Current Insect News and Events

Current Insect News and Events, Insect News Articles.
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Silencing the alarm
Like a scene from a horror movie, tomato fruitworm caterpillars silence their food plants' cries for help as they devour their leaves. That is the finding of a multidisciplinary team of researchers, who said the results may yield insights into the abilities of crop plants -- such as tomato and soybean -- to withstand additional stressors, like climate change. (2021-02-17)

Perceiving predators: Understanding how plants 'sense' herbivore attack
Plants are known to possess solid immune response mechanisms. One such response is ''sensing'' attack by herbivorous animals. In a new review article, Prof. Arimura from Tokyo University of Science, Japan, discusses ''elicitors''--the molecules that initiate plant defense mechanisms against herbivore attack. He highlights the major types of elicitors and the underlying cellular signaling, and states that this could spur research on organic farming practices that could prevent the use of harmful pesticides. (2021-02-16)

Color is in the eye of the beholder
Researchers led by Harvard University develop a novel method to express long wavelength invertebrate opsin proteins in vitro and detail the molecular structure of long- and short-wavelengths in the opsins of the lycaenid butterfly, Eumaeus atala, discovering previously unknown opsins that result in red-shifted long wavelength sensitivity in their visual system. The new method pinpoints the specific base pair changes responsible for the spectral tuning of these visual proteins and reveal how vision genes evolved. (2021-02-09)

The business of bees
The economic value of insect pollinators was $34 billion in the U.S. in 2012, much higher than previously thought, according to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and Penn State University. The team also found that areas that are economically most reliant on insect pollinators are the same areas where pollinator habitat and forage quality are poor. (2021-02-03)

When looking at species declines, nuances and long-term data are important
After an initial report told of collapsing food webs in Puerto Rico, a group of researchers conducting long-term research on the island took a closer look at the issue. (2021-01-26)

Drug to treat rare genetic disease may help control transmission of African Trypanosomiasis
African trypanosomiasis (also known as sleeping sickness) is a disease transmitted by tsetse flies and is fatal to humans and other animals; however, there is currently no vaccine, this disease is mainly controlled by reducing insect populations and patient treatment. A study published in the open access journal PLOS Biology by Alvaro Acosta-Serrano at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and an international team of researchers suggests that the approved drug nitisinone could be repurposed to kill tsetse flies without harming important pollinator insects. (2021-01-26)

The surprises of color evolution
Nature is full of colour. For flowers, displaying colour is primarily a means to attract pollinators. Insects use their colour vision not only to locate the right flowers to feed on but also to find mates. The evolutionary interaction between insects and plants has created complex dependencies that can have surprising outcomes. Casper van der Kooi, a biologist at the University of Groningen, uses an interdisciplinary approach to analyse the interaction between pollinators and flowers. (2021-01-25)

Flowery diets help predatory insects help farmers keep pests in check
Predatory insects have been shown to live longer when they have access to nectar and pollen, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Copenhagen. Thus, flowers don't just benefit insects, they help farmers farm sustainably. Predatory insects are skilled pest controllers whose hunting reduces the need for agricultural pesticides. (2021-01-22)

Fungi strengthen plants to fend off aphids
Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have demonstrated that unique fungi strengthen the ''immune systems'' of wheat and bean plants against aphids. Fungi enter and influence the amount of a plant's own defences, resulting in fewer aphids. The results could serve to reduce agricultural insecticide use and bring Denmark a step further along the path towards its green transition. (2021-01-22)

Common pesticides stop bees and flies from getting a good night's sleep
Just like us, many insects need a decent night's sleep to function properly, but this might not be possible if they have been exposed to neonicotinoid insecticides, the most common form of insecticide used worldwide, suggests research by academics at the University of Bristol. (2021-01-21)

Methods in studying cycad leaf nutrition found to be inconsistent and incomplete
Collective research to date regarding nutrients found in the leaves of contemporary cycad species has been inconsistent as far as data collection and narrow in scope, according to a University of Guam-led literature review published on Nov. 19 in Horticulturae journal. (2021-01-21)

50 million-year-old fossil assassin bug has unusually well-preserved genitalia
The fossilized insect is tiny and its genital capsule, called a pygophore, is roughly the length of a grain of rice. It is remarkable, scientists say, because the bug's physical characteristics -- from the bold banding pattern on its legs to the internal features of its genitalia -- are clearly visible and well-preserved. Recovered from the Green River Formation in present-day Colorado, the fossil represents a new genus and species of predatory insects known as assassin bugs. (2021-01-19)

New heat method kills pathogens with minimal damage to plants
Turechek and colleagues set out to develop a new heat-based treatment that would kill pathogens without hurting the plant. When asked what most excited them about their research and their new method, Turechek responded, 'That it works! By introducing a lower-temperature conditioning step and using steam rather than hot water, we produced plants that were better able to withstand the higher temperature treatment designed to destroy the pathogen.' (2021-01-19)

