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How And When Did Insect Wings Evolve?

How And When Did Insect Wings Evolve?

 

Although insects are the most abundant types of animals on the planet, there is nevertheless a lot that researchers do not understand about insects. The relatively small amount of scientific literature concerning the origins and early lives of insects is understandable when considering that insects typically do not leave behind fossilized remains. This is obviously due to that lack of bones in insects. Once an insect decomposes, nothing is left to signify its passed existence. This lack of fossil evidence is one reason for the lack of knowledge concerning the origin of insect wings. This makes it necessary for entomologists to draw conclusion about the origins of insects by referring to modern specimens. For example, one researcher has successfully induced the growth of wings on a beetle’s abdomen, and the entomological community is learning a lot about insect wings as a result of this creepy experiment.

 

Yoshinori Tomoyasu, a biologist at Miami University edited the genes of a Tribolium beetle so that it would grow a wing on its abdomen. The wing was formed from tissue that is normally reserved for hind leg growth. Basically the wing had to rob the beetle of a hind leg in order to grow. This experiment confirms that wings develop from an insects hind legs. For years this has been one of three theories concerning wing development in insects. A second theory suggested that insect wings simply grew out of the dorsal region. And a third theory is referred to as the “dual origin hypothesis”. While these are all plausible theories, thanks to this recent experiment, researchers now know for sure that insect wings developed from the hind legs of ancient insects. The researchers were even able to determine which type of hind leg tissue makes up wing formation. Although this is a big step in the understanding of insect evolution, there is still much research to be done.

 

Had you ever considered how an insect’s wings and its hind legs are similarly placed?

An Airline Crew Refused To Fly After A Sizeable Bed Bug Presence Was Spotted On Board

An Airline Crew Refused To Fly After A Sizeable Bed Bug Presence Was Spotted On Board

 

One cannot help but to be amazed at how many times bed bugs have caused problems on board airline flights. After the last story made the rounds on the internet, many people likely thought that another airline-related bed bug issue could not, in all probability, reoccur. However, after a previous incident involving passengers being attacked by bed bugs on an airline became public a few months ago, a new story involving bed bugs on an airline is making the news. Recently, pilots for British Airways were forced to ground a jet due to the presence of bed bugs on board a flight.

 

While a British Airways flight was headed down the runway ready to take-off, passengers and flight crew noticed bed bugs climbing over the seats. The bed bugs were numerous enough to be seen from a short distance with the naked eye. Shortly before the plane took flight, the cabin crew complained about the bed bugs to the pilots, and the plane was grounded in order to vacate all passengers and crew. It was not until four hours later that the flight from Heathrow airport in London took off for its destination in Ghana.

 

British Airways has been under heavy scrutiny for a variety of reasons during the past few months. One common criticism directed toward the airline involves poor cleaning standards, and the hiring of cheap cleaning contractors. This most recent issue involving mass amounts of bed bugs on the seats of one of their planes only seems to confirm the rumors concerning cheap cleaning practices. Complaints alleging poor customer service and numerous cuts in employee benefits have also been directed toward the airline. One news source has claimed that bed bugs have been spotted multiple times on British Airways flights from Las Vegas to London. A spokesperson for the airline claimed that the bed bug infested plane had been taken out of service.

 

Do you think that keeping bed bugs off of airlines would be difficult given the prevalence of bed bugs in the world today?

Pest Proofing in Winter

  • Look for missing roof shingles, ripped window screens and clogged gutters, all of which are entry points for pests.
  • Seal cracks and holes including entry points for utilities and pipes.
  • Replace weather-stripping and repair loose mortar around basement foundations and windows.
  • Keep basements, attics and crawl spaces well ventilated and dry.
  • Vacuum around doors and windows. Frequent vacuuming can catch invaders like spiders, silverfish, earwigs and beetles.
  • Inspect garages and outbuildings for rodents or signs of a rodent infestation. Organize cluttered debris, boxes and random items along the walls where mice may hide or nest.
  • Store firewood at least 20 feet away from the house and brush it off before bringing it indoors.

Bees Repel Wasp Predators By Shaking Their Rear-Ends In Unison

Bees Repel Wasp Predators By Shaking Their Rear-Ends In Unison

 

In east Asian forests giant honey bees resort to variety of strange but effective methods of protection against their wasp enemies.  East Asian honey bees are relatively enormous in size. Each honey bee is around one single inch in length and they can build nests that measure a few meters across. These honey bees are also quite aggressive. East Asian honey bees will not hesitate to sting humans and they are regarded as being one of the most dangerous of all stinging insects. In a matter of mere seconds, entire colonies can mobilize attacks on birds and mammals that happen upon their habitats. Despite their fierce nature, east Asian honey bees are preyed upon by wasps. These honey bees do not attack wasps by dispatching large groups of honey bee defenders. Honey bees do not seem interested in striking wasps or harming them in any way. However, this does not mean that east Asian honey bees are defenseless against predatory wasps. Instead these honey bees simply outwit predator wasps by resorting to unconventional forms of colony protection. One of the most bizarre of all these defense methods involves synchronized bodily movements among bees within a colony. This defense strategy is mysteriously successful, and it is known as the “Mexican Moon”.

