Nature’s flying jewels

If you liked the video of the dead leaf butterfly, then you’ll want to check out this video of the beautiful Archduke (Lexias pardalis dirteana) butterfly in its baby caterpillar state.

Full of spines, its next stage will be chrysalis before shedding and breaking into a restless butterfly. 

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Bugging out: How your wealth attracts more insects

butterfly, insects
Different rooms, different insects.

A recent study links higher income to the diversity of bugs inside homes. Called the ‘luxury effect,’ wealthier people tend to have more bug types hanging out indoors.

This may not seem obvious at first, but the reason is simple. The richer you are, the more likely you are to own a bigger house and maintain a landscape, which supports more plants and trees, which cultivates more bugs, thereby inviting more types of insects into your home.

“More expensive houses tend to be larger, providing more space for bugs to roam. This is called the species-area curve, a concept originally  developed to help explain diversity in oceanic islands. The concept soon expanded to include diversity of all stripes. Basically, the more area there is, the more species can call a place home.”

The study also suggests that bugs treat the larger homes like they do trees, living in different rooms like they do on tree branches.

So, just imagine the diversity of insects bug lovers would discover at the White House, Lebron’s mansion, or your resort. But if you live in a city? You can throw the insect to income ratio out the window.

The Bigger Your House, The More Room for Bugs

Gamifying science: Discover new species through a bug-based social network

inaturalist bugs
Unidentified objects

Yesterday, I blogged about the ability to scan any color in the world using Cronzy’s app and use that exact color to draw in the real world. You can take a similar approach to help identify any of the world’s bugs.

iNaturalist.org is a social network for bug lovers, connecting both the amateur photography discovering new species with the teacher who helps identify it.

In 2013, for example, a man in Colombia uploaded a photo of a bright red and black frog. A poison frog expert in Washington, D.C., spotted it and eventually determined it was a brand-new species. The pair co-authored the results in the peer-reviewed journal Zootaxa.

The perspective in most classrooms is that people use the Internet to waste time. However, when used as a tool to notice the world, the internet connects people and helps people learn.

“Because if you think about it, natural history really is a game. It’s going out there and trying to learn as much as you can about the things that you’re finding in nature.”

One of the iNaturalist’s users, Greg Lasely, has nearly 20k observations, has identified nearly 4k species, and identified almost 134k bugs.

As Seth Godin says, “produce for a micro market and market to a micro market.” iNaturalist is yet another example of the internet’s long tail — there’s a niche community for all interests in the social media age.