Insect News
What is the world's longest insect?
The Natural History Museum of London has revealed the world's longest insect to be Phobaeticus chani, a stick insect from the rainforest of Sabah, a Malaysian state on the island of Borneo.
Rainforest biodiversity at risk from global warming
Climbing temperatures may doom many tropical species to extinction if they are unable to migrate to higher elevations or cooler latitudes, report researchers writing in Science.
Scientists discover 120 million year-old ant in the Amazon rainforest
Scientists have discovered a previously unknown species of ant in the Amazon that may shed light on the evolution of ants. The species is believed to be the oldest-known ant at around 120 million years old. The discovery is presented this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Pollination worth $216 billion/yr for food production
Pollination services provided by insects are worth $216 billion (€153 billion) a year reports a new study published in Ecological Economics. The figure represents about 9.5 percent of the total value of world agricultural food production.
For Australian beetles bigger is better; while American beetles don't care about size
Researchers have discovered a dung beetle that may be evolving into separate species in a few decades rather than thousands or millions of years. Separated geographically, sub-populations of the species show large differences in the size of their genitalia and horns. Such distinctions could create new species in a short time, because beetles with largely different genitalia cannot successfully mate.
Researchers discover "artistic" moth in Panama
Researchers have discovered a new species of Bagworm Moth that wraps its eggs individually in "beautiful cases" fashioned from its golden abdominal hairs, according to a new paper published in the Annals of the Entomology Society of America. The behavior is unique among insects.
The end of migrations: wildlife's greatest spectacle is critically endangered
If we could turn back the clock about 200 years, one could watch as millions of whales swam along their migration routes. Around 150 years ago, one could witness bison filling the vast America prairie or a billion passenger pigeons blotting out the sky for days. Only a few decades back and a million saiga antelope could be seen crossing the plains of Asia.
Leaf-cutter ants test theories about the Amazon's biodiversity
No one knows for certain how many insect species reside in the Amazon. One oft-quoted estimate is 30 million, but the actual number could be significantly lower or higher than this. Either way, biologists have long wondered why the richness of insect diversity in the Americas' tropical forests is exponentially higher than temperate forests. Three popular hypotheses have emerged—the theory of refugia, the marine incursion hypothesis, and the riverine barrier hypothesis. To test these theories a group of scientists, headed by Dr. Scott Solomon, studied three species of leaf-cutter ant species from the Amazon.
Implementing a butterfly farm: Iwokrama reserve's latest sustainable initiative
Iwokrama, which lies in the heart of Guyana's rainforest, is known worldwide for its innovative approach to preserving tropical rainforests and creating livelihoods for local communities. Their focus has been to create programs that utilize the forest sustainably, allowing for a mutual benefit between the people and the forest itself. Currently, Iwokrama has a number of initiatives under its umbrella, including eco-tourism, sustainable forestry, on-going research projects, and training programs. Amid these bustling projects, a new one has emerged: butterfly farming.
Pine beetles attack Canada, boosting GHG emissions
The mountain pine beetle, a small tree-devouring insect, has deforested an area of British Columbia the size of Louisiana — over 130,000 square kilometers. The 5 millimeter insect is a perfect tree-destroying machine. The beetles bore through the tree's bark to reach the phloem of the tree, which contains the tree's organic nutrients. The beetles then feed on these nutrients and lay their eggs. The trees defend themselves by secreting extra resin, but the beetles are often able to combat this by releasing a blue fungi. In about two weeks time, the tree turns a tell-tale red and essentially starves to death. The mountain pine beetles move on.
Colorful insects help search for anti-cancer drugs
Brightly-colored beetles or caterpillars feeding on a tropical plant may signal the presence of chemical compounds active against cancer and parasitic diseases, report researchers writing in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. The discovery could help speed drug discovery.
Dung beetles persist in long-term forest fragments but may suffer from hunting of large animals
Dung beetles bury animal dung to use as their own food and to provide food for their young. This group of beetles is especially prevalent in tropical rainforests. Their burying behvaior incidentally contributes to ecosystem functioning and health by the removal of waste, control of dung-breeding pests, soil fertilization and aeration, and the secondary burial of intact seeds found in mammal feces. Because of their important roles in ecosystems, it is important to know how they are affected by habitat change, in this case, habitat fragmentation.
Insect diversity in the tropics greater than previously believed
The tropics are more biodiverse than previously believed, report researchers writing in the journal Science.
Bats protect crops from insects
Bats eat as many insects at night as birds do during the day, according to research published in the journal Science.
