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House Centipedes

House Centipedes

Have you ever had a house centipede? I am sure you wondered where the creature came from… Let me explain.

House centipedes are not able to survive winter weathers, so they turn to heated indoor structure to accommodate them. More often then not, the encounter between a human and house centipede are just as surprising for both parties.

House centipedes are beige, with brown stripes and are slightly longer than an inch and have very long legs. Centipedes are able to travel at almost 1½ foot per second, which make them and their appearance much scarier than they are a real threat.  In fact, these centipedes are only a threat to their predators, of which include many creatures that we would want to get rid of anyways. These creatures include bedbugs, silverfish, cockroaches, spiders, carpet beetles and even other kinds of centipedes.

The house centipede is a nocturnal hunter that used its antennae (sensitive to both touch and smell) for hunting. It is also great to know that house centipedes do not care any transmittable disease. Their bites only cause mild swelling and temporary pain; however they will only bite you if you try to catch them by hand.

Although they can serve a purpose to us in our homes, and are essentially harmless they are ways to get rid of house centipedes. The best way is to eliminate the insects they feed on. Other great techniques include drying up any wet locations under sinks and in basements and to seal up crack in basement walls.

New Chigger Mice Species

New Chigger Mice Species

There have been 3 new species of chigger mice discovered in Thailand. Across 11 provinces of Thailand, there are now 99 known species of chigger mice, including the additional 3 that were found.

All three mice belong to different genera, however they all belong to the same family, Trombiculidae. This finding is very important because these mice can be vectors of scrub typhus. The three mice found are Trombiculindus kosapani, Helenicula naresuani, and Walchia chavali.

Trombiculindus kosapani is named after Kosa Pan, a Siamese diplomat and minister in the 1600’s. The second mouse, the Helenicula naresuani, was named after one of the most glorious kings in Thailand between 1590 and 1605. The last mouse, Walchia chavali, was named after Yannick Chaval, a wildlife author who has contributed a lot to the authors’ field studies.

You can find out more about the checklist of chiggers HERE!

Praying Mantis with Glasses!

Praying Mantis with Glasses!

3D glasses for praying mantises?! Researchers are giving praying mantises 3D glasses, but they are not just for fun!

This understanding of how praying mantises use 3D glasses will help scientists develop new ideas on how to use 3D in technology.

Dr. Jenny Read, a professor of vision science at Newcastle University said “Despite their minute brains, mantises are sophisticated visual hunters which can capture prey with terrifying efficiency. We can learn a lot by studying how they perceive the world,” she said. “Better understanding of their simpler processing systems helps us understand how 3D vision evolved, and could lead to possible new algorithms for 3D depth perception in computers.”

Researchers were able to attach the glasses to the praying mantises using beeswax. The researchers then showed the insects 3D short movies of simulated bugs moving around on a screen, of which the mantises viewed as prey.

When the researchers showed the preying mantises videos in 2D, they did not react. You can watch a video HERE of the preying mantises with the 3D glasses. One of the applications of 3D vision is robot navigation. “Robots rely on getting information from the environments. You want the robot to understand somehow its environment and perhaps move towards particular goals and it needs some sort of understanding of the environment based on visual input,” Dr. Ghaith Tarawneh a research associate at Newcastle said.

74 New Beetle Species

74 New Beetle Species

A Cornell professor has found 74 new beetle species on a volcano! Cornell University entomology professor, James Liebherr brought his students to work on the cold, mist-shrouded Haleakala volcano where they searched for rare beetle species.

More than 100 field days were spent on the Hawaiian volcano over the course of 20 years, during which time 116 species of round-waisted predatory beetles were found, 74 of which were new to science.

“It’s not just that he found 74 new species, which is in-and-of-itself remarkable, but he found them all in one volcano, and he was able to define these different micro-regions across the volcano — it’s just astounding,” University of Hawaii Insect Museum Director Daniel Rubinoff said.

Very few entomologists have the opportunity to study on this volcano because the government doesn’t want people exposed to the dangers of its few trails, heavy rain and low temperatures. Liebherr obtained special permits in order to backpack through the area for his research.

Psychology Benefits From Study of Insect Aggression

Psychology Benefits From Study of Insect Aggression

Researchers at the University of Montana are taking a novel approach to studying neurological disorders. They placed two male fruit flies in a cage together, provide them with one prize, and watch them duke it out. How is this supposed to reveal insights into neurological disorders you ask? The researchers are genetically modifying the flies’ neurons in an effort to understand which neurons increase aggressive behavior. They test out various genes to see how they affect the fly’s aggression in the arena. Sometimes the prize is a female fruit fly, which the males must fight over. They have already been able to identify a number of neurons that link aggression with outside information. This research could be adapted to benefit humans due to the similarity in how the brain functions in all organisms. The researchers are hoping that their results could help treat neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

What do you think of this possibly groundbreaking study? Do you think it could be used to help humans with neurological disorders?

Unbelievable Insect Trivia

Unbelievable Insect Trivia

Did you know that insects don’t feel any pain at all? Insects don’t have the Nocicepters in their brains to communicate the feeling of pain to them.

Do mosquitos have a preference when it comes to blood type, gender, etc.? They do! Studies have shown that mosquitos prefer the blood type O to any other. They’ve also been shown to prefer men as to women.

