How do Varroa Mites Know when to Leave Honey Bee Hives? It’s all in the Bees’ Wax


Although they are really tiny, the Varroa mite has the potential to bring large parts of western agriculture to its knees by infesting and destroying honey bee hives. Varroa mites are the “single most detrimental pest of honey bees,” according to the USDA National Honey Bee Health Stakeholder Conference Steering Committee. In addition to attaching […]

Invasive Grass Species is Good for Wolf Spiders, but Bad for Toads


An invasive grass species frequently found in forests has created a thriving habitat for wolf spiders, who then feed on American toads, a new University of Georgia study has found. Japanese stiltgrass, which was accidentally introduced to the U.S. in the early 1900s, is one of the most pervasive invasive species and has spread to […]

Museum Specimens Show How Scale Insects Will Respond To Climate Change


A few months ago, leaders of the Systematics, Evolution, and Biodiversity Section of the Entomological Society of America issued a statement in support of museum collections that house whole biological specimens, as opposed to ones that only feature high-resolution photographs and audio recordings, as some had recommended. Now researchers from North Carolina State University have […]

Photo Slices Provide Detailed Images of Tiny Wasps for Biocontrol Efforts


Using specialized digital photography methods, USDA scientists are producing high-resolution images of members of the wasp superfamily Platygastroidea. According to Elijah Talamas, a postdoctoral scientist with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the photographic process begins with positioning a wasp specimen under a specialized camera with a single-column lens attached to a vertical joist, and […]

Study Finds Honey Bees Originated from Asia, not Africa


In a study published in Nature Genetics, researchers from Uppsala University present the first global analysis of genome variation in honey bees. The findings show a surprisingly high level of genetic diversity in honey bees, and indicate that the species most probably originates from Asia, and not from Africa as previously thought. “The evolutionary tree […]

Newly Discovered Ant Supports Alternate Theory of Species Formation


A newly-discovered species of ant supports a controversial theory of species formation. The ant, only found in a single patch of eucalyptus trees on the São Paulo State University campus in Brazil, branched off from its original species while living in the same colony, something thought rare in current models of evolutionary development. “Most new […]

Honey Bee Hive Population of 4,000 Triggers Rearing of Male Reproductives


When a colony of honey bees grows to about 4,000 members, it triggers an important first stage in its reproductive cycle — the building of a special type of comb used for rearing male reproductives, also known as drones. Drones are male honey bees that develop from unfertilized eggs. Their sole purpose in a colony […]

Urbanization can be Beneficial for Orb-weaving Spiders, Study Finds


A common orb-weaving spider may grow larger and have an increased ability to reproduce when living in urban areas, according to a study published recently in the journal PLOS ONE. Urbanization of an area may drastically alter the landscape, local climate, and consequently the organisms that inhabit it. Some will no longer have the resources […]

Fungus Manipulates Ants to Die Near their Nests, Ensuring New Hosts


A parasitic fungus that must kill its ant hosts outside their nest to reproduce and transmit their infection, manipulates its victims to die in the vicinity of the colony, ensuring a constant supply of potential new hosts, according to a new study published in PLOS ONE. Previous research shows that Ophiocordyceps camponoti-rufipedis, known as the […]

New Dung Beetles are Coming to Australia


Australia, home to nearly 23 million people, is also home to 28 million head of cattle. Besides producing milk and meat, cattle also produce a lot of manure, which was a big problem in Australia until the 1960s because their native dung beetles preferred manure from kangaroos, koalas, and other native species. That changed when […]