Black Widow Spider Males Prefer Well-fed Virgin Females


New research published in the journal Animal Behaviour shows that male black widow spiders prefer their female mates to be well-fed virgins — a rare example of mate preference by male spiders. The study, authored by Emily MacLeod, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Toronto Scarborough, and Maydianne Andrade, a professor in UTSC’s Department […]

100-Million-Year-Old Assassin Fly Found in Ancient Amber


Torsten Dikow, a research scientist at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, has discovered a new species of assassin fly in amber that is 100 million years old. The new fly, Burmapogon bruckschi, is described in an article in the journal American Museum Novitates. “The transparency of these amber fossils gives researchers a […]

X-rays Can be Used to Sterilize Mosquitoes


Since the 1950s, scientists have used radiation to sterilize insects, which are then released into the wild to mate, but no offspring are produced. Known as the sterile insect technique (SIT), this insect-control method has traditionally relied on gamma rays to sterilize the insects. However, due to concerns about terrorism, gamma-ray irradiators have become increasingly […]

New Device Detects Malaria Cheaply and Accurately


Malaria researchers at Case Western University have developed a portable malaria detector called the Rapid Assessment of Malaria device, or “RAM” for short, that uses lasers and magnets to detect malaria. Malaria parasites release iron into the blood. When a blood sample is inserted into the device, the lasers and magnets can show whether iron […]

Stink Bug Rearing Technique Could Lead to Control Strategies


Researchers at North Carolina A&T State University have found a successful rearing method for brown marmorated stink bugs (Halyomorpha halys), which could be used to develop a reliable supply of the bugs for research. Drs. Beatrice Dingha and Louis Jackai have developed a laboratory rearing method that has successfully produced five generations of brown marmorated […]

New Zealand Farmers use Moths and Beetles to Fight Weeds


The Horizons Regional Council, a government agency in New Zealand, has recently described a successful example of biological control, which involves the reduction of a pest by using a natural enemy instead of pesticides. A weed called ragwort (Senecio jacobaeae) competes with plants in pastures and contains alkaloids that are toxic to livestock. In order […]

Earwig Nymphs Share Food with their Brothers and Sisters


Competition among animals can be fierce, even among brothers and sisters. Some caterpillars, for example, will eat their siblings, and baby birds sometimes push their brothers and sisters out of the nest. However, new research shows that this isn’t the case with earwigs. “Young earwig offspring don’t simply compete for food. Rather the siblings share […]

Cataloging Insect and Bat Diversity: A Research Trip to Belize


By David Wyatt It was late 2002 and I had just received my latest Bat Conservation International magazine. As I relaxed on the couch and read the articles, my eye caught on a field expedition to Belize being led by biologist Fiona Reid. This expedition would study the bats of Belize at several locations in […]

Pheromone Research May Lead to New Insect Control Methods


Each year in the United States, fire ants cost $7 billion for control, damage repair, and medical care. They infest millions of acres in urban, agricultural, wildlife, recreational and industrial areas. In order to combat the the red imported fire ant, scientists at the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service are studying pheromones that are secreted by […]

Carnivorous Caterpillars Fool Ants by Sounding like Queens


Last week Kiran Gadhave wrote about “The Curious Case of the Large Blue Butterfly,” and he described how the butterfly larvae fool ants into taking them into their colonies, where they then eat the ant grubs. Now researchers may have discovered how the caterpillars fool the ants by making sounds that mimic the ant queen. […]


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