Gollum and the carpet beetles: One man’s meat is another man’s poison

When it comes to pest species we spend a lot of time thinking about how they forage. Usually pest species cause most of their problems through what they eat. This generates a lot of research on either finding out what makes them stop eating something (to protect what they are eating)…

Concerning hobbits and NZ grass grub

   I’ve suggested before that The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien is a great way to prepare a young person for a career in biogeography. I would go further and suggest that The Lord of the Rings is a great way to prepare someone for ecology and evolution…

Local heroes: All Blacks and weevils

The New Zealand All Blacks have just won the Rugby World Cup, beating arch rivals Australia at Twickenham in London. It’s a tremendous achievement for our little country, the first time a team has won the world cup three times and the first time a country has successfully defended the…

Ecoblitzing Cambridge

Over the last few days we ran a successful ecoblitz at St Peters School in Cambridge. How does an ecoblitz differ from the more common bioblitz, I hear you ask? In a bioblitz we arrive at a location and try to record all of the biodiversity at that site, typically…

Trapping trapdoor spiders

Midnight on Codfish Island. The full moon is riding to its zenith. There’s a high wind blowing and the stars are shining bright. I am in amongst the large rear-dunes, leaning against an almost vertical sandy wall. My face is pressed up against a small opening, a little round tunnel…

Rowan Emberson: entomologist

Rowan Emberson has been awarded a Lincoln Medal for his services to entomology. Rowan was a senior lecturer in the department when I first started at Lincoln University. He became a valued colleague with several shared postgraduate students that we supervised. To me, Rowan is one of the last gentlemen…

Carpet Die-m: chemical warfare beneath your feet

In which we control wool eating insects. I like the quote from the Australian philosopher of science Kim Sterelny “Outside the barrier surrounding an [organism], we find a war against all. The space between skins is a no-mans land, controlled by no-one; designed for no-one; littered with the detritus of…