Wednesday, 13 February 2013

What is good? Inspirational imagery - Insects

After developing my literature review of insects and taking into account peer review. It became apparent that my choice was very broad, focusing on such a subject like insects, would be like focusing on the entire human race and how they are beneficial... I'd be here forever if I was trying to deliver something informative, educative & directed in this manner. 

In an attempt to see if I could filter my topic choice down, I turned back to imagery, this time using design sites to gather a collection of visual directions. Hopefully this would enlighten a more focused topic...

In conjunction with my research, I began taking into account what was happening in contemporary times. 

It became obvious that the most beneficial insect out of my literature searches was the Honey Bee, there was also a lot of scope for analysis within this topic matter. A lot of routes could also be taken, and what made this insect the choice for me... was the fact that it was a contemporary issue that needed addressing from a design point of view.

There was a current decline in honeybee's which had made news lines and caught the attention of Mp's, this provided a purpose for me to base my research around gave my design a reason to be exploited.

What is good? The other end of the spectrum - Insects

If I didn't understand the negatives to insects and solely focused on their benefits throughout my research, I'd be giving a very bias opinion when it came to developing deliverables. Looking at the topic from this perspective could also lead me to finding a 'bad' that is hugely counteracted by a 'good'

Harmful insects kill millions of people every year both indirectly and directly. Besides deadly insects, mosquitoes and flies transmit diseases that sicken and kill. Malaria is one of the best know of these diseases but there are many more. Insects consume or damage many of our food crops which in the less developed countries leaves to malnutrition and make many people, especially children, less able to fight off many pathogens.

Harmful animals are more direct and affect fewer people. Besides the obvious harm of animals that consume people, Animal can consume crops grown for people or damage stored food. Mice and rats have been a problem in stored grain throughout history. Some animals such as rats also transmit disease such as bubonic plague.

The Impacts of Insects

Because they dominate all terrestrial environments that support human life, insects are usually our most important competitors for food, fiber, and other natural resources.  They have a direct impact on agricultural food production by chewing the leaves of crop plants, sucking out plant juices, boring within the roots, stems or leaves, and spreading plant pathogens.  They feed on natural fibers, destroy wooden building materials, ruin stored grain, and accelerate the process of decay.  They also have a profound impact on the health of humans and domestic animals by causing annoyance, inflicting bites and stings, and transmitting disease.
The economic impact of insects is measured not only by the market value of products they destroy and the cost of damage they inflict but also by the money and resources expended on prevention and control of pest outbreaks.  Although dollar values for these losses are nearly impossible to calculate, especially when they affect human health and welfare, economists generally agree that insects consume or destroy around 10% of gross national product in large, industrialized nations and up to 25% of gross national product in some developing countries.
These and other aspects of economic entomology will be our main emphasis in the final section of this course when we focus entirely on insect pests and the tactics used to control them.  But despite the tremendous economic losses they may cause, it is not entirely fair to cast the members of Class Insecta as villains who rob us of our food and livelihoods.  They are also cherished allies on whom we depend to keep the natural environment clean and productive.  They have shaped human cultures and civilizations in countless ways, they supply unique natural products, they regulate the population densities of many potential pest species, they dispose of our wastes, bury the dead, and recycle organic nutrients.  Indeed, we seldom stop to consider what life would be like without insects and how much we depend on them for our very survival.  To paraphrase William Shakespeare, "The evil that insects do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their exoskeletons."

What is good? In-depth research - Insects

Investigation into how particular insects carry out their day to day lives, displaying amazing stories of their little lives...

Beneficial Insects...

Insects play an important role in reducing and controlling populations of both plant and insect pests by acting as predators or parasites to these detrimental organisms. There are also insects that are innately beneficial because they act as pollinators or produce products (such as bees that pollinate and produce honey) that are useful to humans, however, the scope of this guide is limited to the beneficial insects that are used for biocontrol.

Biocontrol is a natural means of controlling pests that exploits the innate tendencies of particular living organisms (in this case insects) to regulate the population of another living organism or organisms (plant and insect pests). When utilized optimally, beneficial insects can significantly reduce the need to use chemicals that can harm not only the intended pests, but also the environment, other plant life, and animal life that is not the intended target of the pesticide. Because of the role that they play, beneficial insects are of great interest in the fields of biology, agriculture, and environmental sciences. They are also of great commercial interest since they can be mass-reared and sold for profit and can significantly improve crop and garden yields.

