We do need to study other organisms in order to improve our understanding of not only nature, but chemistry, sociability and simple organisation. You would think that a colonising ant would have little to show, but the way in which individuals are empowered, despite that despotic Black Queen, are very revealing !
Pine trees and insects have been together in their habitats for such a long time. However, their relationship is deepened by new research that show how an ancient swap has survived where other intriguing DNA changes have been lost. This story could run for millions of years.
Plants such as Rafflesia spp. are closest to the Euphorbias, but literally stand out as amazing examples of evolution to attract insects for pollination and mammals for dispersal. We take off our hats, and place it round our noses to a plant that parasitizes and almost paralyses us, and perpetually pleases flies!!!
Cats, dogs, tigers and sharks, turtles, butterflies and beetles: take your pick. The danger is in every species we know becoming more and more uncommon. Habitat loss varies from wetland draining, damming and forest clearance to marine pollution, ice loss and mountain tourism. The IUCN at least keep us up-to-date on many animals and plants. Beware- you could be losing one of your local favourite species, and you never knew!
The ant reaches its peak of organisation in the feared army ant. These Panamanians, like several other species, dominate their tropical forests like a top predator, but there are millions of them, impossible to kill.
The most intriguing species are often those that have adopted unusual shape and size as means to their special species needs. Stag beetles now appear to stand out as one of the most remarkable and numerous speciations from a basic model of battling males. Some species survive because flight is used as an alternative to walking those mandibular
horns are so heavy!
Mimicry is a true natural wonder, while many of us have looked at butterflies and wondered if their mimicry really works. We are not the predator, so we cannot envisage the exact moment of attack, when lives are lost or beaks are mistakenly directed at the wrong part of the prey. Any chance of escape is a lifeline!
Many considerations should determine how we approach health issues, pests and even bites we think we have. The effects of unfamiliar bites especially may be made more obvious by this interesting study of biological control. The control is there, but its in the spiders hands!
How popular are these apparently so aggressive and pest-like praying mantids? They are great pest-controllers, have a huge variety of different species, from flower mantis to giant African tigers of the cabbage patch; they make marvellous, quite attentive pets and dont bother your mother because they die after their short adult span. Now we learn something new about a familiar animal. Those leaps they made as nymphs are actually carefully plotted, either to escape from their cannibalistic siblings, or to jump on tiny flies. The wonder of super-mantis never stops.
We hate the irritation and the mess of blood parasites that attack us in the form of leeches and mosquitoes. The trouble is the leech does not infect us while the mosquito is simply the agent for the malaria parasite and many others, which it tries to resist with very useful immune responses.
Will global warming bring more butterflies to northern Europe; can more species now live in the Arctic and Antarctic. We have to allow for changing habitat and even habitat preferences, if we are going to face the true character of global warming, drying environments or melting ice.
Our humble attempt to stir interest in the most intriguing species on earth moves to the Mollucas. Wallace discovered more animals than almost any other explorer in the richly biodiverse islands we can now call
Wallaceana (Indonesia, Australasia and Malaysia.) What a man!
We gaze at the beauty or stand aghast at the horror of different insects. You have to admire the way in which their tiny but numerous bodies challenge successfully against larger animals as well as to help the Angiosperms to achieve their own mastery of the plant world on land.
The white-tailed eagle, the dormouse and the large blue butterfly are all threatened. But not by extinction. The threat comes from ill-equipped government who are going to cling to a list of alien plants and animals that is so far out-of-date, Darwin would have laughed. People would then be allowed to exterminate species like this on their land.
When science illuminates an area, it's not always easy to see how. In this case we try and show that the brilliant butterfly or moth has a fascinating ancestry and intriguing sets of current relatives. The publication of this paper is great progress, but we doubt if we can fully explain, more than just show the pics and links!
The need for a pesticide for farmers and others that excludes pollinators and other useful insects from its action is desperate. We prefer not to kill any non-pest. But the loss of potentially all our bees is a risk that only chemical companies have been willing to take.
