Category Archives: INSECTS & BUGS

After Spider Sex, Female Eats Mate To Ensure Bigger Spider Babies

Male dark fishing spiders pass on nutrients to their offspring after being cannibalized by the mating female

fishing-spider-death-by-sex image www.pythonjungle.com

For the males of many spider species, sex equals death. The dark fishing spider is one of many arachnid species where the female cannibalizes the male after sex, and new research suggests these male spiders have evolved ways to turn their post-coital demise into a good thing for their kids.

Researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Gonzaga University found that the offspring of dark fishing spiders that cannibalized their mates were about 20 percent bigger and 50 percent longer-lived than the children of females that didn’t get to dine on their partners. Cannibalizing females also produced almost double the children as those who missed out on the opportunity to eat their mate.

The researchers don’t yet know what conferred these benefits to the offspring, but it appears to be more than the females getting a hearty meal after sex. When females were given a cricket to eat after sex, their offspring didn’t see the same benefits as those whose mother had eaten their father. It’s possible males carry some kind of nutrient or nutrients that they pass onto their children when consumed, but further study is needed to know for sure.

More The Antechinus Isn’t The Only Suicidal Sex-Crazed Animal Out There

What does appear clear is that males looking to reproduce will initiate behaviors that will kill them, even if the female doesn’t end up devouring them. Let’s go back to the mechanics of spider sex. “They insert one of their two reproductive organs, it expands, and it kind of locks into the female,” Gonzaga researcher Steven Schwartz explained to Vocativ. The expansion of that organ, the pedipalp, can have lethal consequences for the male.

“You’ve got to put everything into it,” he said. “And everything into it involves expanding that pedipalp to its maximum, which then has a drastic effect on the rest of the body, i.e. the male curls up its legs and dies. The male that put everything into it were the ones that won. They fertilized the most eggs, and of course that would be passed on, that effort.” That kind of reproductive self-destruction ensures the most offspring in the long run, which also means the best chance of their genetics spreading throughout the population. Survival of the fittest genes can also mean the death of the males who carry them.

But still, why wouldn’t male spiders have adapted to father offspring with multiple females, as is the case with so many other species? “If a male didn’t die in the process of mating, he would potentially go on to reproduce with additional females, which would benefit him, but they don’t,” Schwartz said. “So when you have the development of these weird behaviors, the question comes up, ‘Okay, how is that maintained in the population? How is that better than an alternative mating strategy?’”

The answer likely lies in what’s known as first-male sperm precedence, where the first male to mate with a female fertilizes the majority of her eggs. This biological reality creates a strong incentive for males to mate exclusively with females who have not yet had sex with other spiders in order to pass on their genetic material, and it also means there’s less good reason to live on and seek out other potential mates. This also means males have good reason to pursue larger mates – females can be nearly twice as big as males – as larger females can produce a greater number of offspring. But that also means the males are at even greater risk of being consumed by their large, hungry mates.

More This Cart-Wheeling Spider Is One Of The Top New Species

There’s no single explanation for why sexual cannibalism is so widespread among spiders, so there’s also no single reason behind how male spiders appear to have adapted ways to make the most of their fates. In at least some species, escaping a female’s clutches before being devoured also means passing along less reproductive material. For many male spiders, ensuring lots of children means having sex long enough to be devoured.

“Like I tell my students, all life needs to do two things, survive and reproduce,” Schwartz said. He recalled a recent conversation where someone pointed out these male spiders weren’t surviving. “No, they survive, they survive and reproduce, and if the act of reproduction causes their death, it doesn’t matter. They reproduced. They did those two things, survived and reproduced. In terms of reproducing, those genes, that individual genetic information is passed onto the female in the form of sperm and lives on in the next generation in their offspring.” It might well be more accurate to say life needs to survive until it reproduces. Anything after that is irrelevant.