Related terms - 


Analysis of Helpful, advantageous and beneficial insects

The Honey Bee...

1. The honey bee has been around for millions of years.

2. Honey bees, scientifically also known as Apis mellifera, are environmentally friendly and are vital as pollinators.

3. It is the only insect that produces food eaten by man.

4. Honey is the only food that includes all the substances necessary to sustain life, includingenzymes, vitamins, minerals, and water; and it's the only food that contains "pinocembrin", anantioxidant associated with improved brain functioning.

5. Honey bees have 6 legs, 2 compound eyes made up of thousands of tiny lenses (one on each side of the head), 3 simple eyes on the top of the head, 2 pairs of wings, a nectar pouch, and a stomach.

6. Honey bees have 170 odorant receptors, compared with only 62 in fruit flies and 79 in mosquitoes. Their exceptional olfactory abilities include kin recognition signals, social communication within the hive, and odor recognition for finding food. Their sense of smell was so precise that it could differentiate hundreds of different floral varieties and tell whether a flower carried pollen or nectar from metres away.

7. The honey bee's wings stroke incredibly fast, about 200 beats per second, thus making their famous, distinctive buzz. A honey bee can fly for up to six miles, and as fast as 15 miles per hour.

8. The average worker bee produces about 1/12th teaspoon of honey in her lifetime.

9. A hive of bees will fly 90,000 miles, the equivalent of three orbits around the earth to collect 1 kg of honey.

10. It takes one ounce of honey to fuel a bee's flight around the world.

11. A honey bee visits 50 to 100 flowers during a collection trip.

12. The bee's brain is oval in shape and only about the size of a sesame seed, yet it has remarkable capacity to learn and remember things and is able to make complex calculations on distance travelled and foraging efficiency.

13. A colony of bees consists of 20,000-60,000 honeybees and one queen. Worker honey bees are female, live for about 6 weeks and do all the work.

14. The queen bee can live up to 5 years and is the only bee that lays eggs. She is the busiest in the summer months, when the hive needs to be at its maximum strength, and lays up to 2500 eggs per day.

15. Larger than the worker bees, the male honey bees (also called drones), have no stinger and do no work at all. All they do is mating.

16. Each honey bee colony has a unique odour for members' identification.

17. Only worker bees sting, and only if they feel threatened and they die once they sting. Queens have a stinger, but they don't leave the hive to help defend it.

18. It is estimated that 1100 honey bee stings are required to be fatal.

19. Honey bees communicate with one another by "dancing".

20. During winter, honey bees feed on the honey they collected during the warmer months. They form a tight cluster in their hive to keep the queen and themselves warm.

"If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live?" ~ Albert Einstein

The Fruit fly

The fruit fly is a contradictory species. Despite its size, the tiny fruit fry can cause massive damage to crops. But the fruit fly is also a much studied animal with information that can be applied to human disease and health. The term "fruit fly" is a name given to broad range of flies which contain many species.

Fruit flies are drawn to fermenting food as a place to feed and to lay its eggs. This makes rotting fruit a good target, but also makes fruit flies attracted to fermenting beer and wine. Because of the bacteria they carry, fruit flies can get into beer and wine during these early fermentation stages and transform them into vinegar. One benefit of this affinity is that beer and wine can be used as a fruit-fly trap when they are a nuisance in the home.
In a few centuries, the fruit fly has become a go-to insect for genetic research. There are several reasons why fruit flies work so well when scientists want to study genetics and mutations. First, fruit flies are small and cheap, so many of them can be kept in a small space, enabling more experimental subjects. Second, fruit flies only live for 10 days, so changes between birth and death can be seen quickly. Finally, fruit flies have four chromosomes and similar chemical pathways to human, so the results are applicable to human health.
Male fruit flies use dance to attract mates. For such a tiny insect, the dance can be complex. According to the website, the male first vibrates his legs against the female's head, then both flies face each other and pull their legs from side to side. Before the male is ready to mate, it will spread its wings and twist them to get the female's attention. The result from this meeting could be up to 400 eggs at a time.

