Butterflies, Butterflies, Butterflies.

January 27th, 2015

Butterflies, Butterflies, Butterflies.

A boom in the butterfly population in southeast Queensland, Australia has got people talking and seeing a bountiful display of colors fluttering across the horizon. Queensland Museum’s director of entomology, Dr Christine Lambkin, has collected reports showing the largest numbers of butterflies in 40 years in some species.

“We have seen large numbers of butterflies in south-east Queensland and northern New South Wales, mainly because we’ve got both migrations but we have also got emergence,” she said. “So we have got large numbers of all sorts of insects but particularly noticeable are the butterflies. I am seeing numbers of one a second … but I am not sure how long that kept up for. But yes, definitely very large numbers of certain species at the moment.”

The increase in number is being attributed to a combination of rain and heat which provided perfect breeding conditions for the insects. “We have had a long extended dry period that has been broken by good rains at the right time of the year,” Lambkin explained. “So we have got the warmth as well as the rain and that is what has caused the adults to break the aestivation, which is the insect hibernation and emerge in numbers.

Presumably, butterflies help gauge environmental conditions. They also pollinate plants (much like bees and other insects). This pollination process is important to one-third of food produced for human consumption which has become dependent on native pollinators. Additionally, butterflies serve as food source for birds and other wildlife.

Butterflies also carry significant and similar meanings and symbolism in various cultures. In Japanese culture, butterflies are seen as carriers of souls. A superstition maintains that if a butterfly enters your home, the person whom you most love is coming to see you. However, large numbers of butterflies are viewed as bad omens. Similarly, the ancient Greek word for “butterfly” is ψυχή (psȳchē), which can be translated into “soul” or “mind.” In some cultures, butterflies symbolize rebirth and good luck.

http://www.dafvm.msstate.edu/landmarks/09/winter/10.pdf

https://au.prime7.yahoo.com/a1/news/a/-/local/26068015/butterflies-booming-in-south-east-queensland/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butterfly

 

Bat Virus on the Move

January 26th, 2015

A lethal disease called white-nose syndrome (a fungal virus) has killed at least six million North American bats over the past ten years. Since white-nose syndrome first appeared in Albany, entire bat species now face the potential of being annihilated.

Thomas Lilley, postdoctoral fellow at Bucknell University, helps wild bats acclimate to life in captivity. He and others are working to understand white-nose syndrome. The fungus assaults bats while they hibernate in caves. Researchers are examining normal bat hibernation as well as arousal bouts, which are a big part of understanding the problem.

Hibernating bats warm themselves out of torpor (inactivity) every few weeks during the winter and for several hours at a time. And while researchers do not comprehend the reasons for the arousal bouts, they do know how important these periodic thaws must be to the survival of the bat.

“All the work that bats do during the fall, feeding nonstop and putting on fat until they’re like butterballs on wings, and 90 percent is spent to sustain the winter warm-ups,” said DeeAnn Reeder, a professor of biology and leading bat ecologists.

It is believed that white-nose syndrome disrupts the arousal-torpor cycle. This occurs long before any symptoms manifest. A white fuzz appears on the bat’s face and wings. The disorder exacerbates when bat’s immune systems mount a strong response against the fungal spores.

This is not typical as scientists are discovering that bat immune systems are surprisingly tolerant of most pathogens. This trait offers clues to preventing aging diseases in humans such as cancer.

“At this stage, the evidence is anecdotal,” said Lin-Fa Wang, a bat virologist at the Duke-NUS Graduate School in Singapore and the Australian Animal Health Laboratory in Geelong. “But of all the bat biologists I’ve spoken with, I’ve only heard of one or two cases of bat tumors.”

Researchers are scrutinizing bat DNA. Preliminary findings indicate that bats’ apparent indifference to the viral hosts they harbor, together with their longevity, probably arose from adaptations needed to grant them the power of flight.

Regardless, bats play crucial roles in our environment. Bats that consume tons of insects are apex predators among night-flying insects including mosquitoes. Reeder estimates that ‘for every million bats killed by white-nose syndrome, 692 tons of insects go unchecked every summer.” And fruit- and nectar-eating bats are important for pollination and seed distribution.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/13/science/no-time-for-bats-to-rest-easy.html?_r=0

Fossilized Carnivorous Plants

January 23rd, 2015

 Fossilized Carnivorous Plants

The first thing that comes to mind for most people when thinking of a carnivorous plant is a Venus flytrap. However, Venus flytraps are not the only type of Carnivorous plants that have lived on Earth. But until recently, not much was known about carnivorous plants which lived in the past. Human scientists only just discovered a pair of amber-encased leaves which revealed some of the secrets of how exactly carnivorous plants from the past really worked.