Appreciating a flower's texture, color, and shape leads to better drone landings
A team of TU Delft and the Westphalian University of Applied Sciences researchers present an optical flow-based learning process that allows robots to estimate distances through the visual appearance (shape, color, texture) of the objects in view. This artificial intelligence (AI)-based learning strategy increases the navigation skills of small flying drones and entails a new hypothesis on insect intelligence. (2021-01-19)

Discovery of new praying mantis species from the time of the dinosaurs
A McGill-led research team has identified a new species of praying mantis thanks to imprints of its fossilized wings. It lived in Labrador, in the Canadian Subarctic around 100 million years ago, during the time of the dinosaurs, in the Late Cretaceous period. The researchers believe that the fossils of the new genus and species, Labradormantis guilbaulti, helps to establish evolutionary relationships between previously known species and advances the scientific understanding of the evolution of the most 'primitive' modern praying mantises. (2021-01-19)

No insect crisis in the Arctic - yet
No insect crisis in the Arctic - yet. Climate change is more pronounced in the Arctic than anywhere else on the planet, raising concerns about the ability of wildlife to cope with the new conditions. A new study shows that rare insects are declining, suggesting that climatic changes may favour common species. (2021-01-18)

Micro-climate moulds and reshapes northern insect communities, herbivory and predation
Climate and changes in it have direct impacts on species of plant and animals - but climate may also shape more complex biological systems like food webs. Now a research group from the University of Helsinki has investigated how micro-climate shapes each level of the ecosystem, from species' abundances in predator communities to parasitism rates in key herbivores, and ultimately to damage suffered by plants. The results reveal how climate change may drastically reshape northern ecosystems. (2021-01-14)

How insects activate muscles to adapt to limbs removed
Adaptability explains why insects spread so widely and why they are the most abundant animal group on earth. Insects exhibit resilient and flexible locomotion, even with drastic changes in their body structure such as losing a limb. (2021-01-14)

Pollinators not getting the 'buzz' they need in news coverage
A dramatic decline in pollinating insects threatens the global food supply, yet it's getting ''vanishingly low levels of attention'' in mainstream news, even compared to coverage of climate change. That's the conclusion of a study titled ''No buzz for bees,'' published this week in a special issue of PNAS. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers analyzed nearly 25 million news items from six prominent U.S. and global news sources using the university's massive Global News Index. (2021-01-13)

Unsure how to help reverse insect declines? Scientists suggest simple ways
Entomologist Akito Kawahara's message is straightforward: We can't live without insects. They're in trouble. And there's something all of us can do to help. (2021-01-12)

$3.9M project on self-deleting genes takes aim at mosquito-borne diseases
To control mosquito populations and prevent them from transmitting diseases such as malaria, many researchers are pursuing strategies in mosquito genetic engineering. A new Texas A&M AgriLife Research project aims to enable temporary ''test runs'' of proposed genetic changes in mosquitoes, after which the changes remove themselves from the mosquitoes' genetic code. (2020-12-28)

Silkworm's brain determines diapause by thermal information
Silkworms (Bombyx mori) were found to lay diapause eggs at 25°C and non-diapause eggs at 15°C. Females were observed to determine whether to lay diapause eggs or not according to thermal information received by the embryonic Bombyx TRPA1 ortholog (BmTRPA1). In this study scientists at Shinshu University et al. have elucidated that the neuropeptide corazonin regulates the release of the diapause hormone. (2020-12-21)

Study resolves the position of fleas on the tree of life
A study of more than 1,400 protein-coding genes of fleas has resolved one of the longest standing mysteries in the evolution of insects, reordering their placement in the tree of life and pinpointing who their closest relatives are. (2020-12-20)

Scientists solve 'flea mystery'
Researchers from the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NIGPAS) and the University of Bristol in the UK solved the 'Flea Mystery.' (2020-12-20)

'Chaotic' way to create insectlike gaits for robots
Researchers are embracing chaos and nonlinear physics to create insectlike gaits for tiny robots -- complete with a locomotion controller to provide a brain-machine interface. Biology and physics are permeated by universal phenomena fundamentally grounded in nonlinear physics, and it inspired the researchers' work. In the journal Chaos, the group describes using a system of three nonlinear differential equations as a building block for central pattern generators to control the gait of a robotic insect. (2020-12-15)

Powerhouse plants that bolster the food web
Researchers have identified the most critical plants needed to sustain food webs across the United States. Their study drills down to the top plants in each county and bioregion, illuminating a plan for how to restore ecosystems anywhere in the country. (2020-12-14)