Did you know that caterpillars have over two times the muscles humans have? While humans are made up of 639 muscles, some caterpillars have 4,000 muscles in their entire body.

Scientists have developed a clock that runs on nothing but dead flies. The main technology that makes this possible is called a microbial fuel cell. The fuel cells contain bacteria that feed on dead insects. Every time they are fed they release electrons from the chemical reaction that takes place. These electrons are collected and converted into electricity to power the clock.

 

Do you know any crazy facts about insects?

Plant and Insect Predictions for 2016

Plant and Insect Predictions for 2016

What will insect populations look like in 2016? How will plants respond next spring if the dormancy triggers are not fully met?

The insects that will survive this year’s winter above ground have survived because they can tolerate temperatures below zero, which means that the insect populations going into 2016 will not be any different.

If mild winter weather patterns continue, insects that are not winter hardy will already be here rather than traveling up from the south or other warmer parts of the country.

Plants normally go dormant during winter based on the day length and when they come out of dormancy is based on the temperatures. Dormancy is how plants survive below-freezing temperatures in order to trigger next years’ blooms.

Gardeners may expect to see some erratic blooms in 2016, in terms of uneven blooming or perhaps being later or earlier that we typically expect.

What kind of plant and insect populations are you wishing for in 2016?

Ants Veer to the Left When Exploring, Study Finds

Ants Marching Left

Left comes from the Anglo-Saxon word “lyft”, which means weak or broken. The word left or being left-handed has often carried a negative connotation throughout history. A left-handed complement” is actually considered to be an insult. A “left-handed marriage” an adulterous encounter.” In many cultures left-handed people have been characterized as being crippled, defective, and associated with underhanded dealings or even ill-omened. To add insult to injury, many lefties are hurt each year by products designed primarily for righties, such as scissors or common tools.

Veering left however for ants, a new study finds might just be the right way to go!

All Ants to the Left

In late 2014, scientists at the University of Bristol (as written up in the Smithsonian Magazine) found that ants show a marked tendency, as do birds, rats, and humans, to go in one particular direction. That tendency is known as behavioral lateralization.

Just as the scientists involved in the U.K.-based study from the University of Bristol drive on the left instead of the right, so, in a matter of speaking, do ants. While 9 out of 10 humans are naturally right handed, it appears that ants are naturally left oriented.

Going Left May Mean Safety and Survival

While scientists aren’t entirely certain exactly why ants prefer making left turns when placed in settings that are new, they suspect that one possible reason may be basic common sense: if an ant is lost, consistently turning in one direction again and again will result in the ant eventually finding an exit. As PhD student Edmund Hunt suggested, ants exist in a predominantly maze-like environment, so if they consistently turn in the same direction, they will more efficiently be able to exit these mazes.

Another possible reason for the tendency towards a left-oriented behavioral lateralization is that it may be a means to keep all worker ants together as a cohesive unit. “Perhaps leaning left is more shrewd than sinister,” states Hunt, as turning left may help ants keep a protective eye out towards nest mates.

Still a third possibility is survival: the research team suggested in a statement made to Smithsonian Magazine that the ants may use the right eye to navigate, while searching for potentially dangerous predators with the left eye.

The Future of Leftie Ants

Why is this study from the University of Bristol so important? For one thing, future studies based on this research could reveal previously hidden truths about the origin of behavioral lateralization across many different species.

Cocooned Wasp Larvae

Cocooned Wasp Larvae

Bathyplectes anurus’s (parasitoid wasp) larvae are known to spin cocoons and jump up to 5 centimeters while still inside of them. Scientists have just now believed to have figured out why…

Researchers have found that the larvae jump in their cocoons to find shade. Yoriko Saeki, lead researcher, and her team examined many different effects of light intensities, temperatures and humidity levels under laboratory and field conditions.

The researchers discovered that cocoons in light jumped 3x more often than those kept in darkness. The jumping activity also increase during rapid temperature increase, and where 60% higher in conditions of low humidity.

They also found that when the cocoons were allowed to jump freely, majority of them ended up in shady areas. The cocoons in the shady areas were also more likely to survive, compared to those left out in brighter light.

When researchers put Japanese giant ants into the mix, they found that the cocoons jumped and moved about 83% more when they were placed next to the ants. The Japanese giant ants are known predators of this time of larvae. When the ant made direct contact with a cocoon the frequency of movement decreased.

All results suggested that the larvae responded to environmental stressed by jumping into more favorable habitats of which allowed them to develop unrestrictedly. Overall, the jumping behavior comes at a cost as it required more energy use.

Become an Entomologist!

Become an Entomologist!

Have you ever though about quitting your job? What about to become an entomologist?

An entomologist is someone who studies insects. Some entomologists even get to travel to cool places around the world for research. A typical day involves a real mix of things. One of the main things is conducting research, spending time in the field and recording different insects. You also have to work on identifying different species, lab work, talks and presentations.

Dr. Andrew Sallsbury is one of those people who started his career in entomology. He is a principal entomologist at the Royal Horticultural Society. Most of his research is specific to Coleoptera: beetles’. He says it’s their sheer diversity that is what has always gotten him. His favorite beetle is the scarlet lily beetle, which is bright red and the adults even squeak!

Sallsbury originally became interested in bug in primary school where one of his teachers kept a menagerie of creatures. He started off collecting caterpillar and watched them as they turned into butterflies.

Have you ever though about being an entomologist?

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