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From Caterpillar to Chrysalis—and What Happens in There

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Youtube / Strang Entertainment

Even though it's still snowing in some areas of the United States, spring has technically arrived. To celebrate, watch the mesmerizing and soothing video below of a monarch caterpillar performing one of nature's greatest magic tricks: Transforming into a chrysalis, after which it will emerge as a beautiful butterfly (Danaus plexippus).

For a long time, what happened in the chrysalis was a mystery. It was sort of like nature's magic trick: A caterpillar disappears into a chrysalis and emerges a butterfly. But last year, research conducted using state-of-the-art technology gave the world a peek inside the chrysalis during metamorphosis.

To conduct their research, scientists used a micro-CT scanner—a version of the machine that doctors use to find internal injuries in people—and nine pupae of one of the world's most widespread butterflies, Vanessa cardui. They hung the chrysalides inside a straw and spun them as they took almost 2000 x-rays, which they used to create highly detailed 3D portraits of the transforming insects at various stages of the transformation. Below, you can see an image of an adult specimen on the sixteenth day of development. 

Tristan Lowe

The scans revealed that most of the tracheal system of the butterfly forms in the first day of pupation; the midgut is formed and in position by day 7 (though it will continue to develop through the transformation). The scientists, who published their study in the Journal of the Royal Society, believe that this method of scanning could be used to learn more about the development of a wide variety of other insects, too. 

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science
Here's Why Mosquitoes May Like to Snack on You More Than Your Friends
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Ever come back from a camping trip covered in red welts, while your companions’ limbs remained blissfully bite-free?

It’s not just all in your head: Researchers find that mosquitoes may like to gnaw on certain individuals more than others, including pregnant women, sweaty people, those with blood type O, and even beer drinkers.

To find out if you're more at risk for becoming an insect’s snack than other outdoor enthusiasts, check out Tech Insider’s video below.

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Art
This Artist Makes Portraits of Insects From the Plants They Eat
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The plant art of Montreal-based artist Raku Inoue goes way beyond flower arrangements. Inoue, who created the clothing brand Reikan Apparel, fashions intricate portraits of insects out of the plants that make up their habitats, as Laughing Squid spotted.

The series, "Natura Insects," includes butterflies made of flower petals, leaves intricately woven into moth wings, and black widows with rosemary legs. The results are delicate, innocent-looking bugs that no person could bear to squash. Inoue carefully arranges the pretty plant sculptures, then photographs them against a white background, resulting in an unexpected take on the traditional insect display cases seen in natural history museums.

If you like flower-based art, Inoue recently debuted a series in which his flower-petal figures blend into adorable illustrations of kids.

[h/t Laughing Squid]

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