Ento-musings from the University of Kentucky Department of Entomology

Monday, September 20, 2010

Cockroach nerve tissue

 Cockroaches live in some of the dirtiest places on earth and are exposed to some nasty bacteria like E.coli. However, they rarely succumb to said bacteria. And as it turns out cockroach (and some locusts) have nerve cells, which while harmless to humans, kill almost 100% of E.coli and the antibiotic resistant staph. The researchers were surprised to find out the blood, muscle and fat cells don't seem to affect the bacteria, which is very puzzling. The scientists became interested in this very strange attribute when it was noticed that solders returning from the Middle East had strange infections yet the insects that inhabited the area were seemingly immune. Cockroaches and other pest insects like locusts have been pests to humans for hundreds of thousands of years but now they may be a great asset to us in our struggle with those other things that have always been with us... deadly bacteria

Source http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/63286/title/Cockroach_brains,_coming_to_a_pharmacy_near_you

Friday, September 17, 2010

Monarch Butterfly Event

Sept 25, 2010 | 10am-2pm | UK Arboretum, Lexington, KY | FREE!

On Saturday, Sept 25, 2010, the University of Kentucky Department of entomology will be at the UKLFCUG Arboretum to find and tag Monarch butterflies. At this free event, kids and their parents will get a chance to meet real entomologists and learn all about Monarch butterflies. More importantly, they can help tag butterflies--this is a chance to get involved in real science. Scientists tag Monarchs (it's harmless to the butterflies, by the way) so that they can monitor their migratory patterns. Monarch butterflies fly each year from Mexico to the United States and back. Because some of their overwintering sites in Mexico are disappearing, scientists are interesting in leaning everything they can about how these insects travel and what is happening to their populations.

For directions to the arboretum, visit thier website:

And read more about the national effort to study Monarch butterflies:

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Dr. Mike Potter to Appear on NPR's Fresh Air

Sept 8, 2010

Dr. Mike Potter from the University of Kentucky Department of Entomology is scheduled to appear on this evening's episode of NPR's Fresh Air. Dr. Potter is recognized as one of the world experts on bed bugs and other urban pests.

The Fresh Air interview is now available here as an audio clip and in transcript form:

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Nine Inch Millipede

by Blake Newton, UK Extension Entomologist

Although I was a big fan of modern rock in the 1980s and 1990s, I never fell in love with Nine Inch Nails. Whenever I listened to NIИ I usually wanted to say, "yes, yes, Trent, your suburban life sounds very tormented and stuff, but please get to a catchy distorted riff, and you might want to consult Ministry if you need some help with that." I must say, though, that I really dig "Head Like a Hole," especially the chord change in the middle of the chorus. I wish all NIИ sounded like that!

So after I bought and was disappointed by Pretty Hate Machine (I think I sold it so that I could buy a Skinny Puppy album for some properly scary industrial sludge) in 1990, I gave up on NIИ. Which means that I never got around to seeing the sleeve for their "Closer" single (1994) until just a couple of minutes ago. (By the way, if you are not familiar with "Closer," it is absolutely Rated R and NSFW, so beware before you go hunting for it!)

I'm not an expert on millipede identification, but I think that this might be Narceus americanus, sometimes called the North American Millipede. This is the largest millipede that lives in Kentucky, and as far as I know it is the largest millipede in North America. The ones that I have seen haven't been *quite* nine inches long, but I've seen them in the 4-5 inch range. There are also anecdotal/unconfirmed accounts of much larger specimens in the 12 inch range--maybe someone will find a footprint and make a plaster cast of it!

Of course, there are lots of other millipedes in the world, and the millipede that appears on "Closer" could be a foreign species (a good candidate would be one of the large African species that are often kept as pets in the U.S.) that I am not familiar with, or perhaps a close-up of a smaller species from North America. Maybe if the photographer is reading this, they could share with us where they took the picture? More likely: is there a Myriapodologist reading this who can confirm the I.D. of this critter?

Read more about the North American Millipede and its relatives in the KY Critter Files: Millipedes.