Monday, August 24, 2020

Big Picture Science for Aug 24, The X-Flies



Big Picture Science - The X-Flies

Insect populations are declining. But before you say “good riddance,” consider that insects are the cornerstone of many ecosystems. They are dinner for numerous animal species and are essential pollinators. Mammals are loved, but they are not indispensable. Insects are.

Meanwhile, marvel at the extraordinary capabilities of some insects. The zany aerial maneuvers of the fly are studied by pilots.  And, contrary to the bad press, cockroaches are very clean creatures. Also, take a listen as we host some Madagascar hissing cockroaches in our studio (yes, they audibly hiss).

Plus, how insects first evolved … and the challenges in controlling lethal ones. Are genetically-engineering mosquitoes the best way to combat malaria?


  • Erica McAlister – Entomologist, Senior Curator of diptera in the Department of Entomology, Natural History Museum in London, author of “The Secret Life of Flies
  • Jessica Ware – Evolutionary biologist and entomologist at Rutgers University
  • Anthony James – Vector biologist, University of California, Irvine
  • Lauren Esposito – Arachnologist, California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco

This repeat podcast was previously released on March 19, 2018

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You can listen to this and other episodes at, and be sure to check out Blog Picture Science, the companion blog to the radio show.

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