Fire ants swarm into floating rafts to survive Harvey

August 30, 2017 by  
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People battling flooding and destruction in Texas after Tropical Storm Harvey face yet another hazard: fire ants . Photos on social media show patches of ants floating together through floodwaters – and though this behavior isn’t entirely unheard-of, the insects are said to be naturally aggressive and have caused alarm among locals. Floating rafts of fire ants could pose a new threat to people struggling in the aftermath of Harvey around Houston . Fire ants are native to South America, coming from floodplains near the Paraguay River, so they already know how to handle waters. They form a large raft with their bodies, with ants on the bottom keeping the ones on top dry, and air pockets between the them allow the whole thing to float. Larvae and the queen are kept dry on the very top. Related: 6 ways you can help people affected by Tropical Storm Harvey The ants came to the United States back in the 1930’s, and have also made their way to China, Australia, and Taiwan, where they are described as an invasive species. According to The Guardian, the fire ants are extremely aggressive – they will sometimes attack as a group. They can sting people, and in some cases the sting can lead to a secondary infection. Allergic reactions have even led to death – potentially causing dozens of deaths in America. Louisiana etymologist Linda Bui has also conducted research that suggests fire ants release higher venom doses and become more defensive during floods. Etymologists observed similar raft behavior from fire ants in the wake of Hurricane Katrina . But photos of the ants banding together in Houston have understandably led to panic, such as one dramatic image of a huge swarm in Cuero, southwest of Houston. University of Texas curator of etymology Alex Wild said he’d never seen anything like the swarm in Cuero during his entire career researching ants. Via The Guardian Images via screenshot and Fox Keegan on Twitter / Bill O’Zimmermann on Twitter

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Fire ants swarm into floating rafts to survive Harvey

Praying mantises hunt down and eat small birds, including hummingbirds

July 10, 2017 by  
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We know praying mantises are carnivorous – they’ve been documented consuming frogs, lizards, and snakes. But they also kill and consume small birds like hummingbirds , according to new research from zoologists in Switzerland and the United States. We expect birds to eat insects , not the other way around, so the reversal is startling – and humans may have had a role to play in the deaths of these hummingbirds. The zoologists gathered 147 cases of mantids capturing small birds. Praying mantises from 12 species and nine genera engaged in the behavior, which was found on every continent except Antarctica, in 13 countries. The insects weren’t too picky about the birds they ate either – 24 different species and 14 families of birds were among the prey. Related: 9 things you can do to help wild birds this summer But 70 percent of the cases in this research occurred in the United States. There, the insects have been employed as pest control – a practice which had unintended consequences. Several alien species of big praying mantises were released in North America decades ago for pest control, and now threaten small birds. They snare hummingbirds at hummingbird feeders, or in home gardens filled with plants the birds pollinate . These hummingbirds comprise the majority of the birds preyed upon by praying mantises. 78 percent of the birds captured were eaten, according to the researchers. 18 percent were liberated by humans. Only two percent escaped on their own. Scientist Martin Nyffeler of the University of Basel said in a statement, “Our study shows the threat mantises pose to some bird populations. Thus, great caution is advised when releasing mantises for pest control.” Nyffeler was the lead author on a paper recently published in The Wilson Journal of Ornithology , joined by zoologists from National University and Louisiana State University . Via TreeHugger and the University of Basel Images via Zoran Ožetski on Unsplash and Beckie on Flickr

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Praying mantises hunt down and eat small birds, including hummingbirds

Nuns build open-air chapel to protest natural gas pipeline on their land

July 10, 2017 by  
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Battles against fossil fuel pipelines aren’t limited to North Dakota. In Lancaster County, Pennsylvania , a group of Catholic nuns is fighting against a natural gas pipeline that would run beneath land they own. They’re protesting the pipeline in a unique way by building an open-air chapel for people to visit and reflect on “just and holy uses of land.” The nuns, part of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ order, own land in West Hempfield Township that stands in the path of the Atlantic Sunrise Project, a pipeline for natural gas being pursued by Williams Partners to extend the Transco pipeline system that already runs from Texas to New York. Even though the nuns have not wanted their land used for the pipeline, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved the pipeline, pointing to eminent domain. Related: Trump approves new pipeline that will go “right under” the US-Mexico wall The nuns are working against the pipeline, which they say goes against their land ethic, with the group Lancaster Against Pipelines . Protester Ann Neumann told CNN, “They see the pipeline as a violation of their faith,” saying 20 members of the order reside on the land. In a visible symbol of protest, the nuns allowed Lancaster Against Pipelines to construct this outdoor chapel, intended for people of all faith backgrounds. The nuns hope the chapel will draw people to come and pray at the location. They said in a statement they know the pipeline company might call for the chapel’s removal, but “believe that having this structure on their land, for however long, gives tangible witness to the sacredness of Earth.” The chapel was dedicated over the weekend, and according to Lancaster Online, around 300 people showed up for the ceremony. A Williams Partners spokesperson referred to the chapel as a “blatant attempt to impede pipeline construction.” Via CNN , Adorers of the Blood of Christ , and Lancaster Online Images via NoPipelinesLancaster on Twitter and Adorers of the Blood of Christ

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Nuns build open-air chapel to protest natural gas pipeline on their land