Originally alive thirty-five to forty-seven million years ago, this special type of plant lived in the area that we now call Russia. Scientists first classified this plant as a type of “Roridula plant”, as the fossilized leaves looked very similar to carnivorous Roridula plants that are still alive today. In order to survive, the plant focused on surviving by feeding on small insects. In order to lure the insects on the leaves, this carnivorous plant secreted a sticky fluid through tentacles placed throughout its leaves. Any small insect that touched the sticky fluid would immediately be stuck in place. What’s interesting here is that this plant didn’t simply eat the stuck insects. Roridula plants actually don’t make their own digestive enzymes, unlike other carnivorous plants such as pitcher plants or Venus flytraps. Instead, the Roridula plant would wait for a special type of insect, called “Roridula bugs” to eat the caught prey. The special species of insects are able to produce a slimy substance that lets them live on Roridula plants without getting trapped. After the unique insect would feast upon the stuck victim, the carnivorous Roridula plant would then feed off of nutrients excreted in the Roridula bugs feces.

In Germany, a group of several botanists and geologists from many different research institutes are still studying the amber-encased leaves. They believe that it was originally fossilized because a pair of the Roridula leaves must have gotten caught in tree sap which both killed the leaves as well as preserved them. They have reported that other organic material is still attached to the leaves, helping them even further their amount of research. Paleontologists have found different types of other carnivorous plant seeds, but there hasn’t been any actual evidence of how carnivorous plants actually trap their prey. It’s almost fascinating seeing the different forms of evolution and how simple plants have adapted over such long years. It makes you wonder how much plants will continue to mutate in the future, and how it will affect our environment.

Article via http://www.popsci.com/here-science-first-fossil-carnivorous-plant-trap

News From Bug Busters USA

January 22nd, 2015

News From Bug Busters USA

Atlanta Pest Control

Atlanta Pest Control

Unexpected Passenger

January 21st, 2015

The next time you travel by plane, it may be a good idea to check for stowaways. You never know who or what might sneak aboard for the ride. A deadly Bark Scorpion?

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Carol Cook, a 51-year-old English woman, was scared out of her wits when she spied a scorpion shuffling through her home in Stansted, Essex after a three week holiday in Australia at the end of September last year. Fortunately for Carol her husband, Gary, swept their unexpected visitor into a glass.
After the shock wore off, the couple named the creature the ‘Beast of Stansted. It will remain with the Cook’s and live in a rectangular plastic container until a new owner can be found

Experts believe the light and dark brown scorpion is an American Bark Scorpion. This species is commonly found in Florida and Arizona. It is one of the most dangerous scorpions in the world, and people should be concerned about coming into contact with one. Bark Scorpions are believed to have venom that is comparable to the deadly snakes. They are very hard to kill when you consider they have been found at Ground Zero with no adverse effects. Their sting is powerful enough to kill children and elderly people. After being bitten, many victims experience what feels like an “electrical current” after intoxication.

A Bark Scorpion diet consists of roaches, beetles, and crickets, but they will eat anything they can find. They are very opportunistic and cunning. They are unique in that they live in small packs whereas most scorpions are solitary. They ambush prey by hiding in a burrow. When the time is right they spring their trap, a sting from behind. They also hide behind rocks and wait for prey. The venom they inject is extremely powerful. It quickly liquefies the kill and the Scorpion drinks it.

In North America it is considered to be the most dangerous of all Scorpions. The elderly and the young are the most at risk from their sting. Despite their visitor’s reputation, Carol remains positive but cautious. “It’s a real possibility that he is from Down Under as they can survive for a long time without food. I’ve seen the The Scorpion King so I know what they are capable of.”

http://www.scorpionworlds.com/arizona-bark-scorpion/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2901744/Deadly-scorpion-hitched-lift-Australia-mother-s-suitcase-discovered-three-months-later.html

Inspecting for Bed Bugs | Bug Busters USA

January 20th, 2015

Bug Busters USA shares tips to keep stink bugs outdoors

January 19th, 2015

Although stink bugs don’t present a health threat to people, the fact that they look to our homes as a winter vacation spot makes them a major nuisance. Bug Busters USA recommends the following prevention tips to minimize the chance of a stink bug invasion:

