Wings of change

Long-term insect surveillance initiatives, such as the Rothamsted Insect Survey and the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme, allow ongoing assessments of the conservation status of large numbers of insect species against a background of increasing environmental change. This meeting will highlight the key findings from long-term insect surveys, including a 50-year monitoring project for British moths and butterflies.

Big Nature Day

Big Nature Day is the Museum’s annual celebration of the variety of nature, in recognition of the UN International Day of Biological Diversity.

Incredible Invertebrates

Creepy crawlies, bugs, pests, call them what you like but this half-term we will be celebrating the wonderful world of invertebrates. Join us to take part in our fun hands-on specimen based activities with our incredible invertebrates and get inventive with designing your own insect.

The World’s Got Rhythm, Circadian Rhythm

Circadian rhythms run the biological world like clockwork. Madeleine Hurry explains how they work, from the genes in a bacterium to the human brain

Science Behind the Photo #32

Seven-Spot Ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata) The seven-spot ladybird is one of Britain’s most common beetles, easily recognisable by its distinctive markings. As its name would suggest, this ladybird has seven black spots – three on each side of the red elytra (the hardened forewing that protects the hindwings used for flying) and one split across the […]

Science Behind the Photo #26

Seven-spot Ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata) One of the most distinctive and, arguably, the most popular insects in the UK, the ladybird has captured the imaginations of many a young child. However, the future of our bespeckled friend is not as bright as her iconic red coat. Many native species of ladybirds are in decline thanks, in […]

Science Behind the Photo #14

Earlier this month, researchers from New Zealand announced that they had observed wasps lifting up ants and carrying them away from food. This video footage also shows how the wasps hurl the ants away in their desperate attempts to monopolise the food source.  Although this video was made in a laboratory environment, the ant-dropping behaviour […]

A bug’s life is better with company

Parasites are amazing.  By taking advantage of the efforts of another species, parasites have been able to flourish in countless strange ways. For example, there is one parasite that lives only on the lips of lobsters (Symbion americanus). The fungal parasite, Ophiocordyceps unilateralis infects the brains of ants, causing them to climb high into the forest canopy, […]

Watching porn is good for you – if you’re a cricket

Any crickets reading this – you’re in luck. Scientists have shown that hearing other crickets making sexual noises while growing up have a stronger immune system than those who were reared in silence. It seems a strange, almost coincidental, correlation – between an internal, biochemical process (immunity) and an external, social cue (sexual signalling). However, […]

Science behind the Photo #6

Ever since French entomologists August Magnan and  André Sainte-Lague famously declared that bee flight was aerodynamically impossible, a popular myth has prevailed that the phenomenon of bee flight is beyond our current scientific capabilities to explain. In fact, it was beyond our reach for over 70 years. However,  in 2006 a team of researchers from […]

Copycats

Apart from a few eccentric Germans, being eaten is probably the last thing any of us would ever like to have happen to us. The same is true throughout the rest of the animal kingdom, of course, with millions of adaptations evolving to help prevent such an occurrence happening. Many of these adaptations are pretty […]

Science Behind the Photo #2

Dung beetles ( Scarabaeidae) Dung beetles are seriously under threat as a result of coextinction (where a species is lost as a result of the extinction of another). In the case of the dung beetle the threat of extinction is an indirect consequence of the decline in the numbers of large mammals as a result […]

Butterflies in your stomach

The thought of climate change may leave you with a sinking feeling in your stomach, what with rising sea levels and increasing extinction rates. Research published recently in PLoS has suggested a novel way of helping the planet, although it is unlikely to help the situation in your stomach. Eating insects can, apparently, reduce our […]

Science Behind the Photo #1

Painted Lady (Cynthia cardui) Almost a third of butterflies in Europe are in decline and one in ten is threatened with extinction. This also has a severe knock-on effect for the plant species which rely on butterflies for pollination. A recent report by Natural England has found that that the number of butterflies in the […]