“smoking” rooks: more proof that corvidae will take over the world

I saw this in the Metro this morning but the Telegraph article is virtually the same:

Rooks have been spotted swooping on to the tracks at Exeter St David’s railway station in Devon and placing their wings over the smoke to collect the fumes underneath.

Hee. It’s no news that rooks, ravens and crows are the intellectual heavyweights of the bird world. Crows especially are innovative tool users. Smoking out parasites seems to be a pretty clever trick – if indeed that’s what this one is doing. Of course, it could just be a delinquent juvenile having a sneaky puff. If it starts to bring its mates along I’ll be really impressed.


Apparently so, because there are a number of bug posts on this blog.

Via Grow-A-Brain, a video of the amazing Megalopyge opercularis, a moth so fuzzy and furry I squealed a little at how cute it was. Of course, that fuzz is out to get you, as the “fur” is actually venom-carrying prickles that’ll have you scratchiing at best and in palpitations at worst should you try and touch it. Big fluffy spiders like Avicularia versicolor (11th down) also induce my “oh, FUZZY” reaction and irritate the skin similarly.

I am a huge fan of lepidoptera, especially moths. Here’s some good photos of the big New Zealand Puriri Moth, including one getting nabbed by a morepork. Ah, the food chain.


I used to be one of those annoying girly types who hated bugs. I still am phobic about ants en masse, but this can be tied to my dreadful teenage habit of leaving glasses of sweet drinks by the bed, and one day waking up to nearly swallow a mouthful of ant picnic. I also don't like wasps and hornets but that's cos I'm a bit allergic to them.

But other bugs are COOL. A weta once ran across my keyboard in the office I had at UoA; I like to think it was intellectually curious. One of my favourite places in London is the Syon Park Butterfly House (sadly under threat). I bore people silly with those bee-displays at the zoo, going WAGGLE DANCE! WAGGLE DANCE! and the tarantulas at London Zoo are of the awesome.


So, Pestival! I imagine no-one I know will fancy accompanying me, but BUGS. Also, Zac Goldsmith is the patron. It's not right that he's hot.

science events + weird crustaceans

(I’m sure there’s a pun in there)

Didn’t get a ticket to the Dawkins event next week at LSE (The Selfish Gene: Thirty Years On) as it appears all of London was keen to go also. There’s a video hook-up, so I’ll queue for that if it doesn’t look too arduous. Melvin Bragg (who’s chairing the above) is also doing a TV feature on Twelve Books That Changed The World which’ll feature Richard Dawkins (presumably to talk about Origin), to screen on ITV, Sunday, 23rd April.

On the weird crustacean front, it’s the Fabio Lobster.