Tag Archives | Insects

Giant Hornets Kill 42 People In China

giant hornets

The New York Times reports:

Swarms of giant hornets have killed 42 people in Shaanxi Province and injured more than 1,600 in recent months, according to Xinhua, the official news agency. Government officials have yet to figure out why their attacks have been so widespread and deadly.

Officials said on Thursday that emergency response teams were working to locate and destroy the nests of Asian giant hornets, the species involved in the attacks. Their venom is highly toxic and can cause shock and renal failure.

Hornet attacks have been reported elsewhere in China as well. Last month, a swarm attacked a primary school in the Guangxi Autonomous Region in southern China, injuring 30 people, including 23 children.

Up to two inches long, the brown and gold Asian giant, or Vespa mandarinia, is the world’s largest hornet species.

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Crop Circle Pre-Cog Dude Chillaxes with the Grasshopper People

grasshopperpeopleI must confess that as much as I read about things like crop circles and U.F.O.’s in my youth, I haven’t honestly kept tabs on much of it for the last decade. I suppose I just sort of hit a wall, or moreover, the whole thing strikes me like a plea from deep within us to explore genetics and psi phenomenon rather than our current consumerist/materialist obsessions, which are obviously a dead end. I’ve never read a single report about an abductee who claims that the “aliens” (don’t buy the extra-terrestrial hypothesis at all) gave any sort of flying fuck about all the fancy technology we’re so impressed with.

Anywho, this is the sort of story I always found the most fascinating in U.F.O. lore (recommended to me on Facebook, friend me) – the bizarro outlying stories which hint at the limitless potentiality of the human imagination. Like the guy from Holland who predicts crop circles in advance and hangs out with hilarious grasshopper people, who for some reason are quite fond of turtlenecks:

 

The awareness that a new crop circle is either forming (or is about to) at the precise moment Dutch medium Robbert van den Broeke “sees” in his “mind’s eye” either the pattern of the new crop circle and/or the exact field where it will be found has been carefully recorded every year since he was 15 years old (he is now 32).… Read the rest

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Billions of Cicadas About to Overrun U.S. East Coast

I have visions of African locust swarms, but apparently being outnumbered 600 to 1 by cicadas shouldn’t worry residents of the East Coast of America as all these insects are looking for is sex. From AP via Black Mountain News:

Any day now, billions of cicadas with bulging red eyes will crawl out of the earth after 17 years underground and overrun the East Coast. The insects will arrive in such numbers that people from North Carolina to Connecticut will be outnumbered roughly 600-to-1. Maybe more.

Scientists even have a horror-movie name for the infestation: Brood II. But as ominous as that sounds, the insects are harmless. They won’t hurt you or other animals. At worst, they might damage a few saplings or young shrubs. Mostly they will blanket certain pockets of the region, though lots of people won’t ever see them.

“It’s not like these hordes of cicadas suck blood or zombify people,” says May Berenbaum, a University of Illinois entomologist.

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Convenient Insect Cuisine Coming to UK

I’ve likened my gastronomic habits to that of a catfish: If I’m hungry, I’ll be happy to eat just about anything that floats by. I credit my lack of pickiness to growing up in a home where there weren’t a lot of home-cooked meals, so it was catch as catch can. (I also developed terrible eating habits, which I’m still addressing, but that’s a story for another time.) Anyway, I’d cheerfully eat an insect-based meal – especially if it’s nutritious and convenient. I can understand that others might be squeamish, tough.

Via Gothamist:

One British company has now presented their plan (in the video below) to get bugs into our bellies, noting insects are high in protein, and low in fat and cholesterol. But this isn’t just a personal thing—eating them would also be good for the planet, which is being damaged by digestive gas and feed production from the unsustainable herds of cattle that are at the center of the Western diet.

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Brain Transplants? Just Another Day at the Lab.

photo by Diganta Talukdar

Everyone knows entomologists are the creepiest people in the world. Even entomologists themselves know this.

Perhaps trying to distract from this unwanted attention, bug scientists have been relatively modest about the nightmarish experiments that have been commonplace in their profession for the last 90 years: brain transplants.

IO9 reports on the first instance of insect brain transplants:

… a biologist named Walter Finkler reported that he had managed to successfully transplant the heads of insects. He’d grab two insects, cut off their heads with sharp scissors, and switch them. The fluid that the insects themselves leaked cemented the new heads in place. After a little time — a 1923 article says a few weeks — the insects were healed up and doing whatever their new heads told them to do.

According to Finkler’s research, male heads transplanted to female bodies continued acting as males. The reverse was true of females.… Read the rest

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Human Societies Starting to Resemble Ant Colonies

Ants“The similarities offer a look at just how ever-growing human societies could collapse,” as Jennifer Viegas writes in Discovery News:

The human population is growing at such a staggering rate that we are organizing ourselves more like ant supercolonies, with new research finding that we have more in common now with some ants than we do with our closest living animal kingdom relatives.

The new study, published in the journal Behavioral Ecology, points out that both humans and ants (termites, too) live in societies that may consist of up to a million plus members.

“As a result, modern humans have more in common with some ants than we do with our closest relatives the chimpanzees,” Mark Moffett, author of the study, told Discovery News. “With a maximum size of about 100, no chimpanzee group has to deal with issues of public health, infrastructure, distribution of goods and services, market economies, mass transit problems, assembly lines and complex teamwork, agriculture and animal domestication, warfare and slavery.”…

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Sex-Deprived Male Fruit Flies Turn to Alcohol

Fruit FlyReports Bloomberg via the San Francisco Chronicle:

Male fruit flies become barflies when rejected by females, choosing alcohol-spiked food more often than their successful brothers in a study that suggests it may be due to a brain chemical also found in humans.

The spurned flies had lower levels of a molecule in their brains called neuropeptide F than the males who were allowed to mate, according to findings published today in the journal Science. Neuropeptide Y, the version found in humans, has been tied to addiction and mental illness, said Ulrike Heberlein, one of the researchers.

The molecule may begin to explain how experience and environment shape human addictions, said Heberlein. About half of a person’s risk of addiction is genetic, and environment is known to play a role. The experiment may help explain the biological triggers that affect certain behavior or cravings and could help research into treatments for addiction …

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Insect Cyborgs May Be The Spies And First Responders Of The Future

111123133510-largeAirborne bugs equipped with sensors, microphones, and cameras will one day go wherever people cannot. Science Daily reports:

Research conducted at the University of Michigan College of Engineering may lead to the use of insects to monitor hazardous situations before sending in humans.

“Through energy scavenging, we could potentially power cameras, microphones and other sensors and communications equipment that an insect could carry aboard a tiny backpack,” Professor Khalil Najafi said. “We could then send these ‘bugged’ bugs into dangerous or enclosed environments where we would not want humans to go.”

The principal idea is to harvest the insect’s biological energy from either its body heat or movements. The device converts the kinetic energy from wing movements of the insect into electricity, thus prolonging the battery life. The battery can be used to power small sensors implanted on the insect (such as a small camera, a microphone or a gas sensor) in order to gather vital information from hazardous environments.

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