Friday, May 27, 2016

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Monday, May 23, 2016

Julia and Oliver- Ant Innovation

Humans consider themselves to be the most advanced species on the planet. They are smarter, stronger, and more sophisticated than any other living (or non-living for that matter) organism, right? Wrong! Some of the developments and technologies that supposedly distinguish humans from other species and qualify them as “advanced” are tools that have been employed by ants for much longer than homo sapiens have even existed on the earth! 

In this podcast, we explore five different examples of human innovations or institutions that have been employed by different species of ants for over 100 million years. The first example is the practice of farming in order to grow food. Leaf cutter ants collect leaf fragments and take them to their underground nest where they use the material to raise a fungus garden. The fungus is then consumed by the ants for a nutritious breakfast, lunch and dinner! The second example is the human (specifically of Italian origin) institution of the mob which ants have been taking advantage of for millions of years! Certain species of ants maintain a symbiotic relationship with aphids. This means that the ants offer their loyal protection to the aphids in exchange for the sugary nectar that the aphids provide via their rear ends (a very mob-like negotiation!) For the third and fourth example, we considered ants employment of strategic tools such as traps and war tactics. Amazonian ants build structures which cleverly entrap the legs of their prey so they can easily collect a meal. Carpenter ants use strategic troop organization (weaker ants in the front lines) when confronting enemies for battle. Lastly, ants can modify their bodies to form living rafts and bridges when confronted with water and other obstacles. Overall, we hope this podcast has shown that there is more to ants than meets the eye!


Jamie Lutes and Olivia Luken- Bugs Appetit

Bugs Appetit is about entomophagy which is the eating of bugs. Although this may seem odd, there are actually a lot of countries who use bugs as a main food source. First we will discuss the different countries and their most popular bug cuisine, then we will talk about restaurants in the United States where bugs are served. Lastly we will discuss popular bug cookbooks, in case you are intrigued to make your own bug cuisine after this post.

The first country we will talk about is China. In China, they find bugs in the larval state to be a delicious source of nutrients like copper, iron, riboflavin, and zinc. They enjoy bug larvae from bees and silkworm moths. In Japan, they also like to eat larvae.They find boiled wasp larvae and silk moth larvae a delicacy. Next we have Ghana where winged termites are thought to be a tasty treat. They collect the termites after rainfall and then they fry or roast the termites. Sometimes they also make the termites into bread. In South Africa they also eat winged termites, but they put their insects into cornmeal porridge.  In New Guinea and Australia, beetles are eaten raw or cooked in ashes and are thought to taste like almonds. Next we have Latin America where they enjoy ants that are fried and sometimes dipped in chocolate. Lastly we have Mexico where they enjoy tortillas filled with mealworms, chocolate covered locusts, and french-fried caterpillars.

Popular Places in The United States

The Black Ant in New York City serves Grasshopper Almond Flour Cake. which was created by Chef Cesar Moreno. If you do not want to travel up north you can travel down to New Orleans, Louisiana. Chef Lemann serves Lightly Fried Dragonflies at the Audubon Butterfly Garden. In New Orleans, you can also find the restaurant Johnny Sánchez which serves grasshopper bacon bits on top of their guacamole.

Bug Cookbooks The eat a bug cook book, The Insect Cookbook by Arnold Van Huis, and Creepy Crawly Cuisine: The Gourmet Guide To Edible Insects by Julieta Ramos-Elorduy PH.D. are some of the cook books that we discuss. These books include recipes like bitterbug bites, hopper kebabs, leaf footed bug pizza, and three bee salad.


Lauren Johnson and Christina Seaver– Decomposing Corpses and the Insecta Heroes

This installation in the informational podcast series "Hexapod" will discuss a unique perspective of one of the ways in which insects provide a service for people. Most of us probably understand how certain insects assist in cleaning the earth of things that die and decay. Where insects and killers intersect is just at that point. Investigators can use insects and other arthropods collected at the scene of a murder to determine several factors including time of death, analyzing metamorphosis processes of insects, as well as where the body was originally killed. Forensic entomology is the science behind body decomposition and insect intervention in that process and uses this information in solving murder cases. In this podcast, we will explain the multiple contributions insects can provide for a case as well as describe cases in which these contributions helped solve the murder. This topic is not for the faint at heart but for those who want to know about the many ways insects help us, we urge you to listen on.

References used for this podcast include:

Opening Theme: "Bit Quest"
Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Dylan Pahle, Matt Gammon- Zika Virus Outbreak