Genetic experimentation on fruit flies over a short period of time can produce some bizarre results. Fruit fries have chromosomes that are easy to manipulate, so scientists have been able to change the color of their eyes and the length of their wings easily. But other fruit fly mutations have produced fruit flies with curled wings, fruit flies with no eyes and fruit flies with legs growing out of their heads instead of antennae.


One spider can eat 2,000 insects each year! That’s a lot of mosquitos not biting you, thanks to our eight legged friends.

Not all spiders make webs - about half of known species stalk and hunt their prey. Many of the web or "orb"weavers, however, create such distinctive patterns in their webs that their species can be determined from the web design alone.

The large and lovely orb webs found in backyard gardens were likely created by a female spider.(Talk about a web design expert!) The male orb weavers are smaller and not often seen.

There are more than 40,000 different species of spiders, and 3,500 species of spiders living in North America alone. 

The largest spider in the world is the South American Goliath Birdeater spider (Theraphosa leblondi), which has a legspan of up to 10 inches and weighs more than a quarter pound hamburger! 

Scientists estimate than in a field habitat, there are over 400,000 spiders living in every acre. 

Spiders’ silk is tremendously strong; it can rival the tensile strength of steel and has been suggested for use in bulletproof vests.

If a young spider loses a leg, it can grow a whole new one! Testing this theory is not recommended, of course, as "playing" with a spider will send the normally shy, retreating creatures into fight or flight mode. And when flight isn't an option, bite is! (Then again, what creature wouldn't try to bite you if you cornered it and threatened to remove a limb?)

Another way spiders avoid being legless or being lunch is by playing dead! They'll drop to the ground and curl their legs up, but if you're patient, they'll eventually uncurl and scamper away.


Flying insects are usually annoying. Mosquitoes bite you, leaving itchy red welts. Bees and wasps sting. Flies are just disgusting. But there’s something magical about dragonflies.
1 ) Dragonflies were some of the first winged insects to evolve, some 300 million years ago. Modern dragonflies have wingspans of only two to five inches, but fossil dragonflies have been found with wingspans of up to two feet.
2 ) Some scientists theorize that high oxygen levels during the Paleozoic era allowed dragonflies to grow to monster size.
3 ) There are more than 5,000 known species of dragonflies, all of which (along with damselflies) belong to the order Odonata, which means “toothed one” in Greek and refers to the dragonfly’s serrated teeth.
4 ) In their larval stage, which can last up to two years, dragonflies are aquatic and eat just about anything—tadpoles, mosquitoes, fish, other insect larvae and even each other.
5 ) At the end of its larval stage, the dragonfly crawls out of the water, then its exoskeleton cracks open and releases the insect’s abdomen, which had been packed in like a telescope. Its four wings come out, and they dry and harden over the next several hours to days.
6 ) Dragonflies are expert fliers. They can fly straight up and down, hover like a helicopter and even mate mid-air. If they can’t fly, they’ll starve because they only eat prey they catch while flying.
7 ) Dragonflies catch their insect prey by grabbing it with their feet. They’re so efficient in their hunting that, in one Harvard University study, the dragonflies caught 90 to 95 percent of the prey released into their enclosure.
8 ) The flight of the dragonfly is so special that it has inspired engineers who dream of making robots that fly like dragonflies.
9 ) Some adult dragonflies live for only a few weeks while others live up to a year.
10 ) Nearly all of the dragonfly’s head is eye, so they have incredible vision that encompasses almost every angle except right behind them.
11 ) Dragonflies, which eat insects as adults, are a great control on the mosquito population. A single dragonfly can eat 30 to hundreds of mosquitoes per day.
12 ) Hundreds of dragonflies of different species will gather in swarms, either for feeding or migration. Little is known about this behavior, but the Dragonfly Swarm Project is collecting reports on swarms to better understand the behavior. (Report a swarm here.)
13 ) Scientists have tracked migratory dragonflies by attaching tiny transmitters to wings with a combination of eyelash adhesive and superglue. They found that green darners from New Jersey traveled only every third day and an average of 7.5 miles per day (though one dragonfly traveled 100 miles in a single day).
14 ) A dragonfly called the globe skinner has the longest migration of any insect—11,000 miles back and forth across the Indian Ocean.

