Bugs

Salma brachyscopalis Hampson

U.S. Customs Agents Find Rare Moth Last Spotted in 1912

Larvae and pupae found in seed pods at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport last fall hatched into <em>Salma brachyscopalis Hampson</em> moths

Biotech firm Oxitec is genetically modifying mosquitoes in the hopes of curbing the overall population. The company completed its first open-air release of the bugs in Florida.

Innovation for Good

First U.S. Open-Air Test of Genetically Modified Mosquitoes Deemed a Success

Biotech firm Oxitec engineered the bugs in an effort to curb their numbers and help stop the spread of disease

Dried cochineal insects &mdash; shown here in the center of the photo &mdash; can be processed to create several natural dyes such as carmine and cochineal extract. These products get their red hue from carminic acid, a chemical found within the insect.

Scientists Are Making Cochineal, a Red Dye From Bugs, in the Lab

Used to color foods and cosmetics, carminic acid is traditionally 'farmed' from an insect. But researchers are moving to engineer it in microbes

Orange and lemon groves as well as the residence of the citrus pioneer William Wolfskill, c. 1882.&nbsp;

The Bug That Saved California

The Golden State’s citrus industry faced a lethal threat. The solution would herald a new kind of pest control

A roughly 2000-year-old mummified man of the Ansilta culture, from the Andes of San Juan, Argentina, had lice eggs and cement in his hair which preserved his own DNA

DNA Preserved in Lice Glue Reveals South American Mummies' Secrets

Remarkable samples from an ancient culture offer scientists a promising new way to study the past

Asian paper wasp nests take on a new verdant glow under ultraviolet light.

Wasp Nest Glows Green Under UV Light

Silk fibers give the nest its radiant a neon hue

The fuzz of the fingernail-sized rosy maple moth may remind you of a teddy bear.

These Moths Are So Gorgeous They 'Put Butterflies to Shame'

To celebrate National Moth Week, bask in the beautiful variety of these oft-overlooked insects

Scientists reconstructed a new beetle species in 3-D thanks to X-ray scans of fossilized poop.

New Species of Beetle Found in 230-Million-Year-Old Feces

The insect is older than any amber-encased specimen, and may inspire scientists to look for more insects in fossilized dung

Fire ant swarms form tentacles when they float on water.

Floating Fire Ant Rafts Form Mesmerizing Amoeba-Like Shapes

Researchers say the morphing colonies help ants feel for solid land in a flooded environment—and might inspire swarming robots one day

Billions of cicadas have emerged across 14 states and Washington, D.C.

As Brood X Numbers Grow, Cicadas Interfere With Cars, Planes and Radar

Lawnmower-like singing isn’t the only way that these bugs have made themselves known

Carle wrote and illustrated dozens of books over six decades.

Eric Carle, Author and Illustrator of 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar,' Dies at 91

The beloved story of a ravenous insect has sold 40 million copies and been translated into 60 languages

When male cicadas are infected with Massospora, they exhibit both male and female mating behavior: singing to attract females and flicking their wings to attract males.

Cicadas Fall Prey to a Psychedelic-Producing Fungus That Makes Their Butts Fall Off

This 'zombie' fungus isn't going after the bugs' brains—it’s after their genitals

A statue of Benjamin Bannecker on view at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, as seen in 2020

History of Now

Meet Benjamin Banneker, the Black Scientist Who Documented Brood X Cicadas in the Late 1700s

A prominent intellectual and naturalist, the Maryland native wrote extensively on natural phenomena and anti-slavery causes

The periodical cicada species, Magicicada septendecim, will erupt from the ground this spring in the mid-Atlantic region. The last time the species from Brood X appeared for their cyclical mating cycle was in 2004.

Smithsonian Voices

What to Expect When the Cicadas Emerge This Spring

A trillion cicadas expected to invade the Washington metropolitan region when the ground warms to 64 degrees

As many commercial operators and homeowners are shifting to LEDs, which tend to fall somewhere in the blue-white spectrum, the new results may have important implications beyond tropical rainforests.

Using Amber-Filtered Bulbs Instead of White Light Attracts Fewer Bugs

In a tropical rainforest study, 60 percent fewer insects visited traps illuminated in a golden glow. Researchers say the results may be widely applicable

The insect, which is barely visible to the naked eye, was probably dead by the time it landed on van Gogh's canvas.

Cool Finds

How Did This Grasshopper End Up Trapped in a Vincent van Gogh Painting?

New research offers insights on "Olive Trees" (1889), including the story of the hapless insect trapped on its thickly painted surface

Blickling Hall is listed in Britain’s earliest public record, the Domesday Book, which was written in the 11th century. The house was at one point the home of Geoffrey Boleyn, grandfather of Anne Boleyn, who may have been born there around 1507.

Historic British Mansion Fights Moths With Tiny Parasitic Wasps

The moths eat wool and silk, putting historic artifacts—like a tapestry gifted to the house by Catherine the Great—at risk

Bogong moths were traditionally ground into pastes or cakes. Pictured here are a single moth (left) and thousands of moths resting on a rock (right).

Cool Finds

Aboriginal Australians Dined on Moths 2,000 Years Ago

The discovery of an ancient grindstone containing traces of the insect confirms long-held Indigenous oral tradition

Tangle-web spiders can catch prey up to 50 times their size thanks to their pulley system-like hunting strategy.

New Research

Small Spiders With Big Appetites Use a Pulley System to Catch Large Prey

New research and videos show how spiders in the Theridiidae family hoist up prey 50 times their size

Catnip and a plant called silver vine, Actinidia polygama, are not closely related, but both make cats go wild.

Felines May Use Catnip for More Than Just Euphoria

The plant may keep pesky mosquitos away

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