This desert ant is an amazing route finder in extreme conditions. Efforts to discover its 'technique' have so far faltered, but this research shows the ant-centric approach works.
How did social behaviour evolve, and why do we see it in so many animals, no matter what level of taxonomy they are found? Spiders, sticklebacks and insects, birds, mammals and reptiles are all involved in complex social interaction.
When we study insects and birds in the air, or other animals in water, the interest often lies in how they can change their locomotive effort in order to counteract wind or currents. The use of computer modelling can also add the extra benefit of prediction of movement under various conditions.
When is an alien species really alien? Maybe only when it is a critical danger to another species. A new book from a popular author puts forward persuasive and alarming arguments. Camels, eagles, snakes, spiders and influenza virus, wrapped up in invasive packaging.
We can catalogue all the live and some extinct species on earth. The sooner we know all those insects and marine creatures, the quicker we can deal with conservation management in the most efficient ways possible.
When will the bees and other helpful insects be protected in the same way as (some) mammals and birds? It's obvious that the fruit industries will collapse without them, so for the most selfish of reasons, we know we have to try and preserve these species. Unfortunately, there are always those who suffer from short sight, or simply greed for bigger and bigger short-term profits.
We normally regard Batesian mimics as butterflies that pretend to be poisonous, or even snakes. The cuckoo now reveals its subtle disguise as a dangerous predator of small birds, but of course, it's fooling these small birds into letting it lay an egg in their nest.
We can visualise distant ancestral forms of many organisms by imagining similar species alive today, or complete fossils. Here the scarcity of evidence on early mammalian teeth makes it difficult, but not impossible, to show how incredible events shaped our past into the flower, insect and mammal-dominated Paleocene.
A simple summary of some small creatures, missing out some such as the flies and beetles, because I know there will be new discoveries around the corner!
Intriguing comparisons have been made by ancient and modern philosophies about the similarities between the bee and the human. Here is a small sign than altruism is not the only source of the insects success.Perhaps the conservation of rare bees will be helped, too, with this discovery.
The life of the Yasuni Reserve in the Amazon is not as we know it. With 44 times the biodiversity of the whole of one country in one hectare, it exhibits a show of insect, amphibian, bird and even mammalian species that we cant imagine. Now replace them all with oil rigs.
The hedgehog species are found in Eurasia and Africa, all following the basic body plan of protective prickles and an insectivorous diet. The protection they need from predation sometimes seems to be mainly from traffic, but badgers and others do affect their distribution.
50,000 bumble bees and honey bees killed in Oregon, US. When a bee reaches a new nectar source, it shouldn't result in the death of its whole colony. We need better insecticidal controls and we all deserve better insecticides, given their catastrophic history.
When the bee is remembered, we will only think of that delicious honey, and not of that diligent and innovative insect that became extinct because we polluted the planet so much!
The ant is rarely so forbidding, large or even dangerous as these 4cm Australian species. Their weakness? Nothing you would notice except they have difficulty using their big eyes in the dark!
When these ants are hatched, they have only one role in life, to serve the pitcher plant as cleaners, trappers and underwater divers.
World Malaria Day 2013: According to latest estimates, malaria kills between 2,000 and 3,000 people every day, with between 85% and 90% of deaths occurring in sub-Saharan Africa. It is spread by bites from mosquitoes but as has happened in Europe and North America, the disease could effectively be wiped out by clearing the areas where mosquitoes breed. Hence, malaria is completely preventable and it is a disgrace that more is not being done in the world to eliminate it.
The ant way to earthquake prediction. There is help already available to predict earthquakes, not the early warning seismology that tsunami warning centres provide, but ants.
Butterflies are one of the more obvious hard-hit victims of a dire downward turn in invertebrate numbers. Insecticides combined with the predation of parasites to cause the downfall of bee and butterfly populations.
The way in which we have allowed concerns about neonicotinoid insecticides to go unnoticed is parallel to the Silent Spring ignorance that reigned supreme for Rachel Carson.
'Go to the ant,' is the instruction. But when ants are crowded, they cannot get around their trails so easily.