Welcome to the blog about Zika and how it effects the planet. In our podcast we outlined why knowledge of the Zika virus is important, some facts, some recent history, and why it is dangerous. Why is it important to know about the Zika Virus? The CDC has confirmed more than 700 cases of Zika virus 41 US states and 3 US territories. Just under 50% of cases in the U.S. were acquired through travel while the rest were transmitted by mosquitos. All locally acquired cases are in US territories, not US states, with Puerto Rico accounting for 83% of the total. This is important because the virus could potentially move north into the US state and Canada. This is important to know because we all need to be aware of the virus and be prepared in case there is an outbreak of Zika infected mosquitos in the US. In our podcast we had two sections that talked about important facts about the virus which included, there is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available, the best form of prevention is protection against mosquito bites, the Zika virus is spread by mosquito bites and by sex, symptoms of Zika virus infection are usually mild, unborn babies are most at risk from Zika virus complications, travelers probably won’t bring infected mosquitoes along with them, and you can help prevent Zika infection by using insect repellents. We then talked about the history of the Zika virus from 2007, where it spread from Africa and Asia and started a large outbreak in the Pacific islands, to 2016, where the WHO(World Health Organization) declared that the recent outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. The last thing that we talked about in our podcast was, why is the Zika virus dangerous? We talked about four reasons on why it is dangerous, which were, a pregnant woman already infected with Zika virus can pass the virus to her fetus during the pregnancy or around the time of birth, a pregnant woman can pass Zika virus to her fetus during pregnancy. Zika is a cause of microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects. We are studying the full range of other potential health problems that Zika virus infection during pregnancy may cause, to date, there are no reports of infants getting Zika virus through breastfeeding. Because of the benefits of breastfeeding, mothers are encouraged to breastfeed even in areas where Zika virus is found, and the disease can be sexually transmitted. All people who have been infected with Zika virus and their sexual partners should practice safer sex, by using condoms correctly and consistently. We hope you enjoyed listening to our podcast and learned something you didn't know about the Zika Virus.


Opening Theme: "Bit Quest"
Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Alicia Hoke, Jillian Walls - Malaria and the Anopheles

Malaria and the Anopheles Mosquito

In 2015, there were an estimated 214 million cases of malaria that occurred worldwide, with about 438,000 deaths caused by the disease. Although U.S. citizens may not believe this is still an issue we should be concerned about, 1,500 cases are diagnosed in the United States each year. Malaria is especially prevalent in those traveling to other countries such as those in sub-Saharan Africa and in South Asia. 

This disease is vectored by the world's deadliest animal; the mosquito! People often think of mosquitoes as pests, but they can also transfer a variety of diseases/viruses to humans, possibly making them ill to the point of death. The list includes Yellow Fever, Zika Virus, Chikungunya, Dengue, Japanese Encephalitis, and Malaria. With the staggering number of cases of those infected by Malaria each year, it is important to take precautions when in an area where being infected is a possibility. 

Efforts are being made to prevent the spread of malaria, including the use of insecticides and the use of insecticide treated bed nets. However, mosquitoes have been developing resistance to the insecticide, making it less effective. A vaccination is still in the works. 

If one were to become infected with malaria, they could experience a variety of symptoms in different stages of their illness. Some people may experience no symptoms at all, while others can come to experience a cold stage, mimicking the flu or a more bothersome cold, or they may experience a hot or sweating stage which is followed by more serious symptoms that could eventually lead to serious organ failure and death. Early treatment can prevent the severity of this disease and a potential relapse. 

The vector of this disease is the Anopheles Mosquito. There are a total of 430 Anopheles species and some still exist in the United States. So, despite elimination of Malaria from the U.S., there's always a risk malaria could come back. Also, climate change promotes vector-borne diseases. The mosquito spreads malaria by passing on a parasite to the victim. Ideal conditions such as higher temperatures and humidity allow mosquitoes to survive long enough for the parasite to complete the life cycle. 

This type of mosquito is only a vector in its adult stage of life, which is 1-2 weeks. It distinguishable from other mosquitos by black and white scales on the wings and it's resting positions of the abdomen sticking up in the air. 

Although malaria is a widespread disease, affecting millions of people every year, it shouldn’t make you scared of mosquitoes! Mosquitoes are an important part of many food chains and will not make you ill if the right precautions are taken.

The majority of this information was retrieved from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Opening Theme: "Bit Quest"
Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Alice Matthews, Katie Jackel- Bees! On Hexapod, A Podcast on Six Legs

Alice Matthews, Katie Jackel- Bees! On Hexapod, A Podcast on Six Legs

Honey bees entering hive
Photo Credit

Disappearance of the Honey Bee and Colony Collapse Disorder

In this episode of Hexapod, a Podcast on Six Legs, we discussed the disappearance of the Honey Bee, the potential causes and what can be done to help the bees. First we discuss what honey bees are and why they are important. Did you know that honey bees play a major role in the pollination of up to 80% of the world's food?! Honey Bees are incredibly important, but unfortunately, they are disappearing at alarming rates. Scientists are calling this wide spread disappearance Colony Collapse Disorder because entire colonies of bees are dwindling in number and not making it through the winter. The cause of Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD is unknown but there are some theories as to what could be causing it. Disease, pesticides, inadequate nutrition, and inadequate incubation time for young could all be the cause of CCD for a particular hive, but not one cause stands out as the main cause for CCD across the board. Scientists are continuing to research Honey Bees and CCD to find out what exactly is causing the disappearance of the Honey Bees. Until then, there are things you can do to help! You can plant a Bee friendly garden that includes mint, basil, lavender, raspberries and much more. If you want to do even more you can keep bees yourself! If not, you can also choose not to use harmful pesticides. Some pesticides kill more than just the harmful bugs, they can kill good bugs like Honey Bees too. Choosing not to use harmful pesticides in your yard or garden can be beneficial to the Honey Bees. The final way you can help is by supporting your local beekeepers. This is both easy and delicious, buy local honey and bee products, not only will it help with your allergies but it will also help your community.

Thanks so much for taking the time to check out our blog for the Honey Bee addition of Hexapod, a Podcast of Six Legs. If you are interested in checking out some of our sources and learning more about Honey Bees, please refer to the links below.
Sources What’s Killing American Honey Bees By Oldroyd 

Opening Theme: "Bit Quest"
Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0