Topic: Insects

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Ant–fungus mutualism

Insects Insects/Ant Fungi

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.

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Emerald cockroach wasp - Reproductive behavior and life cycle

Insects

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.

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Toxorhynchites – Mosquito Eater

Insects Diptera

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

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The Schmidt insect sting pain index

Medicine Agriculture Insects Insects/Ant Agriculture/Beekeeping Insects/Hymenoptera

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.

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Depopulation of cockroaches in post-Soviet states

Russia Russia/mass media in Russia Central Asia Insects Ukraine Russia/physical geography of Russia Russia/history of Russia Belarus

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.

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