March 15, 2010 (Vol. 30, No. 6)
Strong Points: Good background information
Weak Points: It would be nice to offer links to other pages for people interested in learning more
Now I’m not generally a betting gal, but I would bet that most of you reading this are unfamiliar with bean beetles. (Am I right?) Well, bean beetles, or more properly Callosobruchus maculates, get their name because the larvae develop and feed exclusively on the seeds of legumes. These bugs might be agricultural pests in Asia and Africa, but they happen to also be very useful experimental tools in biology classrooms worldwide. This website, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, is offered as a resource for biology teachers looking for a suitable model organism for their undergraduate laboratory classes. Included on the site is a handbook on bean beetles (wherein you can learn about their natural history and life cycle, as well as culture and handling techniques), a description of tried-and-true laboratory activities utilizing the little guys, and a list of bean beetle researchers.