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Why Insects Love Summer – Flight, Fights And Booze

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 Biology   |   Health   |   Environmental   |   Science
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Have you ever wondered what happens when insects get drunk? Can you tell the temperature by the frequency of a cricket’s chirps? Do you know what temperature a butterfly has to be to take off? Kate buzzes around the science of summer insects.
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With summer seems to come a plague of insects. But what is it about summer that brings them buzzing out of their hideaways? Insects are poikilotherms – their internal temperature can vary hugely depending on the environment. The opposite of humans. As a result, they rely heavily on external conditions to govern their bodily processes like development and growth.

And the more you look into insects’ summer-loving lifestyles, the more interesting they become. From butterflies that can only fly once they get warm enough to crickets that tell the temperature better than your local weatherman, insects have unique approach to life. And have you ever wondered what happens when insects get drunk?

This film is part of our series that provides the blueprint for a scientifically perfect summer. Taking a different topic each Thursday, the videos will gradually build up an equation for summer perfection; a summer survival guide certified by science.
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Reference list:
Boggs, C.L. et al (2003) Butterflies: Ecology and Evolution Taking Flight p. 321-330Frazier, M. R. et al (2006) Thermodynamics constrains the evolution of insect population growth rates: “warmer is better”. The American Naturalist 168(4): 512-520
Frings, H. and Frings, M. (1962) Effects of temperature on the ordinary song of the common meadow grasshopper, Orchelimum vulgare (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae). Journal of Experimental Zoology 151(1): 33-51
Gibbs, A.G. (2002) Lipid melting and cuticular permeability: new insights into an old problem. Journal of Insect Physiology 48(4): 391-400
Huey, R.B. and Kingsolver, J.G. (2011) Variation in universal temperature dependence of biological rates. PNAS 108(26): 10377-10378
Maze, I.S. et al (2006) Acute ethanol ingestion produces dose-dependent effects on motor behavior in the honey bee (Apis mellifera). Journal of Insect Physiology 52(11-12): 1243-1253
Milan, N.F. (2012) Alcohol consumption as self-medication against blood-borne parasites in the fruit fly. Current Biology 22(6): 488-493
Pires, A. and Hoy, R.R. (1992) Temperature coupling in cricket acoustic communication. I. Field and laboratory studies of temperature effects on calling song production and recognition in Gryllus firmus. J Comp Physiol A. 171(1): 69-78
Shirai, O. et al (2002) Alcohol ingestion stimulates mosquito attraction. J Am Mosq Control Assoc. 18(2): 91-96

Music and sound effects:
‘Mosquito Buzzing’ and ‘Light Bulb Breaking’ by Mike Koenig ( and
‘The Bandit’, ‘Sneaky Snitch’, ‘Spring Thaw’, and ‘Carefree’ by Kevin Macleod ( above licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

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