Insects

3:04pm

Thu March 7, 2013
The Salt

If Caffeine Can Boost The Memory Of Bees, Can It Help Us, Too?

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 4:13 pm

Adam Cole/NPR iStockphoto.com

Who knew that the flower nectar of citrus plants — including some varieties of grapefruit, lemon and oranges — contains caffeine? As does the nectar of coffee plant flowers.

And when honeybees feed on caffeine-containing nectar, it turns out, the caffeine buzz seems to improve their memories — or their motivations for going back for more.

"It is surprising," says Geraldine Wright at Newcastle University in the the U.K., the lead researcher of a new honeybee study published in the journal Science.

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7:26am

Thu March 7, 2013
The Two-Way

Egypt's Locust Plague Threatens Israel

Originally published on Sun March 10, 2013 6:44 am

Locusts land on a sand dune in Negev Desert, southern Israel on Tuesday.
Ariel Schalit Associated Press

A swarm of locusts that began in Egypt and has crossed the border into Israel is inviting comparison to one of the Biblical plagues of Exodus.

The New York Times says the swarms are "like a vivid enactment of the eighth plague visited upon the obdurate Pharaoh. Others with a more modern sensibility said it felt more like Hitchcock."

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1:22pm

Mon March 4, 2013
Shots - Health News

Best Defense Against Fire Ants May Be Allergy Shot Offense

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 4:55 am

The sting of Solenopsis invicta, the red imported fire ant, is well known to many in the Southern United States, but immunotherapy is possible.
Courtesy of Alex Wild

"Life-threatening fire ant attack" may sound like a B-movie script, but for people living in the Southern third of the United States, it's no joke.

These ant stings can cause deadly allergic reactions, but most people aren't getting the allergy shots that could save their lives, a new study says.

Fire ants sting people, just like bees do, and 2 to 3 percent of people are allergic to the ant's venom. But where bee stings are rare, fire ant stings are incredibly common for people who live in Texas and other Southern states.

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12:58am

Fri March 1, 2013
The Salt

Wild Bees Are Good For Crops, But Crops Are Bad For Bees

Originally published on Tue March 5, 2013 10:13 am

Wild bees, such as this Andrena bee visiting highbush blueberry flowers, play a key role in boosting crop yields.
Left photo by Rufus Isaac/AAAS; Right photo courtesy of Daniel M.N. Turner

Some of the most healthful foods you can think of — blueberries, cranberries, apples, almonds and squash — would never get to your plate without the help of insects. No insects, no pollination. No pollination, no fruit.

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8:22am

Fri February 22, 2013
The Salt

For Fruit Flies, Alcohol Really Is Mommy's Little Helper

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 10:26 am

Alcohol: a key babyproofing product for this little mother.
Illustration by Daniel M.N. Turner Photos via istockphoto.com

Many a mom has reached for a glass of wine after a long day of tending children. But only fruit fly moms use their version of Chardonnay to guard their babies from harm.

When fly moms see marauding wasps, they seek out the alcohol in fermenting fruit, and lay their eggs there, according to new research. The alcohol is toxic to the wasps, but not to the fruit flies. They've evolved a tolerance for hooch.

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