Category Archives: Pick and mix

Pick & Mix 52 – conservation, farming, coral reefs, Erasmus Darwin, resilient forestry, thanotosis, seasonality in blogs, orchids, teaching on line and arachnophobic entomologists

Interesting article from James Rebank – We need to change the way we see and think about farming.

Trees aren’t living as long as they used to and this threatens their role in capturing carbon

Resilient, conservation facing forestry?

If you want to know how to move an entomology course on line, Steve Heard shares his with us all – fantastic and innovative – a great example to us all

I recently posted a somewhat tongue in cheek spoof paper blogpost about seasonal views of my blogturns out that someone has done this for real!

Did you know that many entomologists are afraid of spiders?

Biodiversity is not just in the Amazon – equally endangered and just as biodiverse – Scotland’s coastal gem, but climate change could wipe it all out L

How playing dead can save your life – great post from Ray Cannon on thanotosis

Most of us when we hear the name Darwin automatically think of Charles, but his grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, was also a naturalist and in his day, just as famous. I am pleased, that thanks to the free service offered by the Biodiversity Heritage Library, to give yoy the chance to read his book, published in 1800, Phytologia or The Philosophy of Agriculture and Gardening, in which he attempts to dispel plant blindness, a thing even then and puts forward the idea of biological control using parasitic wasps.

If you like orchids or even if you are not a huge fan this might appeal to you.

 

 

 

6 Comments

Filed under Pick and mix

Pick & Mix 51 – permafrost, shifting baselines, insect pests, carrion beetles, a history of chocolate, double flowers, wasps and the most beautiful springtail you have ever seen

Very worrying news from the frozen North

You will have seen Extinction Rebellion in the news a lot complaining about lack of progress on slowing down climate change, but do they care about Nature as a whole?

Help prevent shifting baseline syndrome by talking to your grandchildren

Social media isn’t just funny cat videos – The next invasion of insect pests will be discovered via social media

Nice article on carrion beetles – and incidentally emphasising the importance of citizen science projects and social media

If you like chocolate and want an excuse to eat more, then this article might be of interest J

Did you know that flowers can grow out of flowers? Unravelling the mystery of double flowers

Professor Sierian Sunmer of University College London, explains why wasps like to join you on your picnic as summer comes to an end

Will we add a new butterfly to the British list – is the Camberwell Beauty on the way to join us?

Springtails – ubiquitous, beautiful, incredibly useful and totally overlooked by almost everyone

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Pick and mix

Pick & Mix 50 – conservation, misogyny, media misinformation, citizen science, healthy gardens and insect-inspired eye make-up

“Conservation should indeed be a global priority. But understanding of the complexity and colonial roots of this problem and the shocking double standards that exist, is vital” Very important article by conservation scientist Tarsh Thakaekara

Adam Hart and colleagues on the harm that celebrities and media misinformation are doing to conservation

Misogyny alive and well in the world of shark conservation – time for a change of attitude

Top tips on keeping your plants and gardens healthy

Interesting Open Access article on urban conservation

Fantastic essay about Rosalind Franklin by Matthew Cobb (author of The Brain and Very Short Introduction to Smell)

Sophie Yeo asks ‘Does citizen science make you happier?”

Insect inspired eye make-up

The benefit of an insect collection, said Floyd Shockley, the insect collection manager at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, is that “a dead specimen, if properly preserved, can be there forever.” A 153-year-old insect collection is being used to solve modern problems.

Another insightful blog post from Manu Saunders about the insect apocalypse stories and the data  behind them

 

6 Comments

Filed under Pick and mix

Pick & Mix 49 – Lawns, murders, lions, farmers, teaching and much more

Top tips on making your lawn wildlife friendly

If we really want to, we can reverse the declines seen in insect abundance – link to a full report by the Wildlife Trusts here

How bad is trophy hunting really? Could it benefit biodiversity?

Should we pay farmers to sequester carbon?

Loaded language – Is it time to rethink how we talk about ‘non-native’ species?

Along similar lines, a really thoughtful and useful article from Manu Saunders –  giving due credit to other cultures and women – “Teaching resources: history and philosophy of ecology

Keeping with the diversification theme – a thoughtful post from Stephen Heard

All about peanuts and not the cartoon variety!

A nice synopsis of Gilbert White’s contribution to natural history

And for something completely different – if you are a fan of medieval murder mystery stories or planning on writing one, this is the site for you 🙂 – absolutely fascinating

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under 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

2 Comments

Filed under Pick and mix

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Pick and mix

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 🙂

3 Comments

Filed under Pick and mix

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?

Leave a comment

Filed under Pick and mix

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

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Pick and mix

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?

Leave a comment

Filed under Pick and mix