An Insect That Can Run Itself Blind

May 4th, 2016

An Insect That Can Run Itself Blind

It is very good for us that we do not serve as prey for the Tiger Beetle.  The Tiger Beatle is a very impressive insect most of all because it is the fastest insect there is, clocking in at well over 450 miles per hour, and likely much more.  As you can imagine, running that fast can be reckless no matter what type of animal.

The Tiger Beetle is at a bit of a disadvantage because it can reach speeds that are so extraordinarily high that the beetle will begin to lose vision as it is moving too fast to process photons.  Therefore, the Tiger Beetle is temporarily blind when running at such high speeds.

However, The Tiger Beetle has a useful tool at its disposal, and that would be its incredible antennas, which can sense motion.  In fact, and despite the temporary blindness that results in losing site of predators, the Tiger Beetles antennas are so sharp that scientist have set up intricate obstacle courses for these beetles to navigate, only to see them dodge every obstacle in their way.

Maybe it’s just me, but this reminds me an awful lot of The Flash. Yet another example of insects possessing the superhuman powers that we clearly deserve…that’s just wrong.

Have you ever witnessed an insect with super powers usually reserved for comic book characters?

More Money Sucked Up By Bedbugs

May 3rd, 2016

More Money Sucked Up By Bedbugs

I explained just a few ways that bedbugs can hurt your bank account in my last post, but I didn’t even get through half of them. A bedbug infestation can be one of the most costly things to fix in your house. I’m talking thousands…maybe more.

Most people try to deal with bedbugs themselves before they finally break down and call the professionals. But, this can often turn out to be an even more expensive choice to make. People spend tons of money trying different treatments that they’ve either heard of from another source or found over-the-counter. However, many times people end up wasting money on a lot of home remedies that never work…leaving them to then fork over more money to call in the exterminators.

Bedbugs force people to throw away many expensive household furnishings such as your mattress. You don’t just lose money paying for treatments to get rid of the pests. You also lose money due to all the things you might end up having to throw out. You might end up having to purchase all new furniture for your home in the end.

Here are two other good ones: You might end up being forced to pay for a trained dog to sniff out your bedbugs, which can cost from $300-$600 depending on the size of your home. If you live in a city with major bedbug problems, you might end up paying a fine if you don’t deal with the problem in a fast enough or thorough enough manner.

Can you think of any other ways bedbugs might cost you money?

 

The Zika Virus Enters the Presidential Campaign

May 2nd, 2016

The Zika Virus Enters the Presidential Campaign

The worry over the possible spread of the Zika virus to the United States this summer has now crossed over into the sphere of the presidential campaigns. Hillary Clinton responded to a question about the Zika virus on the question and answer website Quora recently. She referred to the Zika virus as a “serious and urgent threat,” and commented, “To put it simply, there’s a lot we need to do—and fast. We don’t yet know everything about this disease, but what we’re learning is alarming.”

The number of cases in the United States and its territories has increased to over 900 people. Officials also just reported the first death from the Zika virus in Puerto Rico. It’s kind of nice to see one of our possible future leaders addressing this issue. Clinton responded that public education about the virus needs to increase, and that the country needs to invest more money into developing better treatment and a vaccine. She also recognized the need for better mosquito control and eradication, as well as making health and family planning services more accessible to all U.S. citizens.

Congress still hasn’t approved Obama’s request for 1.9 billion dollars for Zika emergency funding, which Clinton also remarked upon. She said, “We need to do everything we can to fight Zika—but we can’t do that without adequate resources,” she wrote. “Congress should immediately provide emergency funding for Zika testing and treatment, mosquito control, family planning, and to support maternal and infant health.” Give the lady a hand!

Is our government doing enough to help the country prepare for the Zika virus entering the U.S.? Do you think we will be prepared?

Insect Homosexuality: Accident or Foul Play?

April 29th, 2016

Insect Homosexuality: Accident or Foul Play?

Yep, you probably already knew that homosexuality existed among animals in the wild, and now I can confirm your suspicions that insects do it too. Homosexual intercourse is actually not that uncommon in the insect world. However, the reasons behind it are rather unusual…

Male insects often accidentally have sex with each other. You heard me. A common scenario is that two male bugs accidentally get it on during mating season. Why and how does this happen? Well, it turns out that insects are programmed to mate “quick and dirty.” Bugs rush around mating with every possible female they can as fast as possible so as not to lose any opportunity to pass along their genes. In some cases male insects carry around the scent of the female they have just mated with, and some other guy rushing to impregnate as many girls as he can accidentally mistakes the poor bastard for a chick. Other times the male and females look so similar that they just cant tell the difference during the mating rush, and go after everyone in their vicinity just to be on the safe side.

However, there is a dark side to this gay lifestyle. In some instances male insects will intentionally get down and dirty with one of the guys in order to distract them from finding potential female mates. That’s just mean!

Did you know homosexuality existed in the insect world? What do you think of the reasons?

Mapping Out the Zika Virus

April 28th, 2016

The time of reckoning is approaching fast. The summer is almost upon us, and experts predict that the warm weather and moisture from the spring rains are going to bring out hordes of mosquitos, including the Aedes aegypti mosquito that carries the Zika virus. In an attempt to better understand the virus and try to predict where it might spread and when, NASA has teamed up with experts at a number of other institutes to create a map that will forecast the possible spread of the Zika virus in the United States.

