March 28, 2011
The idea of it would make anyone’s skin crawl.
Small, flat bugs living on mattresses and in suitcases, feeding off your blood and spreading around your home.
Bed bugs are a growing problem across the country, and St. Cloud isn’t immune to it. St. Cloud Health and Inspections Coordinator Chris Forslund said the bugs have returned after chemicals used to get rid of them were banned and bugs became more resistant to pesticides.
They have been found in high-end New York City apartments, movie theaters and hospitals. And getting rid of them isn’t always easy or inexpensive.
Officials are encouraging people who find bed bugs to seek professional services to clear them and to alert their landlords if they are renters. That isn’t always easy because there’s a stigma attached to the bugs.
Read the entire story at St. Cloud Times
March 28, 2011
Stink bugs, the smelly scourge of the mid-Atlantic, are hitch-hiking and gliding their way across the country. Officially known as the brown marmorated stink bug, sightings of the pest have been reported in 33 states, an increase of eight states since last fall.
"I would say people now regard them as an out-of-control pest," says Kim Hoelmer, a research entomologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Newark, Del.
The National Pest Management Association warns homeowners this week that the bugs' growing populations are likely to make infestations significantly worse this year. "This season's stink bug population will be larger than in the past," says Jim Fredericks, director of technical services for NPMA.
The bugs have been spotted as far west as California, as far north as Minnesota and as far south as Floirda. Only the Rockies and Plains states have escaped thus far. The eight states recently joining the stink bug party are Arizona, Iowa, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin, according to the USDA's Greg Rosenthal.
Read the whole story at USA Today.
March 28, 2011
Insane story from the Orlando Sentinel. Read the unpleasant details here.
March 07, 2011
From Wired Magazine
Four new species of brain-manipulating fungi that turn ants into "zombies" have been discovered in the Brazilian rain forest.
These fungi control ant behavior with mind-altering chemicals, then kill them. They're part of a large family of fungi that create chemicals that mess with animal nervous systems.
Usually scientists study these fungi as specimens preserved in a lab, said entomologist David Hughes of Pennsylvania State University, co-author of a study March 3 PLoS ONE. "By going into the forest to watch them, we found new micro-structures and behaviors."
Once infected by spores, the worker ants, normally dedicated to serving the colony, leave the nest, find a small shrub and start climbing. The fungi directs all ants to the same kind of leaf: about 25 centimeters above the ground and at a precise angle to the sun (though the favored angle varies between fungi). How the fungi do this is a mystery.
"It's related to the fungus that LSD comes from," Hughes said. "Obviously they are producing lots of interesting chemicals."
Before dying, ants anchor themselves to the leaf, clamping their jaws on the edge or a vein on the underside. The fungi then takes over, turning the ant's body into a spore-producing factory. It lives off the ant carcass, using it as a platform to launch spores, for up to a year.
Read the entire story complete with amazing pictures over at Wired Magazine