 

East Asian honey bees are physically large, but the hornets that often hunt them down are significantly larger. Hornets will invade hives in order to abduct and consume grubs, and they also help themselves to individual bees that are located on beehives. This particular form of attack is known as “bee-hawking”.  Asian honey bees are vulnerable to these types of attacks because bees are active on the outside of hives where they are easy prey to hornet attacks. Luckily for east Asian honey bees, hornets can easily be repelled from attacking honey bees thanks to their rhythmic dancing. When a hornet is spotted approaching an active beehive, honey bees will stick their backsides in the air exposing their stingers. All bees present on a hive begin shimmying rhythmically with their stingers exposed. This specific act is referred to as “shimmering” and sometimes the “Mexican moon”. Upon witnessing this display, wasps give up their plan of attack and fly away. Experts are not sure why this method succeeds at discouraging enemy attacks, but some experts hypothesize that the shimmering makes it difficult for hornets to visually pinpoint one single bee for attack.

 

Do you think that the many stingers Asian honey bees display while shimmering intimidates hornets?

Ant Control Tips!

Although ants can be difficult to control once they have entered a home, the following preventative measures can play a major role in helping to avoid infestations:

 

  • Wipe up crumbs and spills immediately
  • Store garbage in sealed containers and remove from the home frequently
  • Keep food packages closed or sealed and store products in air-tight containers
  • Avoid leaving food out on the counter or pet food out on the floor for long periods of time
  • Repair holes or gaps in window and door screens
  • Seal cracks and holes on the outside of the home including entry points for utilities and pipes
  • Keep tree branches and shrubbery well-trimmed and away from the house
  • Replace weather-stripping and repair loose mortar around basement foundation and windows
  • If you suspect an ant or any pest infestation in your home, contact a licensed pest professional to inspect, identify and treat the problem

The Next Movie You Watch On Netflix May Be Chosen By A Fruit Fly

The Next Movie You Watch On Netflix May Be Chosen By A Fruit Fly

 

If you can believe it, people used to have to travel across town in order to secure a movie rental for home entertainment. Luckily, thanks to modern streaming services, the days of late fees, membership cards and five dollar movie rentals is over. Netflix started the online streaming trend nearly twenty years ago. When Netflix first hit the market, it was not immediately successful. Many people found mail-order DVDs and streaming services to be impractical. But Netflix soon proved to be a popular innovation in home entertainment. You may think that Netflix is fine the way it is, but executives with Netflix are still trying to innovate certain aspects of the Netflix experience in order to secure the number one spot in the streaming service market. Anybody who has used streaming services knows that these services recommend movies based on what you have already watched. It may seem like these movie recommendations are randomly chosen. However, all streaming services, like Hulu, Amazon and Spotify, generate movie, TV and music recommendations with advanced algorithms. It is important for streaming services to recommend movies that consumers will want to watch. Sometimes movie and television recommendations miss the mark. But other times recommendations are right on. Streaming services are attempting to generate more advanced recommendation algorithms. Officials with Netflix believe that recommending movies that agree with an individual consumers taste will allow the company to remain the number one streaming service. In order to perfect recommendation selections Netflix executives are recruiting fruit flies.

 

Fruit flies protect themselves by categorizing different odors as either dangerous or desirable. Fruit flies also compare new odors to past odors in order to better predict which odors should be avoided and which should be sought after. Referencing past odors as a way of predicting the effects of a new odor is referred to as “similarity searches”. Netflix executives believe that fruit flies could use their mental similarity searches to improve upon the existing algorithms that determine which movies are selected as recommendations. Some experts think that fruit flies would be far better than algorithms at determining which movies you will like. A new study suggests that fruit flies could be used as a model for the development of a new computer program that would select work to select recommended movies. Such a program would mimic fruit fly similarity searches. This means that fruit flies may be better than you when it comes to finding movies that you will like.

 

Would you be interested in reading the study about the computerization of fruit fly similarity searches?

Pest Q & A – Texas Pest Control Experts

What makes homes attractive to pests?

Pests are attracted to food, water and shelter. Exclusion techniques and removing food and water sources will help deter pests. Simple measures such as keeping food in sealed containers and cleaning up after each meal to avoid leaving crumbs can help. Fix leaky pipes and drains to ensure that if pests do get in, they won’t have ideal conditions in which they can thrive.

 

How do pests get into homes?

Pests enter structures through cracks and crevices around windows, doors, along foundations, ripped screens, uncapped chimneys, and also through holes where utilities enter a structure. Firewood, groceries, and other deliveries can carry pests in, too. Seal any openings with silicone caulk or steel wool, and to avoid hitchhiking pests, examine packages thoroughly before bringing them inside.

