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Ant–fungus mutualism is a symbiosis seen in certain ant and fungal species, in which ants actively cultivate fungus much like humans farm crops as a food source. In some species, the ants and fungi are dependent on each other for survival. The leafcutter ant is a well-known example of this symbiosis. A mutualism with fungi is also noted in some species of termites in Africa.
- "Ant–fungus mutualism" | 2017-02-23 | 45 Upvotes 1 Comments
Emerald cockroach wasp - Reproductive behavior and life cycle
The emerald cockroach wasp or jewel wasp (Ampulex compressa) is a solitary wasp of the family Ampulicidae. It is known for its unusual reproductive behavior, which involves stinging a cockroach and using it as a host for its larvae. It thus belongs to the entomophagous parasites.
- "Emerald cockroach wasp - Reproductive behavior and life cycle" | 2010-10-02 | 80 Upvotes 29 Comments
Toxorhynchites – Mosquito Eater
Toxorhynchites, also called elephant mosquito or mosquito eater, is a genus of diurnal and often relatively colorful mosquitoes, found worldwide between about 35° north and 35° south. It includes the largest known species of mosquito, at up to 18 mm (0.71 in) in length and 24 mm (0.94 in) in wingspan. It is among the many kinds of mosquito that do not consume blood. The adults subsist on carbohydrate-rich materials, such as honeydew, or saps and juices from damaged plants, refuse, fruit, and nectar.
Their larvae prey on the larvae of other mosquitoes and similar nektonic prey, making Toxorhynchites beneficial to humans. In this respect, they contrast with blood-sucking species of mosquitoes. Toxorhynchites larvae live on a protein- and fat-rich diet of aquatic animals such as mosquito larvae. They have no need to risk their lives sucking blood in adulthood, having already accumulated the necessary materials for oogenesis and vitellogenesis.
Most species occur in forests. The larvae of one jungle variety, Toxorhynchites splendens, consume larvae of other mosquito species occurring in tree crevices, particularly Aedes aegypti.
Unlike Toxorhynchites mosquitoes, detritus feeder mosquito female larvae rely on blood meals to produce eggs more plentifully than a diet of nectar would permit. And even though blood sucking is a risky strategy that entails more casualties, and they could in principle subsist on nectar and the like as their males generally do, the risk is outweighed on average by the increase in the number and size of yolk-rich eggs that such protein-rich food permit.
Environmental scientists have suggested that Toxorhynchites mosquitoes be introduced to areas outside their natural range in order to fight dengue fever. This has been practiced historically, but errors have been made. For example, when intending to introduce T. splendens to new areas, scientists actually introduced T. amboinensis. An extinct species is known from Miocene aged Mexican Amber
- "Toxorhynchites – Mosquito Eater" | 2019-07-25 | 73 Upvotes 41 Comments
The Schmidt insect sting pain index
The Schmidt sting pain index is a pain scale rating the relative pain caused by different hymenopteran stings. It is mainly the work of Justin O. Schmidt (born 1947), an entomologist at the Carl Hayden Bee Research Center in Arizona, United States. Schmidt has published a number of papers on the subject, and claims to have been stung by the majority of stinging Hymenoptera.
His original paper in 1983 was a way to systematize and compare the hemolytic properties of insect venoms. A table contained in the paper included a column that rated sting pain, starting from 0 for stings that are completely ineffective against humans, progressing through 2, a familiar pain such as that caused by a common bee or wasp sting, and finishing at 4 for the most painful stings; in the original paper, only the bullet ant, Paraponera clavata, was given a rating of 4. Later revised versions of the index added Synoeca septentrionalis, along with tarantula hawks as the only species to share this ranking. In later versions, some descriptions of the most painful examples were given, e.g.: "Paraponera clavata stings induced immediate, excruciating pain and numbness to pencil-point pressure, as well as trembling in the form of a totally uncontrollable urge to shake the affected part."
Schmidt has repeatedly refined his scale, including a paper published in 1990, which classifies the stings of 78 species and 41 genera of Hymenoptera, and culminating in a book published in 2016.
An entry in The Straight Dope reported that "implausibly exact numbers" which do not appear in any of Schmidt’s published scientific papers were "wheedled out of him" by Outside magazine for an article it published in 1996.
