Golfer Pablo Larrazabal escapes attack of HORNETS by jumping in the lake

Golfer Pablo Larrazabal escapes attack of HORNETS by jumping in the lake

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Preventing Carpenter Ants

Preventing Carpenter Ant Problems:

Here are a few simple things you can do to prevent carpenter ant infestations:

  • Eliminate standing water. Pests, such as ants, mosquitoes and termites, are attracted to moisture.
  • Keep tree branches and other plants cut back from the house. Sometimes pests use these branches to get into your home.
  • Make sure that there are no cracks or little openings around the bottom of your house. Sometimes pests use these to get into your home.
  • Make sure that firewood and building materials are not stored next to your home. Pests like to build nests in stacks of wood.
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Look at these tips to avoid stinging insects

Make sure you look at these tips to avoid stinging insects:

  • Wear shoes, especially in grassy areas.

  • Overseed grassy areas to get better coverage, as this will deter ground-nesting insects.

  • Paint/stain untreated wood.

  • Remove garbage frequently and keep trashcans covered.

  • Do not swat at a stinging insect as it increases the likelihood of an aggressive reaction.

  • Avoid wearing sweet-smelling perfumes.

  • Ensure all doors and windows in your home have screens that are in good condition.

  • Seek immediate medical attention if stung, as reactions can be severe.

  • Do not attempt to remove a nest on your own. If you have an infestation, contact a qualified pest professional.

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Entomology Club’s BugFest welcomes insect lovers to UF

Entomology Club’s BugFest welcomes insect lovers to UF

Edible bugs and racing cockroaches are heading to UF on Tuesday.

The UF Entomology Club will host its annual BugFest open house, inviting students and families to learn more about insects and the university’s entomology and nematology program.

The event, which will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Steinmetz Hall, has a Pokemon theme with the slogan “Gotta Collect ‘Em All,” said Kristen Donovan, event coordinator.

New this year will be the “insect Iron Chef” station, challenging curious taste buds to try a variety of insect recipes, she said.

But for those who aren’t too enthusiastic about savoring the flavor of crispy bugs, BugFest will also be serving pizza to the first 400 guests — bug-free.

Donovan, a 21-year-old UF entomology and nematology junior, said that the event is not just about trying new things but also learning about the insects themselves.

Attendees can learn more about the program and insects at exhibits and information areas, as well as get to encounter the bugs firsthand with activities and games.

One of the games will be a race of Madagascar hissing cockroaches on a four-lane track. The roaches are raised at UF, she said.

There will also be a “maggot art” station where maggots are dipped in paint and allowed to create a masterpiece.

“They’re artists, believe it or not,” Donovan said.

But bugs aren’t the only thing visitors can expect at the open house. The arthropod petting zoo allows visitors to interact with critters such as the emperor scorpion and the giant African millipede.

Morgan Weldon, a 19-year-old UF entomology and nematology junior, will be volunteering at the event.

She said she is excited to educate people and clarify any misconceptions they might have about insects.

“It’s important to learn about bugs because they are virtually everywhere, and people interact and are affected by them every day and don’t realize it,” she said.

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Bank Hard! Flies Fly Like Fighter Jets to Evade Predators

Bank Hard! Flies Fly Like Fighter Jets to Evade Predators

Catching a fly isn’t easy, as anyone who’s ever tried to swat one knows. Why are they so hard to catch? It could be because they maneuver like fighter jets, a new study shows.

Using high-speed video cameras, a team of researchers captured the lightning-fast wing and body motion of fruit flies as the insects performed rapid, banked turns to avoid a looming threat. The team also used giant, robotic flies to understand how the sprightly pests performed these aerobatics.

The species of fruit flies in the study, Drosophila hydei, is known for its excellent flying ability. Scientists have sometimes compared their flight to “swimming” through the air, but the flies’ airborne gymnastics are closer to those of a fighter pilot, the researchers said. [In Photos: Inside a Fruit Fly's Brain]

“These flies roll up to 90 degrees — some are almost upside down — to maximize their force, and escape,” said study researcher Florian Muijres, who studies the biomechanics of flight and swimming at the University of Washington in Seattle.

The flies can change course in less than 1/100th of a second — 50 times faster than the blink of an eye, the researchers said.

It’s a bird, it’s a plane…

Muijres and his team took fruit flies, which are about the size of a sesame seed, and put them in an arena where they were free to buzz around. High-speed cameras filming at 7,500 frames per second were focused on the middle of the arena, where two lasers were set up. The cameras require very bright light to function, but regular light would have blinded the flies. So, instead, the team flooded the arena with infrared light (which is invisible to flies and humans).

When a fly flew through the lasers, it triggered an expanding black shadow to appear, resembling a predator or an obstacle, which prompted the fly to take evasive action.

The flies performed amazing feats of agility. As the looming shadow approached, the flies tipped their bodies in screeching midair turns. The insects usually flap their wings 200 times per second, but to avoid the shadow, they were able to change direction with barely more than a single flap, producing a force that propelled them away from the danger.

To execute these movements, the fly’s brain must be performing a sophisticated calculation, Muijres said. “The fact that flies roll to the side is maybe not that surprising,” he said, but “the surprise is really the accuracy and speed combination.”

Fruit flies have tiny brains, yet they are capable of flight maneuvers that are much more complex than those of many other flying insects. For example, moths have larger brains than flies do, but they dive straight into the ground to avoid being caught by bats.

What’s more, the fly’s behavior “is very fast, and it’s completely innate — the fly doesn’t need to learn how to do this,” said senior study co-author Michael Dickinson, a biologist at the University of Washington. Exactly how the fly’s brain executes these stunts is something the researchers plan to investigate in future studies.

To model the flies’ flight dynamics, the researchers put a giant robotic fly, with a 2-foot (0.6 meters) wingspan, in a vat of mineral oil. Scientists have used such robot flies, which have names like “RoboFly” of “Bride of RoboFly,” for years to study these insects’ flight on a much larger scale.

Given this newfound knowledge of fly flight, what’s best way to catch a fly?

“From the side,” Muijres said, though he hasn’t tried it yet.

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Study: Zebras Have Stripes to Ward Off Insects

Study: Zebras Have Stripes to Ward Off Insects

The mystery of why zebras have stripes may have been solved, National Geographic reported. There is solid statistical evidence to conclude that the reason is to keep insects away.

Biologist Tim Caro of the University of California, Davis, who led a team of researchers reported, “We found again and again and again [that] the only factor which is highly associated with striping is to ban biting flies.”

Scientists had been working with five theories to explain the stripes: that they fend off insects, afford camouflage, bewilder predators, decrease body temperature, or have some social value.

Caro and his team used statistical modeling to settle on the insect explanation. They did so by mapping the existence of animals with stripes— including horses, asses, and zebras, along with their subspecies— and found a statistically strong correlation being the habitats of these animals and biting flies.

Neither environment nor predators provided as solid a link as the insect variable.

The full study appears in the April 1 issue of Nature Communications.

Not everyone is convinced. Biologist Brenda Larison of the University of California, Los Angeles, agrees that Caro’s hypothesis is the best one supported by modeling data. However, “the story is likely to be much more complex, and this is unlikely to be the last word on the subject,” according to National Geographic.

Scientists say they still need to find out if flies actually avoid stripped animals in the wild. It is hard to get close enough to Zebras to come to definitive conclusions.

“We really need to know what happens with live zebra in the field before we can be sure,” said Larison.

If the team is right, they will have solved a mystery that stumped scientists including Charles Darwin.

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