Bats eat as many insects as birds
Bats eat as many insects at night as birds do during the day, according to research published in the journal Science.
Ants first farmed well before humans
Ants began farming some 50 million years ago, far before the first humans developed agriculture, reports a new study based on DNA analysis of the "evolutionary tree" of fungus-growing ants.
DEET repellent works by blocking human odor from mosquitoes
DEET, a potent insect repellent, works by blocking the aroma of human sweat, report researchers writing in the journal Science. The discovery could lead to the development of new repellents that have fewer health risks.
Photos: Caterpillar transforms from mimicking bird droppings to a leaf
Scientists have discovered the hormone that enables swallowtail caterpillars to morph from mimicking bird droppings to the bright color form that matches the leaves upon which they feed. The research is published in Science.
Global warming to increase insect attacks on plants
Global warming will increase attacks on plant leaves by insects, reports a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
To reproduce, parasite transforms ant into juicy red berry
Scientists have discovered a parasite that transforms the appearance of its host, an ant, into that of a juicy red berry that birds are more likely to eat and disperse into new habitats, reports an article published in The American Naturalist. It is the first example of fruit mimicry caused by a parasite, say the researchers who discovered the parasite, a nematode or roundworm found in the canopy of tropical forests ranging from Central America to the lowland Amazon.
Disappearance of elephants, giraffes causes ecological chain reaction
The disappearance of elephants, giraffes and other grazing animals from the eastern African savanna could send ecological ripple effects all the way to the savanna's ants and the acacia trees they inhabit, warns a new study published in the journal Science.
Butterfly tricks ants into caring for its young
A species of butterfly in Denmark foolds ants into raising their larvae, reports research published in the journal Science.
Beetle droppings help forests recover from fire
Armed with a pair of tweezers and a handful of beetle droppings, University of Alberta forestry graduate Tyler Cobb has discovered why the bug-sized dung is so important to areas ravaged by fire.
Termites may produce cleaner biofuels
Termites may be the key to greener, more effective biofuels, report scientists writing in the November 22 edition of the journal Nature.
Billions of disappearing bees linked to virus
Scientists have linked the disappearance of tens of billions of bees to a virus, reports a study published in the 7 September issue of the journal Science. Colony collapse disorder (CCD), in which colonies inexplicably lose all of their worker bees, has been blamed for the loss of 50-90 percent of colonies in beekeeping operations across the U.S.
Stopping malaria using smell
Researchers have taken an important first step in developing improved repellants to protect mankind from its deadliest insect parasite: the mosquito.
Orchids may have co-existed with dinosaurs
Orchids are old enough to have co-existed with dinosaurs, report Harvard University scientists.
Flies prefer Coke
While you may not catch a fly sipping Perrier, the insect has specialized taste cells for carbonated water that probably encourage it to binge on food with growing microorganisms. Yeast and bacteria both produce carbon dioxide (CO2) when they feast, and CO2 dissolves readily in water to produce seltzer or soda water.
Vampire bats invade Finland thanks to global warming
Global warming has brought blood-sucking moths to Finland reports Reuters.
conservation biology needs to be accessible to the masses
Since its earliest days, when private collectors amassed great stores of specimens collected from the farthest reaches of the Earth, natural history studies often have been a pursuit of the economically well-off and of intellectually elitist scientists. One of the most important spinoffs of these natural history studies has been conservation Biology. Unfortunately, the culture of exclusivity appears to have also infected conservation Biology. Technical jargon, restricted access to data, and poor communication among researchers, amateur enthusiasts and political decision-makers have colluded to keep it a clubby affair that may be hurting goals of sustainable use of resources, long term management policies, and species and habitat conservation.
Army ants form living pothole plugs to speed up delivery
Certain army ants in the rainforests of Central and South America conduct spectacular predatory raids containing up to 200,000 foraging ants. Remarkably, some ants use their bodies to plug potholes in the trail leading back to the nest, making a flatter surface so that prey can be delivered to the developing young at maximum speed.
20-40% of U.S. bees have disappeared
Known and unknown ailments have killed 20 to 40 percent of bee colonies across the United States this winter according to a leading entomologist.
Mosquitoes are evolving in response to global warming
University of Oregon researchers studying mosquitoes have produced the first chromosomal map that shows regions of chromosomes that activate -- and are apparently evolving -- in animals in response to climate change
Tear-sucking moth in Madagascar feeds on bird eyes
Biologists have documented the first known case of moths feeding on the tears of birds. The research, published in the January 4 2007 issue of the journal Biology Letters, reports that Hemiceratoides hieroglyphica 'attacks sleeping birds in Madagascar' using its sharply barbed proboscis to penetrate the bird's eye. While similar behvaior has been reported in mammals, this is the first known case of tear-feeding on birds.
