Humans aren't the only animals that get "hangry" when deprived of a meal.
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The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.
"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."
The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.
They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.
They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.
But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.
"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.
What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.
It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.
To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.
First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.
Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.
University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.
"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."
Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.
"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.
Like many other plant-based foods and products, CBD oil is one dietary supplement where "organic" labels are very important to consumers. However, there are little to no regulations within the hemp industry when it comes to deeming a product as organic, which makes it increasingly difficult for shoppers to find the best CBD oil products available on the market.
Charlotte's Web<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDcwMjk3NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MzQ0NjM4N30.SaQ85SK10-MWjN3PwHo2RqpiUBdjhD0IRnHKTqKaU7Q/img.jpg?width=980" id="84700" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a2174067dcc0c4094be25b3472ce08c8" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="charlottes web cbd oil" /><p>Perhaps one of the most well-known brands in the CBD landscape, Charlotte's Web has been growing sustainable hemp plants for several years. The company is currently in the process of achieving official USDA Organic Certification, but it already practices organic and sustainable cultivation techniques to enhance the overall health of the soil and the hemp plants themselves, which creates some of the highest quality CBD extracts. Charlotte's Web offers CBD oils in a range of different concentration options, and some even come in a few flavor options such as chocolate mint, orange blossom, and lemon twist.</p>
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The first U.S. "murder hornet" nest has been discovered and eliminated.
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The aptly named diabolical ironclad beetle (Phloeodes diabolicus) has an exoskeleton so strong, it can survive being pecked by birds and even run over by cars. When early entomologists tried to mount them as specimens, BBC News explained, that exoskeleton would snap or bend their pins.
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By D. André Green II
One of nature's epic events is underway: Monarch butterflies' fall migration. Departing from all across the United States and Canada, the butterflies travel up to 2,500 miles to cluster at the same locations in Mexico or along the Pacific Coast where their great-grandparents spent the previous winter.
Millions of People Care About Monarchs<p>I will never forget the sights and sounds the first time I visited monarchs' overwintering sites in Mexico. Our guide pointed in the distance to what looked like hanging branches covered with dead leaves. But then I saw the leaves flash orange every so often, revealing what were actually thousands of tightly packed butterflies. The monarchs made their most striking sounds in the Sun, when they burst from the trees in massive fluttering plumes or landed on the ground in the tussle of mating.</p><p>Decades of educational outreach by teachers, researchers and hobbyists has cultivated a generation of monarch admirers who want to help preserve this phenomenon. This global network has helped restore not only monarchs' summer breeding habitat by planting milkweed, but also general pollinator habitat by planting nectaring flowers across North America.</p><p>Scientists have calculated that restoring the monarch population to a stable level of about 120 million butterflies will require <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/icad.12198" target="_blank">planting 1.6 billion new milkweed stems</a>. And they need them fast. This is too large a target to achieve through grassroots efforts alone. A <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/CCAA.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">new plan</a>, announced in the spring of 2020, is designed to help fill the gap.</p>
