2010 “deadline” missed for reversing loss of biodiversity

The United Nations has declared the International Year of Biodiversity–a year that was supposed to be a milestone. The 193 nations participating in a treaty called the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) had agreed to “achieve by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level as a contribution to poverty alleviation and to the benefit of all life on Earth.”

But in a statement released early this year, Ahmen Djoghlaf, the executive secretary of CBD, states that we’re a long way off. He writes “The more than 100 national reports received so far from Parties have demonstrated that we continue to lose biodiversity at an unprecedented rate.”

While this is serious news on many fronts, it has also provided scientists with the impetus to better understand the benefits of biodiversity and the ramifications of its loss. Here’s a great feature article written by Susan Milius that covers the topic in detail. If you don’t read anything else this year, read this.

via Losing Life’s Variety – Science News.

Make your own gummi insects!

gummi dung beetleKids of all ages like gross-out food, especially if it’s sweet. A Japanese company, Megahouse, aims to please with a DIY insect kit: the Gummi-X kit. It’s sure to up the ick factor at your next slumber party or Halloween get-together.

For  around 4,300 yen (just under $50.00), you can order the kit from Amazon Japan. The “mother center” gives you a base mold, beakers, tweezers, and a measuring spoon.

pillbugs

The molds allow you to create two different beetles, pillbugs and crayfish. Expansion kits include molds for a tree frog and another beetle, going for 1,529 yen (about $17.00) each.  If only it had botflies!!!

Check out this Japanese TV commercial for the kit – even the young actors can’t hide their “Eeeeeew!”

More pictures of the kit in use are available at this Japanese blog.

One for the kid in all of us: Origami Insects

From origami-pics.blogspot.com

After evaluating the heck out of a paper on gene expression in bird beaks, I feel like a creativity break. As a fan of all things handmade, I have chosen to explore insect origami. Here are a few resources.

What I found ranges from the easy to the mind-bogglingly complex. Here are a couple of kid-friendly folding diagrams for a butterfly (page 1 and page 2). Here’s the link for a simple fly project.

Here are several instructional videos showing how to fold various insects. And this site hosts some PDFs for super-complex insect origami, for the obsessive kids among us.

Winter activities

Field work on my insect of choice, grasshoppers, is at a standstill here on the Colorado Front Range. I’m spending my time trolling the Web, building up this blog, writing my honor’s thesis on ant anosmia, and enjoying the beautiful snowfall we have today.

In case you’re curious about what happens with insects during the winter, here’s some general information. Some insects are “freeze-tolerant,” meaning that they have evolved strategies to survive colder temperatures than those that are “freeze-resistant” or those that die from cold. Continue reading

For Kids: insect coloring pages

via Printable Coloring Pages: Insect Coloring Sheets.