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Termites Panic When Ants Invade Their Nests, Unless The Invading Ants Bring Alcohol

Termites Panic When Ants Invade Their Nests, Unless The Invading Ants Bring Alcohol

 

Ants and termites do not get along well. Some ant species spend much of their time going to war with termites. These ant species will travel and wreak havoc from termite nest to termite nest. When a few termites in a colony can sense an impending invasion, an alarm cue is sent to the rest of the colony. Once every soldier and worker termite within a colony receives these alarm cues, the termites will mobilize within their nests in order to prepare for the coming ant attack. Once ants gain access to a termite nest, a massacre normally ensues. In these cases ants are almost always the winners. Although most termites would freak-out if they sensed enemy ants within their nests. One particular group of termite-hunting ants does not seem to bother termites, even after the ants gain access to their nests. It is rare for a termite colony to remain calm when ants begin to invade their nests. Why would termites remain calm when their ant enemies gain access to their nests? To put it simply, the termites are fooled by a “non-visual” sort of camouflage used by aggressive ants.

 

The ant species known as Decamorium velense is one example of an ant species that invades termite nests undisturbed as a result of their unique form of camouflage. The Decamorium velense species, and many other ant species, eventually invade termite nests by first sending out a scout to locate termite nests that are well suited for invasions. Once the scout locates a nest, it signals around thirty other ants in order to begin an invasion. Once this occurs the nesting termites do not seem off-put by their new ant roommates. However, the ants quickly start to immobilize their termite pray without drawing the attention of other nesting termites. It turns out that this species of ant secretes aliphatic ketones and aldehydes (alcohol). The first listed substance sends termites into a panic, but the second substance, which is basically alcohol, does not. The scent of alcohol obscures the ketone secretions, therefore termites only smell the alcohol, which is why they do not panic. Later studies showed that any type of ant that secretes alcohol may go unnoticed by their termite prey.

 

Do you think that ants developed the ability to secrete alcohol solely to remain unnoticed by their termite?

 

 

How Are Termites Different From Other Social Insects?

How Are Termites Different From Other Social Insects?

 

Although termites are social insects like bees, ants, and wasps, termites are not closely related to other social insects. All insects that live in social groups belong to the insect order known as Hymenoptera, except for termites. The Hymenoptera order includes bees and ants, but termites belong to an order all their own. This order is referred to as Isoptera. Surprisingly, termites are more closely related to cockroaches than any type of social insect. The social order of termites appeared on earth long before other forms of social insects. Although termites are not closely related to other social insects, there are still many similarities between Hymenoptera and Isoptera insects.

 

Unlike termites, social insects such as bees, ants and wasps hatch from eggs as larva before going through a sudden metamorphosis that is similar to how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. This metamorphosis brings bees, ants and wasps into full adulthood in just one step. Termite metamorphosis is more gradual, and is similar to the development of roaches, grasshoppers and many other insects. Termites pass through developmental stages by moulting. With each moult, a termite’s exoskeleton is discarded and a new stage of maturation is reached. However, termites are unique in that workers and soldiers do not moult beyond the juvenile stage. This is why termite workers and soldiers lack sexual organs as well as eyes. Eye development among individual termites can vary somewhat, but eyesight is, at the very least, weak. This lack of eyesight makes sense given the darkness of termite habitats. Termites do not require eyesight to function. Sexual organs are not needed since workers and soldiers do not exist for fulfilling reproductive duties.

 

Termites are also the only social insects that have kings in their colonies. Other social insects like bees, ants and wasps live in colonies that contain only a queen. These queens mate only once and store sperm for the duration of their lives. Termite bodies are also notably less durable than the bodies of other social insects. This may be due to the protection that termite mounds and underground nests offer termites. Other social insects live in nests that are not as well protected against predators. Beehives, for example, are well exposed to predators, which means individual bees must have durable bodies for defending themselves against predatory attacks. The stunted growth of termites makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint.

 

Have you ever heard of a social species of insect that was not a termite, bee, ant or wasp?