Pros and Cons of Regulation<p>The top-down strategy for saving monarchs gained energy in 2014, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service <a href="https://www.fws.gov/southeast/pdf/petition/monarch.pdf" target="_blank">proposed</a> listing them as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. A decision is expected in December 2020.</p><p>Listing a species as endangered or threatened <a href="https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/listing.pdf" target="_blank">triggers restrictions</a> on "taking" (hunting, collecting or killing), transporting or selling it, and on activities that negatively affect its habitat. Listing monarchs would impose restrictions on landowners in areas where monarchs are found, over vast swaths of land in the U.S.</p><p>In my opinion, this is not a reason to avoid a listing. However, a "threatened" listing might inadvertently threaten one of the best conservation tools that we have: public education.</p><p>It would severely restrict common practices, such as rearing monarchs in classrooms and back yards, as well as scientific research. Anyone who wants to take monarchs and milkweed for these purposes would have to apply for special permits. But these efforts have had a multigenerational educational impact, and they should be protected. Few public campaigns have been more successful at raising awareness of conservation issues.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="91165203d4ec0efc30e4632a00fdf57d"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KilPRvjbMrA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
The Rescue Attempt<p>To preempt the need for this kind of regulation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved a <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/pdfs/Monarch%20CCAA-CCA%20Public%20Comment%20Documents/Monarch-Nationwide_CCAA-CCA_Draft.pdf" target="_blank">Nationwide Candidate Conservation Agreement for Monarch Butterflies</a>. Under this plan, "rights-of-way" landowners – energy and transportation companies and private owners – commit to restoring and creating millions of acres of pollinator habitat that have been decimated by land development and herbicide use in the past half-century.</p><p>The agreement was spearheaded by the <a href="http://rightofway.erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank">Rights-of-Way Habitat Working Group</a>, a collaboration between the University of Illinois Chicago's <a href="https://erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Energy Resources Center</a>, the Fish and Wildlife Service and over 40 organizations from the energy and transportation sectors. These sectors control "rights-of-way" corridors such as lands near power lines, oil pipelines, railroad tracks and interstates, all valuable to monarch habitat restoration.</p><p>Under the plan, partners voluntarily agree to commit a percentage of their land to host protected monarch habitat. In exchange, general operations on their land that might directly harm monarchs or destroy milkweed will not be subject to the enhanced regulation of the Endangered Species Act – protection that would last for 25 years if monarchs are listed as threatened. The agreement is expected to create up to 2.3 million acres of new protected habitat, which ideally would avoid the need for a "threatened" listing.</p>
A Model for Collaboration<p>This agreement could be one of the few specific interventions that is big enough to allow researchers to quantify its impact on the size of the monarch population. Even if the agreement produces only 20% of its 2.3 million acre goal, this would still yield nearly half a million acres of new protected habitat. This would provide a powerful test of the role of declining breeding and nectaring habitat compared to other challenges to monarchs, such as climate change or pollution.</p><p>Scientists hope that data from this agreement will be made publicly available, like projects in the <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/MCD.html" target="_blank">Monarch Conservation Database</a>, which has tracked smaller on-the-ground conservation efforts since 2014. With this information we can continue to develop powerful new models with better accuracy for determining how different habitat factors, such as the number of milkweed stems or nectaring flowers on a landscape scale, affect the monarch population.</p><p>North America's monarch butterfly migration is one of the most awe-inspiring feats in the natural world. If this rescue plan succeeds, it could become a model for bridging different interests to achieve a common conservation goal.</p>
'A Jurassic Park Experiment': Watchdog Groups Condemn Decision to Release Genetically Modified Mosquitoes in Florida
By Lisa Newcomb
Food safety and environmental groups Wednesday condemned a decision by officials in Florida to approve the release of 750 million genetically modified mosquitoes, a pilot project aimed at reducing the spread of mosquito-borne diseases.
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Honey Bees Can’t Practice Social Distancing, So They Stay Healthy in Close Quarters by Working Together
By Rachael Bonoan and Phil Starks
As many states and cities across the U.S. struggle to control COVID-19 transmission, one challenge is curbing the spread among people living in close quarters. Social distancing can be difficult in places such as nursing homes, apartments, college dormitories and migrant worker housing.