In September 2015, Schmidt was co-awarded the Ig Nobel Physiology and Entomology prize with Michael Smith for their Hymenoptera research.
- "The Schmidt insect sting pain index" | 2021-01-25 | 15 Upvotes 8 Comments
Depopulation of cockroaches in post-Soviet states
Depopulation of cockroaches in post-Soviet states refers to observations that there has been a rapid disappearance of various types of cockroaches since the beginning of the 21st century in Russia and other countries of the former USSR. Various factors have been suggested as causes of the depopulation.
- "Depopulation of cockroaches in post-Soviet states" | 2021-07-14 | 11 Upvotes 2 Comments
An ant mill is an observed phenomenon in which a group of army ants are separated from the main foraging party, lose the pheromone track and begin to follow one another, forming a continuously rotating circle, commonly known as a "death spiral" because the ants might eventually die of exhaustion. It has been reproduced in laboratories and has been produced in ant colony simulations. The phenomenon is a side effect of the self-organizing structure of ant colonies. Each ant follows the ant in front of it, which works until a slight deviation begins to occur, typically by an environmental trigger, and an ant mill forms. An ant mill was first described in 1921 by William Beebe, who observed a mill 1200 ft (~370 m) in circumference. It took each ant 2.5 hours to make one revolution. Similar phenomena have been noted in processionary caterpillars and fish.
- "Ant mill" | 2022-01-22 | 251 Upvotes 154 Comments
An insect hotel, also known as a bug hotel or insect house, is a manmade structure created to provide shelter for insects. They can come in a variety of shapes and sizes depending on the specific purpose or specific insect it is catered to. Most consist of several different sections that provide insects with nesting facilities – particularly during winter, offering shelter or refuge for many types of insects. Their purposes include hosting pollinators.
- "Insect Hotel" | 2022-04-12 | 206 Upvotes 102 Comments
Pantala flavescens, the globe skimmer, globe wanderer or wandering glider, is a wide-ranging dragonfly of the family Libellulidae. This species and Pantala hymenaea, the "spot-winged glider", are the only members of the genus Pantala. It was first described by Johan Christian Fabricius in 1798. It is considered to be the most widespread dragonfly on the planet with good population on every continent except Antarctica although rare in Europe. Globe skimmers make an annual multigenerational journey of some 18,000 km (about 11,200 miles); to complete the migration, individual globe skimmers fly more than 6,000 km (3,730 miles)—one of the farthest known migrations of all insect species.
- "Pantala Flavescens" | 2022-08-16 | 18 Upvotes 9 Comments
A hyperparasite, also known as a metaparasite is a parasite whose host, often an insect, is also a parasite, often specifically a parasitoid. Hyperparasites are found mainly among the wasp-waisted Apocrita within the Hymenoptera, and in two other insect orders, the Diptera (true flies) and Coleoptera (beetles). Seventeen families in Hymenoptera and a few species of Diptera and Coleoptera are hyperparasitic. Hyperparasitism developed from primary parasitism, which evolved in the Jurassic period in the Hymenoptera. Hyperparasitism intrigues entomologists because of its multidisciplinary relationship to evolution, ecology, behavior, biological control, taxonomy, and mathematical models.
- "Hyperparasite" | 2022-08-20 | 52 Upvotes 28 Comments
Arthropod Head Problem
The (pan)arthropod head problem is a long-standing zoological dispute concerning the segmental composition of the heads of the various arthropod groups, and how they are evolutionarily related to each other. While the dispute has historically centered on the exact make-up of the insect head, it has been widened to include other living arthropods such as chelicerates, myriapods, crustaceans; and fossil forms, such as the many arthropods known from exceptionally preserved Cambrian faunas. While the topic has classically been based on insect embryology, in recent years a great deal of developmental molecular data has become available. Dozens of more or less distinct solutions to the problem, dating back to at least 1897, have been published, including several in the 2000s.
The arthropod head problem is popularly known as the endless dispute, the title of a famous paper on the subject by Jacob G. Rempel in 1975, referring to its seemingly intractable nature. Although some progress has been made since that time, the precise nature of especially the labrum and the pre-oral region of arthropods remain highly controversial.
- "Arthropod Head Problem" | 2023-05-13 | 60 Upvotes 22 Comments