Do you know about the Large Blue and its begging habit? Maculinea rebeli (also known as Phengaris) is one of those cute blue butterflies that hang out with ants.
Millions of years ago in the Cretaceous period a spider attacked a parasitic wasp in its web, and was then preserved in amber.
Tiny radio tags fitted to track the 'ant roads' of Formica lugubris. Hairy wood ants in Yorkshire, Derbyshire and the rest of Europe, are near-threatened. So what does York do to help?
New study investigates the effects of nuclear particles such as iodine on the genotype of butterflies post Fukushima. A short life cycle like the annual butterfly can give us results now that will affect future generations.
When a dead red eyed tree frog's egg is used as food by fly larvae, that is an important part of the decomposition of living material. Frog flies tend to choose dead eggs but can lay on others that are healthy nearby.
Mountain pine beetles not only kill trees, they increase VOC levels in forested areas, a new study shows.
Without bees two-thirds of our natural crops would not be propagated but how often have we thought about the consequences of pesticide and toxic chemical use on the insect world?
A species of spider (Cupiennius salei) which actively hunts or 'chases down' its prey, rather than utilising a web, uses airflow generated by flying insects to help guide the final jump onto their prey.
The Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) could be heading further north. A changing climate is creating conditions that may allow the Asian tiger mosquito to spread into northern Europe. The invasive mosquito species is associated with transmitting various infectious diseases.
New study on European butterflies looks at the effects of global warming on habitat choice. The research investigates if butterflies are able to respond to climate changes by making use of microclimates in their current habitats.
A Daphnia freshwater flea trades reproduction for resistance to a deadly parasite, say American scientists.
Peppermint gene makes the wheat smell bad to greenfly. New trials of GM wheat by Rothamsted aims to eradicate losses aphids cause by repelling them with the peppermint gene.
A new study has been published about endangered European butterfly populations along with conservation suggestions. A new EU directive - attract butterflies, and caterpillars to your garden.
Scientists have developed a way of doubling hydrogen gas production that is modelled on the structure of black butterfly wings.
A recent study published information about the proclaimed King of wasps, Megalara garuda. The male Megalara garuda is over 3cm with huge jaws, thought to be used when grabbing the female when mating.
A Heliconius spp. butterfly study looks at benefits of social roosting. By gathering in large groups, butterflies deter threats from predators.
Honeybee colony collapse disorder threatens food security worldwide, and scientists may be one step closer to understanding its causes.
A new study looks at how water habitats affect the dispersal ability of animals. The hypothesis tested is if dragonflies and damselflies are able to adapt more quickly to recent climate change where the water is still or lentic.
Leafcutter ants (Atta spp.) are the amazing ants with the attractive antics of transporting leaves to culture fungi. Rather like a city's motorway system, the leafcutter ant must organise paths to efficiently allow transport without using up energy in overlong routes.
Speciation is happening in American gall wasps. Belonocnema treatae is an American gall wasp that develops as a sexual generation in root galls in spring. The gall wasp inhabits two related oak trees in the southeast US.
The north of China has some perfectly preserved forewings of Jurassic insects. What research has made possible is, by comparison with living Prophalangopsids (sort-of-crickets) and electron microscopy of the stridulation apparatus, a complete and convincing 'reconstruction' of the pure tone at 6.4kHz.
How jumping spiders hunt successfully. New research shows that green light is necessary for jumping spider accuracy when hunting. The spiders are able to judge their jumps successfully in green light.
Distance warfare has been thought to be a human development. Ants have beaten us to it long ago, though! Interspecific competition and wide ranging predations have helped both defence and offence mechanisms.
Leaves from the river wild-quince plant was used 77,000 years ago in South Africa to ward-off mosquitoes, scientists have found.
Britain's butterflies are few in species to start with, but much loved, as opposed to their poor neighbours the moths and microlepidoptera. Report after report tells us almost as much as those on bird migrants or the ever-popular red squirrel.
