Ento-musings from the University of Kentucky Department of Entomology

Monday, October 25, 2010

America's Scariest Job?

Apparently Forensic Entomologists have the scariest jobs in the U.S., according to this article. Scarier than working on a bomb squad or cleaning up crime scenes? I always knew that entomologists were very brave people!

Buggin' Out at Muhlenberg South

by Blake Newton, UK Extension Entomologist

Just a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to help with a very cool event in Muhlenberg County. It was called Bugging Out, and it happened during the school day at Muhlenberg South Worksheet School. The goals of the event were to reinforce 4th grade science content and to introduce 4-H Entomology projects.

The event was organized by Judy McGehee. She's a part of the 4-H staff in the Muhlenberg Co. Extension Office. Her vision was to give kids an entire day of entomology. This is very rare: a typical student will see only a few minutes of entomology instruction during an entire elementary-school career!

The day started with classroom instruction, where students learned the basics of insect collecting (which is what the 4-H Entomology project is all about) and some fun stuff about the insect world. Then the students got to spend time collecting insects in the fields next to the school. Our hope is that some of these kids will go on to make 4-H Entomology collections and enter them in the County and State Fairs: one of the students from last year's Bugging Out event won the county contest and placed at the St. Fair.

Our thanks go out to the 4th-grade teachers at Muhlenberg South. They were willing to rearrange their entire schedule to accommodate our ento-activities. Also, prior to the event, the teachers used classroom time to teach their kids some of the entomology basics. They weren't just donating their time, though: one of the things that Judy was able to show the teachers is that insects can be used to teach several different KERA science concepts, including: structure and function, classification, and ecosystems.

We also had a surprise guest at the event. Ryan, one of the contributors to this blog, came to work with the students. He is a high-school senior from Muhlenberg County, and we first met him at our week-long Entomology Leadership Program last June. When he heard about the Bugging Out event, he received permission from his high-school to spend the second half of the day with us.

Jeff Franklin and Katie Pratt from UK's College of Ag Communications Service were also on-hand to cover the event. There is a written article here, and you can see a video on the College of Ag's YouTube Channel here:

Saturday, October 23, 2010

I found this video on a blog called "BugGirl". In it you will learn to make a wax worm taco.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

New TV show

Tuesday at 9PM "bugging out" on the science channel! About a man who cares for a plethora of insects and arachnids.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Howard Stern vs. Bed Bugs

by Blake Newton, UK Extension Entomologist

Last week, it was announced that Howard Stern had become a victim of the bed bug epidemic that is sweeping through New York City. Signs of bed bug infestation were detected in his Sirius Radio studio and also in the limo that he uses to get to and from work everyday.

So, Howard Stern Has Bed Bugs! That, at least, was the headline. Actually, here are some of the real headlines: "Stern Gets Bed Bugs" (New York Post); "Bedbugs Bite Howard Stern...Watch Those Private Parts!" (E! Online); "Howard Stern's NYC Office and Limousine Infested with Bed Bugs" (TheCelebrityCafe.com).

But... is that what really happened? Did Howard Stern really get bed bugs? I'm not so sure. Let's take a quick look at all of the evidence!

The infestation was originally detected on the 37th floor of the building where Sirius is located: Sirius operates out of the 36th floor. From what I understand, Howard (who, like lots of New Yorkers, has bed bugs on the brain these days) decided to have his studio checked for bed bugs proactively, perhaps because he has heard that bed bugs can easily spread through buildings. To do this, he brought in one or more bed bug-sniffing dogs. The dog(s) registered a "positive" sniff in the studio (specifically, I believe on the couch where the guests sit). There was also a positive reading in Howard's limo. Following these readings, the studio was treated for bed bugs over the weekend of Sept. 25. The limo was supposed to be treated the following week, but the last I heard the treatment was pending.

This story has some problems. Most importantly, bed-bug sniffing dogs can deliver "false-positives." This means that it is possible for a trained dog to indicate that bed bugs are present when they are not. In fact, no one seems to be quite sure how often they give false positives. I don't want to knock bed bug dogs: they will be an essential tool in our new war against bed bugs. But it is usually a good idea to follow a dog-based inspection with an inspection by a human pest-control professional.

I don't know if Howard and Sirius relied only on bed bug dogs. Perhaps they had a follow-up inspection to confirm the presence of bed bugs. But here is something else that is known about Howard Stern: he is a self-described victim of obsessive-compulsive behavior. (some OCD evidence: the protective anti-bed bug suit that Howard was wearing last week).

And here's something that Howard's listeners know: possibly due to his self-described obsessive and phobic nature, Howard has been bringing bed bug dogs to his home(s) and he's been doing this for a while--before any of the current headlines broke. I DON'T believe that he was doing this because he really thought that he had bed bugs. Instead, I think (this is pure speculation!) that it was because he'd been hearing a lot about bed bugs in the news and he wanted to make sure that he didn't have them. I'm not sure how often he brought the dogs to his home, or when he started doing it, but he mentioned it several times on the air well before the recent headlines broke. Sounds to me like Howard's brain was just waiting for those dogs to give a false positive!

So, did Stern have his studio and his limo treated for bed bugs, even though a positive reading from a dog was his only evidence? I don't know. But I think that the statement "Howard Stern Gets Bed Bugs" may be an uncertain one. "Howard Stern Treats Studio for Bed Bugs," yes. "Howard Stern Freaks Out About Bed Bugs," probably. But that's all we know right now.

Bed bugs really are a growing threat, and they are showing up in lots of places. There is a very good chance that Stern's studio and limo really did have bed bugs. But I'm starting to wonder if the fear of bed bugs is causing almost as many problems as the creatures themselves!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Here is a fun website some of the best insect photos I have seen http://insectlove.tumblr.com/page/1