This is only one of the drawbacks, and this only pertains to ants.

This whole section basically is saying DO YOUR RESEARCH!!

3. KNOW THE COMMON TROPES ASSOCIATED WITH HIVE MINDS AND DECIDE WHETHER OR NOT YOU WANT TO AVOID THEM

Common tropes associated with a hive mind/creatures who are a part of a hive mind:

- Individuals are never found alone, always in groups

- Individuals talk at the same time, in the same monotone voice

- Individuals walk in time with each other

-The hive mind is always controlled by a single ruler, usually a Queen

- Individuals work together incredibly well and are nearly unstoppable

These tropes aren’t at all overused or stupid; there are simply too little well-known stories containing hive minds for it to become too cliche.

My advice is to use these tropes however you’d like, but still add your own little twist on it.

After all, the twists are what make your story unique!


Hope this helped!

What is in a Tail?

Macropus rufus

By John Wible

Those with pet dogs or cats at home are familiar with what a mammal’s tail can do. It acts as a counterbalance for your cat in executing amazing leaps and bounds. It is used for communication, more so by your dog, expressing a broad range of emotions by its action or lack thereof. Cows and horses use their tails to swat flies. Some mammals have a prehensile tail, which acts like a fifth appendage and is used in grasping, supporting, or in the case of a spider monkey even swinging from a tree branch. For marine mammals (whales, seals, and walruses), the tail is the major propulsive organ for swimming. 

But what is in a tail? Your back is made of a series of small bones stacked together called vertebra (plural is vertebrae). This is the reason why animals with vertebrae, such as fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals, are called vertebrates. A typical mammalian back shows five regional variants or types of vertebrae. These are neck (cervical) vertebrae supporting the head, thoracic vertebrae anchoring the ribcage, lumbar vertebrae with the abdomen, sacral vertebrae with the pelvis, and caudal vertebrae with the tail. These five types are readily distinguished from each other, with their structure reflective of their function and position within the spine or vertebral column. A back walks a delicate balance between two seemingly incongruent functions—strength to provide support and flexibility to allow movement. It is the battle between these that in bipeds like us often ends in back pain.

Regarding the numbers of vertebrae in different regions, the most stable is the neck, with the vast majority of mammals having seven cervical vertebrae. Even the giraffe with its incredibly long neck has the same number of cervical vertebrae as you and me. However, the numbers in the other regions differ considerably across mammalian species, with the thorax between 11 and 23, lumbar between two and eight, and the sacrum between one and nine. But it is the tail that wins the prize with a range between two and 49! The red kangaroo, Macropus rufus, pictured above has a vertebral count from head to tail of seven cervical, 13 thoracic, six lumbar, two sacral, and 21 caudal. 

But wait a minute. Some mammals, including us, do not have tails. Why isn’t the range for caudal vertebra between zero and 49. The fact is that even tailless mammals have some very reduced caudal vertebrae. In the case of humans, our “tail” is composed of three to five greatly reduced caudal vertebrae that are collectively referred to as the coccyx (Greek for cuckoo, from the resemblance of these bones to this bird’s beak).

How should I end my tale? Given our penchant for world records, I would be remiss if I did not announce the winner of the living mammal with the highest number of caudal vertebrae at a whopping 49. It is the aptly named long-tailed pangolin, Phataginus tetradactyla, from West Africa (the tags in the photo above are attached to the hind foot, giving you some idea of tail length). It is one of the eight species of pangolins or scaly anteaters found in parts of Africa and Asia. It is the most arboreal of the pangolins, the reason why its tail is prehensile, and a good swimmer to boot. Pangolin scales are made of keratin, like your fingernails, and provide protection from predators and prey (they feed on biting social insects). Sadly, the scales are also a reason why pangolins are critically endangered as they are used in traditional medicine practices.


John Wible, PhD, is the curator of the Section of Mammals at Carnegie Museum of Natural History. John’s research is focused on the tree of life of mammals, understanding the evolutionary relationships between living and extinct taxa, and how the mammalian fauna on Earth got to be the way it is today. He uses his expertise on the anatomy of living mammals to reconstruct the lifeways of extinct mammals. John lives with his wife and two sons in a house full of cats and rabbits in Ross Township.

Summer for bees.

