Category Archives: Pick and mix

Pick & Mix 48 – wildflowers, sinistral snails, slaves, Charles Dickens, medieval insect lore, conservation and teaching in a virtual world

Rob Yorke on insects

On the importance of ‘real’ wildflowers and the rise of plant blindness

Do you remember Jeremy the left-handed snail?  Sadly, he is now no longer with us but he has been immortalised in print 🙂 See the published paper here.

Sickening and sobering visualisation of the slave trade 😦

Interesting analysis of some of Charles Dickens’ characters

Insects and other arthropods in medieval manuscripts – some remarkable illustrations

The role of arthropods in medieval medicine

One, two, more or less? How many metres apart will keep us safe?

Teaching tips for a virtual world

If you are interested in UK nature and conservation, then this is an interesting on-line news round-up

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Pick & Mix 47 – Captain Cook, coffee, tea, moths and bees

Follow Captain Cook on his Pacific voyages – nice interactive experience

Buried under colonial concrete – the lost botany of Botany Bay

Coffee, not just a pick you up, but a knock you down (if you’re an insect that is)

Did you know that there is an international tea day? All about tea for those of you who prefer tea to coffee

Beautifully written and equally beautifully illustrated essay by the aptly named Linden Hawthorne  (@Haggewoods onTwitter) on the Latin names of plants and animals

Gwen Pearson gives good advice on how to talk to a reporter about entomology

Moths – the mostly unseen and definitely unappreciated pollinators

Some cool bee videos from Jeff Ollerton

The bees are the stars – a novel about bees

For the non-entomologists (and entomologists) -urban fantasy novels: why they matter and which ones to read first – some good suggestions here

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Pick & Mix 46 – alternative beverages, dragons, nature conservation and insects galore

Violet leaf tea anyone?

Fancy a naturally occurring low caffeine version of coffee – then why not try this  flavoursome alternative?

A depressing story from a disillusioned nature conservationist or is it?

Are you good at silviculture asks Julian Evans former Professor of Forestry at Imperial College.  I was amused to see that the long-haired reprobate standing at the back of the picture of work going on at Kielder Forest was me 🙂

Where have all the insects gone? A long read – but very interesting

If you have a wood burning stove or use firewood, do make sure you aren’t putting something beautiful on the fire 🙂

Have you ever wondered about those iridescent insects?  Wonder no more

Excellent and fun guide to insect Orders from Ray Cannon

The World’s Most Interesting Insects – new book – some glorious pictures included in the review

Here be Dragons – I’ve linked this one because my late Mother came from Washington, County Durham and her party piece when I was a kid was a dialect version of The Lambton Worm. If you don’t know it, here it is by Bryan Ferry, who went to the same school as my Mum (albeit 15 years after her), but I think my Mum’s version was much better 🙂

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Pick & Mix 45 – Sex, disease, food, insect art and much more

Do you want to stop the next pandemic?  Yes, then start protecting wildlife habitats

Why Latin names are important – nice informative post from Scottish Pollinators

Ray Cannon on insect tibial spurs –  much more than just decorative spines

Another great post from Ray Cannon, this time a lyrical account of the courtship behaviour of the Vinegar Fly

Interesting article on how biologists worked out the what and how of viruses

Runny honey, furry spinach and shiny apples – some fun food facts

Why are butterflies doing better this year? In Australia at any rate

Some fabulous insect art from Vietnamese artist Hoàng Hoàng

If beetles are on the front line of the global extinction crisis, then entomologists are on the front line of budget cuts. Halting plans to save invertebrates results in the least public outcry, especially if no one knows they’re there in the first place.

Crop domestication – perhaps plants evolved to exploit humans as seed dispersers?

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Pick & Mix 44 – some things to ponder while you practice social distancing

The Swiss do more than make cuckoo clocks – they (well some of them) subvert maps J

Great summary of the latest special issue in Insect Conservation & Diversity by Manu Saunders

We need to get out more – interesting paper on the health benefits of being outside and getting dirty

Interesting post from Miles King on education and his thoughts about why it should be student centred rather than league table centred and include getting outside more

Will the Covid-19 epidemic have a silver lining for the green economy?  Not necessarily writes James Murray of BusinessGreen

Something to visit when the pandemic is over – The Linnean Society celebrates the achievements of their first female fellows

Something to help you get through these days of social distancing – watch these springtails jump and then go outside and find some yourself, but do keep away from other peopel

The ecological mystery of a Stink Bug swarm far out to sea – what does it tell us about colonisation of the Galapagos Islands?

