The Unlikely Origin of the Killer Bee

During the 1950’s, in Brazil, scientists were creating a new genetically altered bee.  Why would they be doing this you ask?  Well, their intentions were good, as they were attempting to increase the production of honey with a new and improved honeybee.  Since everybody likes honey, these scientists were expecting to be greeted as heroes upon returning to their home countries.  However, something unexpected happened.

I have always assumed that your typical scientist must be very intelligent, and I am sure that most are, but on one particular evening these scientists in Brazil must have experienced a collective brain-fart.  The bee’s escaped!

You have probably heard of the “Africanized Honey Bee,” which is what the genetic tinkering of the typical honeybee produced in these Brazilian experiments.  The bees quickly spread to North America, and many sightings have been reported as far north as Canada.  Since this experiment failed to be contained to the lab, many people have been killed by these bees, and these bees have wreaked havoc on insect populations, ironically killing normal honeybees and, in turn, decreasing the amount of honey produced on a large scale.  I bet these scientists did not expect to be responsible for the deaths of many people since the mishap!

Have you ever seen a killer bee? Do you know anyone who has been stung by one?

Summer is a happy time, so it is a bummer when our camping trip or afternoon picnic is interrupted by nosy insects.  But it does not have to be this way, as we can use everyday household items to stop insects from ruining our summertime fun.  Here are a few ways to keep these creepy crawlies at bay.

One method involves taking four tin pie saucers and placing them beneath the four feet of a picnic table and filling them with water.  This method of pest control will keep ants and other insects from reaching your food.  In a more vicious approach towards pest control, it is recommended that you boil a pan of water mixed with cayenne pepper and, once the water has reached a boil, pour the scalding water on various anthills found in your yard.

Also, we all know that when you see one ant there are likely others to come.  This is due to pheromones that ants emit to signal to other ants that a great new food source has been found.  To interfere with this signaling device, it is recommended that you take a spray bottle and fill it halfway with water and the last half with vinegar.  Once your half and half vinegar-water solution has been mixed, spray the solution along your doorway to deter ants from making a home in your pantry.  Good Luck!

Do you know of any other DIY insect traps or pest control? How do they work?

 

 

Our Saviors Turned Out to be Mutant Mosquitoes

It is becoming common knowledge that mosquitoes are the worlds most deadly and dangerous insect on account of all the life ending diseases they carry and then transmit to humans.  But the mosquito’s day has likely passed, as a new genetically engineered mosquito that is engineered to resist the parasite that causes malaria will be released into the wild to mate with other mosquitoes.

But what makes these mutant mosquitoes interesting is that they are made to resist the parasite that causes humans to contract malaria and other diseases.  And when the mutant mosquito mates only the mutant or non-parasite genes are passed down to the next generation, as opposed to half and half, which is how nature would have it. But, nature has been wrong lately, so the mutant mosquito gets to pass down all of its non-parasitic genes, with no input from mom at all.

After a short time, and theoretically, malaria rates among humans will drop and one day become non-existent.  But this will be long after parasite-carrying mosquitoes become extinct.

What other insects and diseases could be wiped out this way? Would the end result be good or possibly bad?

 

 

Scientists at Harvard’s Microbiotics Department have turned to the world of insects to better understand how to effectively build a robotic that is capable of flight.  The robots are being dubbed “Robobees”, and what makes them unique from previous insect-like robotics is the manner in which they land and stick to surfaces.

Much like the static electricity that is responsible for making a balloon stick to your head, scientist are using this same method of adhesion to make the “Robobees” stick to surfaces.  While these insect-like robots adhere to surfaces they save energy that is necessary to allow them to travel along longer distances.

But why build little insect looking robots?  Researchers are using insects as a model for these robots in order to develop a flying robot capable of exploring small areas where humans are unable to venture.  For example, natural disasters such as earthquakes may create conditions where people could be trapped in areas that are inaccessible to humans.  These tiny flying robots could be quite handy in such situations.