After all, a male that has lots of big, healthy, long-lived offspring is going to pass on far more genes than one that survives but only produces relatively few offspring with multiple females. That the first male in that example dies right after sex is irrelevant, because evolution doesn’t care about the survival of an individual. It just “cares” about which genes get passed on from generation to generation, as that determines which adaptations endure in the species.

Evolution can be scary it seems.

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Henry Sapiecha

 

HUNTING FISHING SPIDER ATTACKS & EATS FISH IN THIS VIDEO

A Fishing Spider eat fish, after hunting it.
What is more frightening: the spider, or the commentator’s accent?

About The Fishing Spider

Dolomedes  is a genus of large spiders of the family Pisauridae. They are also known as fishing spiders, raft spiders, dock spiders or wharf spiders. Almost all Dolomedes species are semi-aquatic, with the exception of the tree-dwelling D. albineus of the southwestern United States. Many species have a striking pale stripe down each side of the body (…)

(…) Rather than hunting on land or by waiting in a web, these spiders hunt on the water surface itself, preying on mayflies, other aquatic insects, and even small fish. For fishing spiders, the water surface serves the same function as a web does for other spiders. They extend their legs onto the surface, feeling for vibrations given off by prey. [Read More on Wikipedia]

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Henry Sapiecha

Massive swarm of bees kill man’s beloved pet dogs while walking in Rainbow Beach Qld Australia

RAINBOW BEACH MASSIVE DEADLY KILLER BEE SWARM ATTACK KILLS DOGS IN RAINBOW BEACH QLD AUSTRALIA

Bob Butter revisiting the site in Rainbow beach qld australia, he lost two dogs to bees-image www.pythonjunglebee-swarm image www.pythonjungle.com

Bob Butter revisiting the site in Rainbow, he lost two dogs to bee’s. Photo Renee Albrecht/Gympie Times

A WEEKEND walk turned to tragedy when a man saw his two dogs stung more than 600 times by bees at a Rainbow Beach track on Sunday.

Distraught pet owner Bob Butter was reduced to tears when he told the story of how his beloved dogs, Jess and Jack, spent their final hours.

Visiting from Logan, he had taken the Doberman stumpy tail dogs, who were inseparable siblings, for a walk on a forest track off Kurrawa Dr.

Just off the path Bob spotted about 30 man-made beehives.

“Next thing I knew I heard a ruckus behind me,” and he looked up to see Jess biting herself in a frenzy and rolling on the ground.

Bob was in shock to see huge swarms of bees engulfing the animals.

Bob, who has an allergic history with insects, had no choice but to run.

He took his shirt off and swiped at the swarming bees, losing his glasses as he ran with the dogs to the car.

Jess was unconscious, defecating and unresponsive, while Jack was “panting like crazy”.

He rushed the dogs to Gympie Veterinary Services where the clinic staff said they had never seen anything like it.

Vet Greg Cavanagh did everything he could to combat the envenomation.

They were suffering neurological trauma, muscle break down, red blood cell rupturing, kidney failure and eventually compete organ shut down.

The vet said bee stings became fatal when there were 24 stings per kilo.

killer-bees-logo image www.pythonjungle.com

Bob got the call later that day that his two pets, which had been part of the family for 14 years, had not made it.

“It’s like losing a family member,” he said, fighting back tears.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I was going to lose them.”

Bob questioned why the privately owned bees were on land owned by the Department of Natural Resources.

When he visited the site yesterday the hives had been removed, but only to a neighbouring track 200m away.

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Henry Sapiecha

MORE WILDLIFE OF MADAGASCAR

Comet Moths

Comet Moths image www.pythonjungle.com

www.techniverse.net

How beautiful are these moths?! They are also known as Madagascan moon moths, and are some of the biggest silk moths in the entire world. How big do they get? Some wing spans can reach eight inches across. That’s a big moth! Sadly, once they reach adulthood, the moths only live for 4 to 5 days, which makes sightings a rare and special occurrence.

