Invasion of the 17-year cicada brood
What’s red-eyed, over-sized, loud, horrifying and 17 years in the making? The soon-to-be-emerging cicada brood, described by one expert as a “huge tsunami.”
The bugs, which have been hibernating for nearly two decades before emerging, molting, mating and passing away in droves, are a swarming terror to some, and for others, they’re an under-appreciated delicacy.
But rest assured, West Coast readers, the imminent cicada invasion is entirely an East Coast problem.
And for anyone skeptical as to how creepy cicadas can be, click here at your own peril.
Photo: Chris Simon / University of Connecticut, Associated Press
Do robot ants dream of electric crumbs?
Want to get inside of the brains of ants? Researchers looking to understand how ants solve problems, instead of sitting down for a focus group with the ants, have called upon 10 sugar-cube-sized robots.
The study, which culminated in a study published Thursday, is an attempt to comprehend how ants coordinate their behavior, with the long-term goal of curbing the spread of the invasive Argentine ant, which is disrupting ecosystems worldwide.
And what’s the importance of a single ant among a gigantic swarm?
The behavior of individual foragers can have drastic consequences for the entire group. A series of wrong turns by one or several workers can transform an otherwise successful picnic raid into a catastrophe: Wayward ants can accidentally lock their supply network into a closed loop, causing the group to march in a fruitless spiral until they drop from exhaustion.
As for the conclusions of the study, well, you’ll have to check out the full write-up from Science Now.
“Honeybees aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.”
Wild bees may be just the solution that farmers are looking for as they struggle to come with the continued die-offs among domestic reserves.
In fact, farmers may have been completely wrong about bees for years. Said Rachael Winfree, a pollination ecologist at Rutgers University:
“At 90% of farms studied in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, native wild bees are fully pollinating the watermelon crop. But farmers don’t realize this. “They’re thinking they need them but they don’t.”
Read more about the possible bee fix, and why honeybees may be totally overrated, here.
Photo: Rufus Isaacs