Bugging Out

Aaron T. Dossey

Aaron Dossey with a stick bug in the UF Entomology and Nematology Department’s natural area. He received a $100,000 grant earlier this year for his research in bug-based food. Photo courtesy of Aaron Dossey.

A UF grad seeks to develop green technologies and end child malnutrition through bug-based food.

Go ahead, munch on a mealworm.

Crunch on a cricket.

How about a lunch of larva?

A classic schoolyard dare in the U.S., eating bugs is taboo by Western standards. But it may be key to decreasing child malnutrition and improving worldwide health.

Supported and studied by a tight-knit community of researchers and bug-o-philes, the bug-based technologies field is getting more attention lately thanks to the efforts of Aaron Dossey (PhD ’06).

Dossey, a former U.S. Department of Agriculture research entomologist, has been fascinated by bugs and chemistry since he was a kid. Now he’s trying to make his passions pay off for the cause through the company he founded and a $100,000 grant he won.

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Mark Cuban Invested In A Startup That Feeds You Crickets

Mark Cuban. Photo credit: Christian Petersen / Getty

Mark Cuban. Photo credit: Christian Petersen / Getty

Last night on Shark Tank, Mark Cuban invested in a sustainable food startup that sells nutritional bars fueled on crickets.

Startup Chapul is all about using crickets for their optimal protein.

Chapul founder Pat Crowley sought out $50,000 for a 5% stake in his business.

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Individual Insects Make Signature Venoms

STICK IT TO 'EM Walking stick insects like this one can lash out at predators with noxious chemical sprays emitted from a gland behind the head.

Walking stick insects like this one can lash out at predators with noxious chemical sprays emitted from a gland behind the head.

Walking stick study hints at chemical biodiversity in these insects

It’s safe to say that not many people have milked the insects known as walking sticks for the defensive secretions the insects spray when threatened. Now, milkers in Gainesville, Fla., have used nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to discover that the secretions of individual walking sticks are chemically distinct. “Single-insect variability of venom demonstrates the potential variability of chemical biodiversity at the level of individual animals,” the researchers say.

Walking sticks would never have perambulated into Arthur S. Edison’s laboratory at the University of Florida’s McKnight Brain Institute were it not for graduate student Aaron T. Dossey, an amateur entomologist who roams the Florida landscape collecting insects, including walking sticks. Dossey has repeatedly been on the business end of the insects’ chemical weaponry, which is extremely noxious to the nose and eyes.

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