Can you think of any other ways these tiny insect-like robots could be used?

 

You don’t hear of too many insects that engage in oral sex. It is more common in the animal kingdom, but pretty rare among insects. There are only two species of spiders that engage in it and one of them is the species from Madagascar, Darwin’s bark spider. These male spiders use oral sex every time they mate with a female and they really go all out with it, having been observed performing fellatio before, during, and after sex up to 100 times.

One factor that causes species to have bizarre sexual behaviors is the size ratio between the males and females. The males of the Darwin’s bark spider are only a quarter of an inch in length, while the females generally being around four times that size. This means the males have to come up with ways to monopolize the females in order to mate with them. The males of the Darwin’s bark spider will restrain their females with silk bonds, perform intense fellatio as you just read above, and even break off “genital plugs” to prevent the female from mating with other males.

Scientists believe there are a few reasons for why these male spiders perform oral sex on their mates. They believe it is unlikely that they do this in order to prevent the female from eating them, as they do it with every female they mate with, even ones that have just molted that cannot kill them. It is more likely that they perform oral sex to prove their fitness as a potential mate. They could also do it because there are enzymes in their saliva that help the transmission of sperm and possibly reduce the success of sperm later deposited by other males. Either way one thing is clear…they don’t do it for the pleasure.

DO you know of other animals that perform fellatio? Why do they do it?

14 13 12

Baxter International is a medical supply company that sells products to hospitals all over the world, just as the title makes clear.  Despite this company being a long trusted supplier of reliable medical equipment, the company has recently come under fire for selling products containing (drumroll)…small insects!

The specific products that the company recalled were Sodium Chloride Solution, Viaflex plastic containers, and seventy percent Dextrose injection.  The official reason for the recall was because Baxter International discovered that their products contained “particulate matter.”

This is an awfully irresponsible way of describing the situation, so, to just put it on the table, the solution that was contaminated with insects was to be injected straight into the veins of hospital patients.  And the “plastic container” was meant to hold fluid destined for the veins of sick people.  You can understand Baxter International’s hesitancy to step up to the plate and admit that they almost killed people en masse–that’s a tough one to bear.

Of course Baxter International was the party responsible for uncovering the unforgivable mistake, and the company took full responsibility before any patients or medical professionals caught on to the deathtrap…oh!…wait…no, no maybe they were not so noble after all.  Instead it was the hospital patients themselves who complained that they were seconds away from being injected with Flik from A Bug’s Life.

Baxter International is officially the luckiest company in the world after the mistake was noticed prior to any injections.  Of course if the injections had taken place the “particulate matter” would likely have caused blockage of blood vessels, which, in turn, could very easily have led to heart attack, inflammation of organ tissue, and, of course, stroke!  Or, for the shorter description of the inevitable outcome–DEATH!  Needless to say, this discovery really “bugged” the patients.

Have you ever found bugs in an products you’ve purchased? How did you react?

The Man-Hating Black Widow Females

Black Widow Spiders are the most venomous spiders in North America despite being about the size of a pea, and male Black Widow’s are less than half the size of the females.  As far as Black Widows go it is a female’s world.

The male Black Widow, clearly intimidated by their inadequate size, always cautiously approaches the female when feeling frisky.  It is understandable that they would take small steps towards a female being as that it is not uncommon for females to abruptly attack and kill the males if their whims should go in that direction.  Sometimes a male will escape after slyly inserting his sperm, but much of the time the female will choose to make food out of him by paralyzing the male and saving him for later in a web.

But female Black Widows will not just eat their prey they will also use their poison to turn their victims into liquid and then use their fangs to suck up the remains like a straw.  Do male Black Widows possess any means of defending themselves against the murderous impulses of their male counterparts?  The answer is “no” unless you count an effort to make a quick escape.

Have you ever caught a black widow chilling in your house? Did you know of their penchant for killing their mates?

 

 

Next Page »