Science Has Finally Given Us A Robotic Flying Bat, But Why?

March 3rd, 2017

The National Science Foundation along with the United States Air Force Office of Scientific Research both want to develop a robotic bat. These two foundations funded research carried out by engineering scholars from several prestigious universities in the United States. The engineers seem to have done a good job of creating a prototype bat since the robotic bat is barely discernible from a real live bat, and it actually flies. So why would the military want to develop a robotic bat?

Researchers have been interested in developing robots modeled after particular animals found in the wild for quite some time, and many have succeeded. For example, there have been plenty of engineering projects that have aimed at creating robotic insects. It turns out, many animals serve as ideal models for the development of more sophisticated remote control technology that is meant to assist in search and rescue missions.

Buildings and various structures collapse around the world regularly, resulting in trapped people underneath mounds of rubble. Until now, search and rescue teams had no way of finding single individuals under tons of rubble. However, the robotic bat that has been developed recently is capable of flying through the narrow crevices located throughout piles of rubble in order to find injured people. Once the injured parties are located, only then can search and rescue teams begin to dig for survivors. Unless search and rescue teams know exactly where injured victims are located beneath rubble, these teams can easily cause even more injuries to victims. This is because without knowing where buried victims are located, rescue teams could possibly bury the victims even further underneath the rubble in an attempt to uncover and dig up injured individuals. Without a small remote control camera with sophisticated airborne maneuvers, victims of collapsed buildings are often without hope of rescue.

Despite the promising progress that engineers are making towards developing a prototype search and rescue-bat, there are still some improvements to be made before the bats become operational.

If I was stuck underneath rubble, the last thing that I would want to encounter is a bat flying towards me. I would bet that before victims buried in rubble realize that they are being rescued by a fake bat, the researchers and rescue teams monitoring the situation probably enjoy a good laugh in response to the initial reactions of the victims.

Do you believe that there are any other flying animals that are better suited as living models for the robotic development of agile search and rescue robots? Why a bat and not a bird as a model?

Termite Awareness week is fast approaching!

March 2nd, 2017

Termite Awareness Week

Why Have Scientists Given Up On Raccoons As Lab Rats As Opposed To The Favored Mice

March 1st, 2017

If someone asked you which type of animal is most often used as test-subject in scientific studies you would certainly guess the rat or mouse. It is true that rats are ideal test subjects since much of their physiology and neural functioning is similar to humans, and they are also relatively intelligent. So why not use any other rodent as test-subject? Does it always have to be rats?

Early psychologists living at the turn of the 20th century did not have rats or mice in mind as test-subjects for studying intelligence, rather they preferred a raccoon as a test-subject. The psychologists were mainly focused on the raccoon’s high intelligence. The intelligence inherent in raccoons was supposedly on par with monkeys.

There was one problem; the raccoons were unmanageable and downright troublemakers. The researchers at the time complained of raccoons eating themselves free from their cages only to make a home in the structures ventilation systems. Too smart for the scientists it seems.

Which animal do you think is best suited for scientific experiments, and remember that physical pain is often a part of being a animal test-subject?

It Has Been Demonstrated That The Zika Virus Can Cause Blindness | Mosquito Control Atlanta

February 27th, 2017

It Has Been Demonstrated That The Zika Virus Can Cause Blindness | Mosquito Control Atlanta

Researchers from the Wayne University School of Medicine has shown that there exists a link between blindness and the Zika virus. The Zika virus can replicate retinal cells in the eye to multiply, which causes major tissue damage and eventually loss of sight. The researchers used mice as models to demonstrate how this virus attacks retinal cells. Despite the bad news, researches believe that these animal models are sufficient to develop treatments that can prevent tissue damage to the eyes in humans.

The researchers conducting the study have already managed to identify ocular cells that the Zika virus attacks and destroys. The retina contains an enormous amount of cells that are layered at the back of the human eye. These cells send signals to the back of our brains that enable us to visualize images. Once these cells are destroyed there is no hope of restoring vision. Anti-viral molecules that can attack Zika’s presence in the eye are being developed at a rapid pace.

Are there that many people going blind as a result of contracting the Zika virus? Do you think that people who are infected with Zika now will develop blindness or ocular damage?

A Rare White Squirrel Was Spotted In A US Neighborhood | Bug Busters USA

February 24th, 2017

A Rare White Squirrel Was Spotted In A US Neighborhood

White squirrels are exceptionally rare, but they do exist. Some people may have heard of albino squirrels, or albinism in general, but white squirrels are not albino. Although genetics is responsible for both cases of colorlessness, albino squirrels have pink eyes, whereas white squirrels do not. Different parts of the United States have different amounts of white squirrels sightings, and they seem rare enough that you can count yourself lucky if you ever spot one.

Some areas such as the northwest around Washington state, as well as the Midwest seem to have the greatest number of white squirrel sighting, although white squirrels can be found anywhere in the US. In one midwestern city the white squirrel sighting are so frequent that the police force has sports an emblem of a white squirrel. Many small towns around the US pride themselves on their white squirrel populations. Despite the color not being advantageous for camouflage, the white squirrel population seems to be immune to extinction.

Have you ever spotted a white squirrel? If yes, did you know what you were looking at?