Study of bees’ “waggle dance” show bees find it harder to collect nectar and pollen in summer
The dance, in which the bee waggles its abdomen while moving in a figure of eight pattern, is performed by returning forager bees in the hive to tell its nest mates where to find good sources of pollen and nectar
They may be most active then, but summer is the most challenging season for honey bees to collect nectar and pollen, according to a new study, which analysed the insects’ “waggle dance”.
Researchers from the University of Sussex Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects (LASI) spent two years filming honey bees in glass-fronted observation hives and then decoding their dances to discover how far the bees were having to fly to find sources of food during different seasons.
The dance, in which the bee waggles its abdomen while moving in a figure of eight pattern, is performed by returning forager bees in the hive to tell its nest mates where to find good sources of pollen and nectar. It indicates the distance to a patch of flowers from the hive and the direction in which it lies.
The bees in the study were able to access the surrounding downland countryside and Brighton and Hove through tube tunnels that opened to the outside of the lab.
By examining the waggle dance data, researchers found that in summer, honey bees were covering areas 22 times greater than in spring and six times greater than in the autumn.
The study also showed that summer is probably a harder season both because there are fewer suitable flowers but also because there are more insects active at that time, competing with each other for nectar and pollen.


Bee season depends largely on temperature and the seasonal patterns of flowers. After hibernating over the winter, bees awaken in time to collect pollen and nectar from their preferred plants; flowering plants also bloom in correspondence with the arrival of their most effective pollinators. Certain bee species are active pollinators during certain seasons, as native flowering plants and bees have established a relationship throughout their lengthy evolution. Some bees have no seasonal preferences and feed off a variety of flowering plants.

Three of the most commonly encountered bees by homeowners are honey bees, carpenter bees and bumble bees. These bees usually become active in the spring with the warm weather and flowering of plants. They remain active throughout the summer and into the fall. Cooling temperatures in the fall prompt them to prepare to overwinter. During the winter months their activity decreases to the point where they are not seen unless on a warm winter day.

Understanding bee seasons and the flower preferences of certain bee species could facilitate pollination and assist in both commercial and personal gardening.

A Horrible Theory: Mewnian Reproduction

Please note that this is a horrible theory, meaning a sort of thought experiment: I doubt the actual creators had this in mind - but it can’t be completely ruled out! I’m not entirely serious about this one …

The basic theory is as follows: that Mewnian Queens resemble a cross between humans and insects in more ways than one - and in particular, that their reproductive cycles are similar to certain Earthly social insects.

The grotesque implications? That the evidence demonstrates that the particular insects the Mewnian queens resemble are certain species of wasp, such as the Tarantula Hawk Wasp (for example, Pepsis grossa), that reproduce by capturing live prey, using a modified ovapositor to implant a fertilized egg in that prey, and so allowing the growing grub to eat the prey alive from the inside.

With this distinction: that, like humans, Mewnians probably give birth to living young, rather than laying eggs.

1.  Mewnian Queens are like Insects

How do Mewnians resemble insects?

Well, first, their Queens are capable of assuming insectoid form - with wings and extra limbs. In Mewberty, Star undergoes a sort of metamorphosis inside a cocoon - a definitely insect-like process.  

While their wings look like butterfly wings, and the dynasty is in fact named “Butterfly”, their behaviour does not resemble butterflies in the least. No butterflies are social.

What creatures are ruled by an unbroken matriarchal line of creatures that are physically of a different caste from the rest of society?

The social insects - ants, wasps and bees.

Mewnians are ruled by a matriarchy of Queens.  

These Queens are physically of a different caste from ordinary Mewnians.

They are literally marked differently with face markings. These “caste marks” are not mere tattoos, but part of their physical structure - in Star’s case, they can change form or glow depending on her mood.

More significantly, only Mewnian Queens can apparently go into full “insect mode”; adult queens can do this at will!

2. Mewnian Queens reproduce like Tarantula Hawk Wasps

Most of this is drawn from the episode Mewberty. The theory here is that Star’s actions in that episode are a ‘dry run’ for actual Mewnian Queen reproduction - perhaps because Marco delayed her until her phase wore off.

During “Mewberty”, Star seized any boys she could catch, and imprisoned them in lockers using sticky purple webbing or goo that she extruded for that purpose.

This catch and imprison was not “romantic” in the slightest - it was, above all else, predatory. The boys were terrified and Mewberty!Star was not at all amorous - she was coldly businesslike.

What was her purpose?

I would argue, “living food for her grubs”. This is exactly what Tarantula Hawk Wasps (and several other species of wasps) do - they capture prey, immobilize them in cells, then implant them with eggs.

