By Steve Jurvetson ( [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

An ant, in closeup, by Steven Jurvetson via Wikimedia Commons.

This article in the Yakama Herald about new bug’s eye-inspired technology caught my eye (pun very much intended). Ant-eyed endoscopes? Apparently John Rogers, a professor over at University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, has been using what he knows about ant’s compound eyes to model more effective surgical cameras, ones that maintain a better focus regardless of the depth of field.

In The Shark’s Paintbrush, I mention how Wolfgang Stürzl and his colleagues at Bielefeld University in Germany are “… designing a camera with the widest angle lens possible” and “… found their model in a bee’s eye, with its stunning 300 degrees of nearly all- round vision.”  Bees also have a nifty “optic odometer,” that tracks how quickly an image moves across their eyes as they fly.

Not to be outdone in their admiration for bugs, two graduate students at Harvard (Kevin Ma and Pakpong Chirarattananon) have built and tested a robot fly that may one day be used to for search-and-rescue missions and even new types of medical devices.

So, as summer draws near, and we all get out the swatters, let’s nonetheless have a bit more respect for those so-called “lowly” insects, and what they have to teach us.