The Brown Argus occurs in southern Britain. It's a butterfly from the family of 'Blues' (It resembles the female Common Blue very closely), widespread in particular habitats. Researchers recently published a paper in Molecular Ecology entitled, ''Evidence for evolutionary change associated with the recent range expansion of the British butterfly in response to climate change.''
There is nothing more delightful than waking in South East Asian forests to the gibbon dawn chorus, but South America Howlers and African Colobus seem to compete more loudly. In an intriguing and difficult investigation by Anne Schel and Klaus Zuberbuhler, communication in animals reports a dawn chorus from insect, amphibian and bird.
Orb web spiders are able to coat an alkaloid on their threads that prevents hordes of ants from raiding the larder, or even eating the owner. As they grow larger, the Golden Orb Web spider coats the web with the repellent and no intruder can pass over.
Tree species migration. Due to climate changes caused by global warming, insect attacks, fires and diseases, a massive migration of trees is underway.
Chacma baboons of Namibia, exist in small social stable groups on cliff top nesting sites in Tsaobis Leopard Park and so, unlike insects, schooling fish or other sociable creatures, it may not have organised instincts to coordinate its group movement.
A super colony of invasive odorous house ants has been established in Hawaii, the first confirmed infestation outside mainland USA. The odorous house ants (Tapinoma sessile) that emit a coconut odour when crushed have travelled to Maui, 2,500-miles from the United States mainland.
DASH, short for Dynamic Autonomous Sprawled Hexapod was a robot investigating stability. Designing a 25 g, 10 cm robot was easy, but they couldn't decide whether it should be a bird or an insect. There was a clue though - it had six legs.
MIT mathematicians delved into the arena of biology recently to explore optimization in nature. It turns out, bees are 'dippers' who feed by probing flowers with their tongues. For them, a thicker, sweeter fluid is best. But birds and butterflies draw nectar through thin tubes, and that's easier when flowers supply a thinner, less sugary fluid.
A European atlas recording the distribution of all of Europe's 441 butterfly species will be a vital tool to record how climate change is affecting these lovely creatures. The work of 272 field volunteers, say the publishers, has been vital to this grand new publication project.
The resemblance of a beer bottle to a female has been mooted in the past, but rarely remembered the morning after. An Australian (beetle) has now confirmed that 'stubbies' are better! The male Buprestid (jewel) beetle, Julodimorpha bakewelli, is often noticed lolling around near brown beer bottles (stubbies) in Australia.
Israeli beetles turning the tables on five spp. of Amphibian. The classic instance of predators stalking their live and not-so-innocent food supply is reversed with the prey waiting to be stalked by the naive predator. They then turn the tables by killing the villain - but just where would the observers' sympathies lie?
A new vaccine has been developed that may, for the first time, provide an effective anti-malaria vaccine capable of preventing the spread of the disease in Asia and Africa. Transmitted by mosquito bite, malaria causes severe, intermittent fever, and kills nearly a million people annually, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa.
Scientists are worried that a disease that has caused damage to wildlife in North and South America could travel to the Galapagos Islands via mosquitoes hitching a ride with visiting boats and planes.
Observant scientists have discovered a rare example of animal hybrid speciation, in the forests of the Appalachian Mountains in the eastern United States. The creature in question, the Appalachian tiger swallowtail butterfly (Papilio appalachiensis), is the genetically unique result of the union of two related butterflies.
An asian beetle is finding a welcoming new home in the iconic forests of the American north east causing damage that could threaten the area's $1 billion tourist industry say researchers. The Asian longhorned beetle is the alien species in question and scientists fear it could spread from tree-lined city streets to the north east's beautiful maple forests.
August 20th is World Mosquito Day. Here are some ideas to help you celebrate or rather acknowledge it. Despite the name and what it seems to imply, we don't celebrate the flying bearer of disease. Rather we celebrate the day in 1897 that a British doctor, Ronald Ross, discovered that female mosquitoes transmit malaria between humans, a discovery that earned him a Nobel Prize for Medicine.