To create the “Zika risk map,” the research team studied key factors that contribute to the spread of the Zika virus such as temperature, rainfall, and socioeconomic factors. With this map they hope to better understand when and where outbreaks may occur. It will help our government and health organizations get a jump on the virus so they can better prepare for the possible outbreaks.

The main prediction the team came up with is that much of the south and the east parts of the United States will likely be hot spots for the Aedes aegypti mosquito, especially as the weather gets warmer in those areas in the upcoming months. The summer weather conditions are ideal for mosquitos from New York city along the East Coast all the way down and across the southern edge of the country to Phoenix and Los Angeles.

Do you live in any of these parts of the country? How will you prepare for the Zika virus?

Bug Predators

April 27th, 2016

Bug Predators

Just like people, some of the insect out in the world don’t conform to the usual standards of the bugs we’re familiar with. There our outcast insects out in the world that dance to the beat of a different drum and eschew all normal behavior. However, while they might be different, they’re still predators that other insects have to watch out for.

You’ve probably heard of parasitic wasps. The females like to lay their eggs in other insects. Those larvae then eat that insect from the inside out. There is another species of wasp, called trigonalids, that do something even stranger. Rather than simply allow the parasitic wasp larvae to live in peace inside the insect host, these wasps like to ruin their little party, and turn the predator into the prey. The females will lay up to 10,000 eggs on the edges of leaves, a place where caterpillars are most likely to swallow them. The point of getting all these caterpillars to swallow her eggs, is that with so many caterpillars eating her eggs, one is bound to have the larvae of a parasitic wasp inside it. This larvae then becomes food for the trigonalids larvae. Unfortunately for the caterpillar, these guys will also still have to eat their way out.

There is one beetle that is the only known insect to specialize in hunting and killing vertebrates, mainly frogs. And their hunting tactics are brutal. As larvae they will lure a frog close to them and then grab its neck to swing onto it back…where it begins to chew its way inside the frog’s head. There have even been cases where the frog managed to turn to tables and swallow a beetle, but the crazy insect just kept up its attack on the inside of the frog. To make the situation even worse, when the frog eventually spit the beetle out, that psycho turned right around and continued to attack the frog. These little guys are vicious.

What do you think of the clever trick of the trigonalids eating the larvae of parasitic wasps? Does that beetle remind you at all of those intense UFC fighters (those little guys pack a punch)?

Female Insect Has Built-In Sperm Donors

April 26th, 2016

Female Insect Has Built-In Sperm Donors

The cottony cushion scale insect has developed an interesting way to make the male members of the species obsolete. Some female cottony cushion scales have developed the ability to fertilize their own eggs, removing the need to find a male to mate with.

More and more female cottony cushion scales have began to be born with excess sperm inside them that is genetically identical to their father, which grows into a parasitic tissue that fertilizes the female’s eggs internally. Scientists have built a model that predicts that eventually all of the female cottony cushion scales will develop this parasitic sperm tissue, negating the need for males.

However, other scientists argue that if this happens, the cottony cushion scale will end up going extinct fairly rapidly. With hermaphroditic insects, the benefits of normal mating between male and female insects such as parents passing on new combinations of genes to their offspring that make the species more robust, will be lost. The one confusing aspect about these female hermaphrodite cottony cushion scales is that they are technically not hermaphrodites. They actually have two individuals living in one body…weird, huh.

What do you think of this development in the cottony cushion scale that could make males obsolete? Do any of you wish human females had this ability?

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April 25th, 2016

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Help Keep Your Kitchen Pest Free!

April 22nd, 2016
  • Keep counters, floors, pantry shelves, cabinets and sinks clean, as crumbs and spills are obvious pest attractants.
  • Only purchase food in sealed packages that show no sign of damage.
  • Once packages are opened, move ingredients into sealed glass or Tupperware-type containers with secure lids before storing them in the pantry or cabinet.
  • Check expiration dates on baking ingredients before use and visually inspect previously opened items before adding them to a recipe.
  • Dispose of garbage regularly in sealed receptacles.
  • Seal cracks or holes around the stovepipes and water pipes.
  • Eliminate all moisture sites, including leaking pipes and clogged drains.
  • Consult a licensed pest professional if an infestation has already taken root.

The Zika Virus and Infants

April 21st, 2016

The Zika Virus and Infants

Learning that the Zika virus can cause infants to be born with microcephaly was bad enough, but new research has found that it may cause much more damage than we previously thought. The study found that the baby’s brain may suffer even more damage than is initially observed at birth, and it may also affect more than just a baby’s brain.

Doctors have already been performing ultrasounds on infected women to look for signs that the baby’s head is abnormally small, but this new study suggests they may also need to look for signs of other brain damage as well. The study suggests the virus could also cause the brain cavities to store extra fluid, and result in a thinner cortex, the brain’s outer layer.

The damage apparently doesn’t stop there, however. This new case study also found the Zika virus in infants’ developing muscle, liver, lung and spleen in addition to the brain. Doctors are now looking at what kind of impact it might have on these other organs.

And it doesn’t end there. Previously, scientists had reported that the Zika virus only remained in the blood 11 days after infection. However, this new study found that in pregnant women the virus could still be found in the blood ten weeks after infection. The researchers believe that the virus remains so long because, after it replicates in the infected baby, it then goes back into the mother’s blood.

Do you think the Zika virus causes more problems than scientists think even now? What else do you think it could affect?