Lice Lessons

November 24th, 2015

Lice Lessons

Catching lice when I was a kid was pretty much inevitable. It also meant, to my horror, that I would have to cut my beautiful long hair short, and undergo the torture of having my head sprayed with WD-40, my grandmother’s foolproof method of getting rid of lice. Here are some tips for any poor soul afflicted with these nasty pests:

While they are small, you can see live with the naked eye. They are about the size of a sesame seed. Crowded places like schools are a hotbed for lice. Children are much more inclined to get lice in places like school, camp, sports outing, and sleepovers where more head to head contact occurs. You’re also much less likely to catch them from adults, probably because we don’t practice as much head to head contact. Getting lice has absolutely nothing to do with someone not washing enough. Lice are equal opportunity bugs simply looking for a nice warm place to nest where they can also feed on warm blood. Lastly, you don’t need to panic if your child gets them. They are annoying and itchy, but it doesn’t mean the end of the world is coming. Just get some medicated shampoo and combs, and you should be fine.

Have you or your children ever gotten lice?

Lethal Lindane Used on Lice

November 23rd, 2015

Lethal Lindane Used on Lice

Have you ever had a bad case of lice? It can be a nightmare to treat, and is common among children. You might want to be careful what you use to treat it, though, as some rather shady chemicals are still on the market. A prescription drug for the treatment of lice called lindane has been found to cause cancer. While it has been banned in California, the rest of the nation is taking its time removing this dangerous product from our shelves. The World Health Organization’s International Agency on Cancer Research has listed it under the highest category, labeling it as “known to cause human cancer.” The drug acts on the nervous system and is absorbed through the scalp. What’s especially worrying it its continued use to treat head lice on children. There are many less-toxic alternatives that you can use to treat head lice, and officials are advising people to avoid the drug at all cost. If your doctor prescribes it to you, you might consider finding a new doctor, as this stuff is seriously toxic for humans.

Have you had to deal with head lice in the past? What did you use to treat it?

Chow Down at Grub Kitchen

November 20th, 2015

Chow Down at Grub Kitchen

The very first insect-based restaurant in the western world has just opened in the U.K. All of Grub Kitchen’s food is made primarily from insects. The restaurant itself is bright and homely. The building was originally an old tin-roofed farm shed, and tables are made from disused railway sleepers. The whole place has a very sustainable-chic atmosphere to it. If you’re not yet ready for the experience of eating insects, the restaurant offers visitors tours of its “bug zoo.” On the tour you get to see all of the insects that go into Grub Kitchen’s food, including tarantulas, millipedes, and Rampant Robert the Rainbow Stag beetle.

If you’re interested in trying some of their exotic grub, starters range from toasted cumin mealworm hummus and bread to black ant and olive-crusted goat cheese. The restaurant also offers up favorites such as cheeseburgers and macaroni and cheese…with a twist. A personal recommendation from the chef is the cricket, locust, mealworm, and grasshopper burger. It supposedly tastes just like any other gourmet veggie burger…with a slight nutty crunch.

Would you dare to eat some grub from Grub Kitchen?

Sneaky Stick Insects

November 19th, 2015

Sneaky Stick Insects

Stick insects are masters of disguise, convincing predator and prey alike that they are simply twigs attached to branches. However, their cleverness doesn’t end there. Stick insects use a unique method to get their children raised and fed without them having to do any of the work. These ingenious insects attach knobs to their eggs, which they then coat in a fatty acid that is irresistible to ants. Rather than wait for the eggs to hatch and raise their young themselves, the female insects simply drop their eggs on the ground and wait for some ants to come pick it up and bring it back to their nest. The egg  then remains safe and protected with the ants until it hatches.

Scientists decided to test this theory out by spreading eggs, half covered with the fatty acid and half without it, near ant nests and see which ones the ants picked up. While the ants completely ignored the eggs without the fatty acid covering, they picked up 40 percent of the eggs with the coating.

Do you think stick insects are clever? What do you think about their method of child rearing?

Bumblebee-Based Connected Vehicles

November 18th, 2015

Bumblebee-Based Connected Vehicles

Everyone is talking about the new smart cars that can drive themselves. What people don’t know is that the engineers behind those cars are heading a new project that will allow them to communicate to each other, “talking” to each other about their velocity, direction and intentions. This is supposed to make driving in the future much safer for drivers. But, what’s really interesting about this project is that the researchers are using bumblebees to figure out how to make this technology work. It is all being based off of these tiny little bees.

Bumblebees are being used as the basis because, unlike honeybees or ants, bumblebees are social insects, sharing information with each other, but do not have hive minds. They take the information they get from other bees and then act on it independently, making their method of communication the perfect blueprint for these connected cars. In order to create this technology, the National Science Foundation is giving $300,000 in a research grant towards studying how bumblebees navigate, and how we can mimic that in our smart cars.

