Ant’s Can Show The Decency Of Maintaining A Toilet Just As Humans Can

Insects are also in the habit of keeping their waste in one spot. Science has just discovered that black garden ants keep bug-sized toilets in their underground networks.

It is not too surprising to learn that ants keep toilets in their underground burrows since there are so many of them that it is important for them to stay organized. Even ants can catch a fecal related disease, which is another good reason to maintain ant bathrooms, so to speak.

A German researcher looking at the behavior of the garden ant stresses how important keeping tidy is for ants. Ants are not tidy because they enjoy it; rather they are tidy because there is a selective advantage to being tidy, especially with something as potentially dangerous as feces. Unlike ants, there are a few types of bugs, like termites, that produce waste with antimicrobial properties, which helps keep members of their colony clean.

Is separating waste from other living materials a type of animal behavior that becomes more prevalent the more advanced the organism is?

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Insect Pests Are Invading More Crops This Year

Typically soybeans are safe from insect pests in most farming locations within the United States. Normally the southwestern US is the most at risk of pest damage to their soybean crops. However, this summer saw a greater number of soybean crops around America fall victim to various pests.

One such pest is known as the bean leaf beetle. The second generation of these beetles begin to chew on the bean pods, causing immediate damage. However, it is not the damage that is the problem, rather the various diseases that could have been transmitted to the beans by means of the beetles chewing.

The bean leaf beetle can transmit a disease known as phomopsis, making the beans worthless. Also devastating is the pod mottle virus, which causes a dark mosaic pattern to form on the consequently worthless bean.

Stink bugs are also a big issue as they will suck the fluids from the bean plant causing the inner plant material to corrode as a result of the stink bug’s corrosive enzymes entering the plant while chewing. It takes careful and strategic application of pesticides in order to avoid these bugs killing crops, and many farmers farming outside of the southeastern US may not be used to just how much damage these two small bugs can cause.

Have you ever encountered a stinkbug in your home? And if you did how did you get rid of it?



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America Coming Closer To Embracing Bug Eating?

“Entomophagy” is the name given to the desire for humans to eat bugs. Humans have been eating bugs since prehistoric times. Third world countries with little food often depend on insects for sustenance. China’s roach farms are becoming a booming business. In fact, even countries as close to America as Mexico enjoy yearly festivals where people collectively consume the stink bug. Of all bugs to eat, why the stink bug? I cannot imagine any self-respecting human happily munching away on the only type of insect that is named for smelling like everything that you want to avoid, but apparently, despite smelling like death, the bugs offer a refreshing cinnamon-like taste. So what is the problem with America? Why no bug-eating clubs?

Well, for the most part, other countries have resorted to bug eating out of necessity and/or desperation. Whereas other countries have regarded bugs as a staple to their national diets, America is just too wealthy of a nation to indulge in bug eating for protein when we each consume seventy one pounds of meat annually from abundant livestock.

However, there are two reasons as to why Americans will eventually embrace chewing on roaches. One reason being the fact that we cannot sustain our current diet trends. A report from the United Nations supports this belief by claiming that meat prices will skyrocket along with the coming boom in population, which is expected to reach ten billion by 2050. It is not that beef and chicken won’t be around anymore, rather the global demand will be so high that only the rich can afford it; beef will become the next caviar.

The second reason has to do with saving the world. If America cut back on its meat consumption then a whopping thirty percent of earth’s land could be freed up to make way for more environmentally sound projects. At the moment, thirty percent of the planet’s land is being used to raise cattle, which has resulted in rapid deforestation and greenhouse gas levels that cannot continue without serious environmental consequences. If cattle grazing were to be replaced by insect farming then greenhouse gas emissions would decrease by eighteen percent. So no matter how much you hate to even look at a cricket, your children will most certainly have to eat them at some point, if not you! Or we could continue to avoid bugs and then watch the world fall apart in front of our very eyes.

Do you believe that insect consumption, as an environmental necessity, will occur in American within your lifetime?




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Sterilizing Insect Pests Via Heavy Radiation

Government spending in excess of seventy million dollars has failed to turn up any effective method of eradicating a nonnative insect pest that has farmers and wine producers panicking. The universally hated invasive insect in question is called the “light brown apple moth (LBAM),” and if this pest is not eradicated it could wind up costing farmers one hundred and thirty three million dollars per year in damages. In desperation researchers are turning to the use of radiation to render these troublesome creatures sterile.

The LBAM has caused extensive crop damage since the moth was first discovered in the United States in 2007. The moth is native to Australia. Since this month’s destructive tendencies were first observed several years ago, scientists have been laboring to find a way to eradicate the moth from US soil.