This moth is named after Donald Trump

January 20, 2017 by  
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Maybe this will get Donald Trump to care about the environment: a biologist just named a new species of moth after the President-elect. Neopalpa donaldtrumpi bears an eerie resemblance to its namesake, by sporting a wild crop of blond scales on its head. Evolutionary biologist Vazrick Nazari hopes the clever appellation will highlight the need for continued conservation – he came up with it right as Republican congressmen announced their intentions to roll back the Endangered Species Act . It appears some biologists still have a sense of humor even as a president who threatens to be terrible for the environment is slated to take office. Nazari, who is unaffiliated and based in Ottawa, Canada, was scrutinizing the Bohart Museum of Entomology ‘s specimen collection at U.C. Davis when he saw some small moths that stood apart from the others because of their strange wing markings and small genitals. DNA barcoding couldn’t identify the moths, which means Nazari had stumbled across a new species – and he had the perfect name in mind. Related: San Francisco man singlehandedly revives a rare butterfly species in his own backyard In his research article published by ZooKeys , Nazari said, “The new species is named in honor of Donald J. Trump, to be installed as the 45th President of the United States on January 20, 2017… The specific epithet is selected because of the resemblance of the scales on the frons (head) of the moth to Mr. Trump’s hairstyle.” The Neopalpa donaldtrumpi also bears another hilarious similarity to its bombastic namesake. It’s a member of the twirler moth family, named for their tendency to spin in circles when stressed (Trump’s Twitter rants, anyone?). In his article Nazari said, “The discovery of this distinct micro-moth in the densely populated and otherwise zoologically well-studied southern California underscores the importance of the conservation of the fragile habitats that still contain undescribed and threatened species.” Via mental_floss Images via Vazrick Nazari

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This moth is named after Donald Trump

These tenacious bees create sturdy nests by carving out standstone

September 14, 2016 by  
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Bee populations have suffered in recent years , but one tenacious species thrives in a harsh environment: the deserts of the American Southwest . An entomologist from Utah State University (USU) found not only does this new bee species build nests in sandstone , they actually prefer to construct homes there, and their curious habit helps them survive. Almost 40 years ago, USDA-ARS entomologist Frank Parker found bees living in sandstone at two places in the San Rafael Desert in Utah . Although he researched the unusual bees, his work was set aside for many years until USU doctoral student Michael Orr began to once again research the insects . Orr found nests made by the “uncommon” and “hard-to-find” bees in five other locations in southern Utah, Death Valley in California, and at the Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde in Colorado. Related: Australian beekeepers celebrate rare flowering of trees that are a magnet for bees The new species, called Anthophora pueblo , “actually prefers nesting in sandstone,” according to Orr. He’s the lead author on a paper published this week in Current Biology . Though now retired, Parker is also credited on the paper. Orr said, “The desert is a hard place to live. Anthophora pueblo has pioneered a suitable niche between a rock and a hard place.” Sturdy sandstone offers the bees protection. Orr says sometimes bees stay inside the sandstone nests as a way to cope with drought when flora is limited. Built high into the rock, the bee nests also offer safety from flash floods or erosion. There’s even less chance of microbes that threaten bees coming to the sandstone nests. Since sandstone doesn’t have as much organic matter as some habitats, most microbes growing in the rock make food for themselves, and so aren’t as likely to invade the bees’ home. Via Phys.org Images via Michael Orr, Utah State University

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These tenacious bees create sturdy nests by carving out standstone

Amazing installation arranges thousands of real insects in exquisite patterns

December 4, 2015 by  
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Amazing installation arranges thousands of real insects in exquisite patterns

Creative Cicada pavilion in Spain mimics the body of an insect

September 24, 2015 by  
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DIY: Homemade Insect Repellent Sprays and Lotions

July 19, 2013 by  
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As people take to campgrounds and beaches in search of a little R&R this summer, insects of various shapes and sizes are rubbing their little feet (forelegs?) together in glee at the smorgasbord they’ll get to sample. Depending on where you’re located, you may have the dubious honor of being gnawed upon by mosquitoes , deer flies, no-see-ums, and other flying bite-y things. Since walking around while draped in netting isn’t at the top of anyone’s summer “to-do” list, the best bet to avoid becoming a walking buffet is insect repellent. Jump ahead for a few homemade concoctions. Read the rest of DIY: Homemade Insect Repellent Sprays and Lotions Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: all natural mosquito repellant , all natural mosquito spray , black flies , bug repellent , bugs , chiggers , citronella , deer flies , DEET , DIY , essential oils , Eucalyptus , homemade bug repellent , horse flies , insect repellent , insects , mosquito repellant , mosquitoes , natural bug repellant , peppermint , ticks        

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Vaulout & Dyèvre’s Insectopia Installations Look Like Densely-Populated Bug Hotels

June 19, 2013 by  
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Read the rest of Vaulout & Dyèvre’s Insectopia Installations Look Like Densely-Populated Bug Hotels Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Art , biodiversity art , insect house installation , insect houses , Insectopia , insects , micro city , micro design , MICRO DWELLINGS , Paris , paris design , Paris designers , Vaulot&Dyevre , wood installation        

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Vaulout & Dyèvre’s Insectopia Installations Look Like Densely-Populated Bug Hotels

AT&T Unveils Solar-Powered Street Charge Phone Charging Stations in NYC

June 19, 2013 by  
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Yesterday, AT&T, Goal Zero and Pensa unveiled Street Charge , a new way for New Yorkers to charge their phones on-the-go using solar power . The new tree-like modules will be placed around the five boroughs in public plazas and parks, allowing people to plug in their devices for free. The first two Street Charge units went up yesterday in Fort Greene Park, but to view a full list of planned locations, click here . READ MORE > Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: AT&T , eco design , free AT&T chargers , free solar phone chargers nyc , goal zero , green design , nyc cell phone charging , nyc solar phone chargers , pensa , pensa design , solar phone charger , solar phone chargers , Solar Power , street charge , sustainable design , where to charge cell phone in nyc        

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AT&T Unveils Solar-Powered Street Charge Phone Charging Stations in NYC

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