What do you think of our smart cars learning from the tiny bumblebee?

Officials Working to Wipe Out Invasive Insects

November 17th, 2015

Officials Working to Wipe Out Invasive Insects

The Spotted Lanternfly is the newest bug on the radar that has agriculture officials worried. Russell Redding, Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary is working on getting this bug packing. At this time it has shown that is can live and survive in Pennsylvania’s agriculture.

In 2014, the Farm Bill allowed $2.8 million to be dedicated to Pennsylvania in order to protect the states agriculture industry from disease and pests. $1.5 million has been going towards the efforts of eradication of the Spotted Lanternfly. This insect in particular has posed a threat to land and home owners and the agriculture community.

Officials are concerned with the potential impact on the state’s grape, apple and stone fruit, which have a combined economic impact of $178 million. On top of that the Pine and Hardwood trees can also be affected, which accounts for $12 billion of the states sales.

Nearly 20,000 Lanternflys have already been terminated through egg scraping, however that alone will not solve the problem. The state is now working on installing bands around the bottom of trees.

The state is taking this very seriously and is already working with Kutztown University and Penn State University on research. So far the Lanternfly has not been spotted anywhere else within the U.S. and its Kevin Shea with the U.S.D.A intentions to keep it that way. The goal is to be known as the place where Spotted Laternflys were eradicated.

Consumer Reports Best Insect Repellents

November 16th, 2015

Consumer Reports Best Insect Repellents

Bug repellents containing deet- a popular ingredient that some are wary about- look like they are facing some serious competition.

Consumer Reports scored Sawyers Fishman’s Formula, (20% picaridin) and Repel Lemon Eucalyptus (30% lemon eucalyptus oil) as some of the most effect repellents. Both repel mosquito and deer ticks for at least 7 hours!

The CDC caution that children under the age of 3 should not be using bug repellents that contain lemon eucalyptus oil.

On the other hand, the two deet products, Repel Scented Family (15% deet) and Off! Deepwoods VIII (25% deet) earned a “recommended” rating from Consumer Reports test. Both able to repel nats for at least 8 hours!

Side effects for short-term deet include mild redness and irritation, while long-term side effects include insomnia and mood changes.

Repellents containing natural plant oils (citronells, lemongrass and rosemary) may not be the most effective at keeping bugs away. All products failed to last over an hour against mosquitos according to the Consumer Reports test.


Consumer Reports health and food team leader, Ellen Kunes, warned users “all repellents should be used sparingly and only for the time you need them- especially on children and older people.”


What repellents do you use? How effective do you find them to be?

Honey-Loving Bear Is Back

November 13th, 2015

Honey-Loving Bear Is Back

The image of a bear hugging a honey pot, one paw dripping with nectar, is popular for a reason.  Bears love honey, almost as much as people do.  And that can be a problem when a bear finds a ready-made, free source of the stuff.

It’s a big problem for one beehive and the local black bear who is making honey-eating a regular habit.

The bear, making his home on the edge of field in Michigan City, Indiana, returned to consume ten pounds of honey, effectively gobbling down the entire honeycomb and killing bees in the process.

The beekeeper keeps his hive in a field adjacent to a blueberry patch that skirts the the Michigan state line.  He’s now decided to move the hive to keep bear and bee interactions to a minimum.

Pete Livas operates the beekeeping and honey making operations.

“Even though it’s nice to have him around, we need to protect our bees also,” said Livas, who supplies more than 20 thousand pounds every year to customers around the state.

Livas explained that bears prefer blueberries as a food source, but aren’t above eating the honey, mainly to get the honeycomb itself.  In the process, they often swallow quite a few bees.

Officials who arrived at the crime scene found all the beehive boxes scattered in the area. One of the hives was found about 40 feet away at the edge of a tree line where the beast had plunked down to enjoy a leisurely meal, raiding the box of both honey and bees.


Winter Preparations

November 12th, 2015

Winter Preparations

Winter is on its way, and people, animals, and insects everywhere are getting ready for the cold. So, where do the pesky insects go? According to biologist David White from Murray State University most of them stay right where they are. They burrow under leaves or bark, trying to find a warm winter home to stay in until spring returns. Insects produce glycol or glycerin and mix it into their fluids. Much like antifreeze, this allows their bodies to slow down. But, just like humans, bugs also prefer our warm homes to colder habitats outside.

However, White says most of these visitors are harmless. They won’t destroy anything in your house or eat your food. If they bother you, you can throw them outside, but White warns against killing them. Most of the insects are beneficial and will actually help your garden thrive when springtime comes. Either way, most of these insects will leave on their own come spring. So, don’t freak out if you see a ladybug or two. They’re more afraid of you than you are of them.

Do you have any winter visitors?

Veterans Day Tribute 2015

November 11th, 2015