This Time Of Year Brings Out The Poisonous Caterpillars

February 22nd, 2017

It is that time of year again when people become excited about locating and photographing the strange looking wooly bear caterpillars. These caterpillars are popular among bug enthusiasts and average joes alike because, according to folklore, these fuzzy caterpillars can predict the future. So how does that work, you ask? Well, it probably does not, but legend says that these white caterpillars possess red bands around its body that are either broad or narrow in appearance. That much is true, however, some believe that more narrow bands indicate a harsher winter as opposed to broad bands that indicate a warm winter. Oh yeah! They are also venomous.

As a caterpillar this creature is just as poisonous as it is when it becomes a moth, in this case we are discussing the hickory tussock moth. Entomologists warn against handling the caterpillars or the moths since they can deal out a painful sting that feels like nettle. Although you won’t experience anything more than a rash along with a stinging sensation, it is possible to have an allergy to the moth or its venom, so steer clear.

Have you ever heard of venomous caterpillars or moths? Have you ever been stung by one? Did you know what kind it was?

Are There Any Bats That Like To Drink Human Blood? | Atlanta Wildlife Control

February 21st, 2017

Are There Any Bats That Like To Drink Human Blood? | Atlanta Wildlife Control

We have all heard of the vampire bat and how they love to drink blood, but that is animal blood right? Certainly not human blood. Most people assume that the idea of bats drinking human blood is the stuff for horror movies. Everyone knows that bats do not have a taste for human blood. However, Brazilian researchers would claim otherwise, as they have discovered a type of bat that prefers the taste of human blood, perhaps even more so than the blood of their natural prey.

All existing literature on the feeding habits of the vampire bat says that the they mostly prefer to feed on birds, but the hairy legged vampire bat, Diphylla ecaudata, is by far the most rarely seen of the three species of vampire bat.

After scientists analyzed the DNA from bat excrement, or guano, they found that human DNA was present in the guano of many hairy legged vampire bats. Well, at least the one bat that sucks human blood is almost never seen anywhere, so your chances of meeting a hairy legged vampire are pretty low, unless they cast Steve Carell as the lead in the upcoming Twilight sequel of course.

Had you ever been told by a respected educator that bats never drink blood?

An Asian Insect Pest Could Destroy Beautiful Plant Life In The Southern US

February 20th, 2017

Crape myrtles are nice looking ornamental flowering plants that form a big part of how many people picture the beautiful landscapes that can be seen in the Southeastern United States. These flowers are planted both privately and commercially for their attractiveness in the southern US states. Sadly, this flower is now becoming endangered as a result of an insect pest from Asia finding its way into the United States.

The Asian insect pest is aptly known as the crape myrtle bark scale because of its taste for crape myrtles. The pest was first discovered in Texas back in 2004, and since then the insect pest has spread to eleven different states.

These insects suck the sap from crape myrtles, which results in stunted growth for the plants. Once this occurs the flowers rarely develop properly, and the otherwise beautiful flowering tree start to look unsightly. The academic communities in the most heavily infected states are working to find a solution to the pest problem.

How could shipments from Asia be better regulated to ensure that no insect pests are imported to America from Asia?

The Current Boom In The Vampire Bat Population Has Experts Worried About Rabies | Atlanta Wildlife Removal

February 15th, 2017

Livestock breeders from both North and South America are becoming increasingly worried about the vampire bat population and its relationship with feral pigs. Researchers have recently found a correlation between the populations of boars and vampire bats. Vampire bats must feed on blood, and as long as the wild boar population is increasing, bats have an ever-growing source of satisfying blood. This could eventually cause problems for cattle breeders since the higher number of wild boars infected with rabies could make transmission to cattle much more probable.

Amazingly, of the twelve hundred different bat species in existence, only three of these species feed exclusively on blood, and all three of those species are located in the Americas. Researchers have estimated that there is a ten percent chance that a vampire bat will attack a feral pig on any given night. This may not seem like a number to worry about, but wild boars are notoriously successful at spreading their population over vast stretches of land and across different species of boars and pigs. And it does not help that vampire bats are particularly fond of pig’s blood.

Name one particular method of preventing the spread of rabies in livestock? Do animals also receive vaccines?

Elementary School Is Evacuated Because Of Raccoons | Animal Removal Atlanta

February 13th, 2017

A whole lot of children had their parents in a panic when the children were suddenly evacuated from their school. These days, school evacuations conjure up tragic images of the past. However, this particular case is not so tragic, and perhaps some may find it a bit cute, until you remember that raccoons can carry rabies.

At some point during the nighttime hours when nobody was watching the elementary school, a family of raccoons snuck in for some shelter, but sadly their stay was a short one. A spokesperson for the District of Columbia School District said that once the raccoons were spotted wandering the halls he immediately phoned the Animal Control Services in order to have the raccoons removed before the kids miss any more class.

Many parents are upset with the school system officials because many parents believe that the raccoon entered through a window that was left open deliberately overnight. Apparently, the situation was such a strain on everyone involved that officials representing the DCSC have called in an animal control officers to educate both students and teachers about how to act upon encountering wild animals. The animal control officer will remain at the school to ensure no more raccoons find their way into the school.

Have you ever been sent home from school because there was a wild animal loose somewhere in the building where you attended classes?