Antarctic insects make natual anti-freeze to survive cold
Insects in the some of the world's coldest places produce natural anti-freeze that enables them to survive sub-freezing temperatures for months on end accoridng to research repsented at the Society for Experimental Biology's Annual Meeting in Glasgow.
Insects cultivate antibiotic-producing bacteria in their antennae
Bacteria live in, on and around us and other organisms with sometimes very beneficial results. For the first time scientists have shown that one species of insect deliberately cultivates bacteria in its antennae in order to protect their larvae from fungal attack. This highly specialised interaction between an insect species and bacteria protects the insect's offspring against microorganisms which might infect it during its cocoon stage.
Detecting poisons in nectar is an odour-ous task for honeybees
Though many spring flowers have bright advertisements offering sweet rewards to honeybees, some common flowers have not-so-sweet or even toxic nectars. Why plants would try to poison the honeybees they wish to attract is a scientific mystery.
Ladybugs ruin good wine
Secretions by ladybugs can taint the aroma and flavor of otherwise perfectly good wine, but scientists at Iowa State University say they may have devised a solution.
Mysterious outbreak killing millions of bees
An mysterious outbreak is causing the deaths of millions of honeybees in 22 states according to an entomologist from the University of Montana. Jerry Bromenshenk says that Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is "causing agricultural honeybees nationwide to abandon their hives and disappear."
Female butterflies become more promiscuous when males are scarce
Female butterflies become more promiscuous when males die from bacteria outbreaks, according to a new study published in the journal Current Biology. The research suggests that surviving males have a tough time keeping up their frisky mates, showing "signs of fatigue and put less effort into mating."
Biomimicry of beetle could produce whiter teeth
A pure white beetle found in the forests of southeast Asia could eventually lead to brilliant white ultra-thin materials including whiter teeth and finer paper, according to research led by scientists at the University of Exeter.
Leaf-mimicking insects at least 47 million years old
With the discovery of a 47 million year old fossil of a lead insect, new research suggests that cryptic leaf-mimicking camoflauge is a time-tested strategy used by insects to avoid predators.
Small insects tell us Earth is warming
Small insects known as midges are telling scientists that Earth is warming, according to research to be presented December 15 at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.
Invasive ants use genetic differences to distinguish friend from foe
A study led by University of California, San Diego biologists shows that invasive Argentine ants appear to use genetic differences to distinguish friend from foe, a finding that helps to explain why these ants form enormous colonies in California.
Beetle biomimicry could allow robots to climb vertical glass walls
Researchers at Max Planck Institute for Metals Research are developing adhesives based on biomimicry of beetles' feet. The design enables the materials to stick to smooth walls without any adhesives. The researchers say the technology, which uses microhairs "reminiscent of tiny mushrooms", could someday allow robots to climb vertical glass walls and refrigerator magnets to be replaced by non-magnetic objects.
Global warming could cause insect population explosion
Global warming may prove to be a boon to insects according to new research published in the October edition of the journal The American Naturalist.
Animal pollinators responsible for 35 percent of world food crop
A new study calculates that 35 percent of the world's crop production is dependent on pollinators, like bats, bees, and birds. The research suggests that biodiversity loss could directly impact global food crops.
Higher oxygen levels could produce monster insects
Higher concentrations of oxygen could produce giant insects according to a paper presented at the Comparative Physiology conference currently meeting in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The paper, 'No giants today: tracheal oxygen supply to the legs limits beetle size,' based on research by a team of American researchers, offers evidence that Paleozoic insects were substantially larger because they had a richer oxygen supply. During the late Paleozoic period, about 300 million years ago, the air's oxygen content was around 35 percent, compared to 21 percent today. As a result some dragonflies had two-and-a-half-foot wing spans, while giant spiders roamed the ancient forests.
Tropical rain forest insects have diet similar to temperate insects
A study initiated by University of Minnesota plant biologist George Weiblen has confirmed what biologists since Darwin have suspected - that the vast number of tree species in rain forests accounts for the equally vast number of plant-eating species of insects.
Insect diversity in rainforests results from plant biodiversity
The high diversity of leaf-eating insect species in tropical forests results from the large number of plant species that exist in these ecosystems, according to new research published in the current issue of the journal Science.