  • Seal cracks around windows, doors, electrical outlets, ceiling fans and light switches to prevent stink bugs from entering the home.
  • Replace outdoor lighting with yellow bulbs, which are less attractive to stink bugs.
  • Repair damaged window screens and install door sweeps on exterior doors.
  • Install screens over the chimney and attic vents.
  • Properly ventilate basements, attics, garages and crawl spaces. Consider using a dehumidifier.
  • If stink bugs have already entered a home, use a vacuum cleaner to remove them. Dispose of the vacuum bag immediately to prevent odor from permeating the area.

 

Spiders Aren’t That Different From You or Me

January 16th, 2015

It’s true. No, really. I know everyone pretty much hates those eight-legged little creatures, but they’re not that much different from us. Although they can be creepy, annoying, or even a little scary at times, spiders don’t go out of their way to hurt us. They even have little habits, or even develop different preferences during their lifetimes – just like we do.

For example, mother spiders will always try to protect their babies. They create a blanket of silk which is placed over the sac and protect them, and then stay on constant guard until the babies hatch. Some arachnids, like the Wolf Spider, will even carry her eggs on her back. Even when they hatch, the little spiderlings will still stay upon their mother’s back and feed off of their own egg sac until they’re fully grown.

Spiders also hate mosquitos. They actually do a huge favor for us, because many species of spiders feast on mosquitos alone. We all know how dangerous mosquitos can be, and how they’re able to transfer many different types of diseases, so you could even say spiders look out for us because we both hate mosquitos. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, right?

Even if you might think differently, spiders don’t actually have it out for us, and don’t actually try to make our lives miserable. In fact, it’s almost the opposite. More spiders are actually crushed than humans are actually bitten. We’re both shy by nature, and try to hide in when we feel we’re in danger. We usually only meet whenever we’re either looking for some food, or a warm place to sleep.

Next time you see an itsy bitsy spider, maybe you could think twice before you crush it with the bottom of your shoe.

Article: http://www.care2.com/causes/5-ways-that-spiders-are-just-like-you-and-me.html

Cannibal Rat-Infested Ghost Ship Headed For The UK

January 15th, 2015

Pim De Rhoodes is simple man looking to make a few extra dollars by collecting scrap metal. However, he’s not going around picking up empty bottles or soda cans. He’s more interested in the big picture. How about a ship worth nearly a million dollars in scrap metal? To make it even more interesting, what if that was ship was actually currently lost? The Lyubov Oriova, a 40 year old, three hundred foot Soviet ship, is the treasure that he’s waiting for. But there’s one big problem he’s going to have to face when the ship is finally found. What would be more enjoyable than finding a ghost ship filled to the brim with not treasure – but cannibal rats?

Originally impounded in 2010, the Lyubov Oriova was a Soviet ship taken prisoner in Newfoundland over unpaid debts. Quickly after it was seized, the crew all quite literally abandoned ship. Two years later, the Canadian government began to tow the ship towards the Dominican Republic, in order to recycle it for scrap. However, in the stormy Atlantic seas the tow line broke and the ship was separated. The Canadian government opted to not chase after the ship, and instead await for it to either be spotted near the shore, or have it simply wait for its watery grave. This means that the only thing left alive, even to this time, are only the animals stranded on the boat.

No one has actually seen the ship for over a year, and no humans have even been in the ship for over two years. The ship is known to most likely still be floating, because the life boat transmitters have not been activated yet. So take a moment and imagine the crazy amount of breeding which must be undergoing during that time period, now that human interaction is gone. When the food runs dry, the rats must turn cannibalistic, meaning that the only things left alive on the ghost ship is a vicious mass of killer rodents. Pim De Rhoodes, the scrap metal hunter, states “There will be a lot of rats and they will eat each other. If I get aboard, I’ll have to lace everywhere with poison.” But will just simple poison be enough to wipe out an entire population of these rats? You’d have to imagine that every nook and cranny is filled with the husks and corpses of dead rats, while still teeming with the cannibalistic vermin which are still alive. At this point, you have to wonder if that scrap metal is really worth it.

Full Video: https://screen.yahoo.com/most-popular-videos-of-2014/rat-infested-ghost-ship-headed-224503964.html

Bed Bug Basics – 10 Tips to Protect Yourself

January 14th, 2015