Of course Mewberty!Star implanted no eggs (and, as part mammal, may not in fact lay eggs) - as she was not yet mated. She had no fertilized eggs to implant.

Having imprisoned a goodly number of boys, Mewberty!Star hears Oskar - and her behaviour towards him is completely different. She names him (uniquely); when she finally gets him, she does not imprison him in a locker-cell like all the others - but flies up into the sky with him.

Why?

The answer is that she has chosen Oskar to mate with - rather than as grub-food.

Oskar was for the next stage in the reproductive cycle - mating.

3. The Nuptial Flight

Once again, the mating habits of the social insects explains the seemingly inexplicable flight into the sky with Oskar.

The social insects often mate their Queens by means of a “nuptial flight” - virgin Queens mate in mid air with males from other colonies.

Perhaps this is what Mewberty!Star was interested in: her flight into the sky was a “nuptial flight”.

4.  Oskar the “Drone”

Among some species of social insects, the males basically perform one function - they mate. Obviously this is not true among Mewnians, as King River is still around, and has his uses - but it forms the basis of a clever little joke.

What are these males among the social insects called? “Drones”.

In English, the term “Drone” has a fairly pejorative meaning - it means a person who is, basically, useless, who does no work, a loafer.

This meaning fits Oskar to a “T”. Oskar is a loafer. He is a “drone”.

5. The Nuptial Flight, Interrupted

If this is true, why did first Oskar and then Star crash to Earth?

Presumably, once Mewberty!Star had mated with Oskar in her “Nuptial Flight”, she would have returned under her own power - to implant her captives with her now-fertilized eggs (or give birth to grub-babies).

However, her Mewberty phase simply did not last long enough. According to Glossaryck, it was (potentially) strictly time-limited, and she lacked the time to mate.

The theory is that, had she mated, she would have stayed in Mewberty form until her eggs were implanted or grubs-babies placed - and it is this possibility that Glossaryck had in mind when he remarked that Star may, or may not, emerge from Mewberty at a particular time.

If this is true, Marco’s interference with the tennis net may have been vital - it deprived Mewberty!Star of enough time to even start mating with Oskar.

if Starco ever becomes a “thing”, Marco could be in for a revolting surprise …

6. Objection!

There are of course a number of reasons why this horrible theory ought not to work.

a. The leading objection: this is a children’s show, dammit! No horrible things allowed!

But them - the Mewberty episode is an odd one for a purely children’s show in the first place. Or what about Ludo in the Wild? It featured Ludo eating the juices that fell from a giant spider making a meal of a sentient moth-like creature, which is pretty horrible!

b. Secondly, that if mewberty only happens once, like puberty - how can it be a guide to reproduction? However - in the book Star and Marco’s Guide, there is a diagram that claims that mewberty is cyclical. It allegedly happens over and over again! (and it compares the craving for boys during mewberty to that for … bacon!).

c. Thirdly, in one episode (Game of Flags) Moon makes reference to giving birth to Star’s “corn twin”. If Mewnian queens give birth, then they aren’t implanting eggs. However, as noted above, Mewnian queens are a cross between the mammalian and the insectoid–perhaps rather than implanting eggs, they directly give birth to grubs.

 d. If Mewnian queens go around imprisoning people and using them as grub-food–wouldn’t the regular Mewnian citizens rebel? They don’t seem to be all that cowed, given that they rioted during Song Day.

Certainly. Which is why they probably don’t go through mewberty in the uncontrolled way Star did on Earth–one guess is that they do it out of sight, using traitors or criminals as the victims. A nice deterrent! (Watch out, Ruberiot).

e. If they imprison lots of boys, doesn’t that imply that they have lots of offspring? If so, why is Star an only child?

It could be that one offspring needs more than one boy to feed on. Alternately, only one princess from each brood may survive - as we know from Game of Flags, Mewnian Royalty loves a good deadly dominance contest. 

Another alternative: that the extra surviving siblings are forced to become rulers of new, outlying settlements (kind of like how insect hives reproduce by “swarming”). This could explain where the Mewnians come from in the first place.    

stop gendering bees oh my god social insects have clearly defined roles that have little to nothing to do with human ideas of gender

it does not matter if that cute honeybee is a boy or a girl. it is a bee.

