We asked a real entomologist for advice on surviving in Grounded

Abbiamo chiesto ad un vero entomologo dei consigli per sopravvivere in Grounded thumbnail

What to do if by magic we were to find ourselves in the backyard reduced to the size of an ant? This is what happens in Grounded, a videogame by Obsidian Entertainment released last month (our review here). To get a scientific answer, and consequently to draw up a reliable game manual, we turned to an expert: the Dr. Bryan Lessard (aka Bry the Fly Guy) – award-winning entomologist and author of the book Eyes on Flies – who gave us some tips for surviving in Grounded.

So don’t worry: spiders, giant insects and bloodthirsty mosquitoes (literally) will no longer scare us. Or at least that’s what Lessard wants us to believe.

Grounded: the entomologist’s advice

1) Build yourself a roof

Build shelter now to avoid lethal predators, secure your belongings and sleep well. Keep the lights on by installing low-energy bioluminescent chandeliers: the luminescent worms will also feed on any unwanted guests! Are you looking for something more durable and resistant? Termite mounds have walls as hard as concrete and can last up to 4,000 years!

Research has found that social insects like bees, ants and termites live longer than those that live alone. This may be because social insects benefit from sharing shelter and food and work together to defend against intruders. Build a basic base camp or a real mini villa with friends – the choice is yours!

2) Go hunting (and don’t get too spoiled on food)

Dying at the hands of aggressive creatures or from starvation? Don’t let the hunt scare you, be brave to go looking for food, luckily there are plenty of insects to eat. For real. Edible insects are rich in proteins, vitamins and other nutrients.

Try a mealworm roast (Tenebrio molitor) on toast made with high protein cricket flour (Acheta domesticus). For dessert, enjoy a dairy-free ice cream made with omega-3 fat from the larvae of the black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens). Sounds yummy, right? Two million people in 130 countries eat edible insects, what are you waiting for? Just make sure you cook them first.

If you are a vegetarian, limit yourself to the high-protein pollen and sugary nectar of the flowers which are very popular with flies, wasps and pollinating bees. Do you need something stronger? Why not take a foray into a hive to get super energetic honey? But beware of the deadly stings of bees, which are the size of a sword!

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Among the advice for Grounded we cannot fail to mention that water will be essential for your survival. A human being can last 3 to 18 days without water, but a shrunken creature could only last a few hours! This is because the younger you are, the more prone you are to drying out, that is, to drying out and to death! Thanks to condensation, droplets of pure water form on the leaves during the night, free of bacteria such as Escherichia coli that could make you poo. Make water pots with plants to store water for longer trips. Doctors recommend staying hydrated, eating a balanced diet, and STAYING ALIVE!

3) Cover up, it’s cold

Create armor to protect yourself from deadly claws, stingers and fangs that you will have to face at every hour! Although most of the world’s 10 million insect species are harmless to a life-sized human, shrinking is a completely different story. While it usually takes nearly a million mosquito bites to drain all of a life-sized man’s blood, a few bites would be enough to kill a little man!

Beetle wing elytra can support up to 39,000 times their weight and make excellent shields and armor to survive on-the-ground attacks. Ant skulls are battle-ready helmets and feature pheromones that mask your scent as you storm a colony of soldier ants, as ants recognize each other by smell.

You will also need weapons to fight more aggressive enemies such as spiders, scorpions or killer insects. Transform bee stings, spider fangs and anthill pincers into effective clubs, spears and swords to defend yourself against the next attack of creatures. The easiest way to level up is to learn more about the insects and plants that nature offers!

4) Adopt a pet (small, of course)

Having to fend for yourself in the backyard will be one of the scariest and loneliest moments of your life. Companionship is the best cure for loneliness, so make sure you bond with a pet insect. Research has shown that owning a pet can reduce loneliness and improve mental health. Insects are the perfect six-legged friends because they thrive on minimal food and water. Another plus: Most of them don’t hurt us because they’re too busy pollinating flowers or turning leaf litter and poop into compost.

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It turns out that the global pet insect market is in turmoil – you can already buy these breeds of insects at your pet store. The larvae of the yellow cockroach (Tenebrio molitor) love to live in packs and require little maintenance because they can be fed with kitchen waste. An added bonus is that you can eat them when times get tough!

If you are looking for something smaller and less demanding, the advice for Grounded is to consider an aphid the size of a Chihuahua: it will reward you with a delicious honeydew. These pet bugs will be loyal to you for life, and they are vegetarians, so they won’t eat you!

5) “Yes, travel (avoiding being eaten)”

Among the tips for surviving in Grounded, we can only mention dear Lucio Battisti. With food supplies and armor in check, there is only one thing left to do: travel! Explore the unique backyard biomes with endemic species and resources you’ll need to survive your next micro-adventure. Learn about the area by wandering through the lush forests of the Prairies. Say hello to midges, beetles and weevils as you gather blades of grass for your next construction project. If you’re feeling more adventurous, traverse the arid deserts of the Sandpit to discover weapon treasures in the form of pincers and fangs. They will be useful to defend against territorial antillions and wolf spiders! Cool off and relax on the shady banks of the pond while enjoying a delicious lunch of tadpoles and water fleas. But watch out for the deadliest creature of all, the mega koi fish – just one sip and you’re done for!

Just like the home garden, there are 36 biodiversity hotspots around the world that are home to most of the planet’s species, even though they occupy only 2.3% of the earth’s surface. Living in a region rich in biodiversity increases the chances of survival. This is because biodiversity provides essential food, clean water, building materials and 80% of all medicines ever discovered!

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Fortunately, the Mediterranean is one of the safest regions to survive shrinking in the backyard. This is because it is home to the hotspot of the Mediterranean basin, with unique ecosystems, delicious food and more than 150,000 species of insects! Scientists have only identified a quarter of all species on Earth, so you may even discover a new species in your backyard! What are you waiting for? One of the most effective Grounded tips is to get out there and explore!

Grounded tips: how to play and our review

Grounded is currently available for Xbox One, Xbox Series X | S, and PC. The game is included in the Xbox Game Pass catalog and is available on Steam. Our review of the game reads:

“With a weight of 8GB, Obsidian presents us with an unprecedented perspective on life, reflecting the complexity of survival in an apparently serene context such as a common garden. The story is well written, full of citations and cultural references, with a progression however too slow to be appreciated until the end. However, remember that this is only version 1.0. It would therefore not surprise us if in the near future Obsidian decides to refine the many shortcomings of the title. However, after two years of early access, we expected something more from day one. “