October 1, 2012 |
One of the more difficult aspects of evolution for some people to swallow is the notion that random copying errors in DNA can add up to anything useful. In two recently published projects, however, scientists show how typos can indeed lead to improvements. In numerous species of insects, they document the DNA errors that led to changes that are not only beneficial but also brilliant. Various species of beetles, aphids, butterflies, and moths have independently acquired genetic errors that allow them to eat highly toxic plants and then use the toxins to defend themselves against predators.
August 12, 2012
The Scramble Bug from QuickSmart is the coolest bug on four wheels - and it's just the thing for the traveling toddler. The sturdy ride-on starter bike looks like a big wacky insect, with four double wheels for "feet," and handlebars rising from a bug-eyed plastic "head" like antennae. The double wheels rotate 360 degrees, so the rider can steer her insect forward, backward, or in circles. Best of all, the brightly colored bug-cycle folds nearly flat for storage and transport (when folded, it measures about 28 by 14 by 6 inches)
March 18, 2012 |
A small, glitter-green insect that has killed more than 50 million ash trees in the Midwest and beyond has arrived in the Philadelphia region. Officials had both dreaded and expected it - just not this soon. On Wednesday, its presence was confirmed in an ash tree at a condominium neighborhood in Warrington, Bucks County. When officials looked at the surrounding forest, they realized maybe 20 ashes were under attack. "This is pretty much going to hammer ash trees in Southeastern Pennsylvania almost into oblivion," said Scott Guiser, an educator at Pennsylvania State University's extension service in Bucks County.
August 14, 2011
Sunday Sexual politics In Ray Cooney's 1981 farce Two Into One , a married member of Parliament sets up a tryst with the prime minister's secretary at a remote hotel, only to find his plan complicated by the presence of his wife, an officious hotelier, a confused waiter, a jealous husband, and a family-values opponent also on the make - for him. Expect lots of slamming doors when the show goes on at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Hedgerow Theatre ...
August 1, 2011 |
Like any good scientist, entomologist Daniel Otte has keen powers of observation. Unlike most, he is highly skilled at rendering those observations with a paintbrush. Otte, a preeminent expert on grasshoppers and crickets, has long been painting insects and other creatures for use in scientific articles and texts. Starting Saturday, 32 of his images are to be displayed as art in a new exhibit at his workplace: the Academy of Natural Sciences. The illustrator-scientist, not one to hog the limelight despite having identified more than 1,500 species in his career, is a bit taken aback by the focus on his paintings.
July 18, 2011 |
The butterfly effect suggests that the flapping of an insect's wings in Africa can lead to a tornado in Kansas. Call this the bat effect: A bat killed by a wind turbine in central Pennsylvania can lead to higher tomato prices at Wichita farmers' markets. Each year, bats gobble up millions of bugs that could ruin a harvest. But the same biology that allows the bats to sweep the night sky for fine dining has made them susceptible to one of Pennsylvania's fastest-growing energy tools.
May 20, 2011
Amy Stewart's new book is called Wicked Bugs: The Louse That Conquered Napoleon's Army & Other Diabolical Insects (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, $18.95). It's the insect version of her popular 2009 work, Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother & Other Botanical Atrocities . What can we say? The woman has a thing for all the morbid, shocking, and disgusting stuff that happens in the natural world. Can't really argue with that. People like shocking and disgusting, and more and more, selling books is like making movies.
May 12, 2011 |
They're small fish - only tadpole-size - but they have voracious appetites. They can eat several times' their weight every day. And their favorite food? Mosquito larvae. That puts Gambusia affinis up there with the dog as one of man's best friends. The state Department of Environmental Protection is stocking many of New Jersey's lakes and ponds with thousands of them and other insect-gobbling species. By the end of this spring, the state will have delivered three million fish in the course of the 20-year-old program overseen by the state's Mosquito Control Commission and the Bureau of Fresh Water Fisheries.
May 23, 2010 |
After the funeral of her 3-year-old son, Patti Murabito did what she had to do: the laundry. And then she, husband John, and their three girls began life without Johnny. "You're dealt the cards you're dealt," Patti says. "It's what you do with the cards. " What the family does now is help kids at the Ronald McDonald House in Camden. In 2006, the Murabitos outfitted a bedroom there in the theme of Johnny's beloved SpongeBob SquarePants. And on May 4, they donated $35,000 for a new toddler playroom, the combined generosity of their family and hundreds of their friends, neighbors, and business associates.