Off With Their Heads! Brutal Insect Decapitators
We’re all pretty familiar with the gruesome practice of using the guillotine during the French Revolution to decapitate hundreds of French nobility. But that was actually the most humane method of head removal us humans have come up with to date. We’ve been chopping off heads left and right for centuries, and not always in the most clean manner…but it turns out we’re not the only species to use this gruesome killing method. There are actually a number of insect species that specialize in decapitation.
One of the most ruthless headhunters in the world is the seemingly unassuming tropical flies of the Dohrniphora genus. Three species of these phorid flies make their living by slicing the heads off of trap-jaw ants. A female fly will surgically remove her victim’s head with her very long proboscis that is tipped with a sharp blade-like organ. She will then either drag off the head so she can eat the goo inside in peace, or use the empty head as a vessel for her to lay her eggs in. How do these tiny flies outwit these fearsome giant ants? They attack them when they are injured during a colony battle. That’s pretty clever if you ask me.
What do you think of this ruthless behavior in such innocent looking flies? Will this make you a little more wary of these seemingly insignificant creatures in the future?
Utah Woman with Zika Virus Delivers Healthy Baby
For months we have been hearing all about the devastating risks of Zika—but it seems there is finally some good news coming out of the reports surrounding the Zika Virus.
According to The Salt Lake County Health Department, a woman in Utah who was infected with the Zika Virus while pregnant gave birth to a healthy baby boy. The infant tested negative for the virus.
Another important note—the woman, as with all U.S. cases so far, contracted the virus while travelling abroad.
Given this news, health officials will continue to investigate the link between Zika infections in pregnant women and a rare birth defect called microcephaly. There is a possibility that the likelihood of transmission from mother to infant depends on which trimester of the pregnancy the virus is contracted.
Are you surprised at this good news coming out of Utah? Do you think a vaccine for the Zika Virus is on the horizon?
If you have any concerns about mosquitoes in your area, be sure to hire a professional pest control company that offers mosquito reduction services.
Mice on Mars
The next time you see a mouse in your house, think of this: there is a new NASA mission that involves sending mice to space!
According to reports, a group of mice will be sent to the International Space Station (ISS) onboard the SpaceX resupply rocket.
The reason? NASA researchers will be subjecting the mice to conditions of low gravity to find ways to protect humans in space from skeletal muscle atrophy. The experiment, named Rodent Research-3, will study the degeneration of bone and muscle tissues that result from staying in space for long periods of time. The hope is that the mice can help scientists find a way to prevent (or delay) the process from happening to astronauts.
You may be wondering—why did NASA choose to send mice over another species. Well, as it turns out, mice are pretty biologically similar to humans.
Do you find this mission to space fasnicating? We do! Love ‘em or hate ‘em, mice have done so much for scientific research and advancements!
Did You Know? Spiders Feast on More than Just Insects
Most people find them creepy and will take the necessary steps, such as hiring a professional pest management company, to keep these insects out of their homes. But others don’t seem to mind having a spider or two around the house, as they are known to eat other insects.
However, scientist Martin Nyffeler, who studies spiders at the University of Basel in Switzerland, has discovered that some spiders also eat plants.
“I always found this topic very intriguing,” he says, “since I am a vegetarian myself.”
Nyffler and his team have observed that some spiders feed on leaves by digesting them with enzymes prior to eating, just as they do when eating other insects. Other spiders pierce a leaf with their chelicerae, and then suck out plant sap. What’s more, some even drink nectar from flowers and other plants!
Are you surprised that some spiders have a “vegetarian” diet? Do you do what it takes to keep them out of your home?
This Just In: Insects Can Self Repair
While insects may not have bones like mammals and reptiles, they do have very structured bodies, which as you can imagine, are prone to damage. Whether it be narrowly avoiding a predator, or being hit by a moving car, insects are certainly at risk.
But researchers at Trinity College in Dublin have discovered that when an insect is injured, its body immediately goes into repair mode. In fact, it lays a patch of new cuticle beneath the affected area, which essentially acts like a bandage that stays in place until the wound heals. Think of it as Nature’s Band-Aid.
“Unlike us, insects cannot completely repair their ‘bones,’ but it turns out that by using this cuticle bandage they can do a pretty good job,” said David Taylor, lead author of the new study at Trinity College Dublin. “They are able to restore most of the original strength, which allows them to keep using their limbs for normal activities.”
Are you impressed by these self-recovery skills of insects? Or does it make you think insects are even harder to terminate that you once thought?!
