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Archive for month: July, 2016

Newly discovered big-headed ants use spines for support

Newly discovered big-headed ants use spines for support

The newest and thorniest members of a diverse ant family may have extra help holding their heads high.

Found in the rainforest of Papua New Guinea, Pheidole drogon and Pheidole viserion worker ants have spines protruding from their thoraxes. For many ant species, the spiky growths are a defense against birds and other predators. But Eli Sarnat and colleagues suggest the spines might instead be a muscular support for the ants’ oversized heads, which the insects use to crush seeds. The heads “are so big that it looks like it would be difficult to walk,” says Sarnat, an entomologist at the Okinawa Institute of Science & Technology Graduate University in Japan.

Micro‒CT scans of worker ants with larger heads revealed bundles of thoracic muscle fibers within spines just behind their heads. Worker ants with smaller heads did not have muscles in their spines, the researchers report online July 27 in PLOS One. More research is needed to establish the spines’ function and understand why they evolved, Sarnat says. While buff spines may support big heads, hollow spines probably keep predators at bay, the researchers suspect.

Researchers named the ants after two fearsome dragons, Drogon and Viserion, in the popular book and TV series Game of Thrones.

Source : www.sciencenews.org
Author : Cassie Martin

This monsoon, adopt natural ways to keep mosquitoes at bay

This monsoon, adopt natural ways to keep mosquitoes at bay

With the monsoon going on, the threat of dengue is looming large and people are adopting all types of measures to ward off mosquitoes. Experts from city have also suggested the use of some plants that help in keeping mosquitoes away.

A city-based naturopathy expert said lemongrass had a citrusy scent that is unbearable to insects. “Placing crushed lemongrass leaves in window sills will shoo away mosquitoes from entering your house,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sheenam, a nursery owner, said many people were buying marigold these days as they were also said to be helpful in warding off mosquitoes. “Usually used as ornamental plants, marigolds are also effective in avoiding mosquitoes from coming near your homes. This plant contains a compound called Pyrethrum that is commonly used as an ingredient in store-bought insect repellents. It’s best to place marigold at the entrances of your homes to avoid mosquitoes from coming in,” she added.

Awareness campaign

A community health centre at Sahnewal held a camp to create awareness regarding dengue. SMO Dr JP Singh said people should not let water stagnate around their houses as it acts as a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

He advocated people to observe dry day on every Friday by drying their coolers. Pamphlets were distributed among public to make them aware regarding the do’s and don’ts.

Symptoms :
The symptoms of dengue include high fever, severe headaches, joint and muscle pain, vomiting, skin rash and mild bleeding.

Precautions :
Mosquito repellents and creams should be used
Anti-mosquito sprays should be used daily, especially behind the curtains and below tables
Water from the pots kept in the drawing rooms should be changed every week
Don’t keep uncovered utensils, pots, tyres etc on the roof top or in open
Don’t allow fresh water to store near houses

Plants that will keep mosquitoes away :
Citronella
Lemongrass
Mint and Tulsi
Basil and Rosemary
Marigold

Source : www.tribuneindia.com
Author : Manav Mander

Genetic roots of insect’s waterproof coating could lead to innovative pest control

Genetic roots of insect’s waterproof coating could lead to innovative pest control

When we knocked out spidey in adult flies, the flies exhibited several striking features: their lifespan was shortened by about 50 percent, they lost almost all of their waxy coating and flies frequently got stuck to the sides of the plastic vials and were unable to free themselves,” said Yew, an assistant researcher based in the Pacific Biosciences Research Center of UH Mānoa’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology.
“This last feature was reminiscent of the comic book character Spider-Man, which is why we named the gene spidey.”
Spidey is important for regulating levels of a steroid hormone, which maintains wax-producing cells. This hormone was already known to play a crucial role in the development and metamorphosis of fly larvae. The researchers did not expect that steroid hormones would play such a central role in maintaining adult tissues, such as the wax-producing cells.
“We did this work in vinegar flies, which is a major model organism,” said Yew. “From here, perhaps we can bridge to pest species.”Yew and her colleagues now plan to knock out spidey in pest species like Oriental, Mediterranean and melon fruit flies, which are a major threat to agriculture, and possibly mosquitoes, which can carry human diseases, to see if they lose their waterproofing ability like the vinegar flies. She says it would be at least four more years of more research, testing and government approvals before the discovery could be used as a pest control.

Source: www.sciencedaily.com

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