Flat-Tailed Geckos

Flat-Tailed Geckos image www.pythonjungle.com

www.wired.com

Can you even believe that thing is real? It’s hard to even see this gecko, which we guess is the whole point of its design, to stay incognito and safe from predators. There are more than 10 species of flat-tailed geckos, and all of them indigenous to Madagascar and its surrounding islands.

Aye-Ayes

aye-aye OF MADAGASCAR IMAGE www.pythonjungle.com

www.exoticanimalsforsale.net

We think it should be spelled eye-eyes because, well… look at those eyes. You can’t NOT stare at them. These guys are nocturnal primates and have opposable big toes which, along with their incredibly long tails, allows them to easily swing through the trees. But what’s even cooler is how they eat. They use their long middle fingers to tap on trees and listen for wood-boring insect larvae. They then use that same long finger to scrape that larvae out.

Aquatic Tenrecs

Lesser_hedgehog_tenrec_Echinops_telfairi_360w image www.pythonjungle.com

Sweet jumping jelly beans these things are ridiculously adorable. They must not think so though because they like to stay under the radar. In fact, they are among the most elusive species in the entire world. The biggest of these creatures is only a little over 6 inches in length, which doesn’t make them easy to spot. Their little webbed feet make them great swimmers and they look for bugs and tadpoles in the shallow waters.

Panther Chameleons

panther-chameleon image www.pythonjungle.com

Okay, this is quite possibly the most beautifully cool and awesome creature we’ve ever seen, but don’t tell our cat that. These chameleons, like other chameleons, change their color depending on their mood. They are usually very brightly colored, especially the males when courting, who want to impress the ladies with their dazzling color display. But wait, these animals get even cooler, they can rotate and focus their eyes independent of one another so they can look at two objects at the exact same time. Easier to spot and strike at their prey.

Madagascar Pochards [Worlds rarest ducks]

Madagascar_Pochard rare ducks image www.pythonjungle.com

www.tropicalbirding.com

Well right off the bat they have a super cool and exotic name. Pochards happen to be the world’s rarest ducks. What makes them completely amazing is that, up until 2006, these ducks were thought to be extinct, but then a small population of them showed up on a lake in Madagascar. Then, thanks to an extensive breeding program, these numbers have climbed and more ducks have been released into the wild. Let’s hope they can survive and thrive.

Fossas

Fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox) Kirindy Forest, West Madagascar

Fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox) Kirindy Forest, West Madagascar

www.bbc.co.uk

Another cool name, another cool animal. Look how cute this thing is, but what is it exactly? Kind of looks like a dog and a cat combined. Fosass are actually one of the few predators that live in Madagascar. Until very recently people always did assume they were from the feline family, but they are actually members of the mongoose family. They are nocturnal hunters and the majority of their diet consists of those adorable lemurs. But, when push comes to shove, they will also eat birds and reptiles.

Malagasy Leaf-Nosed Snakes

madagascar-leaf-nosed-snake-image www.pythonjungle.com

www.allposters.com

How handy would it be to have one of these snakes around? You could open cans, take out staples, and pick your teeth with its pointy nose. These are one of the most unique snakes that live in Madagascar. When they lie very still ready to pounce on their prey, their long noses blend in with tree leaves and they remain hidden quite well.

 

 

 

 

This Plant Murders Bugs and Decorates Itself With Their Dead Bodies

serpentinecolumbine_bug killing plant image www.pythonjungle.com

In the grand scheme of strategies to deter predators, sticky columbine takes a rather medieval approach, Sandhya Sekar reports for Science — researchers think it lures innocent bugs to their deaths, then decorates itself with their bodies as “payment” for spiders who attack the plant’s would-be predators.

New research suggests that the sticky leaves and stems of Aquilegia eximia bring a slow death to harmless bugs like beetles and dragonflies, Sekar explains. The dead bodies then serve to attract spiders, which eat the adolescent moth caterpillars (Heliothis phloxiphaga) that threaten the plants’ buds and flowers. The spiders have evolved resistance to the sticky stems and indirectly protect the plant from one of its main predators, writes Sekar.