If you have pest control needs in your home, be sure to hire a reputable pest management company.
Expert Warns Zika Outbreak in U.S. Could be as Devastating as Katrina
Tropical disease expert Dr. Peter Hotez has been warning for months that certain neighborhoods in the United States could see such extreme Zika outbreaks, the effect could be as bad as what was experienced during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Poor neighborhoods on the Gulf Coast are very similar to poor neighborhoods in Brazil, which is the epicenter of the Zika outbreak. This is mainly due to lack of air conditioning and standing water, which are breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
“If you look to see where Zika is devastating families, mothers and their unborn babies or their newborn babies throughout the Americas, it’s in the areas of extreme poverty,” Dr. Hotez said.
And he is prepared to work hard to try to stop Zika in its tracks. He said, “I’m taking money from other areas that we fund in order to fund the very important Zika research, particularly the Zika vaccine research.”
What do you think? Do you think Zika will become as much as a problem here in the U.S. as it is in Brazil?
If you are concerned about mosquitoes or have standing water near your property, call us regarding our mosquito reduction services.
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, Hulett Environmental Services 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.
Hulett Environmental Services experts 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.
- Just call HULETT if an infestation is suspected.
It’s Time to Do Your Homework: Poll Reveals American’s Staggering Lack of Knowledge About the Zika Virus
I feel like I see news about the Zika virus blasted all over the internet everyday, but apparently not many people are actually reading it. A poll of over 1,000 Americans conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health revealed that most of us are seriously mistaken in our knowledge about the Zika virus.
Let’s take a look at what kind of results the researchers found. When asked whether there was a link between the Zika virus and birth defects, one in four people seem to be completely unaware that the virus causes microcephaly in infants. Do you know whether there is a vaccine for the Zika virus? Well, if you said yes, first of all just know now that your wrong, and you’ve got plenty of company. Twenty percent of the people polled also thought we already had a vaccine for the virus.
Here’s a fun one. How is the Zika virus transmitted? Let’s see what pollers thought. Hmm…31 percent thought it could be transmitted by coughing and sneezing…that one is just sad. 42 percent didn’t know that the virus could be sexually transmitted. 29 percent didn’t realize that you could catch it through a blood transfusion. Let me officially announce that the Zika virus is mostly transmitted through the bite of a mosquito. That’s an important one to remember.
I think this clearly shows that not enough of us are reading the news or doing our homework on this massive outbreak that has spread to at least 41 countries or territories. Come on people. It’s time to pay attention.
Did you have any of these misconceptions? Did you realize how many people were misinformed about the Zika virus?
The Zika Virus and Infants: It’s Worse Than We Thought
Learning that the Zika virus can cause infants to be born with microcephaly was bad enough, but new research has found that it may cause much more damage than we previously thought. The study found that the baby’s brain may suffer even more damage than is initially observed at birth, and it may also affect more than just a baby’s brain.
Doctors have already been performing ultrasounds on infected women to look for signs that the baby’s head is abnormally small, but this new study suggests they may also need to look for signs of other brain damage as well. The study suggests the virus could also cause the brain cavities to store extra fluid, and result in a thinner cortex, the brain’s outer layer.
The damage apparently doesn’t stop there, however. This new case study also found the Zika virus in infants’ developing muscle, liver, lung and spleen in addition to the brain. Doctors are now looking at what kind of impact it might have on these other organs.
And it doesn’t end there. Previously, scientists had reported that the Zika virus only remained in the blood 11 days after infection. However, this new study found that in pregnant women the virus could still be found in the blood ten weeks after infection. The researchers believe that the virus remains so long because, after it replicates in the infected baby, it then goes back into the mother’s blood.
Do you think the Zika virus causes more problems than scientists think even now? What else do you think it could affect?
Scientists have started using a new technique to study the insects that end up in a spider’s web. While in the past researchers would simply shake a tree canopy and wait for spiders to fall out so they could study them, among other crude methods, today researchers are able to simply scan the DNA in a spider web, a much less invasive technique. Using this DNA detection method, researchers are able to valuable information about the insects that get trapped in their webs. The DNA from the prey can be detected over 88 days after the insect is no longer trapped in the web. With spiders building webs in so many places, researchers can perform broad environmental monitoring using these DNA scans for research, as well as to be able to estimate which prey species of insects are present in a certain area. This could lead to better insect control overall, as well as help monitoring specific pest insects. The possibilities are endless with this new DNA scanning technology.
Can you see the benefit of being able to monitor the prey insects in an area through studying a spider’s web? What do you think of this new technology?