As James Gorman from the New York Times puts it, entomologists may know their insects inside and out but they're "decidedly amateur videographers." Still, one thing is clear when you take a look at the videos by the 2012 Entomology Society of America YouTube contest winners, they sure enjoy stretching their creative wings.
With winners in categories including research/discovery, teaching/instruction, outreach/extension and open, the styles range from showcasing the development and results of an experiment to an animation about invasive species. But perhaps the most interesting videos fell into the open category.
The winner of the open category takes a more traditional nature documentary approach when it comes to setting a dramatic scene. "Ants Africa" by Marlin Rice shows predatory ants on the prowl for prey -- termites -- set to the music "Mind Heist" from the movie "Inception." The massacre is a brutal one for the termites -- they're not only bitten but stung to death -- but it's the circle of life.
Gorman reported that Rice spliced together footage he took over five different trips to Africa to create the video:
Watch the drama of "Ants Africa":
The runners up in the open category take a more humorous approach to their science.
Take California State University-Long Beach graduate student Marty Lewis' "Life in the Gutter." Here's how he sets the scene for his YouTube video:
"A gutter is standardly defined as any man-made or natural formation that channels water. To the streetwise, 'the gutter' can also be defined as the harsh living conditions in dilapidated and subverted city communities. In either term's case, the types of life found within the gutter are influenced by the conditions from urbanization surrounding the gutter. Also in either case, aquatic insects have adapted to both. This video exhibits aquatic insect life in the progression from none to completely urbanized surroundings. If one can imagine, the quality of water flowing through the gutter decreases as urbanization increases. However, despite the quality of water, insect life still survives in the gutter, even if conditions are tainted by human influence."
Watch how even in the toughest gutters, bugs are able to make their way:
And then there's the "science band" Midge Direction's parody video of the band One Direction's "What Makes You Beautiful." This video shows how entomologists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison feel about their bugs:
The winners for each official category received a $200 prize and a Stinger trophy. The ESA has been running the online video contest since 2009.