I saw these bugs all the time growing up but never knew what it actually was. Could you tell me? (It has 6 legs although not shown)



Well that there is an Earwig (Order: Dermaptera) my friend. The picture is pretty blurry but these insects have a very distinctive body plan starting with those heavily segmented antenna and ending with those characteristic forcep-like cerci. This insect is one of many that desperately needs a pokemon modeled after it!

Can’t you just imagine it firing electricity or some kind of shockwave out of those butt pincers?? 

Or maybe it could be a fighting type and use those to do bodyslam-esque moves. 

Here are a few attempts from like-minded DeviantArtists:

-by Pokeluka

oh and this is a cute baby version called the HearWig by Reallydarkandwindie:

Anyways, earwigs are remarkable insects even beyond their staggering Pokemon potential. They’re among very few non-social insects that raise their young:

(Photo credit: Tom Oates)

The females have distinctly potent instincts to protect round squishy things! They will even defend balls of wax or vaseline from predators and clean them to protect against fungal growth. The females stay with the young in their earlier stages of their lives, feeding them predigested food she regurgitates for them.

Earwigs have highly flexible abdomens that allow them to use those fully-functional pincers on their back end as defensive weapons against predators. (I saw one grab and body slam a would-be predatory jumping spider once! He wasn’t dead but perplexed, shaken up, and wholly unwilling to try again.) In addition, they can fire a pungent, gluey solution from the middle of their abdomen too. They’re not interested in making life easy for predators and parasites. Many wasp and fly species that would that attempt to land on their backs and lay eggs on or in them can be picked off easily. And if they ever bite off more than they can chew in a scuff, they’re also able to fly away with the extremely intricately folded wings that they keep stored like a little leathery jetpack on their backs. 

You’ve got nothing to fear from these creatures though. 

The name may make it seem as if these creatures are able to infiltrate your head through your hearing holes like something out of a b-list alien movie but that’s not at all apart of their life cycle! 

Earwigs feed on decaying plant matter and occasionally smaller insects but never the brain matter of sleeping mammals. Their common name turned up so long ago that we’re actually not sure where it came from. It’s quite possible though that they were named for the shape of their wings when unfolded (which sort of look like ears at the right angle) + the Old English word “wicga” which means beetle. The old wives tale about them crawling into the ears of sleeping humans potentially came from a misunderstanding of that name. They’re actually pretty friendly ^____^

The Function of the Wand

TLDR: the wand is the catalyst for the creation of Mewnian Queens - which is why, despite the obvious dangers of handing it over to a 14 year old girl like Star, it is an iron clad tradition that it must be handed over.

This sort of builds on the previous theory about Mewnian reproduction, that analogized Mewnian Queens to the social insects.

One thought occurred to me: why in the world would Mewnian society develop the tradition of passing on the Wand, the most powerful object their dynasty owns, to a 14 year old girl? The disasters that are possible are endless (and the show demonstrates this). So why do it?

Part of the answer is that the Wand is like training wheels for magic - it makes magic much easier to do, but Queens gradually learn how to do magic without it, by “dipping down”.

But this can’t be the whole story - why physically hand the wand over? Why not just give the daughter the wand during training sessions?

The answer it seems to me is revealed indirectly in the Book, where it states that the use of Magic physically changes the queens (in respect of their cheek marks).

Mewnian Queens are not simply genetically predisposed to magic; they are in part made into Queens by magic.

This fits perfectly with the “social insect” analogy.

In bee hives, for example, Queen bees are not born queens - they are made. The mechanism for “making” Queens is a substance known as “royal jelly”. When the hive determines that a new Queen is necessary, it takes an ordinary grub and puts it in a chamber filled with royal jelly - and the new grub grows into a Queen, rather than a worker.

This, in effect, is the function of the wand, and why it must be handed over to a princess when she is 14. All royal daughters (that is, born to queens) have caste marks (due to their magical parentage). All have the potential to work magic. However, to become a full-fledged Mewnian queen, the daughter must be exposed directly to the Magic radiating from the wand - they must physically possess it.

The wand is, in effect, the “royal jelly” of Mewnian queenhood.

This may even explain Star’s compulsive gnawing on the wand! Perhaps in addition to magic, it excretes pheromones that create the physical changes necessary for her transformation into a Queen.

Again, the authors point out in the book that the wand is “tasty”. This means that it is secreting some substance, and one that Star enjoys. We know the wand can make substances (in Raid the Cave, it makes a glowing magical ink). Why is the wand making something attractive to Star, for her to consume?