Life in a Crowd<p>Honey bees, like humans, are highly social organisms. A honey bee colony is a bustling metropolis made up of of thousands of individuals.</p><p>Three "types" of bees share space inside the colony. The queen, who is the only reproductive female, lays eggs. Drones, the male bees, leave the hive to mate with queens from other colonies. Workers – sterile females – make up the bulk of the colony and do all the nonreproductive work. They construct wax comb, collect and bring back food, tend to the young and more.</p><p>Members of a colony work so well together that the colony can be referred to as a "<a href="https://www.npr.org/2008/11/29/97547749/the-secret-society-of-superorganisms" target="_blank">superorganism</a>" – a highly connected community that functions like a single being.</p><p>Being this social comes with many benefits: Just ask any single parent how helpful it would be right now to live in a community that featured cooperative child care! But it also imposes costs – notably, the spread of disease. Inside the hive, worker bees transfer nectar to each other, essentially swapping the essential ingredient for honey. They crawl on top of each other and bump into others all the time.</p><p>What's more, humans keep many honey bee colonies next to each other for agricultural purposes. This creates unnatural, densely populated "cities" of these superorganisms, where pests and disease can spread rampantly.</p>
Social Immunity<p>Like humans, individual worker bees have immune systems that recognize invading pathogens and fight to get rid of them. However, there are some classes of pathogens that the honey bee immune system <a href="https://insectessociaux.com/2018/11/02/honey-bee-immunity-more-specific-than-we-thought" target="_blank">does not seem to recognize</a>. Bees thus need a different tactic for fighting them.</p><p>For these threats, honey bees defend the colony via social immunity – a <a href="https://doi.org/10.3389/fevo.2020.00186" target="_blank">cooperative behavioral effort</a> by many bees to protect the colony as a whole. For example, worker bees remove diseased and dead young from the colony, reducing the likelihood of transmitting infections to other bees.</p><p>Worker bees also line the hive with <a href="https://doi.org/10.1051/apido/2010016" target="_blank">an antimicrobial substance called propolis</a>, made from plant resin that they collect and mix with wax and bee enzymes. Applied to hive walls and between cracks, this "bee glue" kills various types of pathogens, including the bacterium that causes a dreaded honey bee disease called <a href="https://beeaware.org.au/archive-pest/american-foulbrood/#ad-image-0" target="_blank">American foulbrood</a>.</p><p>Another pathogen, the fungus <em>Ascosphaera apis</em>, causes a honey bee disease known as <a href="https://beeaware.org.au/archive-pest/chalkbrood/#ad-image-0" target="_blank">chalkbrood</a>. Because the fungus is heat sensitive, chalkbrood usually does not affect a strong honey bee hive, which maintains its own temperature somewhere between 89.6 degrees F and 96.8 degrees F. But when a colony is small or the outside temperature is cool, as in an early New England spring, chalkbrood can become a problem.</p><p>The chalkbrood pathogen affects young honey bees, or larvae, which become infected when they are fed spores from infected food. It lies dormant in the larval gut waiting for the temperature to drop below 86 degrees F. If this happens, the pathogen grows inside the larval stomach and eventually kills the young bee, turning it into a white chalk-like mummy.</p><p>When this pathogen is detected, worker bees protect the vulnerable young by contracting their large flight muscles to generate heat. This <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s001140050709" target="_blank">raises the temperature in the brood comb area of the hive</a> just enough to kill the pathogen. (Honey bees use heat for many reasons: to optimize offspring development, to fight pathogens, and even to "<a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/3/120316-hot-bee-balls-hornets-insects-brains-animals-science/" target="_blank">bake" invading hornets</a>.)</p><p>In a recent study, we investigated how the efficiency of <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s13592-020-00754-5" target="_blank">colony-level fever</a> might change with colony size. At the <a href="https://ase.tufts.edu/biology/labs/starks/" target="_blank">Starks Lab Apiary</a>, we infected colonies of various sizes with chalkbrood and tracked the response of the colonies with thermal imaging.<br></p><p>Larger colonies successfully generated a colony-level fever to fight the disease. Smaller colonies struggled, but individual bees in the smaller colonies worked harder to raise the temperature than those in the larger colonies. Even if they fail, the bees don't cave in to fever fatigue by abandoning the fight.</p>
