22 / 05 / 2013

Les abeilles et le Musée d’Histoire naturelle de New York

Il y a deux semaines, je suis allé au Musée d’histoire naturelle de New York pour visiter les collections d’abeilles et vérifier l’identification de deux nouvelles espèces d’abeilles européennes introduites ici en Amérique. Je me garde de vous dévoiler leur identité, je préfère garder la surprise lorsque l’article sera publié.

Quel spectacle muséologique m’attendait lorsque je suis entré dans cette bâtisse construite juste en face de Central Park. Des immenses couloirs avec des centaines de cabinets contenant chacun d’eux leurs lots de trésors. Une vraie incursion dans le monde des taxonomistes, et quel monde! Dans les salles de bureaux, des piles de documents couvrent votre champ de vision laissant juste assez de place pour circuler.

En haut, là où se trouvent les collections d’abeilles, d’immenses allées de cabinets sont installées sur des rails. Cette technologie n’était pas inconnue pour moi, mais pour la première fois, j’avais la chance de travailler avec une collection gigantesque et internationale.

Je vous laisse regarder le vidéo :

14 / 05 / 2013

Le salon des insectes de Montréal

Une belle sortie en famille cette automne, pensez à venir au salon des insectes de Montréal!

À chaque année, le salon des insectes de Montréal permet de rassembler les passionnés d’insectes au même endroit. C’est un événement qu’aucun entomologiste amateur ne veut manquer puisque non seulement les plus beaux insectes du monde s’y retrouvent, mais il s’agit aussi d’une bonne opportunité d’échanger avec des spécialistes du domaine.

Cet événement permet aussi de prendre connaissance de l’immense diversité des insectes dans le monde. Je me rappelle mon premier salon des insectes, j’étais totalement émerveillé par la beauté sans fin qui s’émanait des cadres de collection. Rapidement les yeux sont chargés de couleurs, d’irridescence et de contrastes.

25 / 04 / 2013

Amerinsecta – Insects part of American TV shows

Did you noticed that some Set Decorators that work in American TV shows sometime use insects to decorate?

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If you are like me, you press pause when you see insects in the background of any TV show. If you do, you must have bothered a lot of your friends or your partner with it, but don’t worry I understand you.

Although, it’s heart warming as an entomologist to notice that in a lot of TV shows, you can find insects in the background and as props. I also try to, as an obsessed (or funny, your choice) entomologist, to identify the insects I see in the background. This is only possible when the resolution is good enough… What kind bizarre person you must think I am. Yes, I agree I am strange and I assume.

Therefore, why is the Set Decorator or Background Designer using insects? I analysed the use of the insects as the Background Designers does and I found 4 possible uses : to add a scientific ambiance, to add a freaky ambiance, to streighten  a personnality trait or put a feminine touch in the background.

Remember Gil Grissom in CSI? He was an entomologist and when he was sitting in his office we could see an insect collections in the background. They were well exposed in order to add a scientific ambiance to his office, but also to add creepyness and mystery to the character.  In a really obvious frame there, was a tarantula, we always had an evident big spider in the background of the scenes filmed in Grissom office.

Figure 1: Gil Grissom and the tarantula in the background

Figure 1: Gil Grissom and the tarantula in the background

Insects could also be appropriate in the appartment of a man that is known to collect different things just like Ted does in How I met your mother. Ted is an architect who has a weird and complex personality. He is also collecting strange things in his appartment which makes it crowded with different items such as a small insect frame just in front of his computer. This decor might streighten the personality trait of Ted such as weirdness and show that he has multiple interest.

Figure 2: Ted's appartment with an insect frame in front of his computer.

Figure 2: Ted’s appartment with an insect frame in front of his computer.

Sometimes the purpose is to feminise a background suited for precise character. In the TV show Revenge, they use butterflies in the room of Charlotte to show this room belongs to a girl. To identify a girl’s room, pink has been over used by decorators in the past and became, in my opinion, a cliché. Butterflies frames can certainly replace it.

Figure 3: Charlotte's room with two butterfly frames.

Figure 3: Charlotte’s room with two butterfly frames.

What you are looking for is a freaky ambiance? Putting insect frames on the walls could be a good idea and this decor could be well suited for a mad scientist. Although, in this case the decor shown in fig 4 is owned by a mad entomologist named professor Crawly in The Big Bang Theory. He is angry because he has been fired and some annoying students (Sheldon, Howard, Rajesh and Leonard)  look out for his office. If you look closely at the picture, you can see a really messy insect frame where nearly all the butterflies are broken and one of them is actually an Ornithoptera priamus male splited in two pieces.

Figure 4: M.Crawly's laboratory with insect frames in the background.

Figure 4: M.Crawly’s laboratory with insect frames in the background.

I will finish this blog with a comment Sheldon made to Rajesh in the entomology lab (My own translation) : «Interesting. You’re afraid of insects and women. Ladybugs must render you catatonic»

Special thanks to Clodyne Leclerc

Apoica flavissima
17 / 03 / 2013

A nocturnal sting by a nocturnal wasps!

Apoica flavissima, a night wasp, gives one of the most painful sting in the animal kingdom, and may give a cold that could last several days.

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This huge nest of night wasps was just on the side of the trail. It was in the middle of the dry season in the Veadeiros da Chapadas National Park (Brazil), in the dry habitat of the Cerrado. We were walking in group, made up of students and researchers. Breno Freitas, a brazilian researcher who works in crop pollination, warns me that these wasps are very dangerous. He takes a picture far from the nest, but this isn’t enough for me: I need to be closer. I wish to be able to take a close-up of these marvelous wasps. Some wasps begin to activate and they beat their wings faster, as a sign of warning. This means I am too close, so I decide to retreat slowly while keeping an eye on the nest. Then, Favizia de Oliveira, a bee taxonomist, comes closer and tells me that not only the pain of the sting is unbearable but it can give you a cold that can last up to two weeks. Furthermore, when you get stung, the venon will attract immediately the rest of the colony. I may have avoided a nightmare, however, this discovery intrigued me, I couldn’t let this pass.

The next day, I went back to the nest :


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