Ento-musings from the University of Kentucky Department of Entomology

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Wildcats vs. Fear

Blake Newton, Extension Entomologist

I just learned on today's John Calipari show (yes, for those of you who don't live in Kentucky, our college basketball coach has his own television show!) that sophomore guard (and fan-favorite) Jarrod Polson is afraid of spiders. As an entomologist, I sometimes forget that lots of people are really terrified of insects and spiders. But I really shouldn't forget. After all, I was terribly afraid of insects and spiders when I was a kid (I wrote about it on this blog last year). When I became an entomologist, though, I quickly lost my fear of these creatures, and I think it was because I learned all about them. Fear is based on uncertainly, and learning SLAYS uncertainty. Not to mention, fear can fuel learning: the fear of insects made the creatures more interesting to me when I was studying them.

So here is my challenge to Jarrod Polson and all of the other Wildcats and non-wildcats who might be reading this. Identify something that you are afraid of and learn more about it. You may just find a new hobby, or even a career! And at the very least, you might diffuse some of your fears.

So I guess I should participate, too. I'm not sure which fear to pick, though. I used to be afraid of having kids (how do you take care of them? what if they get hurt? what if they become a criminal?), but now that "one's on the way" for me (a little girl!), I find that I'm not afraid anymore, just excited. I'm afraid of skydiving, but overcoming that fear isn't very practical. There aren't any animals or foods that I'm afraid of. So what is a fear that I can work on? I guess I need to think about this and report back!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Amazing Photos of Beetle Larvae

I just found a wonderful photo archive on Flickr: amazing, hi-res diagnostic images of a wide variety of beetle larvae! These could be very useful for identification. The notations indicate that these are mostly Russian species, but most of them probably have similar cousins in North America. The gallery is maintained by "A. Zaitsev."

Take a look:

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Spider Silk

Here at UK Entomology, we get lots of questions about spider silk. Frankly, I don't know very much about the subject. Luckily, Dr. Cheryl Hayashi from UC Riverside does! In this CNN article, she explains some spider-silk basics: