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The Ant Code of Honor

The Ant Code of Honor

We don’t usually think of ants as being caring and kind, but when the colony is in trouble it’s “all for one and one for all.” Generally, ants are pretty tough to damage. They have an extremely strong exoskeleton and flexible internal organs that can be moved around quite a bit without being damaged.  They also don’t feel pain to their body the way we do, so even an injured ant can continue to march on. But, every now and then one of the crew does get into trouble. So, what do his or her fellow ants do when their comrade is in danger?

Surprisingly, ants within the same colony are quite protective of each other. If an ant sibling is hurt, his or her fellow ants will carry their injured brethren back to safety. And if an ant gets stuck in sand, its fellow ants will actually undergo a rescue mission to free their sibling and then take him or her back to safety. How do they know to do this? When an ant is hurt they emit alarm pheromones, which call their ant siblings to their rescue. For tiny pests ants are surprisingly humane.

What do you think of this selfless behavior from a little pest?

Home Remedies for Bites and Stings

Home Remedies for Bites and Stings

Getting an insect bite or sting can be a huge pain, especially if you don’t have anything at home to treat it. There are everyday household items you can use to treat bites or stings that people have been swearing by for centuries. So, forget running to the store, just look in your pantry for a home remedy.

When your first stung move slowly away from the insect, as the bee that stung you will warn other bees, making them more likely to sting you as well. You should remain as calm and quiet as possible, as venom spread faster through the bloodstream with movement. Make sure you remove the stinger as soon as possible. You can remove the spines of a puss caterpillar by putting cellophane tape or facial peel on the spot and ripping it off.

Apply an ice pack on the sting and elevate the limb to reduce swelling. Then you can take a nonprescription medicine such as Tylenol, an antihistamine, or hydrocortisone cream to relieve the pain and itching.

What do you do to treat insect bites and stings?

Following an Unknown Spider/Insect Bite, UK Man Dies

Following an Unknown Spider/Insect Bite, UK Man Dies

Fifty year old Simon Paul Tongue passed away after suffering from a heart attack caused by an acute allergic reaction to an unknown spider/insect bite.

Isle of Wight coroner, Caroline Sumeray said, “”On the balance of probabilities, he had an allergic reaction which started a chain of events that overwhelmed him. His body was put under a lot of stress, which led to a massive heart attack.”

After work, Paul had texted his wife, Janice, complaining that he didn’t feel well and that his arm was swollen. Martin Smith, Paul’s stepson said that he had saw Paul’s arm which was swollen and exuding fluid. Once Janice made it home (around 10pm), Paul was lying in bed with a high temperature, had vomited and was hallucinating.

Within minutes of Janice’s arrival, Paul had stopped breathing. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene just after 11pm.

According to Dr. Norman Mounter, a consultant histopathologist said that Paul’s deal was unusual in the sense that there were no signs of anaphylaxis– swelling of the tongue, lips and airways, typical side effects of an insect sting or bite. Dr. Mounter believed that Paul might have suffered from Kounis syndrome, a cardiac event elicited by a hypersensitive reaction.

 

His wife Janice concluded, “It was an unknown insect bite. It just happened so quickly.” A bite that Paul never remembered getting.

 

What precaution(s) do you take if you get an insect/spider bite?

20 Interesting Insect Facts

20 Interesting Insect Facts

The Insecta class includes ants, bees, flies, beetles and much more, all of which have 3 segments- head, thorax and abdomen- encased in a hard exoskeleton. They also have a pair of antenna, compound eyes, and three pairs of joint legs. Here are 20 interesting facts about insects provided by Live Science

  1. Insects are the most successful creates

There are 1.5 million species of organisms on this planet, of which insects make up about 2/3. They are small, which makes it easier for them to high and reducing overall energy requirements. They also had a extraordinary ability to reproduce.

  1. Beetles are the most biodiverse group of creatures

They make up 40% of the insect species.

  1. There are 10 quadrillion ants on the planet at any given moment

There are 1.4 million ants per human (based on the world population of 7.3 billion people).

  1. Insects are on every continent

However, on Antarctica they barely have a foothold.

  1. Insects are landlubber

Your only escape from the six-legged creatures is by being on the ocean.

  1. Insects breathe through their sides

Insects inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide through holes called spiracles in their exoskeleton.

  1. Insects have an open circulatory system

Insect blood, also known as hemolymph is typically clear, but can be greenish or yellowish.

  1. Insects were along the first animals, dating back to 400 million years

These ancient critters were around 170 million years before dinosaurs.

  1. The largest insect ever known was the ancient dragonfly

The dragonfly had a wingspan of 2.5 feet (290 million to 250 million years ago).

  1. Today’s heftiest insect is found in New Zealand

Known as the giant weta, a cricket like beast that can weight more than 1 pound.

  1. Insects have a compound eyes

Contrary to popular belief that the individual units within the eye act as its own eye, the individual units act more like pixels, building up a mosaic of imagery.

  1. A number of insects have a bonus eye

Many insects have a so-called simple eye, or ocelli, in between, in the middle of their “forehead.”

  1. The Hybomitra hinei weighti house fly can fly up to 90 mph

Jerry Butler, now an emeritus professor of entomology at the University of Florida, once shot a pellet out of an air rifle to see if a male horsefly of the species Hybomitra hinei wrighti could catch it. The guy-fly did, suggesting it must have flown at about 90 mph, the record for insects, as reported by Discover Magazine.

  1. Most insects only live for a few days or weeks as reproducing adults

The egg laying queens of colonies are however exceptions and can life for decades.

  1. Termite queens can product 6,000-7,000 eggs in a single day

According to the USDA an entomologist once recorded a queen of the termite species Macrotermes hellicosus, found in Africa and Southeast Asia, cranking out an egg at a rate of one every 2 seconds, which would add up to 43,000 a day, assuming she never took a break.

  1. The meadow froghopper insect can jump more than 100 times its height (about 28 inches)

Humans cannot jump more than their own height, the highest vertical record jump is 46 inches.

  1. A dung beetle can pull 1,141 times its own body weight

Scientists reported in 2010 (in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B) that the strongest insect on the planet is Onthophagus taurus, known variously as a horned dung beetle, bull-headed dung beetle and taurus scarab.

  1. The male Indian stick insect, Necroscia sparaxes, has the highest record of latching onto its female mate for 79 days

Male insects latch on to their female mates in order to prevent competitors from also inseminating the female (usually only up to a few days).

  1. Insects have ears all over the place

A few examples include: Lacewings (have ears on the base of their wings), Crickets (have ears on their legs), Grasshopper’s’ (ears are on their abdomen), and Tachinids-parasitic type of fly (have ears on their necks).

  1. All bugs are insects, but not all insets are bugs

Not every insect is a bug. Strictly speaking, “bugs” are an order of insects called Hemiptera. These “true bugs,” as entomologists also call them, are distinguished for having hypodermic-needle-like mouthparts.

 

Amazing Army Ants

Amazing Army Ants

Researchers at the University of Sydney, Australia recently performed a study on the ability of army ants to build live bridges out of their bodies. During the study they captured a time-lapse video of the process, which you can see here. Army ants build bridges to create shortcuts across gaps in the forest floor where they forage for food. In an amazing feat of ingenuity the ants constantly adjust the bridge based on cost-benefit analysis. The ants continuously lengthen, widen, and even adjust the placement of the bridge in response to traffic and the environment around them. They are able to assess and adjust these bridges to make them as efficient to their foraging process as possible. The goal is always to increase the efficiency of their foraging for food. They don’t simply use these bridges to cross impassible crevices. They use them to cross a hole rather than go around it, based on their analysis of whether the effort of building the bridge outweighs the time that would be spent going around it. When you think about it, that’s pretty advanced for simple insects like ants.

 

What do you think about this amazing proof of ants intelligence?

Baseball Promises No More Bugs!

Baseball Promises No More Bugs!

In 2007, a cloud of midges swarmed Joba Chamberline on the mound during the Indians-Yankees playoff game. Since, Joba has been offered a minor-league contract an invitation to big-league camp. The Indian’s also promised there wouldn’t be an issue like that again.

As Yankee fans recall, the midges descended infield at Jacobs Field during a crucial eighth-inning sequence. At the time, the Yankees held a 1-0 lead, and were working on getting rid of the bugs, however they were only failed attempts. Cleveland eventually won, 2-1, 11 innings in, ultimately leading to a series win of 3-1.

