Whittaker AstroBot #2

What better way to honor Prof. William L. “Red” Whittaker than to make an astrobot inspired by his work. Whittaker is well known as Chief Scientist of the Robotics Engineering Consortium At Carnegie Mellon University. What I love about his work is that his robots reference the strengths and characteristics of insects. I’ve added a 1950s campy sci-fi film component to make a six-legged candidate for a walk on the moon. His hair is clearly on fire due to theRead more

Good vibrations: Umbelligerus perviensis

Treehoppers deserve our utmost respect: they are amazing, beautiful and harmless bugs. They contribute to biodiversity, are gregarious little creatures who play well with other beneficial species, and won’t attempt to invade your house, chew on your plant leaves, or sting you. They might, however, sing you a little song, if you listen closely.   The treehopper is friendly with ants, who feed on honeydew the bug produces while sucking tree sap, its main food source. The ants not only cleanRead more

Bed Bug Bugaboo

Cimex lectularius, commonly known as the bed bug, is a flea-like true bug that dines on the blood of its hosts (that would be you and me). In prehistoric times, bed bugs absolutely loved our warm caves, and now they love our warm houses and especially our beds and bedding. As a logophiliac, I find the etymology of the bed bug fascinating. In Medieval Europe, the word bug or bugge originally referred exclusively to bed bug. (In present day, we call many things bugs: it’s the informal moniker not just forRead more

The Syrphid fly: a good guy

The Syrphid fly, aka the hoverfly or flower fly, is often seen hovering over flowers. Aphid-eating hoverflies are important natural enemies of pests, and potential agents for use in biological control. Some adult syrphid flies are important pollinators. Hoverflies are common throughout the world and the good news is, they are harmless to most other animals. Look twice next time you think you see a wasp or bee–it may just be the more gentle and beneficial hoverfly. Materials: Vintage wood, beads and buttons; wire; wool; motorRead more

Aranaeus Saevus “Orbras”

“Orbras” is a tiny, eight-legged engineer–an orb weaver who builds spiral, wheel-shaped webs often found in gardens, fields and forests. Orbras and his compatriots are social, largely non-aggressive, and seldom bite. In 2009, over 107 million orb weaver spiders were found living in a phenomenally huge web that covered four acres of a Baltimore wastewater plant. Cold assembly: 19th century brass doorknob, vintage jewelry, antique button, wool roving, wire. Dimensions: 9″x9″x3″Read more

Rhynchophorus ferrugineus “Bolo”

Bolo is a red palm weevil or “snout beetle.” This weevil is considered a major pest in palm plantations, but the larval grub is considered a delicacy in Southeast Asian countries. The grubs have been described as creamy tasting when raw, and like bacon or meat when cooked. Cold Assembly: Recycled brass shell casing, antique buttons, eyeglass lenses, automotive fasteners, recycled jewelry, wool roving, wire. Dimensions: 6″x3.5″x5″Read more

Mass Ratios and Insect Respect.

A fun re-post from my drawing blog. How many living insects exist in the world on any given day? Scientists estimate somewhere between 1 quintillion (that’s a billion billion) and 10 quintillion (10,000,000,000,000,000,000). With merely 6.8 billion humans on Earth, it seems we’re outnumbered. 

If you’re like me, you’re having trouble visualizing the those numbers in terms of biomass. As luck would have it, the mathematical heavy lifting has been done, which makes the case for roughly 200 pounds of insects for each pound of human.Read more

Rarely seen: the Luna Moth

Before constructing an insect sculpture, I do a little research and then make drawings (as above), which I can refer to while working. I haven’t yet created a sculpture of this insect, but it’s in the lineup for this summer. The luna moth (Actias luna) is a Saturniid moth, found almost exclusively in North America, where it enjoys its status as one of that region’s largest moths (its wingspan measures up to 114 mm or 4.5”). Following many weeks inRead more