Spermless male mosquitoes could be used to prevent the spread of malaria by preventing female mosquitoes from successfully reproducing. A widespread release of such sterile males could have a major impact on transmission rates of malaria, which kills almost 800,000 people a year.
An innovative use of MRI scanners and tarantulas has revealed intriguing new information about a spider's heart - it may show a double-beat, similar to that felt by humans. The research, being presented at this week's annual conference of the Society for Experimental Biology, in Glasgow, also holds out the possibility of investigating useful properties in spider venom, and the evolution of the brain.
Fascinating new work on the diving bell spiders - amazing arachnids that live under water in their own personal air bubbles - has shed light onto how they make use of 'bubble technology'. It seems, says the paper in the Journal of Experimental Biology, that the spiders can stay submerged for longer than thought - all the better to catch their prey.
A new avenue for defeating the triple menace of dengue, yellow-sickness and malaria, all diseases borne by blood-sucking mosquitoes, has been opened up by research published in tomorrow's Nature. A team from the University of California, Riverside, describes how blends of odor-stimulating compounds can fool female mosquito's from homing in on our CO2-laden breath.
Local biodiversity action plan good news for rare butterfly. One of the UK's rarest butterflies is making a comeback thanks to a project by the Forestry Commission. The Pearl-Bordered Fritillary, recognisable by the white 'pearls' on the tips of its wings, was once a common sight in the south English countryside.
Insect mediated pollination is a service provided by nature. The estimated economic value of this service stands at 15 billion euros per year in the EU. Moreover, many wild plant species, which characterise our natural and also cultural landscapes, depend on insect pollination.
Research shows rare species of butterflies are showing signs of recovery yet a reduction in funding could harm conservation efforts. The data comes from the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme, the largest of its kind in the world which is run by Butterfly Conservation and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.
Fire ignites and spreads more easily in forests devastated by pine beetles, making new fire management plans crucial. In areas where many trees have been killed by pine beetle infestations, forest fires can spread more quickly, new research says. The dead trees are much drier than live wood, as are the red needles. The way fire behaves in areas struck by pine beetles, such as much of British Columbia and Montana, is changing dramatically in a short time.
Conservation; Article currently in Biological Conservation on the impact of roads on dragonfly behaviour and mortality. Dragonflies are one of the most ancient and beautiful orders of insects. They are frequently top predators in wetlands, especially when fish are not present, and the predaceous younger larval stages are entirely confined to water habitats
With the UK's hedgerows abuzz again as spring finally unfurls, the charity for creepy-crawly conservation, Buglife, is calling on all garden adventurers to join them on an Oil Beetle Hunt. Keep your eyes peeled, identify them and then upload your sightings - photos and all - to help save one the UK's most beautiful but threatened bug species.
A South African orchid mimics the stench of corpses to draw in its pollinating carrion flies. The orchid, Satyrium pumilum targets a carrion feeding flesh fly as its pollinator and is so convincing that female flies have been seen laying eggs in the flower. In addition to its smelly perfume of decaying corpse, the interior of the flower is a mottled brown in colour that resembles rotting meat. Environmental issues: orchid/nature.
The invasion of the American north-west by the Tamarisk Tree and its natural enemy; the Tamarisk Leaf Beetle. The Tamarisk Leaf Beetle is inadvertently battling one of the greatest threats to the U.S. water reserves
by eating it. The Tamarisk Tree, which survives by absorbing river water in a sponge-like manner, has met its nemesis in the Tamarisk Leaf Beetle, an insect whose favourite food of choice is Tamarisk Tree leaf.
Scrap the beef, pork, and chicken from your diet if you want to improve your carbon footprint. Edible insects like mealworms, locusts and crickets produce a fraction of the greenhouse gases per kilo of protein than more conventional meals.
Içás, or queen ants in Brazil are a delicacy. Spring rains in October and November drive the ants out of the ground, and for a few short weeks. But this year pesticides have threatened the social and the ecological aspect of ant hunting. The principal culprits are pesticides used on eucalyptus trees that are planted to produce cellulose for paper and other products.