Chamberlain was quoted that night that the midgets bugged him, “but you’ve got to deal with it.” In Chamberlain’s 9-year career, he has 3.87 ERA in 365 games, 43 of which he started, 528 strikeouts and 535.1 lifetime innings.

Did you watch this game? What do you remember?

Did you Know There is a Lot of DNA in Cobwebs?

Did you Know There is a Lot of DNA in Cobwebs?

Before jumping to a vacuum or paper towel to clean up a cobweb you have lying around your house, you may want to consider the valuable scientific information that the web contains. I’m sure you are thinking that this information most likely isn’t important to you; however on the flip side, scientist find huge value in this data. So what exactly is this “valuable” scientific information.

Spider’s sticky webs contain a lot of DNA! The DNA of the spider itself, and whatever prey was unlucky enough to be caught in the web. This type of information is so valuable to scientists because they can amplify and sequence these samples in a lab and can clue in on what kind of spiders are building these webs and what type of prey that are catching. This genetic sequencing method is also becoming less expensive that other methods and easier for scientists to collect data instead of chasing, capturing and killing.

Aside from knowing exactly which spider species has built the web, and who the prey is, this information is valuable on other levels too! Charles C.Y. Xu, a graduate student in Erasmus Mundus Master Programme in evolutionary Biology says this information is important for many different things such as conservation ecology all the way to pest management.

What do you do with the webs you find?

Useless Bug Bite Remedies

Useless Bug Bight Remedies

No one wants to be bitten by a bug. You get red swelling skin, itchiness, and a small bit of pain. It is possible for people to experience worse reactions such as infection, and eczema flare up, or anaphylactic shock, but for most people it simply a mild annoyance. That is at least one good piece of news, as apparently the over-the-counter remedies for insect bites and stings are useless and have not been proven as effective.

Antihistamines, the most commonly recommended remedy has never been actually proven to be effective. The same goes for steroid creams and tablets that are supposed to relieve itching and swelling. In fact, these creams that contain antihistamines, painkillers, anesthetics, and antiseptics have only been proven to be marginally effective at relieving the symptoms of an insect bite. The only substance that has proven to make any difference is diluted ammonium solution, but anything else is simply a placebo. So, don’t go spending money on these bogus treatments when in reality the symptoms are just not bad enough to warrant it.

Have you purchased any of these remedies for insect bites and stings? Have they ever worked for you?

Tricks to Find Termites

Tricks to Find Termites

Termite Pest Control
Termite Pest Control

In order to protect our homes from being taken over or infested by termites, it is important that we know a thing or two about them! Cellulose, an ingredient present in wood, is what termites feed off of. Because most homes are built with wood, it is important to have our basement, laundry room, crawlspace and other damp areas checked regularly for termites since they dine and live unseen.

Here are some tips on how to spot termites in your homes:

  • Termites can be heard in your walls tromping their feet around.
  • Termites like to keep their hideout clean and tidy, so their droppings (dead termites and feces) can be found right outside of the walls.
  • Spots on your walls or decks that can be easily scratches probably are termite infestation (dark or soft spots in the wood).
  • Mud tunnels, tubes or mud piles around your foundation can be a sign of termites.
  • Small holes in your walls can also be a sign of a termite infestation.
  • When termites colonize, you will notice drooping, buckling or sagging floors. Termites dig tunnels into the wood leaving the wood discolored and blistered. You will also see traces of sawdust.
  • Keep your eyes out for dirt channels and ripples along the drywall.

New White-Winged Moth

New White-Winged Moth

A new moth with immaculate white wings was discovered recently in Florida. It prefers drier habitats such as the sandhills of the peninsula of Florida. So far it is only known to eat the evergreen sand live oak. At first it was mistaken for other moths with pale whitish wings, but upon further inspection scientists noticed that this moth’s forewings are immaculately white. Its hindwings are a pale grey, and it is not spotted, unlike its close relatives.

Its pale white color reveals its habitat preference. The moths’ white wings are meant to blend in with the sandy areas prevalent in the Florida peninsula, as well as other dry habitats containing sandy deserts. While the moths’ preference for drier climates is unique among moths and butterflies, it is quite common in other insects and spineless animals.

Have you spotted this beautiful white-winged moth? Why do you think it prefers to live in drier areas, unlike most moths and butterflies?

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