Spiders in school causes closure

Spiders in school causes closure

An infestation of venomous spiders has caused a Pennsylvania elementary school to close. The school district made the decision to close after three separate instances of finding brown recluse spiders in different areas.

Last year a hired pest control company found several of the venomous spiders hiding amongst the books in the library, in the kitchen as well as in the boiler room. The pest control has devised a plan of attack against the spiders that includes sealing cracks in the rooms throughout the school, spraying the elementary schools exterior as well as implementing a plan to fog the entire school.

The danger of the brown recluse spider comes in its venomous bite which can cause an ulcer to appear on the skin, and can also be extremely painful to its victim. While these ulcers are not typically life threating, they can be especially to the young children within the district. Deaths from bites of this species of spiders have been reported in children under the age of 7.

The brown recluse is not native to the region of Pennsylvania where the incident occurred. Typically this spider is found in the Midwestern and southeastern states, however the documentation of them in the southwest and other areas is hard to ignore.

For more information on brown recluse spiders, please click here

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The death of potato bugs

The death of potato bugs

A new generation of GMO experiments has produced a great result. Using interference technology, an alternative to conventional GMO’s has been found. This alternative could kill crop pests and even temporarily alter a plant’s traits.

Biodirect, a RNA interference spray quickly degrades in soil and can be precise enough to kill a potato bug, but would leave behind the less invasive lady bug. Testing so far, shows that RNA appears no more toxic upon consumption than a human drinking a glass of orange juice.

The US EPA asked last year for help from experts to decide how to regulate RNA insecticides. One scientist stated that RNA products should be left out of the regulations and safety tests because the products are irrelevant to the test. His claim is that there is little to no evidence of any risk from ingesting the RNA products.

After the EPA’s advisors agreed to his claim, they asked what about an ecological risk? While the EPA advisors say there is a warrant for exploration into the environmental effects, those effects would be unintended. While RNA could be natural, the effects of bringing large amounts into the environment could be harmful.

The same scientist is also researching the use of RNA interference to kill a mite that may be partially responsible for the role in the bee die-offs.

For more information on the targeting of insects please click here.

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Australian reporter has the worst luck

Australian reporter has the worst luck

One year ago, in an event that went viral, an Australian reporter had water thrown on her while attempting to interview a man outside of his home. Earlier this year, the same reporter had a cigarette put out on her face while interviewing a woman. This week, reporter Alex Bernardt, made viral internet headlines again after being bitten by a bull ant life on camera.

During the news report Alex Bernardt tried to laugh off the sting and intense pain of the bite, but folded to the pain by announcing “I’ve just got bitten by a f—ing bull ant!” to the viewers at home.

Bull ants are no laughing matter. They are feared by Australians their aggressive reputation and their potent sting. They also have the reputation to attack anything that threatens their nests. These ants have impeccable vision and are known to even jump after their attackers. Their vision allows them to track intruders from as far away as a full meter. There are 90 known species of bull ants in their native home of Australia that each have their own behaviors.

“Ohhhhhh. F—. Oh my god. Ow! I’m about to cry it’s really, really sore.” cries the reporter as the camera films the now infamous bite.

For more information on the reporter bitten by a bull ant, please click here. .

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Evolving insects

Evolving insects

Random fact; 80% of the nearly 1.7 million different species of animals are identified as arthropods, or insects or their crunchy relatives. That’s a lot of different types of bugs! So, how do we tell what’s in an insects history? What are the bug facts behind lineage?

Taxonomists are the ones who are lucky enough to be able to name and identify each individual specie. They are the lucky ones who enter the molecular technologies and sequencing of breakdowns to determine exactly “what is that” when it comes to bugs. Thankfully, technology has allowed taxonomists to not only identify what each specie is, but also to understand their history.

In recent history, it has been difficult to analyze all the bug data because finding fossils are rare. Finding small bug fossils are even rarer. These fossils make the research possible. Scientists collected data, and then created an algorithm of sorts to distinguish and catalog the data. What they found is an explosive amount of diversification of insects.

For instance, they were able to pinpoint that lice have been around longer than primates, insects started flying 406 million years ago, and most of these insects have been on the earth longer than flower plants.