Villagers Bless The Ground To Keep Termites Away From A Newly Constructed Hospital

Villagers Bless The Ground To Keep Termites Away From A Newly Constructed Hospital

 

The world is full of superstitions, most of which may seem pretty silly. However, when it comes to the people living in the village of Tabernacle on the island of St. Kitts, a bit of superstition can bring a lot of comfort. For the past several years, the people of Tabernacle have not had access to a medical care facility. This lack of medical care resulted from a widespread termite infestation that was never treated in the village’s last hospital. The termite infestation eventually rendered the previous hospital uninhabitable. The termites destroyed so much of the last hospital that at one point the basement served as the only functioning part of the hospital. Obviously the basement was not adequate for the town’s population size. The basement did not last for long, as the entire structure was quickly demolished. For years the population of Tabernacle survived without access to medical care.

 

Recently the Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis decided to fund the rebuilding of a medical center in Tabernacle. Understandably, the residents of Tabernacle became ecstatic when they realized a new medical center was going to be built in their town. In fact, a ground-blessing ceremony was held at the site of the new medical center. Many superstitious residents are blessing the ground with the hopes that the blessing will keep subterranean termites away from the soil that will soon lie beneath the new medical center. The blessing-ceremony included a large amount of participants despite the fact that the soil had already been treated heavily with insecticides. A vast area of soil at the construction site was treated with a large amount of insecticide solution that is specifically designed to kill subterranean termites.

 

The new medical center being built in Tabernacle is not a small-scale construction effort. The new medical center will cost nearly two and a half million dollars. The new medical center will include a daycare, exercise facilities, environmental health services, and of course, human healthcare service. This new hospital will provide relief for those suffering from terminal diseases, and children can finally be administered immunization shots. China’s Government donated one million US dollars to the construction project.

 

Do you think that termites will infest the new hospital after the ground insecticides wear-off?

 

 

Is America The Only Country That Struggles To Prevent Lyme Disease Infections?

Is America The Only Country That Struggles To Prevent Lyme Disease Infections?

 

Tick-borne and mosquito-borne diseases are both considered vector-borne diseases. Seventeen percent of all infectious diseases in the world are vector-borne diseases. More than one million victims of vector-borne diseases die annually. Here in America, lyme disease has become the most common vector-borne disease. The increasing rate of lyme infections in America is a major public health concern. Although ticks may be more of a problem in the United States than anywhere else, ticks spread lyme and other diseases in many different countries. In some African countries, tick-borne diseases are currently regarded as serious public health threats.

 

The very first outbreak of lyme disease occurred in the US state of Connecticut back in 1975. Since then outbreaks of lyme have occured in nearly all regions within Europe. Lyme disease is also considered a public health nuisance in certain rural regions of Asia. Lyme disease is currently the most common tick-borne disease in the northern hemisphere. However, lyme disease is certainly not the only tick-borne disease that has spread among large populations.

 

Many regions of Africa also experience tick-related public health scares. In these regions lyme disease is not the tick-borne disease to be feared; instead there is Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever. This tick-borne disease is currently causing unrest among many African people. For example, since August of 2017 several citizens of Uganda have sought treatment for Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic fever. Unfortunately, Uganda’s health minister is attempting to hide the country’s current struggle with tick-borne disease outbreaks. The health minister is asking the public to ignore the many news reports that are describing the full scope of the epidemic.

 

Despite the effort to hide the country’s struggle with tick-borne diseases, some victims are receiving the treatment they need. So far four confirmed cases of Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever have been reported in Uganda. But, there are likely many more undocumented victims within the country. Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever has infected people living in Europe and Asia as well. People living in north Africa also have to worry about another tick-borne disease known as “relapsing fever”. This illness is caused by the same bacteria that causes lyme disease. Despite the fact that neither relapsing fever nor Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic fever have vaccines, they can both be treated. Relapsing fever rarely causes fatalities, and basic antibiotics can speed up recovery.

 

Have you ever heard of relapsing fever before? Do you think that a vaccine for Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic fever will be developed soon?

Winter Season Still Poses Pest Infestation Risks | Pest Exclusion Services

Although some pests like mosquitoes seem to be out of sight in most areas of the country now that the weather is too cool, there are still many pests looking to get into your this time of year, such as rodents House mice can carry harmful diseases like Hantavirus and rats can cause property damage by gnawing their way indoors, ruining wiring and insulation.”

