Previous: Chicago Adventure, Part Seven: Octopus Sex
Next: A note from Emily



View count:86,843
Last sync:2024-04-27 15:30


Citation formatting is not guaranteed to be accurate.
MLA Full: "Chicago Adventure, Part Eight: How to be an Insect." YouTube, uploaded by thebrainscoop, 28 July 2013,
MLA Inline: (thebrainscoop, 2013)
APA Full: thebrainscoop. (2013, July 28). Chicago Adventure, Part Eight: How to be an Insect [Video]. YouTube.
APA Inline: (thebrainscoop, 2013)
Chicago Full: thebrainscoop, "Chicago Adventure, Part Eight: How to be an Insect.", July 28, 2013, YouTube, 05:10,
Jim Boone shows off his insects. Some of these might actually be plants. I'm still not convinced otherwise.


The Brain Scoop is hosted and written by:
Emily Graslie

Created By:
Hank Green

Directed, Edited, and Scored by:
Michael Aranda

Assistant Editor:
Stefan Chin

Translated captions brought to you by Katerina Idrik, Barbara Velazquez, Martina Šafusová, Hervé Saint Raymond, Tony Chu, John-Alan Pascoe, Seth Bergenholtz, and Kelleen Browning.


This episode of The Brain Scoop was brought to you by a scrumdiddlyumptious generous contribution from: Heather Hsu.

[Emily Graslie] The Chicago Field Museum is one of the largest and most respected natural history museums in the world.  Join me as we go behind the scenes! Dun dun dunnnn!

 Inside Museum 

[EG] These are huge; they're bigger than birds.

[Jim Boone] They're katydids from Papua New Guinea.  It's like a grasshopper, in the order Orthoptera.  In this order there are katydids, grasshoppers, and crickets.

[EG] So, what's a locust, then? Are they...?

[JB] A locust is a grasshopper.

[EG] Okay, I'm just trying to, like, put them all in the same thing.  So these are... Okay, alright.

[JB] It's a large grasshopper, it's a common name; mostly people call cicadas "locusts," too.  But they're not, it's just the grasshoppers that are locusts.  So these are probably the largest katydids you're going to find.

[EG] I mean, they're gigantic.

[JB] Yeah, ours are probably this big.

[EG] The katydids in North America?

[JB] Yeah, so this one's over twice as long--

[EG] Wow!

[JB] with a huge wing. And they have a shield that looks like a leaf; the whole thing is to look like a leaf.

[EG] I-- definitely looks like a giant leaf.

[JB] Well, we have the mantids, so these are hooded mantids, which look like leaves, and when an insect is going to copy a leaf, it's usually a green leaf, so it's live, but...

[EG] Exceptions to the rule! What???

[JB] Yeah, this is the top side, and then when they're at rest, they fold their wings, and they look like a dead leaf.  These guys took it to a whole new level.  Not only do they have the vein of the leaf, and the little minor veins, they have rust spots and diseases, like a dead leaf.

[EG] Wow!

[JB] So they copied their host plant.

[EG] How do you find these in the wild, like, what do you, how do you even know what to look for...?

[JB] We wait til they fly.

[EG] Really?

[JB] Yeah, you're not gonna notice that if it's on a twig.

[EG] Yeah, no way. I would never, I mean, you, I looked at these in here and was like, well you put some leaves in here for comparison but obviously not.

[JB] So this is the underside.

[EG] *amazed* Whoa!

[JB] Isn't that amazing? And look, even the tails look like a stem.

[EG] Yeah!

[JB] Looking like a leaf, is a good camouflage, looking like sticks, too--

[EG] (loud gasp)

[JB] So this is the largest.  This is the longest insect...

[EG] This is huge!

[JB] ... on the planet, the Giant Walking Stick. This one, I think, is from Malaysia.

[EG] That is huge.

[JB] And we joke around a little bit on here...

[EG] Yeah, it says "more than seven feet." I'm like, even I think that's a little bit implausible.

[JB] A lot of people don't catch that though. "WHAT?!"

[EG] Really? "These thing can be bigger than seven feet." You have the credentials, being a museum, you could say anything and people would believe you.

[JB] Exactly.

[EG] Are these insects, too? I can't even see what's in here, they look like tiny... tiny... dots.

[JB] Yeah, those are probably some of the smallest beetles you're gonna find.

[EG] They're beetles?

[JB] They're called featherwing beetles, because their wing, this is their wing, it looks like a feather.  We have a huge collection of these, that Hank Dybas, he was one of our curators here, um, he collected.

[EG] How do you collect these?

[JB] We use traps.  And we get a bunch of everything. And then we sort out what we call the target taxa: things that we wanna study.

[EG] That's a Death's-head Moth over there, sorry I just saw that, too.  Yeah, the Silence of the Lamb moth, it has a skull on the back of it.  So why does it have a skull-like impression?

[JB] No, the actual thing that it's supposed to be looking like? Is a giant bumblebee.

[EG] Oh!

[JB] Because they go in to the hives, and they're able to either give off a smell or make a sound that, um, the other bee's like, "Oh, okay, you're a friend, doodle-doo."

[EG] Okay.

[JB] And then it starts eating the end of the hive, the end of the thick stuff. The way to collect moths is you hang a sheet, and you put a light behind it, and the moths come to the sheet.

[EG] Yeah! They run in to it and you photograph it.

[JB] These guys, certain parts of the year, they, like, cover your sheet, it's like "Go away, I want other stuff." And they run into the sheet and they knock the little stuff off.

[EG] Ha ha, bullies.

[JB] These are the tarantula hawks.

[EG] So, some people are afraid of tarantulas, but they should really be afraid of...

[Together] The tarantula hawks.

[JB] Yeah. See the stinger? So that's where the venom comes through.

[Other Male] But it doesn't kill them right away, it paralyzes them and they stay alive?

[JB] Yeah. And then they'll lay an egg inside it.

[EG] What?!

[JB] And then the egg hatches, and then the larvae starts eating the spider inside-out, so...

[EG] Kind of weird and gross and awesome. I mean, I wouldn't have my children that way, but you know, to each his own.

[JB] Insects are found everywhere and they're found in other insects too. Over here we have a huge ecto-parasite collection, so...

[EG] Okay, ecto-parasite meaning what for...

[JB] If Bill collected a mammal, he can comb the fur and he'll find fleas... 

[EG] Oh, yeah!

[JB] ...and lice and mites.

[Bill Stanley]  There's a fly that lives on bats, called a bat fly, and many of them are wingless and they move like crabs through the fur of the bat.

[EG] Weird!

[BS] And we collect them because, uh, Jim and his colleagues can identify them and you can actually find how two different species of bats are related to each other based on the relationship of their ecto-parasites.

[EG] Weird.

[BS] So as the ecto-parasites evolve, and the relationships among different ecto-parasites reflects the relationships among the different hosts. So it a...

[EG] So it's like networking, social networking...

[BS] Totally like networking.

[EG] It's like Facebook for parasites.

[BS] Yeah, exactly.

[EG] That's great...

(Outro and credits)

It still has brains on it.