Plenty of plants, like columbine, have hairy stems covered with sticky droplets of goo where bugs gets stuck and die. Entomologists call them “tourist traps,” notes Elizabeth Preston for Discover. But it’s always been unclear whether the presence of all those bugs is part of the plants’ master plan or more of a coincidence.

To settle the debate, a team of biologists set up some traps with serpentine columbine stalks and some without. Traps with columbine bait snared 21 percent more beetles, dragonflies and other insects. The team also played around with removing the dead bodies from plants in a California reserve. Plants with lower dead body counts had fewer spiders and twice as much caterpillar damage. The team’s results were published in the July issue of Ecology.

The work provides strong evidence that the plants kill the bugs as a kind of payment to spiders, which then serve as their anti-predator muscle. It’s a roundabout system, but it seems to work — and given the prevalence of plants with sticky stems, it might even be pretty common. Just think of it as the plant world’s version of The Bodyguard.

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HenrySapiecha

DO MOSQUITOES FIND SOME PEOPLE MORE DELICIOUS THAN OTHERS

IT’S A HUMAN FEEDER & DRINKS YOUR BLOOD

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You come in from a summer hike covered with itchy red mosquito bites, only to have your friends innocently proclaim that they don’t have any. Or you wake up from a night of camping to find your ankles and wrists aflame with bites, while your tentmates are unscathed.

You’re not alone. An estimated 20 percent of people, it turns out, are especially delicious for mosquitoes, and get bit more often on a consistent basis. And while scientists don’t yet have a cure for the ailment, other than preventing bites with insect repellent (which, we’ve recently discovered, some mosquitoes can become immune to over time), they do have a number of ideas regarding why some of us are more prone to bites than others. Here are some of the factors that could play a role:

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Blood Type

(© Science Picture Co./Corbis)

Not surprisingly—since, after all, mosquitoes bite us to harvest proteins from our blood—research shows that they find certain blood types more appetizing than others. One study found that in a controlled setting, mosquitoes landed on people with Type O blood nearly twice as often as those with Type A. People with Type B blood fell somewhere in the middle of this itchy spectrum. Additionally, based on other genes, about 85 percent of people secrete a chemical signal through their skin that indicates which blood type they have, while 15 percent do not, and mosquitoes are also more attracted to secretors than nonsecretors regardless of which type they are.

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Carbon Dioxide

(© Dennis Kunkel Microscopy, Inc./Visuals Unlimited/Corbis)

One of the key ways mosquitoes locate their targets is by smelling the carbon dioxide emitted in their breath—they use an organ called a maxillary palp to do this, and can detect carbon dioxide from as far as 164 feet away. As a result, people who simply exhale more of the gas over time—generally, larger people—have been shown to attract more mosquitoes than others. This is one of the reasons why children get bit less often than adults, on the whole.

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Exercise and Metabolism

(© Imaginechina/Corbis)

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Skin Bacteria

(© Pasieka/Science Photo Library/Corbis)

Other research has suggested that the particular types and volume of bacteria that naturally live on human skin affect our attractiveness to mosquitoes. In a 2011 study, scientists found that having large amounts of a few types of bacteria made skin more appealing to mosquitoes. Surprisingly, though, having lots of bacteria but spread among a greater diversity of different species of bacteria seemed to make skin less attractive. This also might be why mosquitoes are especially prone to biting our ankles and feet—they naturally have more robust bacteria colonies.

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Beer

(© Axl Images/Corbis)

Just a single 12-ounce bottle of beer can make you more attractive to the insects, one study found. But even though researchers had suspected this was because drinking increases the amount of ethanol excreted in sweat, or because it increases body temperature, neither of these factors were found to correlate with mosquito landings, making their affinity for drinkers something of a mystery.

