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Virtual SUTS! Planet of the Insects

Welcome to Science Under the Virtual Stars! Bees! Bugs! Beetles! Oh my! This month, we will be learning all about important insects here on Earth. Enjoy the kids (of all ages) activities, a virtual natural history tour of Brackenridge Field Laboratory, and a bug hunt! The live lecture and Q&A with Tristan Kubik will be held on November 12th at 7:00 pm CT (UTC -6)–the Zoom link is at the end of this post (and we worked the bugs out this time! haha Sorry, I couldn’t help myself…).

Activity 1 (hands-on): Ant Life Cycle Craft 1 (To print or download to your computer, click File > Download > Microsoft Word (.docx) or PDF Document (.pdf))

Activity 2 (hands-on): Ant Life Cycle Craft 2 (To print or download to your computer, click File > Download > Microsoft Word (.docx) or PDF Document (.pdf))

Activity 3 (hands-on): SUTS Ant Farm (To print or download to your computer, click click the 3 vertical dots on the right-hand side of the screen > Download > Microsoft Word (.docx) or PDF Document (.pdf))

Activity 4 (hands-on): Butterfly Life Cycle Craft (To print or download to your computer, click File > Download > Microsoft Word (.docx) or PDF Document (.pdf))

Activity 5 (hands-on): Complete vs. Incomplete Metamorphosis Activity & Information Sheet (To print or fill out on your computer, click the 3 vertical dots on the right-hand side of the screen > Download > Microsoft Word (.docx) or PDF Document (.pdf))

Tour of Brackenridge Field Laboratory (13 min)

Image (c) Alexander Wild

A Backyard Bug Hunt! Courtesy of Austin360

Zoom Information for live lecture and Q&A, November 12th at 7:00 pm CT (UTC -6). Note: You must have a (free) Zoom account in order to access this meeting. The meeting will not be recorded.

Topic: Science Under the Stars: Planet of the Insects
Time: Nov 12, 2020 07:00 PM Central Time (US and Canada)

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Meeting ID: 991 4329 5587
Passcode: 106151

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November 12th, Tristan Kubik

Planet of the Insects

Please note that for this event, both the lecture and Q&A will be live and NOT recorded.

If you don’t like insects, then you’re living on the wrong planet. Earth is likely home to over ten million species of insects. Compared to the 5,000 or so mammal species and the 20,000 or so plant species, insect biodiversity vastly overshadows all other life on our planet. Furthermore, there are close to 10 quintillion insects estimated to be alive this very second. That’s more than 111 million creepy crawlies for every single one of the 9 billion humans alive today. Insects eat everything, do everything, and without them, life on land could not exist. Insects are important pollinators, they take care of life’s waste and dead organic material, and support every terrestrial ecosystem they occur in. But not all insects are allies. Insect pests are our number one competitor for food, blood-sucking insects have killed more humans than all the wars, famines, and natural disasters combined, and bugs constantly invade our homes and spoil our goods. So why are insects so successful? What has driven their massive diversity? How old are insects? And what are some of the ways we humans have figured out how to coexist with the true overlords of planet Earth? Join me, Tristan Kubik, a zany entomologist, as I introduce you to the marvelous microcosm of insects and show you that, contrary to what we would like to believe, insects truly are the dominant form of life on planet Earth. 

Science Under the Stars has gone virtual! This semester all SUTS activities will be online, but we encourage you to participate outdoors under the stars in your backyard! (If wifi allows for it, of course.) November’s schedule is as follows:

  • November 5th: Links to the kids activities and live online lecture/Q&A will be posted here and as an event on our Facebook page.
  • November 12th, 7:00pm CST: Live online lecture and Q&A with the speaker!

Science Under the Stars is a free public outreach lecture series based in Austin, Texas.

Neighborhood Science Talks

Science Under the Stars has expanded to include the Austin Public Library! At Neighborhood Science, previous SUTS speakers will present at different library branches around the city a couple times a month. Stay tuned for more updates!

mantis shrimp

March 28: Emily Rees – “The Science of Superheroes” 

If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Would you choose super-strength? The ability to leap over tall buildings in a single bound? Invisibility? Mind-control? These ‘superpowers’ that we see in movies and comic books actually occur in a variety of different animals! Come out to Neighborhood Science to learn about the invisible lurker of the ocean, the fastest punch among animals, and the heavy lifters of the animal kingdom.
  • March 28, 7pm at the Twin Oaks Branch, 1800 S 5th St, Austin, TX 78704



A singing mouse trills in the cloud forest, declaring its presence. credit Bret Pasch

April 25: Tracy Burkhard – “As quiet as a mouse? (Not singing mice!)”

“As quiet as a mouse” refers to people who don’t make a peep–but contrary to the popular saying, many mice want to be heard, and some are actually quite loud! Mice–and mammals in general–use all kinds of vocal sounds to communicate with each other in a variety of contexts. How do mammals make vocalizations? What are mice are saying to each other? And can mice really sing? Come to this lecture to find out answers to these questions and more!
  • April 25, 7pm at the Twin Oaks Branch, 1800 S 5th St, Austin, TX 78704


Nikhil Advani

The Biological Impacts of Climate Change: Insights from Butterflies!

Climate change is predicted to accelerate over the course of this century. Breaking research on butterflies shows how species might respond.

Click here to download the poster from Nikhil’s SUTS Event!

Mike Singer

Humans, from the Perspective of a Californian Butterfly

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Back in 1953 my grandmother said: “Butterflies…HAH! Very pretty, but what are they FOR?” I had no answer. In this talk I will turn the question around and ask from the butterfly’s perspective: “Humans…very big and clumsy…. but what are they FOR?” We might think that the answer is just that humans are BAD, but no, it’s more complicated than that. Without thinking about it, we humans create puzzles for butterflies to solve. Sometimes they succeed and sometimes they don’t.