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Youtube / Strang Entertainment
Youtube / Strang Entertainment

From Caterpillar to Chrysalis—and What Happens in There

Youtube / Strang Entertainment
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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Fazer
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Food
Finnish Food Company Launches The World's First Insect-Based Bread
Fazer
Fazer

A Finnish food company has created a protein-packed bread using an unusual natural ingredient: crickets. It's billed as the world's first insect-based bread to ever be sold in stores, according to Reuters.

In September 2017, Finnish officials approved the cultivation and sale of insects as food. But Fazer Food Services in Helsinki has been testing a bread that contained flour, seeds, and "flour" made from dried crickets long before than decision. The company waited for Finland to give bug food products the go-ahead before officially launching their product in late November.

"We wanted to be in the forefront of food revolution," said Markus Hellström, Fazer Bakery Finland's managing director, in a news release. Plus, he added, "Finns are known to be willing to try new things, and the Fazer Cricket Bread is an easy way to get a feel of food of the future."

A single loaf of cricket bread will set customers back nearly $5. Each contains around 70 crushed crickets, which are currently sourced from the Netherlands. Currently, there's not enough cricket flour for Fazer to conduct nationwide sales, so the company is rolling the product out in stages. Just 11 locations in the Helsinki metro area sell Fazer Cricket Bread right now, with plans to eventually offer it in all 47 Fazer in-store bakeries.

Cricket bread has more protein than the typical baked good, plus it's believed be more environmentally friendly to boot. And Fazer company officials believe that Finns, in particular, are willing to bite.

The world "needs new and sustainable sources of nutrition,” said Juhani Sibakov, Fazer Bakery Finland's director of innovation, in the statement. “According to research, of all the Nordic countries, Finns have the most positive attitudes towards insects.”

[h/t Reuters]

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Which Rooms In Your Home Have the Most Types of Bugs, According to Entomologists 
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iStock

Insects can make any home their own, so long as it contains cracks, doors, and windows for them to fly, wriggle, or hitchhike their way in. And it turns out that the creepy crawlers prefer your living room over your kitchen, according to a new study that was recently highlighted by The Verge.

Published in the journal Scientific Reports, the study looked at 50 homes in Raleigh, North Carolina, to measure their insect populations. Entomologists from both North Carolina State University and the California Academy of Sciences ultimately discovered more than 10,000 bugs, both alive and dead, and a diverse array of species to boot.

The most commonly observed bugs were harmless, and included ladybugs, silverfish, fruit flies, and book lice. (Luckily for homeowners, pests like bedbugs, termites, and fleas were scarcer.) Not all rooms, though, contained the same distribution of many-legged residents.

Ground-floor living rooms with carpets and windows tended to have the most diverse bug populations, as the critters had easy access inside, lots of space to live in, and a fibrous floor habitat that could be either a cozy homestead or a death trap for bugs, depending on whether they got stuck in it. The higher the floor level, the less diverse the bug population was, a fact that could be attributed to the lack of doors and outside openings.

Types of bugs that were thought to be specific to some types of rooms were actually common across the board. Ants and cockroaches didn’t limit themselves to the kitchen, while cellar spiders were present in all types of rooms. As for moths and drain flies, they were found in both common rooms and bathrooms.

Researchers also found that “resident behavior such as house tidiness, pesticide usage, and pet ownership showed no significant influence on arthropod community composition.”

The study isn’t representative of all households, since entomologists studied only 50 homes within the same geographical area. But one main takeaway could be that cohabiting bugs “are an inevitable part of life on Earth and more reflective of the conditions outside homes than the decisions made inside,” the researchers concluded. In short, it might finally be time to make peace with your itty-bitty housemates.

[h/t The Verge]

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