Somewhat related is this old post of mine about long distance migration in aphids

Finally, if you haven’t come across the word defining site Sesquiotica, I can definitely recommend it, sometimes poetry, sometimes prose, but always enlightening

 

 

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Pick & Mix 43 – more snippets from the web

Manu Saunders on the rights and wrongs of altmetrics and other measures of impacts

From a few years ago, but worth a read,  How Birds are Fooled by Ladybird Mimicry and Why Spiders are Amazing

I had never heard of this plant – interesting post from Markus Eichhorn – Kratom – when ethnobotany goes wrong

Megan Duffy on the work-life balance conundrum.  Something we should all think hard about.

Insect numbers may be in decline but some are expanding their ranges – latest research from Charlie Outhwaite and colleagues shows that not all is doom and gloom, although as you might expect, it is not simple

A whole issue of the journal Insect Conservation & Diversity is dedicated to the subject of insect declines and otherwise, and what we might do about it. Free to access for a year.

Do bees have consciousness?  Not proven yet but Lars Chittka thinks that the fact that they can solve Molyneux’s problem may suggest they might

On the other side of the coin, in an attempt to reduce insect numbers, in this case the Diamondback moth, entomologists in the USA report on the first field release of a genetically modified, self-limiting insect

The end of farming? Interesting read but can this approach feed the world?

Cover letters – why bother? I don’t so why should you?

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Pick & Mix 42 – Scan, click, enjoy

Can you pass the British fungi challenge?

Interesting article about how the Victorians tried to get closer to Nature by using insects as jewellery

The best science communication is done by telling a story – thanks to Terry McGlynn for the link

More evidence that beetle diversification was linked to the rise of flowering plants after all.

Markus Eichhorn on the need to decolonise biogeography – link to original paper here

Unlike politicians, good scientists are willing to admit they make mistakes and take steps to rectify them.  Here Kate Laskowski, tells the story of how she discovered errors in her data and what she did about it.

Is it racist to say that Prince Albert was German?  Miles King ponders on the furore a Horrible History skit caused

Interesting article from a former student of mine, Tom Oliver, also a book plug 🙂

Here my favourite Dipterist and fellow wine aficionado, Erica McAlister @FlygirlNHM talks about where she works

And to finish of this week’s selections – here from GrrlScientist, is a summary of two important papers about the now undisputed fact that insect populations are in decline, and importantly what we as individuals and governments, could and should be doing about it.  Insects may be small but they are the little things that run the world.

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Pick & Mix 41 – some links to entertain and inform

Which species do we save – so many to choose from and not enough money

The moths of Whittingehame – following in the footsteps of Alice Blanche Balfour

The science behind prejudice – do cultures grow more prejudiced when they tighten cultural norms in response to destabilizing ecological threats?

Did bird vaginas evolve to fight invading penises?

Procrastination in academia – most of us do it – here is a scientific exploration and analysis – be warned it is riddled with jargon

What goes on inside an aphid and why Nancy Moran does what she does

James Wong examines the evidence (or lack of) for an impending “agricultural Armageddon”

Here Patrick Barkham recommends some books about Nature and muses on how we as individuals can make a difference

Overlooked and underused crops – a possible solution to the food crisis?

Great pictures and story – all about swallowtail caterpillars and their defence mechanism – another tour de force from Charlie Eiseman

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Pick & Mix 40 – An early Christmas present

A history of the use of holly

Kissing under the mistletoe – why do we do it?

Advent botany – plants used to celebrate Christmas around the world

More advent botany – this time from Jeanne Osnas

At this time of year you are quite likely to find butterflies in the house – this is what you should do with them

Fascinating video about the evolution of humans with a haunting soundtrack

Turns out we can’t blame Jimi Hendrix or Katherine Hepburn for the UK’s parakeets 🙂  If you want to read the scientific version it it is here

Turning science into fiction – check it out

Why don’t modern day scientists write like Darwin?

Long live the apostrophe – we need them desperately

 

 

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Pick & Mix 39 – conservation, trophy hunting, palm oil, Charles Darwin, kale and much more

An example of the double-think of creationists  – evolution doesn’t exist but natural selection does!

On the practice of naming new species after awful people

To boycot palm oil or not – this conservation biologist makes a good case for not

The lengths some people go to complete their collections

Wonderful story about Art Shapiro’s long-tem data set, 47 years and counting

Kale, I can’t stand the stuff, but clever marketing has convinced a lot of people that it is great 🙂

Did you know that Charles Drawin drew more than one tree of life before deciding on the one we all know?

Fascinating spider facts and photographs from Ray Cannon

Interesting read about what happened when some conservation scientists suggested that banning trophy hunting might be bad for conservation efforts

Are you concerned about an insect apocalypse? For starters, kill your lawn.

 

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