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Playlist: Insects are awesome!

11 talks · 2h 50m · Curated by TED

Insects are awesome! (11 talks)

Bugs! Some say they're a nuisance, but we think they're a wonder. These insect-obsessed speakers share how ants form societies, how bees pollinate flowers, and how termites can be quite ... tasty.

  • 1.
    7:48
    Now playing
    Pollination: it's vital to life on Earth, but largely unseen by the human eye. Filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg shows us the intricate world of pollen and pollinators with gorgeous high-speed images from his film "Wings of Life," inspired by the vanishing of one of nature's primary pollinators, the honeybee.
  • 2.
    20:31
    Now playing
    With a dusty backhoe, a handful of Japanese paint markers and a few students in tow, Deborah Gordon digs up ant colonies in the Arizona desert to understand their complex social system.
  • 3.
    17:08
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    A dung beetle has a brain the size of a grain of rice, and yet shows a tremendous amount of intelligence when it comes to rolling its food source — animal excrement — home. How? It all comes down to a dance. (Filmed at TEDxWitsUniversity.)
  • 4.
    16:34
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    Marcel Dicke makes an appetizing case for adding insects to everyone's diet. His message to squeamish chefs and foodies: delicacies like locusts and caterpillars compete with meat in flavor, nutrition and eco-friendliness.
  • 5.
    10:20
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    We can use a mosquito's own instincts against her. At TEDxMaastricht speaker Bart Knols demos the imaginative solutions his team is developing to fight malaria — including limburger cheese and a deadly pill. (Filmed at TEDxMaastricht.)
  • 6.
    22:35
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    As E.O. Wilson accepts his 2007 TED Prize, he makes a plea on behalf of all creatures that we learn more about our biosphere — and build a networked encyclopedia of all the world's knowledge about life.
  • 7.
    15:55
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    An insect's ability to fly is perhaps one of the greatest feats of evolution. Michael Dickinson looks at how a fruit fly takes flight with such delicate wings, thanks to a clever flapping motion and flight muscles that are both powerful and nimble. But the secret ingredient: the incredible fly brain. (Filmed at TEDxCaltech.)
  • 8.
    16:38
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    While living and working as a marine biologist in Maldives, Charles Anderson noticed sudden explosions of dragonflies at certain times of year. He explains how he carefully tracked the path of a plain, little dragonfly called the globe skimmer, only to discover that it had the longest migratory journey of any insect in the world.
  • 9.
    16:28
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    Bees are dying in droves. Why? Leading apiarist Dennis vanEngelsdorp looks at the gentle, misunderstood creature's important place in nature and the mystery behind its alarming disappearance.
  • 10.
    12:43
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    Bees have been rapidly and mysteriously disappearing from rural areas, with grave implications for agriculture. But bees seem to flourish in urban environments — and cities need their help, too. Noah Wilson-Rich suggests that urban beekeeping might play a role in revitalizing both a city and a species. (Filmed at TEDxBoston.)
  • 11.
    13:48
    Now playing
    In this visually dazzling talk, Jonathan Drori shows the extraordinary ways flowering plants — over a quarter million species — have evolved to attract insects to spread their pollen: growing 'landing-strips' to guide the insects in, shining in ultraviolet, building elaborate traps, and even mimicking other insects in heat.