Butterflies and Electronics

How can butterflies help develop faster electronic and optical devices? Through their gyroids of course. Scientists are studying gyroids in butterfly wings in an attempt to better understand this complex shape. A gyroid is a shape that gives some butterflies their color, what is called structural color. The light interacts with these complex shapes, which the scientist describes as similar to swiss cheese, with air traveling in three different dimensions.

What’s that mean for electronics? Electronics function by controlling the flow of electricity by controlling the flow of electrons by letting certain frequencies through while blocking others. Newer technology works in a similar way by controlling the flow of photons, or light. Because butterflies control the flow of light through their gyroids, they are able to block out certain colors while letting others though.

Where can this be used? Insulation for fiber optics is a possibility, which is currently problematic because…

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Why? Cultural Entomology

The second post in the Why series is going to look at a significant aspect of the importance of wildlife, the cultural perspective. Most species of wildlife have played important roles in human culture in the spiritual realm, fashion, the arts,  folklore and myth, food, literature and many further aspects. Insects may often be overlooked as important wildlife, but they have a rich history in the lives of humans and there’s now a study of it called Cultural Entomology.

Insects have long had an influence on humans as far back as 2200BC with imagery of the scarab. Some have been made into gods by different cultures such as the Aztecs, Greek, Chinese and Babylonians and the Scorpion is a Zodiac symbol. Beetles can be connected to many religions including Shamanism, Buddhism and Taoism. The importance of the scarab to the Egyptians was immense and…

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Why? Ecosystem Services:: The Pollinators

The first question many people will ask when you tell them you want to create habitat is why, which often comes before the how. It’s important to formulate an educated response to the why whether it’s a homeowner or city planner asking. There are many answers to that question and I plan to address many of them in a series of posts starting with this one. Among the answers are ecological benefits, education, human benefit and many that fall in all categories.

Lets start by looking at ecosystem services which can be defined as environmental services provided by an ecosystem that renders benefits to the human population. Among some of the ecosystem services provided include air and water purification, timber supply, flood control, pest regulation, soil enrichment, pollution mitigation, pollination, seed dispersal and slowing the hydrological cycle.


Pollination is a major ecosystem service performed by a multitude of species including a…

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Portland Raptor Cam

For the last few years a Red-tailed Hawk has nested on the fire escape of an office building downtown Portland. The nesting, egg laying, hatching and fledging of the hawks has all been watching by many people through a partnership with the Audubon Society of Portland and local news station KGW. The hawk is again nesting and currently has two eggs in the nest.

This is interesting for two reasons, one is that large raptors can live, nest and raise young in the middle of the city. Another example is Pale Male, another Red-tailed Hawk in New York City which is famous and has even been filmed for documentaries. There are other examples of kestrels nesting in many European cities as well.

The second reason I find this interesting is because of the interest from the public as well as organizations and even the media. Why this…

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Reason to Preserve

A new study published in Nature has discovered how spider webs are able to catch water and create the amazing sight that I caught in the photograph above. Many times we only think about mammals and birds when we consider habitat but there are many insects that are easily overlooked that also provide many benefits. Of course we know they provide food for birds and bats and are a vital part of the food chain, however what we often don’t think about is how little we know about them. Many people don’t realize that a great many inventions are created because of the study of insects. We can do a great many things and every day we are more innovative but there is still a great deal that insects can produce that we cannot.

This study shows an incredible insight to the formation of spider webs that we can’t replicate…

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