 

Winter is also a prime time for moisture problems to become established. Ice dams, clogged gutters and wear and tear on the home from wet, blustery conditions can create vulnerabilities in the home that can draw pests in.

 

To help homeowners protect against a winter pest invasion, Sureguard Termite and Pest Services recommends the following prevention tips from the Sureguard:

 

  • 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.

Several Houses Will Have To Be Demolished Due To Extensive Termite Damages

Several Houses Will Have To Be Demolished Due To Extensive Termite Damages

 

Living in a home that is infested with bed bugs would be terrible. However, unlike termites, a bed bug infestation will not result in a home’s eventual demolition. Normally, termite infestations are eradicated promptly as soon as they are discovered. But in some situations, landlords may ignore termite infestations that are occuring on their property. This is never a wise idea, as unchecked termite infestations can eventually lead to entire houses being reduced to rubble. This scenario is becoming a reality for several landlords in the city of Bellaire, Ohio. After several months of issuing warnings, one inspector in the city is having several houses labeled as “condemned”. These homes will have to be demolished due to extensive damages. Termite infestations are to blame in many of these cases.

 

According to Dick Flanagan, a Bellaire Code Enforcement Officer, some homes may appear structurally sound despite being hazardous to the people living within them. This is why Flanagan believes that a home’s internal conditions should also be investigated during routine inspections. As a result of Flanagan’s relatively thorough approach toward home inspections, many more homes than usual are being deemed “unlivable”. Termite damage is often cited as one of the reasons for a home’s condemnation under Flanagan’s authority. In one case, Flanagan noticed a termite infestation on one questionable home while being interviewed by a local news station. In this case, Flanagan noticed the visible infestation before he entered the house. Despite the vast amounts of snow that draped the home, an active termite nest was still discovered from the outside.

 

Flanagan began citing several landlords in the city last fall for code violations. Many of these warnings went ignored by the homeowners. Now that several months have passed, Flanagan is having many of these homes condemned and scheduled for demolition. So far two houses and one commercial property have already been torn down under Flanigan’s watch.

 

Do you believe that home inspectors should take a hard-line approach toward termite infestations that are discovered in homes?

 

 

Desert Spiders Are the Masters of Building Sand Castles

Desert Spiders Are the Masters of Building Sand Castles

 

Every child knows the frustration that comes with painstakingly building a masterpiece of a sand castle at the beach only to have it suddenly crumble and fall apart. The sand is too dry and simply won’t hold the elaborate shape long before collapsing into a massive heap of shapeless sand in front of you. Some desert spiders, however, have been able to master the art of working with dry sand, creating vast subterranean tunnels and burrows out of only a few grains of sand at a time. These vast underground sand castles are somehow able to retain their form. They are so carefully engineered that the pressure of the wind blowing the sand above these underground castles and, in turn, the shifting weight of the sand surrounding the structure.

 

Researchers observed four different species of these desert spiders that build these elaborate homes in a new study to try and discover their engineering secrets. They found that each species had a different method to deal with building their homes in soft sand, but that they all were equally effective. The cartwheeling spider, also known as Cebrennus rechenbergi, used a method similar to how people build a well to excavate its tunnels. The spider slowly digs a hole in the surface and then secures it with a ring of silk, similar to when people will add a tin sheet to the holes they dig for wells that stabilize them. The spider does this continually, digging farther into the sand and then reinforcing the hole with spider silk until their burrow is complete. It seems that spider silk is what we need to build better sand castles at the beach.

 

Of course, this requires the spider to move quite a lot of sand without it crumbling in their arms. The cartwheel spider uses the long bristles that fringe its pedipalps and chelicerae to form a kind of mesh basket to hold the sand in and hold the grains together while its being removed. Another species of desert spider used its spider silk to bind the sand together and make it easier to carry out and away from their burrow. In fact, each spider seemed to have its own solution for keeping the sand clumped together so they could carry it away. Maybe these desert spiders can teach us a thing or two about engineering, improving our own methods of building new a better architecture.

 

How else might one of these desert spiders securely build their underground tunnels in soft sand? Is there a method you use when building a sand castle at the beach that might work as well?  

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?