More about insects enduring the winter cold: researchers at University of Alaska Fairbanks have isolated a previously unknown molecule that allows an Alaska beetle able to survive temperatures below -100 F. The new molecule, called xylomannan, has little or no protein, which makes it completely different in form and mechanism than other known biological antifreezes. Continue reading
A new and improved design of beehive could be used by city dwellers to harvest up to 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of their own honey each year, according to Natural England, a British government conservation agency. The hives could also help stem the decline of bee populations. Continue reading
The mutually beneficial relationship between acacias and the ants that guard them is a little better understood, thanks to researchers in the UK and Sweden. They found that the ants are deterred from entering the flowers–and thus competing with pollinators–by a chemical the plant produces. This chemical is produced in addition to the food rewards provided to the ants. Continue reading
Will guacamole become a sometime food? After enjoying a season of near record-high avocado prices, farmers of Florida’s second-largest tropical fruit crop are now worried about a potential invasive pest, the Asian redbay ambrosia beetle.The beetle is moving Southward, carrying with it a fungus that can kill trees, including avocado trees. To date, there is no known treatment for the fungal disease, although some trees in Asia have a natural resistance to it.
The beetle has evolved a symbiotic relationship with the fungus. It carries it in a pouch in its mouth, inoculates trees with it, and then feeds off it as the fungus digests the tree.
from the Miami Herald
- The male silk moth is estimated to “smell” chemicals of female silk moths in the air at the ratio of a few hundred molecules among 25 quintillion (25,000,000,000,000,000,000) molecules in a cubic centimeter of air.
- Houseflies find sugar with their feet, which are 10 million times more sensitive than human tongues.
- It takes about one hundred Monarch butterflies to weigh Continue reading
Today I’m doing some quick research on insects and climate change. Here’s a 2008 paper that provides food for thought: Currano et al. found fossil evidence that an abrupt warming event 55.8 mya was correlated with increased leaf-eating by insects, which in turn releases more CO2 into the atmosphere. The warming event–called the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum–was an abrupt change linked to a transient increase in atmospheric CO2 and is considered to be comparable in rate and magnitude to modern anthropogenic climate change. Continue reading