Presumably, because the substance it is secreting is important in her transformation into a queen.

these ugly pikmin were inspired by @extra-vertebrae!!

i’ve always been fascinated by the whole premise  of pikmin, little plant aliens that have this weird hive mind and an insatiable need to consume and conqer all the wildlife they come across, so…

these are based off the newest pikmin installment, so no purple or white pikmin are here (I can always do  them later!)

all of them are fauna with compound eyes and a lot of inspiration/social mores from insects due to swarming tendencies and…i’d like to think that pikmin, much like ants, are actually exponentially smarter the more of them are floating around in a colony.

I also picture them with lots of fine, white hairs, and i figure them to be velvety to the touch like a sprout. They photosynthesize for food, and also have root-like stringy appendages. (they’re essentially the root of the “plant”)

top * bottom * left * right —>

blue pikmin, rock pikmin, flying pikmin, yellow pikmin, red pikmin

red pikmin have patchy scales and are generally unpleasant to eat by wildlife, from texture to capsaicin content.

pink pikmin don’t have any legs, so have locomotion based primarily on flying

yellow pikmin are lighter for throwing, but since they love being in the air so much, i figured giving them a whirlygig leaf would be a nice touch. imagine them spiraling down to the ground on their descent!

rock pikmin kind of gave me a bug up my ass, but ive grown to like them since designing them. all of them are basically little “root people” so I based them off of tubers. they have layers and are incredibly dense.

gosh, i thought i had more to say about these guys but. this is shorter than i actually thought it would be. feel free to shoot me any questions about them however!

maybe i can color splash them later.

Science Laurels: 2014's Biggest Newsmakers

by Michael Keller

A scientist who coerced the body’s immune system to fight cancer after skeptics and early trials pointed to it being impossible. 

The leader of a team that fired a bullet 10 years ago, which this year hit a bull’s-eye pinned on another hurtling bullet millions of miles away.

A robot maker who employed lessons from the animal kingdom to build teams of machines, which may quickly cleanup chemical spills or aid in disaster response one day. 

A doctor who gave everything to fight a deadly scourge.

These are a few examples of the scientists and engineers recognized by the journal Nature as 10 people who made a difference in 2014. From medicine and mathematics to molecular machines visualized, this past year’s group of top-flight innovators sparks greater hope for a better tomorrow.

Check out the full list below.

Keep reading

A friend asked me why I didn’t want to see Ant-Man and I told them I read Animorphs as a kid and their eyes grew in dawning horror and yeah, they’re not going either now

Just Our Types: A Short Guide to Type Specimens

Holotype: The single specimen that a researcher designates as the name-bearing representative of a new species. These important specimens ensure that scientists have a single reference point when talking about a particular organism, be it a Corythosaurus casuarius, first described in 1912 from a holotype housed here at the Museum, or the olinguito, described in 2013 (for more about how the Museum’s Mammal # 66753 became its holotype, watch the latest episode of Shelf Life.) 

Syntype: Sometimes in the past, prior to making the designation of the holotype a standard practice, multiple specimens were used in describing a new species, with one example singled out. In these cases, each example used in the original description is designated as a syntype.  

Lectotype: Having too many syntypes around can be confusing, though, so often one is selected from the set of syntypes as a representative specimen of the species. These after-the-fact selections are known as lectotypes. Interestingly, the lectotype for Homo sapiens is noted taxonomist Carl Linnaeus. (And in case you were wondering, Linnaeus’s remains do not reside on a museum shelf, but in Sweden’s Uppsala Cathedral.)

Paratype: Even when a holotype is designated, there are often other specimens used in the original description. Those are called paratypes and were often collected at the same time and location as the holotype. Paratypes can become even more important if, for instance, a holotype is ever lost or destroyed. Several paratype specimens are given special note in the Museum’s ornithology type collection because corresponding holotypes, housed in European museums, were destroyed during World War II.

Allotype: When the males and females of a species look very different, researchers sometimes designate an allotype—a specimen of the opposite sex of the holotype. Unlike some other types, this designation is less formal and is not regulated by the International Committee on Zoological Nomenclature, the organization dedicated to keeping names and types in order.

Ergatotype: Some organisms exhibit great morphological differences within a single species. Ergatotypes are only used in the description of some social insects in the order Hymenoptera, which includes ants, wasps, and bees. An ergatotype represent a typical “worker” insect for their species.