What is good? Over-view Research - Insects/ Benefits

What is good about Insects?

Foods. Honey is certainly high on the list of products made by insects that may be consumed by humans. Some insects are eaten as novelties in the United States, but some other societies use beetle grubs and other insects commonly as food.

Pollination. The value of pollination of plants by insects is nearly incalculable. Honeybees are clearly among the most important of pollinators, and their efforts result in an estimated 80 percent of all pollination in the United States. Pollination by Honeybees in the U.S. favorably affects some $20 billion dollars in crops per year, including fruits, vegetables, and many nuts.

Silk. The recognition of silk as a valuable product dates back to China, arguably in the year 2640 B.C. Presently, China annually produces some 30,000 tons of raw silk, which accounts for 80 percent of the world's supply. Most silk is produced from the cocoons of the Silkworm, Bombyx mori.

Natural and biological control. The balance of nature depends on the activities of parasites and predators, the majority of which are species of insects. Researchers use this concept in biological control, and have been dramatically successful in many programs.

Aesthetics. Insects are well known in various areas of arts and as pleasant to the senses. Butterflies are certainly one of the most appealing creatures in nature, with colors and patterns that are enjoyed by humans most of the year. Insects have been used by many societies throughout history, and have not been limited to colorful and/or large butterflies and beetles. Native Americans in the United States used parts of insects in a manner similar to feathers in their crafts. Brightly colored wing covers of certain beetles are used for earrings by Jivaro Indians of Ecuador. The Egyptians chose a scarab beetle as a symbol of their sun God. Bees were depicted on ancient Greek coins. Most branches of art have exhibited insects in some form, including a great selection of worldwide postage stamps.

Products (examples).
1. Lac. This is a product from Lac Scale insects, Laccifer lacca, and most of it is produced in India, from where the world receives some 40 million pounds annually. Lac is an important ingredient of many items, including floor polishes, shoe polishes, insulators, various sealants, printing inks, and varnish.
2. Beeswax. Britain alone imports 1 million pounds of beeswax, which can be used as a base for ointments, polishes, and candle making. Forty percent of all beeswax is used in cosmetic manufacture for lotions, creams, and lipsticks.
3. Dyes. Many species of scale insects provide dyes that are used in many products, including cosmetics and for coloring cakes, medicines and beverages. Cochineal is a bright red pigment that is gained from the bodies of a scale insect, Coccus cacti, which lives on cactus plants. Certain synthetic colors were competitors during the first decade of the twentieth century, but then were found to be carcinogenic. Thus the natural dyes from insects again flourished. Tannin is a dye that is gained from insect galls and is used in the tanning of hides and in the production of permanent durable inks. There are other galls that produce dyes.

Genetics. Fruit flies have long been used in genetic studies, and are practical for such studies due to their short lifespan (about 10 days).

Dermestids for cleaning skeletons. Carpet beetles are small insects that will feed on almost anything organic, including cereals, carpets, and dried insects in collections. Museum technicians take advantage of this fact, and utilize established colonies of dermestids to clean skeletons of mammals.

Further examples..

The Benefits of Eating Bugs

The benefits of consuming insects are multifold, starting with the fact that they're good for you. Consider the following: 100 grams of crickets contains 121 calories. Only 49.5 calories come from fat. Where you really see the nutritional value is in the 12.9 grams of protein and 75.8 milligrams of iron. They also have about 5 grams of carbohydrates. If you're watching your figure and want to cut down on the carbs, go with a silk worm pupae or a nice steaming bowl oftermites. Neither of these has any carbohydrates, and they're both great sources of protein and calories. But if it's protein you seek, look no further than the caterpillar. These little fellows pack a walloping 28 grams of protein per 100 grams [source: Lyon]. They're also loaded with iron, thiamine and niacin. You may know those last two by their more common names -- vitamins B1 and B3.