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Pregnancy

image: http://thumbs.media.smithsonianmag.com//filer/0f/dd/0fdd2435-9f4f-4e8b-8dbe-7d08c075a812/42-21106669.jpg__800x0_q85_crop.jpg
(© Kirstie Tweed/Corbis)

In several different studies, pregnant women have been found to attract roughly twice as many mosquito bites as others, likely a result of the fact the unfortunate confluence of two factors: They exhale about 21 percent more carbon dioxide and are on average about 1.26 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than others.

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Clothing Color

(© Henn Photography/cultura/Corbis)

This one might seem absurd, but mosquitoes use vision (along with scent) to locate humans, so wearing colors that stand out (black, dark blue or red) may make you easier to find, at least according to James Day, a medical entomologist at the University of Florida, in commentary he gave to NBC.

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Genetics

(© Science Picture Co./Corbis)

As a whole, underlying genetic factors are estimated to account for 85 percent of the variability between people in their attractiveness to mosquitoes—regardless of whether it’s expressed through blood type, metabolism, or other factors. Unfortunately, we don’t (yet) have a way of modifying these genes, but…

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Natural Repellants

(© MedicalRF.com/Corbis)

Some researchers have started looking at the reasons why a minority of people seem to rarely attract mosquitoes in the hopes of creating the next generation of insect repellants. Using chromatography to isolate the particular chemicals these people emit, scientists at the UK’s Rothamsted Research lab have found that these natural repellers tend to excrete a handful of substances that mosquitoes don’t seem to find appealing. Eventually, incorporating these molecules into advanced bug spray could make it possible for even a Type O, exercising, pregnant woman in a black shirt to ward off mosquitoes for good.

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Henry Sapiecha

RECENT DICOVERY OF PRIMITIVE MOTH FOUND IT TO BE…’a living dinosaur’

It is less than 10mm long, but the aptly named enigma moth was recently discovered on Kangaroo Island.

It is less than 10mm long, but the aptly named enigma moth was recently discovered on Kangaroo Island.Australia.. Photo: Leigh Henningham

A newly discovered species of moth that is so primitive it is being described as a living dinosaur has prompted scientists to redraw the insect’s family tree.

Only found on Kangaroo Island in South Australia, the tiny ‘enigma’ moth represents an entire new family of primitive moths, which has helped entomologists better understand the world of moth and butterfly evolution.

Published in the journal Systematic Entomology, results of DNA analysis of the enigma moth conducted in Europe suggests that moth and butterfly evolution is far more complex than previously thought.

For a start CSIRO honorary fellow and moth specialist Ted Edwards said the results showed that tongues evolved in moths and butterflies more than once. Although this primitive moth doesn’t have a tongue, its earlier ancestors did.

“This moth demonstrated that the development of the musculature in the tongue of moths didn’t just happen once, it happened independently twice,” Dr Edwards said.

He said the enigma moth retained many other structural features associated with primitive moth species which lived 40 to 50 million years ago, including the wing mechanism.

“It’s really quite remarkable because it means that that ancestral line has continued right through without changing a lot of its basic structures,” he said.

It’s the first time since the 1970s that a new family of primitive moths has been identified.

The moth was first found on Kangaroo Island in 2009 by local scientist Richard Glatz but it was a few years before he contacted Dr Edwards for advice.

Dr Edwards said he knew straight away that he was looking at something “totally exceptional”.

Dr Glanz said he found the moths on cypress pine trees in a remote river valley near sand dunes. More specimens were collected in 2012 and 2013 before the moth could be confirmed as a new species.

With a wingspan no larger than a five cent piece the enigma moth is small – with a lifespan to match. Its wings shine gold and purple and have delicate fringed edges.

The adult moths are short-lived. In just one day they emerge from their cocoons, mate, females lay their eggs, and then die.

The moth has been named Aenigmatinea glatzella – in honour of Dr Glatz.

The name appeals to Dr Edwards, who pointed out that in German ‘Glatze’ means bald. One of the features of the moth is that its head is sparsely covered by scales.

Conservative estimates suggest Australia is home to about 22,000 species of moths and butterflies, only half of which have been named.
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Henry Sapiecha