A Jar Full O’ Stick Insects

sticky-jar-5Been a while since the update, and they’re getting bigger, and in some sense easier to clean (they’re more visible so easier to see if you are about to throw out a plant with them on) but also more difficult because they get more inquisitive when put in a jar to keep them safe while sorting the cage out. I also discovered that I actually have 17 at the moment rather than the 16 I thought I had. I was expecting some deaths but I guess I’m discovering why they are so popular for both scientific experiments and school kids.

I tried to take a new video but failed spectacularly this time, and almost had an escapee while trying, but so far they still seem to be doggedly sticking to the tripod gait although the bright lights needed to get a good film may be causing them to always try to move as fast as they can, I’ll try some experiments in a more subdued light next time.

So here are then latest family photos:

I also used a couple of the insects in my lectures a few weeks ago, one of the reasons I decided to keep them in my office in the first place. The lecture rooms in the Maths building have been recently fitted out with visualisers, so ideal for getting an insect to run across while being projected on the large screens so everyone can see the gait patters, right?

First time went like a dream, the insect chosen was happily walking around to his heart’s content, and was a nice introduction to the topic of animal locomotion. Coming back to them after concluding the section, so that the gait pattern now made more sense, the insect chosen had a bit of stage fright and did not want to move, even after some gentle persuasion. Eventually it did, but a useful tip for next time I do it may be to bring along more than one insect, and find a way to stop them running off the visualiser pad.

Anyhow, a few pictures from the second attempt (thanks to Katy and Antoine for the photos):


Mathematician at the University of Warwick in the UK with research interests in equivariant bifurcation theory and applications, especially in modelling of insect locomotion. Teaching interests include online learning and innovative teaching methods. Also in a past life has been involved in summer school courses, and online material, for Gifted and Talented. He has been active on the Internet since 1995, initially though his UFO and Michael Schenker website, but now through a multitude of projects.

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