Think TV science sucks? Here’s how you can help fix it

Please throw your money at these women.

From The Bug Chicks:

Follow us as we film the incredible insects and spiders of America! This coast-to-coast journey will take place with a vintage sofa that will be placed in different ecosystems across the country. At each stop we will inspire you to “get off the couch” to explore America’s backyard wilderness and the most diverse animals on the planet….
We specialize in fun, quirky educational videos. Nature programming has been leaning toward fear and myth lately, which we find alarmingly sad. The natural world is mind-blowing; we don’t really need to embellish it.”

PREACH IT SISTERS.  I am so tired of Fear TV.  Or, completely made up TV.
And! This series contains actual science education content!

“For this show, we’re partnering with Project Noah, an app supported by National Geographic. It makes this expedition truly interactive; people can upload pictures of insects and other arthropods found along the route. We will live-blog and tweet related behind-the-scenes clips, how-to videos, and additional content through Project Noah and NPR’s Science Friday website during the five week expedition.”

One of the questions they ask in their campaign is: “Where are all the women on television/web who are smart, funny and kind to each other?”  I would edit that to read “Where are all the women on nature television?”  For some reason science TV is a sausage fest. You can help fix that, and you can help change the perception that all the “cool” animals are deep in the ocean or away in a rainforest, where most US kids can’t see them.

By the way, for the really modest price of $500 you can get your favorite school teacher a Bug Workshop!!

$500 Level Perk: Skype/in-person Bug Chicks workshop for a school of your choice. We’ll spend an hour teaching about the awesome bugs of America and what it’s like to be an entomologist! Plus, we’ll add a DVD set of the show after post-production concludes! Workshop type dependent on school location. Please contact us directly to schedule. This makes a great gift for a school/program for kids in need!

I am still in-between jobs so I can’t contribute as much as I want, but I hope all of you can pitch in at least a little.

Sofa Safari

Mad Hatterpillar: The Sequel!

Image Copyright Collin Hutton

The response to my post about the Mad Hatterpillar of Australia was amazing! Apparently animals that wear their former heads as hats are fascinating.

I mentioned that some North American caterpillars also build themselves hats out of discarded heads, and I’ve managed to find some cool photos of those as wel. Harrisimemna trisignata is a distant relative of the Australian species.

A commenter described it as “falling out of the ugly tree and hitting every branch on the way down.” That seems a little harsh, but I guess hatters gonna hat. It certainly is true that the zombie heads have a bit of a sinister look.

This caterpillar also has some strange behavior to go with its strange head capsule hoarding. The always awesome Weird Bug Lady is studying this species, and thinks it is a bird dropping mimic. Complete with chunks and white streaks mimicking uric acid in a bird flop. They also have some strange behavior:

“They shake! They shake when I open the container, when I breathe on them, when I talk to them, when I touch them, when I look at them the wrong way. I can just imagine a potential parasitoid, like a tiny wasp, trying to land on that caterpillar… between the shaking and the head capsule whipping, I doubt it would stick around.”

Here, have a look:

The caterpillars chew into wood to pupate (!), and they roll the wood up into neat little balls and then throw them (!!).  The adults of this moth look rather like they are carrying a QR code.

Many more cool photos of the caterpillar by Colin Hutton here.