What this all means for the future is that scientists believe the best research is yet to come but the end goal is near. Understanding how each group came to be and having the ability to map exactly which came first is finally becoming a reality.

Are you interested in the evolution of insects? Click here for more information

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Using electricity as pest control? 

According to new research, scientists have discovered how to manipulate behavior and flight patterns of winged insects such as fruit flies. “Fruit flies are often used as model organisms to understand fundamental problems in biology,” said Professor Philip Newland, Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Southampton and lead author of a recent study. “75 percent of the genes that cause disease in humans are shared by fruit flies, so by studying them we can learn a lot about basic mechanisms…”

Why is this research important? Scientists were able to observe that winged flies, when put in a Y shaped plastic maze, avoided the side exposed to an electric charge; however, wingless flies did not. This research seems as though winged flies were unable to control their own wings against the negatively charged electrode, in turn, their behavior pattern was to avoid the charge.

As you would expect upon realizing they were not able to control their wings, the flies appeared to get angry and biochemical changes show both a higher level of Octopamine and lower levels of dopamine. The flies were clearly stressed out and agitated by the static charge.  That begs the question; could this research be the cutting edge to pest control?

It could be possible to create a mesh that allows the static charge, and airflow but disallows the flying insects from entering the home or area where it is place. This mesh could be placed around the windows of a home or greenhouse to achieve the desired effect.

This information also opens the door to research into the side effects of other winged and pollenating insects around power lines.

Interested in using electricity as pest control? Please click here for more information

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Kills Bugs and Can Possibly Help Fight Cancer: The Wonder Pesticide

Kills Bugs and Can Possibly Help Fight Cancer: The Wonder Pesticide

When the word pesticide comes up, some related words such as destruction, poison, and pest extermination usually come to mind. But when you introduce a phrase such as “can possibly help fight cancer” into the mix, you might end up with an intriguing paradox. But apparently, one of Germany’s highly valued multinational chemical and pharmaceutical companies, Bayer, does not seem to think “bug killer” and “cancer blocker” are two totally contradictory concepts any longer.

In a fortuitous twist of fate, scientists found that the same system applied by one of the pesticides they developed to combat peanut- and cotton root-gnawing nematodes can be used on humans, but with a more healing rather than destructive effect. The pesticide, created to wipe out the pests that cause up to $100 billion in crop damages per year, kills the bugs by blocking the delivery of oxygen to worm cells. This data was shared to the Bayer scientists’ pharmaceutical colleagues, and the curative potential for using the same suffocating technique to possibly block the spread of cancer cells was also opened. Pretty soon, Bayer’s Berlin laboratories got busy.

A decade later, when peers Novartis AG, AstraZeneca Plc and Sanofi have given up on the enterprise, Bayer pushes onward, hopeful that the evolution of new technology and research tools such as gene sequencing can help open new doors for the research to finally bear fruit. If their venture eventually succeeds, then Bayer will have on their hands a multi-tasking wonder drug that can stifle the fatal spread of one of the most swiftly lethal forms of disease known to man.

 

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Crazy Ants Invading the UK

Crazy Ants Invading the UK

The UK has been seeing more and more invasive species of ants taking over the country these days. Although it is not sure how they are getting to the UK, a new Argentine Ant has been making its way through England all the way from South America.

These ants have been getting the nickname of ‘crazy ants’ from local exterminators due to the powerful bite they possess. They have strong enough jaws to actually bite straight through electrical wire. This overloads their system though and causes them to be jerky and act unusual.

If you see an ant with red hairy exterior, in a warm environment and usually around sources of sugar, then you are likely encountering these crazy ants. Restaurants and factories that produce sugars or proteins are at the biggest risk, but households are also not ruled out as they like to build homes within cracked walls or timber.

The worst part about these crazy ants isn’t even their bite. It’s that they are major health risks to the population, especially since they look areas where we have or keep food. Everywhere they go, salmonella and other dangerous food diseases seem to follow. They’ve been known to cause strep and a few other diseases, which makes keeping the infestations out of restaurants and any place you keep food absolutely important.

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