Stopping the slaughter of the bats

Stopping the slaughter of the bats
In 7 years, white-nose syndrome has spread to 24 states and 5 provinces. Why is the fungus so deadly? Why don’t bats die in Europe? And where are the chinks in its armor? More »

Come hither, says plant

Come hither, says plant

Study finds that bees “read” the electric field of a flower. First-ever detection of electric-field detection by animal not in water makes evolutionary sense, but how come nobody ever saw this before? More »

Counting bugs in Panama

Counting bugs in Panama

Life is biology is species: But how many species live on Earth? About six million arthropods (insects, spiders and crustaceans), says a new study. More »

Love life of the firefly

Love life of the firefly

An alluring flash pattern is only the first step in firefly reproduction. Females actually pay more attention to the “nuptial gift” that carries sperm. A new look at these popular creatures shows that the battle of the sexes is more subtle and complex than we thought. More »

Ants

close up of ant faces with revolutionary-themed background

Classroom Activity Page: Four genomes for ants have just been decoded. The genetic information gives us a better picture of why ants are so successful, and helps us understand why leaf-cutter ants live in a close, mutually beneficial relationship (symbiosis) with fungus. Some argue that leaf-cutters are the most industrious farmers on Earth. More »

Forensic Science: Bugs, Maggots And DNA

Detail from schematic diagram

Classroom Activity Page: Don’t leave any goodies behind at the crime scene. Collect the bugs. Collect the maggots, and don’t EVER leave a ransom note! Forensic science — it’s better than ever! More »

Flight without wings

Flight without wings

Scientists thought wings were the first evidence of flight. But plenty of falling ants can glide back to “their” tree to avoid being devoured on the forest floor. If an ant’s brain and body are able to detect its position and change its flight path, is gliding the first flight? More »

A Story of the Bacterium and the Fly

closeup of fly--yellow and hairy with large red eye

Bacteria can help or harm their hosts. Now we hear how one genus of bacteria can multiply fly reproduction. In this symbiosis, both parties benefit. This bacterium also alters insect immunity, and could lead to new tactics for killing horrific parasites. More »

Genetics of the body snatchers!

Genetics of the body snatchers!

athogens can change the behavior of their hosts — and now we see that a single viral gene forces a caterpillar to climb a tree before it dies. From that high vantage, the virus can infect more caterpillars. It’s nifty and thrifty, unless you’re a gypsy moth! More »

Sex on Six Legs: Lessons on Life, Love and Language from the Insect World

Sex on Six Legs: Lessons on Life, Love and Language from the Insect World

To most of us, the instinctive response to insects is to swat, spray, scratch and swear. But to biologist Marlene Zuk, insects in all their astonishing diversity are the prime lens for examining biology and evolution. With six legs, tiny brains, chitinous external skeletons and countless adaptations to niches within niches in the environment, you’d think insects would have invented just about every sexual and “child”-raising oddity imaginable More »

Biology as engineer

Biology as engineer

Long ago, nature devised the hinge and ball and socket for appendages like legs and wings. The screw is the latest simple machine to be discovered in nature. Why do weevils, a type of beetle, have a screw? How does it help weevils survive their 3-D world? More »

Maggots, leeches, parasitic worms

Maggots, leeches, parasitic worms

Meet three gross “biotherapies”: Leeches suck blood after surgery. Maggots clear dead tissue from wounds. Parasitic worms fight ulcerative colitis. Back to the future, here we go! More »

Pollinator crisis ahead

Bee with stinger coming from its snout poking its head out of the dirt
Many of the tastiest crops can’t pollinate themselves: melons, cucumbers, strawberries, almonds, cacao. But pollinators — both native and managed — are under threat from diseases and pesticides. They aren’t finding enough to eat. Their colonies are dying. What can we do? More »

Spider silk: Material of the future?

Spider silk: Material of the future?
Strong, tough, sticky, elastic and biodegradable, silk may be used for a mesh to support injured tissues, or as a temporary container for drugs, stem cells and growth factors. As scientists divine the secret of how spiders and silkworms make silk, they are finding ways to engineer silk into medical devices. More »

News flash from the firefly!

field alit with firefly lights

Most fireflies flash on their own schedule, but some do it all at once. In most animals, the guys try to stand out from the crowd – but these flies try to make a crowd! What’s the evolutionary advantage? What can we learn about bug-brains from the “all-at-once” display of synchronous fireflies? More »