In the Hive, Public Health is for Everyone<p>Like honey bee colonies in agricultural fields, many humans live in extremely dense conditions, which has been especially problematic during the COVID-19 pandemic. The point of social distancing is to act as if we live in lower densities by wearing masks, keeping at least 6 feet away from others and allowing fewer people in stores.</p><p>Data from early in the pandemic show that social distancing was slowing the spread of the virus. But then humans became <a href="https://theconversation.com/complying-with-lockdown-does-become-harder-over-time-heres-why-138691" target="_blank">lockdown-fatigued</a>. By summer, many people were no longer social distancing or wearing masks; on average, individuals were <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/nicholasreimann/2020/07/05/maskless-parties-and-crowded-beaches-across-us-as-coronavirus-spikes-over-holiday-weekend/" target="_blank">doing less to slow the spread of the virus than in April</a>. The five-day running average of new U.S. cases <a href="https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/new-cases" target="_blank">rose</a> from less than 10,000 in early May to more than 55,000 by late July.</p><p>Although honey bees cannot wear masks or socially distance, each individual worker contributes to the public health of the colony. And they all follow the same practices.</p><p>They also excel at making group decisions. For example, when it comes time to choose a new home, a worker bee who has checked out a new nest site <a href="https://www.npr.org/sections/krulwich/2013/02/19/172385254/the-filibuster-solution-or-what-if-honeybees-ran-the-u-s-senate" target="_blank">dances to promote it to other bees</a>. The more suitable the site, the longer and harder she will work to convince the others.</p><p>If others express agreement – via dancing, of course – the colony moves to the new nest site. If the bees do not agree, that specific dance stops, that option eventually falls out of favor, and the search continues. In this way, only a group of informed supporters can win the day.</p><p>As many commentators have observed, the strong focus on <a href="https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/05/masks-coronavirus-america.html" target="_blank">freedom and individualism in American culture</a> has hampered the U.S. response to COVID-19. We see honey bees as a valuable counter-model, and as powerful evidence that social benefits require a community.</p><p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rachael-bonoan-387475" target="_blank">Rachael Bonoan</a> is an Assistant Professor at Providence College. <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/phil-starks-412898" target="_blank">Phil Starks</a> is an Associate Professor of Biology at Tufts University.</em></p><p><em><strong>Disclosure statement: </strong></em></p><p><em>Phil Starks receives funding from the National Science Foundation.</em></p><p><em>Rachael Bonoan does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.</em></p><p><em>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://theconversation.com/honey-bees-cant-practice-social-distancing-so-they-stay-healthy-in-close-quarters-by-working-together-141106" target="_blank" style="">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>
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Without bees, future generations may not be able to identify with adages like, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away."
Crop yields for key crops like apples, cherries and blueberries are down across the U.S. because of a lack of bees in agricultural areas, a Rutgers University-led study published Wednesday in The Royal Society found. This could have "serious ramifications" for global food security, reported The Guardian.
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By Keith Anthony Fabro
Filipino lepidopterist Jade Aster T. Badon is accustomed to traveling to some of the remotest parts of the Philippines in search of new butterfly species. In August 2019, he made a discovery in a more unexpected place: a field guide he had published himself five years earlier.
Specimens of the new butterfly subspecies, A. p. nuydai. J. Badon
A.p. nuydai (above) was initially mislabeled as A. p. Montana (below), another subspecies of the Appias phoebe butterfly species that's endemic to the Philippines. J. Badon; A. p. montana image taken from Tsukada, et. al. (1985)
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By Andrea Germanos
A new report released Tuesday draws attention to the worldwide decline in insects and calls for global policies to boost the conservation of both agriculture and the six-footed creatures.
Insect Atlas. Bartz / Stockmar, CC BY 4.0
Insect Atlas. Bartz / Stockmar, CC BY 4.0
<div id="8fdf8" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="375c252c346fe9796c1409d1a05fb0eb"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1270286526702850050" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">What are the consequences for our food supply? "If we continue using pesticides so heavily, farmers will lose the… https://t.co/Kiz6VXe6Mc</div> — Friends of the Earth #BlackLivesMatter (@Friends of the Earth #BlackLivesMatter)<a href="https://twitter.com/foeeurope/statuses/1270286526702850050">1591694883.0</a></blockquote></div><p>Schimpf also drew renewed attention to the <a href="https://www.savebeesandfarmers.eu/eng" target="_blank">Save Bees and Farmers</a> European Citizens Initiative. It's centered on three key demands: a phase-out of the use of synthetic pesticides; measures to increase biodiversity; and support for farmers.</p><p>As of press time, the petition has over 355,000 signatures.</p>
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As many parts of the planet continue to open their doors after pandemic closures, a new pest is expected to make its way into the world. After spending more than a decade underground, millions of cicadas are expected to emerge in regions of the southeastern U.S.
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