Helpful Insects

Honey Bee
Without Honey Bees, we would not have honey nor beeswax. The red food dye known as 'cochineal' is made from the crushed bodies of a species of insect native to South America for example. Honey Bees would be the very same insect as used by the ancient Aztec Indians almost 600 years ago in a variety of roles throughout their advanced civilization. Before sugar cane was introduced in all of Europe (about 700 AD), people would use honey to sweeten their intake of various foods and drinks.
Bees in particular assist in the process known as pollination. Pollination is the process of development for a flower's seeds. Flower seeds must be fertilized by pollen from the same or another flower in order to reproduce. Pollen can then be dispersed through the wind or transferred from the bodies of insects such as bees. Some insects are naturally drawn to the flowers through scent, color and the sweetness of their nectar. As they traverse the surface of these flowers, their bodies will unknowingly pickup the pollen and be ready for transport to a new location.
The act of pollination is actually more important to the living and working world than is the production of honey or beeswax! So imagine now a world where pollination is not possible.
Fruit Flies
An example is of modern scientists breeding a particular species of fruit fly to help them understand genetic or inherited diseases in humans. Without this type of research, our knowledge of what ails humanity would not be as advanced as it is. When such a common "pest" and annoyance to our everyday lives can become a helper or savior of countless future lives, one starts to develop a certain level of respect in the complexity that is an insect.

Field Crickets
Field Crickets are known to feed upon the eggs and pupae of indoor pests. Though they primarily feed on plant matter outdoors, they can also be found feeding on animal remains - joining a host of other insects that rely on animal remains as a source of food.
Blister Beetles
Though Blister Beetles can cause serious blistering to human skin, the chemical they secrete from their joints - called "Cantharidin" - is, ironically, used in some wart removal products.
House Centipede
These fast-moving and scary-looking insects are actually quite the predator in the under-workings of a home. Though sometimes found in bath tubs and basins, the house centipede primarily resides in cool dark areas such as crawl spaces where it can hunt larger insects (including the dreaded cockroach). So which would you rather have meandering about your home? The helpful House centipede or the loathsome cockroach?
Lady Bugs
Lady Bugs are your ultimate garden protector, feeding on insects bent on the destruction of your plants.
Love 'em or loath 'em, spiders serve a greater purpose than creeping you out. Spiders are the ultimate insect exterminators and work to keep the insect population in check by feeding on just about anything with more legs than you.
Dragonflies love to eat insects. What this means for you is population control of the little critters in particular, the all-mighty mosquito.

The benefits of a centipede...

Most people shriek and run when the multiple legs of a centipede are discovered, yet they are actually one of the more beneficial insects that can infest a home. The reason for this is because the diet of a common house centipede usually consists of a rather large assortment of other insects including roaches, houseflies, moths, silverfish, termites, and nearly ever other bug that infects a home.
In addition, they do not harm humans, eat plants, carry diseases, or damage homes, which means their entire life purpose is to pretty much rid your house of every other insect! So next time you see a centipede lurking around, give him thanks rather than the bottom of your shoe and your house just might end up a little less infested.

Insects are one of the most successful types of living organism, with roughly half of all species on Earth being insects. Insects are part of the Arthropod phylum, as as such have an external skeleton and jointed limbs. Insects are the only type of invert rebate which has evolved the ability to fly.

The Arthropod phylum

The link above will direct you to an online PDF which looks at probably every aspect of the Arthropod phylum...

Educational and interesting information suitable for most audiences to understand...