Recently researchers have demonstrated that the moths can be rendered sterile by introducing small amounts of radiation into the moth’s habitat. Preventing these moths from reproducing marks the first promising step towards eradication of the moth species from US farmland. Now researchers are focusing on how much radiation is necessary to eradicate the moth population while ensuring that the radiation levels will not result in adverse health consequences for consumers.

How could the light brown apple moth have arrived in North America if it is native only to Australia?









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Older Male Beetles Turn Out To Be Good Dads

Researchers at the University of Exeter have found that older male burying beetles make better fathers than younger beetles. Researchers have observed that older male burying beetles demonstrate a greater frequency of protective behavior and overall parental care  towards their offspring than their younger counterparts show towards their offspring. In other words, older male beetles invest more time into raising their offspring, whereas younger male burying beetles tend to be dead-beat dads that show little interest in the welfare of their offspring.

The reasons for this unequal participation in the upbringing of their offspring is rather simple. The older male beetle is past his prime, and he does not experience as many opportunities for reproduction as he did when he was younger and more fertile. Therefore, the older beetle has no other way of spending its time than to tend to the needs of its offspring.

The younger beetle, on the other hand, likely spends much of its time engaged in the act of reproduction, and therefore has fathered many different offspring. Naturally, the younger and more fertile beetle will produce such a high number of offspring that it cannot possibly tend to the upbringing of all of his young.

The researchers also noted that the older male beetle continued to nurture young beetles even if the older male beetle was unsure if the younger beetles were born from his seed. So apparently, older male beetles tend to become comfortable with the idea of adoption. The younger male beetles, with their superior swagger, proceeded to immediately abandon any young beetles that were not confirmed to be his offspring, and instead indulged in mate-seeking behavior.

Despite the noble decision on the part of the older beetles to nurture young beetles, the young beetles do not stand to gain any benefits from being reared by a nurturing father.  Nor do the young neglected beetles demonstrate behavior that is in any way different from their nurtured counterparts. This is due to the fact that young beetles do not, by nature, depend on, or desire, the nurturing care of their fathers. Rather, the mother to the young beetles is solely responsible for fulfilling the role of nurturer to her offspring. The researchers involved with this study believe that the female beetle will ultimately prefer the older male as a mate since the older male is not concerned with the quantity of mates, and can therefore retire their need for sex in favor of the need for nurturing and support.

If Darwin’s theory of the survival of the fittest is true, then wouldn’t the female beetles in the above described study prefer the younger and more fertile males?

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Where Do Scorpions Get Their Deadly Sting?

A new study conducted by researchers at Oxford University has shed some light on how scorpion venom became the deadly toxin that it is well known for.  To put it simply, one small genetic mutation made a harmless and non-toxic protein become a dangerous and highly toxic venom.

Scorpion venom has its roots in a type of antimicrobial protein that eventually mutated into a dangerous toxin. The antimicrobial proteins being discussed in this short paper are known as defensins. Defensins are proteins that are found in plants and animals, and their purpose is to ward off viral, bacterial or fungal pests.

Discovering how a protective protein could mutate into a dangerous substance turned out to be rather painless. First researchers examined insect defensins thinking that insect’s defensins would be the most likely source of an insect venom. What they found was that the insect defensins could be converted into the toxic scorpion venom solely by one single genetic deletion event. This is the first study to demonstrate a link between insect defensins and insect venom.

Did the scorpion develop a toxic venom because the scorpions environment pressured the development of a toxin for the sake of the scorpions survival? Or was the toxin created completely randomly with no influence from the outside environment?



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Ants Are The First Invertebrates To Take Drugs For Fun

In an effort to gain a better understanding of how drug addiction functions on a neurological level scientists study the brains of ants.  Luckily for scientists drug addiction is now easy to study in insects because the fact that ants have neurological pathways similar to mammals has been proven.

Studying ants is even more beneficial than using rats as a model. This is due to the fact that ants are quite similar to humans socially, whereas rats are significantly different. When it comes to observing the effects that drugs have on an ant’s ability to function socially, humans can learn much more about how drugs affect their own social functioning.

Researchers took note of the much greater number of ants that clamor towards the source of morphine than the number of ants that make visits to the source of sugar water. The researchers then used advanced techniques to observe the levels of the pleasure and reward chemical dopamine. Understandable the junkie ants showed much higher levels of dopamine. It is likely that even ants can ruin their lives with drugs.

Do you think that nearly every type of animal can become intoxicated by drugs use?

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