The X-Flies

Close-up image of a Fly
Are insects disappearing?

(repeat) Insect populations are declining.  But before you say “good riddance,” consider that insects are the cornerstone of many ecosystems.  They are dinner for numerous animal species and are essential pollinators.   Mammals are loved, but they are not indispensable.  Insects are.

Meanwhile, marvel at the extraordinary capabilities of some insects.  The zany aerial maneuvers of the fly are studied by pilots.  And, contrary to the bad press, cockroaches are very clean creatures.  Also, take a listen as we host some Madagascar hissing cockroaches in our studio (yes, they audibly hiss).

Plus, how insects first evolved … and the challenges in controlling lethal ones.  Are genetically-engineering mosquitoes the best way to combat malaria?


  • Erica McAlister – Entomologist, Senior Curator of diptera in the Department of Entomology, Natural History Museum in London, author of “The Secret Life of Flies
  • Jessica Ware – Evolutionary biologist and entomologist at Rutgers University
  • Anthony James – Vector biologist, University of California, Irvine
  • Lauren Esposito – Arachnologist, California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco

Segments (via
Part 1: Lauren Esposito / Cockroaches!
Part 2: Erica McAlister / Flies’ Lives
Part 3: Jessica Ware / Insect Die-Off
Part 4: Anthony James / Mosquito Modification

originally aired March 19, 2018