Usually when someone says they have something on their mind, they mean there is something they have been thinking about or pondering. However, when 12-year-old Shreya Darji says she’s got ants on her mind, she means she literally has ants crawling all over her head. When the girl complained about having ear pain last August her parents took her to the doctor expecting the problem would be a simply ear infection that could be treated with some antibiotics. They discovered the situation was infinitely more complicated than that, however.
Doctors discovered an entire ant colony was living inside of the girl’s head, with hundred of ants crammed inside. About a dozen ants crawl out of her ears everyday, which is no doubt seriously disturbing and not just a little creepy. Doctors can’t seem to figure out how to get rid of them either. They have tried everything from trying to drown them by flushing her ears with antiseptic to inserting laparoscopic cameras in her ear to try and find and kill the queen. Alas, an answer to this buggy problem has yet to be found. Thankfully, the ants don’t seem to be causing any serious damage, but I don’t know that I’d be too thrilled about sharing my head space with a colony of ants.
Have you heard of any other weird cases of insects living inside of humans
When it comes to which animals malaria carrying mosquitoes will infect, many animals are fair game. For example, researchers have known that mosquitoes will infect cows, goats and sheep in addition to humans, and that is just to name a few. However, researchers recently discovered that mosquitoes avoid infecting chickens with malaria due to the mosquitoes distaste for the smell of chickens.
As a result of this finding, researchers believe that it is possible to use a chicken’s odor as a tool in preventing malaria’s spread to other forms of life, mainly humans. The researchers determined that mosquitoes discriminate animal smells by setting up traps for the mosquitoes that were located near certain animals. The traps that were located near cows, for example, caught many mosquitoes. However, the traps that were located near chickens caught hardly any mosquitoes at all. In response to this study researchers are now invested in isolating the odor causing compounds in chickens. The researchers believe that by emitting these compounds in African villages, which are vulnerable to malaria outbreaks, they will be able to prevent further infections in humans.
Since it is now known that mosquitoes prefer the way some animals smell over others, and choose which animals to bite based on these smells, do mosquitoes prefer the way humans smell over most animals?
A newly identified species of spider called “The Darwin’s Bark Spider” has created a web that spans eighty whole feet across a river in Madagascar. The webs that this type of spider creates are known to be the largest spider webs on record.
Given the colossal size of this spider web you would think that it was meant to catch large birds, but the Darwin’s Bark Spider feeds mainly on small insects such as mayflies and dragonflies. These webs are created by the females of the species. Younger male spiders have also been known to create large webs, but once the male spiders reach a mature age they give up web spinning to focus solely on mating.
Researchers analyzed the silk from this species of spider and discovered that it is the toughest spider silk known to man, which also makes it the strongest biological material known to man. However, researchers have not yet determined how these particular spiders are capable of creating webs that span over large bodies of water.
Could this type of spider be raised in large quantities in a laboratory for the purpose of retaining its silk for industrial production? And if it could what would the silk be used to make?
As strange as it may seem many scientists want to know more about the sex life of flies. One particular group of scientists from Howard Hughes University using the cutting edge technology that is lasers to unveil some of the mysteries surrounding the love life of flies.
These scientists somehow managed to implant a protein in a particular part of a fly’s brain. They then proceeded to use an infrared laser to zap their brains. Specifically the scientists zapped the brain regions responsible for mating. What happened next involved the flies falling madly in love with whatever object was closest to them, in this studies case that object was a ball of wax. The flies showed their affection for the ball of wax while some, most likely very amused, scientists looked on to take note of the flies behavior.
It is hard to pinpoint what scientific value this experiment had, or if the scientists were simply in the mood for a good laugh. Apparently the idea behind the experiment is to gain a better understanding of human mating behavior and decision making by using the fly’s brain as a model. I guess a fly’s brain is more similar to ours than we would like to suppose.
What do you think of these free-wheeling flies?
The end of days is not yet nigh, but the Northeast U.S. is battling its own insect plague right now. These fuzzy little pests called gypsy moths have a voracious appetite too. In Massachusetts alone they have eaten through 100,000 acres of trees, divesting them of all their leaves and leaving them naked way before winter.
They have become such a problem that officials are now seriously worried they will cause significant ecological problems. They are harming oak trees to the point that the animals that depend on them for sustenance such as wild turkeys and bears will likely have no acorns to eat, and their numbers could suffer in the coming months especially once fall comes around. Firefighters are worried that these bare trees will be more combustible, causing mass wildfires around that part of the country. There are even people putting Vaseline all over the trunks to try and discourage the hungry little bastards. This is the worst part: houses are turning black from being covered in so much gypsy moth poo. It is thought to be the worst gypsy moth infestation since the 1980s.
Scientists are blaming the lack of the fungus Entomophaga maimaga, called the “caterpillar killer.” The fungus, which has not grown this year due to the dry weather, usually infects the gypsy moths during the Spring and keeps their numbers under control. It looks like an especially bad year to wear white outside.
Have you ever seen these gypsy moths at work? How are the affecting the wildlife around your home?
If there is such a thing as a Brad Pitt Bee Actor or perhaps a Bee version of Pink Floyd this is clearly where they would choose to stay on holiday. The Taylors of Bee Harrogate Bee Hotel, created by The Robin Collective, food futurologists based in London, is basically a luxury fly-by retreat for bees that need a little R & R.
This Bee Hotel is a mini luxury retreat down to every last detail, filled with every amenity bee stars could possibly want rendered in exquisite detail. Of course, there are many bee-specific luxury touches such as the Peppermint Leaf Gym for those bees wanting to get their sweat on during their stay. It even has workout machines designed specifically for bees. The hotel also includes the Rose Lemonade fine dining restaurant, featuring delicacies made out of pollen, as well as the Sweet Rhubarb Queen Bee Suite. This is for those bee super stars on the level of Beyonce and The Beatles. It contains rhubarb sugar water bath and a snazzy UV disco. If you’re a bee, this is the place to go to get your every need taken care of in first class style.
Have you created an insect hotel in your backyard? How are the amenities?
Researchers were finally able to watch every step of the tsetse fly as it develops from a larvae into an adult with a new imaging technique using near infrared still photographs and time-lapse video. The reason this is such a huge deal is that it means they can now identify male and female tsetse flies before they reach adulthood, giving us a much better chance of controlling their population and saving many lives from the sleeping sickness in the process.
Scientists already use the Sterile Insect Technique, a method where they release sterilized by irradiation into the wild population. However, this new imaging technique will help them make the process much more efficient because they can now sort the males and females earlier and much easier. This will let them keep more females to use for making future sterile males, as well as sterilize more wild males that they can then release into the wild population.
Recognizing the difference between the males and females is a surprisingly difficult task, which is why they haven’t done it till now. They have to look for a slight difference in when the larvae develop their wing pigment. I’m not sure which one starts coloring their wings first, but that just sounds impossible. It’s no wonder they needed this fancy camera to do it.
Have you ever encountered the sleeping sickness or traveled to a country where it is a problem?