1. Butterfly wings are transparent.
How can that be? We know butterflies as perhaps the most colorful, vibrant insects around! A butterfly wing is actually formed by layers of chitin, the protein that makes up an insect's exoskeleton. These layers are so thin you can see right through them. Thousands of tiny scales cover the transparent chitin, and these scales reflect light in different colors. As a butterfly ages, scales fall off the wings, leaving spots of transparency where the chitin layer is exposed.
2. Butterflies taste with their feet.
Taste receptors on a butterfly's feet help it find its host plant and locate food. A female butterfly lands on different plants, drumming the leaves with her feet to make the plant release its juices. Spines on the back of her legs have chemoreceptors that detect the right match of plant chemicals. When she identified the right plant, she lays her eggs. A butterfly will also step on its food, using organs that sense dissolved sugars to taste food sources like fermenting fruit.
3. Butterflies live on an all-liquid diet.
Speaking of butterflies eating, adult butterflies can only feed on liquids, usually nectar. Their mouthparts are modified to enable them to drink, but they can't chew solids. A proboscis, which functions as a drinking straw, stays curled up under the butterfly's chin until it finds a source of nectar or other liquid nutrition. It then unfurls the long, tubular structure and sips up a meal.
4. A butterfly must assemble its proboscis as soon as it emerges from the chrysalis.
A butterfly that can't drink nectar is doomed, so one of its first jobs as an adult butterfly is to make sure its mouthparts work. When a new adult emerges from the pupal case, or chrysalis, its mouth is in two pieces. Using palpi located adjacent to the proboscis, the butterfly begins working the two parts together to form a single, tubular proboscis. You may see a newly emerged butterfly curling and uncurling the proboscis over and over, testing it out.
5Butterflies drink from mud puddles.A butterfly cannot live on sugar alone; it needs minerals, too. To supplement its diet of nectar, a butterfly will occasionally sip from mud puddles, which are rich in minerals and salts. This behavior, called puddling, occurs more often in male butterflies, which incorporate the minerals into their sperm. These nutrients are then transferred to the female during mating, and help improve the viability of her eggs.
6. Butterflies can't fly if they're cold.
Butterflies need an ideal body temperature of about 85ºF to fly. Since they're cold-blooded animals, they can't regulate their own body temperatures. The surrounding air temperature has a big impact on their ability to function. If the air temperature falls below 55ºF, butterflies are rendered immobile, unable to flee from predators or feed. When air temperatures range between 82º-100ºF, butterflies can fly with ease. Cooler days require a butterfly to warm up its flight muscles, either be shivering or basking in the sun. And even sun-loving butterflies can get overheated when temperatures soar above 100ºF, and may seek shade to cool down.
7. A newly emerged butterfly can't fly.
Inside the chrysalis, a developing butterfly waits to emerge with its wings collapsed around its body. When it finally breaks free of the pupal case, it greets the world with tiny, shriveled wings. The butterfly must immediately pump body fluid through its wing veins to expand them. Once its wings reach full-size, the butterfly must rest for a few hours to allow its body to dry and harden before it can take its first flight.
8. Butterflies live just 2-4 weeks, usually.
Once it emerges from its chrysalis as an adult, a butterfly has just a few short weeks to live. During that time, it focuses all its energy on two tasks – eating and mating. Some of the smallest butterflies, the blues, may only survive a few days. Butterflies that overwinter as adults, like monarchs and mourning cloaks, can live as long as 9 months.
9. Butterflies are nearsighted, but they can see and discriminate a lot of colors.
Within about 10-12 feet, butterfly eyesight is quite good. Anything beyond that distance gets a little blurry to a butterfly, though. Butterflies rely on their eyesight for vital tasks, like finding mates of the same species, and finding flowers on which to feed. In addition to seeing some of the colors we can see, butterflies can see a range of ultraviolet colors invisible to the human eye. The butterflies themselves may have ultraviolet markings on their wings to help them identify one another and locate potential mates. Flowers, too, display ultraviolet markings that act as traffic signals to incoming pollinators like butterflies – "pollinate me!"
10. Butterflies employ all kinds of tricks to keep from being eaten.
Butterflies rank pretty low on the food chain, with lots of hungry predators happy to make a meal of them. Some butterflies fold their wings to blend in to the background, using camouflage to render themselves all but invisible to predators. Others try the opposite strategy, wearing vibrant colors and patterns that boldly announce their presence. Bright colored insects often pack a toxic punch if eaten, so predators learn to avoid them. Some butterflies aren't toxic at all, but pattern themselves after other species known for their toxicity. By mimicking their foul-tasting cousins, they repel predators.

What is good? Imagery based - Insects

Starting Point: I'd chosen to pursue research based on insects for the 'What is good' module for a number of reasons; 

They fascinated me in the sense that they were so small, but their impact was so large, both to humans and the environment. Not only this but insects in general were a good design choice because there was a broad scope of things I could accomplish with them, i.e. Info-graphics.

In this following blogpost I examined rich sources of information focused around the main families of bugs and gathered some Photographic images which display the characteristics of some bugs in high definition e.g. wing detail (These will come in handy if I need to develop info-graphics).

You can see how developed and interesting each insect really looks, through their robust backs, transparent wings and colourful patterns. With my focus on insects, I hope to change peoples perceptions of insects being icky bugs.

About Me

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Leeds College of Art. Graphic Design.

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