Tuesday February 09

07:30 PM

Sonic the Caterpillar and Other Insects Unheard Of

MCZ 101, 26 Oxford Street, Harvard University

Jayne E Yack
Carleton University

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We are all familiar with insect sounds, particularly those used for advertisement over long distances, such as the familiar chirps of crickets or buzzing of cicadas. Over the past 60 years acoustic communication in arthropods has been researched extensively, yet despite this plethora of research, the vast majority of reports focus on airborne sounds of adults. What many do not realize is that insects generate and detect an extraordinary diversity of acoustic (sound and vibration) signals that extend far beyond human sensory capabilities. Moreover, we are only beginning to understand how larval insects such as caterpillars are communicating acoustically. In my laboratory we employ specialized instruments to tap into these secret communication channels. My presentation will explore the diversity, function, and evolution of acoustic communication in caterpillars. I will focus on three models developed in my laboratory over the past several years: Defensive sounds in silk and hawk moth caterpillars, vibratory ‘rap battles’ in hooktip moth caterpillars, and ‘hearing’ in monarch butterfly caterpillars. The complex acoustic landscape of insects and other invertebrates remains unchartered territory ripe for further exploration!

The talk is free and open to the public. The meeting is readily accessible via public transportation. Parking is available in the Oxford Street Garage with advance arrangement, as described here, or (usually but not always) at spaces on nearby streets. Everyone is also welcome to join us for dinner before the talk (beginning at 5:45 PM) at the West Side Lounge, 1680 Massachussetts Avenue, Cambridge.

CEC meetings are held the second Tuesday of the month from October through May. The evening schedule typically includes an informal dinner (5:45 to 7:15 PM) followed by our formal meeting (7:30 – 9:00 PM). The latter begins with club business and is followed by a 50 minute entomology related presentation. Membership is open to amateur and professional entomologists.
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Tuesday January 12

07:30 PM

Deconstructing visual signals in social butterflies

MCZ 101, 26 Oxford Street, Harvard University

Susan D Finkbeiner
Boston University
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Passion-vine butterflies show the curious behavior of gathering together into groups to roost for the night. Despite nearly 150 years of popular and scientific interest, the purpose of this behavior has remained a mystery. Here I explore why butterflies exploit this unusual behavior to find out exactly what the benefit of being a social butterfly is. Following studies on roosting behavior, I aim to dissect various visual signals communicated by these brightly colored butterflies in the context of both natural and sexual selection. I have done this by investigating the relative contributions of color and pattern signals in butterfly wings, and how they are important for predator avoidance and mate recognition.

I am currently a postdoc at Boston University. I got my Bachelor’s at Cornell in Entomology in 2009 and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Irvine in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in 2015. But, in retrospect, I’ve been an entomologist since I was about 4 years old :-)

The talk is free aerato roost copynd open to the public. The meeting is readily accessible via public transportation. Parking is available in the Oxford Street Garage with advance arrangement, as described here, or (usually but not always) at spaces on nearby streets. Everyone is also welcome to join us for dinner before the talk (beginning at 5:45 PM) at the West Side Lounge, 1680 Massachussetts Avenue, Cambridge.

CEC meetings are held the second Tuesday of the month from October through May. The evening schedule typically includes an informal dinner (5:45 to 7:15 PM) followed by our formal meeting (7:30 – 9:00 PM). The latter begins with club business and is followed by a 50 minute entomology related presentation. Membership is open to amateur and professional entomologists.