Measurements of tree height can help cycad conservation decisions
A multi-national research team has exploited long-term data sets that span 2001 to 2018 to reveal the utility of tree height quantifications in informing conservation decisions of an arborescent cycad species. The field work was led by the University of Guam and targeted Cycas micronesica from the Micronesian Islands of Guam, Tinian, and Yap as the model species. (2020-12-07)

How the insect got its wings: Scientists (at last!) tell the tale
How insect wings evolved has puzzled biologists for over a century. Finally, a team from the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, has shown that the insect wing evolved from an outgrowth on the crustacean leg that was incorporated into the animal's body wall. (2020-12-01)

After 100 years, Cornell University plant pathologists revisit fire blight hypothesis
Historically credited as being the first bacterium ever characterized as a plant pathogen, fire blight is a bacterial disease that leads to significant losses of pear and apple. The role of insects in the spread of this disease has been long studied. In a new study, plant pathologists based at Cornell University and Cornell AgriTech take a hypothesis that has been more or less ignored for 100 years and provided support for its validity. (2020-12-01)

Chemical clues in leaves can reveal ash tree resistance to deadly disease
Naturally occurring compounds in ash leaves could be linked to susceptibility of individual trees to the fungal disease ash dieback (ADB). But selecting trees with lower levels of these compounds and breeding for resistance could leave the UK ash tree population open to attack from invading insect pests in the future, according to scientists at the University of Warwick. (2020-11-11)

Dietary overlap of birds, bats and dragonflies disadvantageous in insect decline
According to a new Finnish study, different groups of insectivores compete for the same type of food. Researchers of the University of Turku, Finland, and the Finnish Museum of Natural History made a discovery by comparing birds, bats and dragonflies that forage in the same area in Southwest Finland. These very distantly related predators consumed the same insect groups. The results shed new light on the decline in insect populations. (2020-11-10)

"Helper" ambrosia beetles share reproduction with their mother
A new study shows for the first time that Xyleborus affinis beetles are cooperative breeders, where females disperse to found new nests or stay to help their mother raise siblings, while also reproducing themselves. They grow an asexual Raffaella fungus alongside their nest galleries, apparently their only source of food. (2020-11-04)

Bats can predict the future, JHU researchers discover
They can't tell fortunes and they're useless with the stock market but bats are quite skilled at predicting one thing: where to find dinner. Bats calculate where their prey is headed by building on-the-fly predictive models of target motion from echoes, Johns Hopkins University researchers find. The models are so robust, bats can continue to track prey even when it temporarily vanishes behind echo-blocking obstacles like trees. (2020-11-02)

These spiders can hear
Ogre-faced spiders hide during the day and hunt by night, dangling from palm fronds and casting nets on insects. Researchers reporting in the journal Current Biology on October 29 have discovered that they can hear their predators and prey, using specialized receptors to pick up sounds from at least 2 meters away. The results suggest that spiders can hear low frequency sounds from insect prey as well as higher frequency sounds from bird predators. (2020-10-29)

Researchers map genomes of agricultural monsters
The University of Cincinnati is unlocking the genomes of creepy agricultural pests like screwworms that feast on livestock from the inside out and thrips that transmit viruses to plants. (2020-10-28)

Study: Most migratory birds rely on a greening world
A new study from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology confirms that most birds -- but not all -- synchronize their migratory movements with seasonal changes in vegetation greenness. This is the first study of its kind to cover the Western Hemisphere during the year-long life cycle of North American migratory birds that feed on vegetation, seeds, nectar, insects, or meat. (2020-10-27)

Shifts in flowering phases of plants due to reduced insect density
A research group of the University of Jena and the iDiv has discovered that insects have a decisive influence on the biodiversity and flowering phases of plants. If there is a lack of insects where the plants are growing, their flowering behaviour changes. This can result in the lifecycles of the insects and the flowering periods of the plants no longer coinciding. If the insects seek nectar, some plants will no longer be pollinated. (2020-10-26)

Food allergy caused by insects?
Can edible insects trigger allergies? In September 2020, the BfR launched a new joint research project to protect consumers from potential allergic reactions: Allergen-Pro. The aim: to establish methods for the in-depth analysis of allergens in food and to describe their im-pact on those with allergies. Seven partners from Switzerland and Germany are involved in developing suitable and reproducible detection methods for insect components in food products. (2020-10-20)

The ur-Iris likely had purple flowers, pollinated by insects for nectar
Plant scientists use genomic data to build a family tree of over 200 species in the highly diverse genus Iris, onto which they map traits related to flower color and morphology, and mating system. They deduce that the last common ancestor probably had nectar-producing purple flowers, pollinated by insects and self-compatible, with a crest and a spot on the falls (sepals). (2020-10-13)

University of Guam part of international effort to understand cycad pollinators
The Guam team's 2017 discovery of the new Cycadophila samara beetle and its pollination of cycads is now contributing to an international effort to more fully understand the intimate relationship between plant and insect. (2020-10-13)

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