Recent developments in the field of robotics includes insect robots. Robotic ants and butterflies as well as two major companies working together on robotic surgery advances are on the move. The group of robotic animals created by robotics company Festo is growing. Recently, German robotics company introduced a hoard of ants as well as a butterfly robot.
The extraordinary animal robots are part of the company’s Bionic Learning Network. According to CNET, the BionicANTS can operate as a team the way real ants do. They communicate and coordinate movements and actions in an impressive collaboration. The ants have a light construction that enables them to fly together. The robots were inspired by the ant’s swam intelligence and physical body. Swarm behavior, or swarming, is a collective behavior exhibited by animals of similar size. They collect and move together, perhaps milling about the same spot or perhaps moving or migrating in some direction. eMotionButterflies are also capable of collaborative behavior. These robotic insects are lightweight and will help researchers and developers fuel robot development in the future.
On another front, according to the Wall Street Journal blog, Google is pooling intellectual property and resources with Ethicon, a part of Johnson & Johnson, to develop robotics to assist surgeons. The deal is anticipated to close in the second quarter. The focus will be minimally-invasive surgery. For example, the da Vinci robotics surgical system for minimally-invasive procedures, including gynecological and prostate surgeries is well known.
Exciting robotic advances and collaborations promise to make the future more efficient and productive. Someday they could even handle the routine daily tasks people dread. After all, the iRobot Roomba is already keeping carpets clean without all the manual labor. As far as insects go, the continues study of their adaptive abilities, mechanical structure and physical movements and responses are essential to the continued success of the robotics industry.
- Cockroaches can live for up to a week without their heads. They can also hold their breath for 40 minutes and even survive being submerged in water for half an hour. Additionally, some species are able to withstand freezing temperatures.
- Small size.Cockroaches are small pests, so they can easily hide in cracks and crevices. Male cockroaches can fit through an opening as small as 1/16 inch in width or the thickness of a quarter.
- Quick speed.Cockroaches are very fast and can run up to three miles an hour. A newborn cockroach, which is about the size of a speck of dust, runs nearly as fast as its parents.
- Irregular feeding habits.Cockroaches can survive for up to one month without food and one week without water. They are omnivores and are attracted to all types of foods, including sugars, proteins and fats.
Researchers in South Florida have recently found that the two most invasive termite species in the world may eventually produce new termite hybrid that cold be devastating. This new species could reproduce faster than their parent species and might have a larger range.
The Asian (Coptotermes gestroi) and Formosan (Coptotermes formosanus) subterranean termite species cause an estimated $40 billion worth of damage worldwide, the researchers reported. Both types of termite have evolved separately for hundreds of thousands of years. Due to human expansion and trade, the species were brought together in Taiwan, Hawaii and South Florida.
The study’s lead researcher, Thomas Chouvenc, an assistant research scientist of entomology at the University of Florida, has observed the two mating. This raises concerns that the hybrid offspring might have developed a temperature tolerance that stretches from North Carolina to Brazil. “That is the worst-case scenario,” said Chouvenc who has observed the hybrids growing in the lab.
In South Florida, the Asian termite typically mates in February, and the Formosan usually mates in April. In March 2013, Chouvenc found the two species mating at the same time. He believes that the warming climate has changed the termites’ mating seasons, but more evidence is needed to find the root cause.
The size of the hybrid brood, nearly twice the size of either parent group, is another concern, According to Chouvenc, when the researchers observed a Formosan colony and an Asian colony that were kept separate in the lab, each colony had about 80 offspring after a year. However, when the Formosan mated with the Asian termites, their colony produced about 150 termites in a year. The researchers are currently replicating the experiment to see if they get the same results.
The new study details a “fascinating situation” and “a sobering picture,” said Ed Vargo, a professor of entomology at Texas A&M University. “You have the two most destructive subterranean termite species in the world, and here they are, brought together through human activity, being introduced together in a place where they’re not native, and they’re hybridizing,” Vargo said.
