Protecting Your Family From Pests Since 1974!
An Early Praying Mantis Fossil Proves To Be Quite Revealing
As far as the hostile world of insects is concerned, the praying mantis is particularly fierce. Of course, we all know female praying mantises to be deadly after mating, but praying mantises are feared by most insects on account of their size and predatory habits. Praying mantises posess oversized arms that are capable of ripping their prey apart, without giving their prey so much as a slight chance of survival. These “arms” are located near the top of the mantis’ thorax, and they are lined with menacing looking spines. There is a surprising lack of fossil evidence demonstrating the early development of these enormous spine-riddled appendages. However, a recently discovered fossil has shed some light on what mantises looked like before achieving their intimidating modern look.
Mantis fossils have revealed that these insects existed as far back as one hundred and ninety nine million years ago, during the jurassic era. However, it was not until around one hundred and forty five million years ago that mantises began to diversify, and take on new features. Unfortunately, fossil records do not reveal much about the manner in which mantises evolved, until recently that is.
A mantis existing one hundred and ten million years ago has been excavated from a fossil site in Brazil. The mantis was determined to be a member of the Santanmantis axelrodi species. This fossilized mantis was in particularly good condition. The entirety of the ancient mantis’ thorax, as well as its head and wings, were well preserved. Two pairs of legs were also observed folded behind the mantis’ head. The interesting part, however, had to do with another pair of obscured legs. The mantis’ lower legs were outfitted with spines, which was a feature that had not been observed before in mantises from this same species.
Do you think its unfair that only mantises get blamed for devouring their male mates after mating?
Halloween is a time of tricks and treats, and what better way to add a little Halloween spirit to your party this year than to serve your guests insect-infused cocktails. Think about it; you could name one Beetle Juice. And what could possibly express the spirit of Halloween better than a cocktail featuring creepy crawlies? Here are some cocktail ideas that are sure to be a hit at your party!
So, I couldn’t find any recipes with spiders, but I thought the next best thing would be beetles…you know…because you could call it Beetlejuice. The cocktail “Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice” was created by bartender Bryan Galligos from Bacchus Bar in Portland, OR. The ingredients include: 1 rosemary sprig, 1 ½ ounces of apple brandy, 1 ounce of apple cider, ½ ounce of simple syrup, ½ ounce of lemon juice, 5-7 basil leaves, and a beetle from the Newport Jerky Company for garnish. First you want to char the rosemary and place a martini glass over it as it smokes. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, the apple brandy, apple cider, simple syrup, lemon juice, and the basil leaves. Shake them well and pour the mixture into a martini glass. Finally, garnish the glass with a beetle.
Another great insect infused Halloween drink is called The Dromedary, and it is the brainchild of the proprietor of Dromedary Bar in Brooklyn, NY, Michael Lombardozzi. This cocktail utilized cricket bitters, a product made with toasted crickets that came out earlier this year. The ingredients include: 2 ounces of Myers Original Dark Rum, a ½ ounce Barbadillo Pedro Ximenez Sherry, a ½ ounce lime juice, 1 ounce almond syrup, 2 dashes of Critter Bitters, and 3 pineapple leaves to use as garnish. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, the rum, the sherry, lime juice, and almond syrup. Make sure you shake it well and then strain the mixture into a hurricane glass over crushed ice. Then just add two dashes of the Critter Bitters and garnish with the pineapple leaves.
Would you have the guts serve your party guests insect infused cocktails this Halloween?
Ok, ok, I know. The monster is not actually called Frankenstein, but rather is Frankenstein’s monster, but this title just seemed more eye-catching. So sue me. Anyways, scientists have discovered an insect fossil that appears to be a compilation of a number of different insects, much like Frankenstein’s monster. The critter has the forelegs of a praying mantis, wing veins formed like a mayfly’s, and a dragonfly’s wings and middle body. These different insect body parts are all from completely unrelated groups. It seems that some mad insect scientist patched this creature together one day, clearly not considering whether these different attributes would look freakish, and brought it to life, probably cackling and yelling in triumph. I wonder if this creature was also on a mission to find its maker when it sadly died.
Scientists are calling it a Coxoplectoptera. Thankfully for us, it is long gone and has no modern descendants. Based on the insect’s different body parts, scientists believe that it probably burrowed slightly into the mud underwater to hide themselves so they could then ambush any smaller insect that happened to pass by them. They also think they were definitely carnivorous…I, for one, and quite happy I don’t have to worry about stumbling across one of these freaks today.
Can you think of any other insects or animals today that have body parts that appear to be a mixture of a few different species?
For a long time many leading scientist were under the impression that bugs did not have brains. This is because it was often observed that insects could literally lose their heads while still retaining the ability to crawl.
We know now that insects indeed do have brains, but perhaps not like you imagine. In humans the brain is centralized in the cranium, but in insects the brain or brains are located throughout the body. These different points throughout the insect body are known as ganglia, and this is why many insects can still crawl despite losing its head.
It is the brain of an insect, located throughout its central nervous system, that allows it to choose proper mates, navigate large areas and hunt for proper nourishment. Despite the fact that the insect brain is composed very differently than a humans brain there are still some similarities. For example, insects use their sense of smell through their antennae and the part of the brain that processes smell, the olfactory region, appears almost exactly like a humans. If you look hard enough you can find similarities between all of natures animals.
Have you ever seen an insect crawling around without a head?
