One of our biggest projects in 2011 was a video contract for Texas A&M University’s Insects and Human Society course. Kristie used to teach this class for the Department of Entomology, and we were thrilled to be invited to create new content for the course.
The first 10 videos cover the first ten orders of insects from the most basic hexapods like springtails and silverfish, to aquatics like mayflies and dragonflies through to the roaches, mantids, grasshoppers, walking-sticks, termites, and earwigs. We covered the taxonomy, biodiversity, biology, mating, life history, and human impact of each order.
We had an incredible time filming them, mostly because at the end of each video we were able to cover one of our favorite topics — how insects have affected human history and culture for thousands of years. Sometimes you’ll hear people call this intersection of insect science and societal study by the name Cultural Entomology.
We interviewed a master fly-fisherman for the mayfly episode, as these insects inspired the sport. The signature casting of the reel is said to mimic shadows of these insects as they swarm over the water. We animated the story of how the country of Japan used to be called the Dragonfly Isles, because the islands look like two dragonflies mating. The myth that earwigs crawl into people’s ears and eat their brains inspired us to recreate the famous scene from Star Trek’s Wrath of Khan, where Khan drops brain-eating animals into Chekov’s ears as torture!
And (perhaps coolest of all) we learned a Northern Praying Mantis Shaolin Kung-Fu fight. Amazing fun!