 

Where are pests most likely to settle in?

Pests have direct access to basements and attics through roofs and foundations, so they should be kept well ventilated, dry, and clutter-free. Also, because of the concentration of food and water, kitchens and bathrooms are other common areas.

The Most Dangerous Type Of Fly In The World Dwells Within America

The Most Dangerous Type Of Fly In The World Dwells Within America

 

When it comes to dangerous insects, most people dismiss flies as being harmless. Insects like mosquitoes, bees, wasps and even bed bugs are feared and avoided by Americans. However, there are thousands, if not millions, of insect species that exist in the United States that are rarely encountered by humans. Some of the more obscure insect species that are native to America may also be dangerous. One such obscure, but potentially dangerous insect that is known to exist in the US is a type of fly. This undesirable fly is not like your typical housefly. These flies are known as “black flies” and they distinguish themselves by sucking blood from people and animals. Most people think of flies as nothing more than dirty creatures that are great at annoying people during picnics. It is difficult to imagine an insect that resembles a housefly as being a bloodsucking, pain-inducing and disease spreading menace. Unfortunately, the black fly is all of these things, and its looks almost exactly like a common housefly. These flies are only known for spreading disease in South American and African regions. But black flies are still insects to be feared in America.

 

This blog has mentioned the disease known as “river blindness” in the past. This disease is spread by black flies in equatorial Africa and in mountainous regions of South and Central America. In the US, only six different species of black fly have been spotted. However, these flies will feed on human blood, and non-biting species have been known to invade people’s ears, throats, noses, eyes and mouths. Although black flies dwelling in America may not cause river blindness, they can cause some people to fall ill.

 

The seriousness of a black fly bite sustained in America varies from person to person. Some bites are harmless to certain people. Other people can experience symptoms such as, headaches, nausea, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, and high fever. Black flies are located all throughout the US, but people living in the upper midwest are most affected by black flies. Many people living in this region often avoid outdoor activities during late spring and early summer in order to avoid unpleasant black fly bites.

 

Humans may be safe from dangerous disease agents carried by black flies, but livestock are not safe. Livestock can acquire numerous different disease agents following black fly bites, including protozoa and nematode worms. The suffering that farm animals endure as a result of black fly activity does not stop with infection. Livestock have been suffocated as a result of massive black fly populations crawling into their throats and noses. On rare occasions, farm animals have died from exsanguination (blood loss) after becoming covered in thousands of bloodsucking black flies. Be grateful that humans are spared such a gruesome death.

 

Have you ever sustained a black fly bite that you know of?

Deadly Mosquitoes May Have Infiltrated The UK Through A Train Tunnel

Deadly Mosquitoes May Have Infiltrated The UK Through A Train Tunnel

 

Here in America the aedes aegypti mosquito poses the greatest threat of disease to the country’s population. The recent Zika outbreaks in America were caused almost exclusively by this particular mosquito species. These mosquitoes often carry dengue fever and chikungunya in addition to Zika. However, the aedes aegypti mosquito is not the only Zika carrying mosquito that poses a public health threat in certain regions of the globe. Another potentially deadly mosquito species is commonly referred to as the Asian tiger mosquito. This mosquito species is native to eastern Asia, and it is officially referred to as Aedes albopictus. Despite the fact that these mosquitoes are native to Asia, countries in Europe have been seeing deaths resulting from this mosquitos’ invasive presence on the continent. How the mosquitoes accessed Europe in such great numbers cannot be determined with certainty. But many government officials believe that Asian tiger mosquitoes infiltrated regions as far north as Britain by accessing train tunnels.

 

Not long ago officials with the government agency known as Public Health England destroyed tiger mosquito eggs that were present in shipping containers. These containers were seized at an international truck stop in Ashford, England. This particular occasion had marked the second time in a year that tiger mosquitoes were discovered in the country.

 

The Asian tiger mosquito is well known for being the primary vector for the spread of chikungunya. Tiger mosquitoes cause over one million cases of chikungunya every year. Chikungunya has no cure and it causes painful flu-like symptoms in sufferers. These symptoms include headache, nausea, joint pain and rashes.

 

This is not the first time that tiger mosquitoes have been found in Europe. A decade ago Italy struggled with a nationwide tiger mosquito epidemic. In 2014 France announced that two citizens had contacted chikungunya. Tiger mosquito larvae can enter foreign countries easily in shipping containers, as they can survive for months in relatively harsh conditions. The mosquitoes arrived in Europe as grubs in tire shipments a few years ago. The grubs are well suited for surviving in wet pockets in rubber tires. Public health officials are now monitoring the Euroway tunnel for signs of a tiger mosquito presence after experts determined that the tunnel was a likely invasion route.

 

Do you believe that the Asian tiger mosquito problem in Europe will only get worse in accordance with increasing climate change?