The venom of the “death stalker” scorpion of North Africa and the Middle East, also called the most venomous scorpion known to man, may be the best friend to pets suffering from certain types of cancer. Death stalker venom contains a molecule can prolong the life of dogs inflicted with the deadly disease.
Whiskey, Hot Rod, and Browning developed malignant tumors. Their owners decided to enroll them in a clinical trial at Washington State University Veterinary School. The dogs, along with 25 other patients, were given intravenous injections of a chemical derived from the death stalker’s venom prior to surgery. The venomous chemical “paints” cancer cells so the cells will be become fluorescent. This makes the cancerous cells easier to distinguish from normal cells and allows veterinary surgeons to know the exact limits of the cancer and ensures removal of all cancer cells during surgery.
According to Pediatric oncologist Dr. Jim Olson, developer of the tumor paint, this is far superior to the present method of “taking wide margins” and hoping cancer cells do not get left behind. “I predict that in a decade or so, surgeons will look back and say ‘I can’t believe we used to remove tumors by only using our eyes, fingers, and experience.’ Those hidden deposits of 200 or so cancer cells? They won’t go undetected.”
Olson re engineered the molecule in the venom to latch on and identify cancer cells without causing the clinical symptoms associated with a scorpion sting. He uses the technique at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to help people, but he says it is also a way to help the pets they love.
“Many animal tumors resemble those that arise in humans, so it only makes sense for the two groups to reap the benefits that tumor paint can provide during cancer surgery. As WSU uses the technology to help dogs, the dogs provide information that’s applicable to human cancer.”
Spring is officially here and with it comes one of the most persistent warm-weather pests—ants. As temperatures rise, Hulett Environmental Services warns that America’s number one nuisance pest will invade homes across South Florida in search of food. While most species present problems in people’s pantries and kitchens, some species can deliver painful bites while others inflict property damage. According to a survey from the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), more than half of consumers list ants as their top pest concern.
Although ants can be difficult to control once they have entered a home, the following preventative measures can play a major role in helping to avoid infestations:
- Wipe up crumbs and spills immediately
- Store garbage in sealed containers and remove from the home frequently
- Keep food packages closed or sealed and store products in air-tight containers
- Avoid leaving food out on the counter or pet food out on the floor for long periods of time
- Repair holes or gaps in window and door screens
- Seal cracks and holes on the outside of the home including entry points for utilities and pipes
- Keep tree branches and shrubbery well-trimmed and away from the house
- Replace weather-stripping and repair loose mortar around basement foundation and windows
- If you suspect an ant or any pest infestation in your home, contact a licensed pest professional to inspect, identify and treat the problem
IT’S NATIONAL PEST MANAGEMENT MONTH! ARE YOU PREPARED FOR SPRING PESTS?
This April, Hulett Environmental Services is proud to celebrate National Pest Management Month, a public observance formally recognized each year by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) to acknowledge the pest management industry’s commitment to the protection of public health and property from household pest threats. Additionally, as spring is an especially busy time for pest-related activity, <Company Name> encourages homeowners to take proactive pest proofing steps in the coming weeks.
We are proud to be members of an industry which plays an important role in people’s everyday lives and are committed to helping homeowners protect their homes and ensuring public places and residences are free of disease-carrying pests.
As pests emerge from their overwintering spots, we encourage the public to tackle simple home improvement and landscaping projects that will make a big difference in staving off infestations during the warmer months.
Pest experts at Hulett Environmental Services recommend the following tips to pest-proof the home this spring:
- Seal any cracks on the outside of the home with a silicone-based caulk, including entry points for utilities and pipes.
- Replace weather-stripping and repair loose mortar around the foundation and windows.
- Keep tree branches and shrubbery well trimmed and away from the house.
- Repair fascia and rotted roof shingles.
- Keep mulch at least 15 inches from the foundation.
- Eliminate sources of standing water around the house, including birdbaths and in clogged gutters.
- Keep basements, attics, and crawl spaces well ventilated and dry.
- Store garbage in sealed containers and dispose of it regularly.
- Avoid leaving pet’s food dishes out for long periods of time.
- Contact a licensed pest professional if an infestation is suspected.