Anybody who enjoys a ladybug’s majestic appearance needs to smell the things sometime–they smell terrible! Ladybugs release a noxious odor, and if you find yourself in a particular area where ladybugs are congregating then you will most certainly catch a whif. Many of you may think that the fact that ladybugs smell like old diapers in the hot sun is not such a big deal, but if you owned a vineyard then you would likely have a different assessment since ladybugs often taint wine with their foul odor. This is a problem in wine country and it is a problem that has caught the attention of academics in the field of entomology.
University researchers were tasked with identifying the compounds in a ladybug’s emissions, and vineyard owners are hoping that perhaps the experts can help them. Even a very small amount of a ladybugs odor can destroy the good taste of wine, and ladybug epidemics on vineyards have been known to shut vineyards down completely, as there was seemingly no solution to the ladybug problem.
Although it looks like entomologists have made good use of their grant money by identifying the nasty smelling compounds in a ladybugs odor, I don’t see how simply identifying these odors is going to help the poor vineyard owners. Perhaps the entomologists can develop a chemical cocktail that will neutralize the odor. But, if you find that your favorite cheap wine from Wal-mart is no longer available, then you may just have everybody’s favorite red and black spotted insects to blame.
Have you ever noticed the foul odor that trails ladybugs?
Whether you’re human, animal, or insect, you need some place to sleep and get some R & R. We humans might think that all other species are able to somehow find a place to settle down in the great outdoors, but with our need for space and land to live on and use for our own purposes, many beneficial insects now lack a place to call home. Now, I’m not suggesting you take in the local termites and let them destroy your own abode so they can have a place to put their feet up at the end of the day. However, there are many things that beneficial insects do for us that might just earn them a little sympathy and some help when it comes to finding a home.
Thankfully, insects are pretty simple folk and don’t require a five star hotel. You can build a swanky insect hotel with items found outdoors and around your house. Kelly Allsup, University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator, has kindly provided some helpful suggestions for how to build your own insect hotel. “Insect hotels are a place for beneficial insects and pollinators to survive the winter chill and provide nesting sites during the spring and summer,” Allsup said.
Allsup suggest digging through recycled materials, pallets, bricks, old logs, and drain tiles to find sturdy material to construct your insect hotel. For the inside rooms of the hotel, use materials that mimic an insect’s natural habitat such as grass, sunflowers, leaf debris, corrugated paper, straw, and mulch.
Have you ever built a habitat for another animal such as a birds or insects? What did you use to build it?
The Insect With Poisonous Blood
The Photuris Firefly is an all female species of Firefly, and they lure their male counterparts in order to defend themselves against other predatory insects. No, these females are not looking for protection from chivalrous male fireflies. In fact, the males belong to a completely different species called Photinus. Actually the females have something much more sinister planned.
The females, on their own, are defenseless against other insects looking to kill them, and it is only the male fireflies that possess the proper defense, and it is in their blood. The male fireflies exude a chemical in their blood called Lucibufagins. This chemical keeps other bugs from eating them. It acts as a kind of poison that other bugs can sense and avoid. So how do females defend themselves? Well, as mentioned earlier, the female firefly will lure in the males with the chemical poison in their blood and eat them. As a result the females then carry the poison in their bloodstream, giving them the power to stave off predators.
I suppose there is no easier way for females to appropriate the life-saving male blood. Talk about giving blood to protect your mate.
Do you know of any other insect females that use and abuse their mates? How do those females take advantage of their male counterparts?
A common practice in human courtship is the giving of gifts to the female in order to win her affection. Well, one species of insect also uses this tactic to win over a mate, with females choosing the one with the biggest present.
The males of the insect species Hylobittacus apicalis go in search of prey to present to their females as a gift, in the hopes of winning her favor and the chance to mate with her. Males who present superior gifts are favored above others, and will be permitted to “do the deed” longer in order to increase the amount of sperm they transfer and improve their chances of impregnating her.
Once males acquire a suitable mating gift, they will release a sex pheromone to attract females. This doesn’t always work out quite so straightforward as I explained above. Often, other males will also seek out the male possessing a gift and try to steal it away from him to use themselves. Even the females will sometimes trick a male into thinking she will mate with her, only to steal the prey away from him and run off to greener pastures.
This kind of reminds me of human females often termed “gold diggers” that like to lure males into their clutches so they can run off with their goods. It seems we’re not as different from these pests as we would like to believe.
Have you witnessed similar behavior in humans looking for a partner?
The Color Preferences of Bed Bugs
Bed bugs have become a hug problem in the U.S. People all over the country go to some pretty extreme lengths to get rid of them. But, a new study suggests that it may be as easy as changing the color of your bed linens.
A new study led by Corraine McNeill from Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska explored which colors bed bugs are more attracted to, which McNeill found develops as they age. The team set up tiny tents in petri dishes and studied which colors their bed bug subjects gravitated towards. They noticed that young bed bugs have less of a developed preference than older bed bugs. As they age bed bugs appear to develop a preference for the colors red and black. They are less than fond of the colors green, white, and yellow.
The researchers believe that the bed bugs gravitated towards black because it mimics darkness, something the nocturnal bugs naturally seek out. They concluded that they were drawn towards red because bed bugs are slightly red, making them think that more bed bugs are in the red linen. As bed bugs like to live in large groups, they would naturally be attracted to a place that would seem to have other bed bugs. Researchers believed they are repulsed by white, green, and yellow because these colors tend to be in exposed, well-lit areas.
Have you ever suffered a bed bug invasion? Would you consider changing the color of your bed linens if it meant you’d be safer from bed bugs?