Insects

Science • Animals
Study: low doses of the insecticide, Imidacloprid, cause blindness in insects
Study: low doses of the insecticide, Imidacloprid, cause blindness in insects
Credit: unsplash.com / Damien TUPINIER

New research has identified a mechanism by which low levels of insecticides such as, the neonicotinoid Imidacloprid, could harm the nervous, metabolic and immune system of insects, including those that are not pests, such as our leading pollinators, bees. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, led by researchers at the University of Melbourne and Baylor College of Medicine, shows that low doses of Imidacloprid trigger neurodegeneration and disrupt vital body-wide functions, including energy production, vision, movement and the immune system, in the vinegar fly, Drosophila melanogaster. "That's an indication of the impact of the insecticide on the function of the brain," said Dr Felipe Martelli, whose PhD work conducted at the University of Melbourne and the Baylor College of Medicine in the laboratory of Professor Hugo Bellen led to the current research paper.

Climate & Environment
Pakistan's creative fight against continuing locust plague
Pakistan's creative fight against continuing locust plague
Credit: Binemarina (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The locust plagues that have been terrorising East Africa, India, and Pakistan in the past few months have still not disappeared. The unusual amounts of precipitation have caused the insects to reproduce 400 times faster than normal. Many fear the plagues to continue as the monsoons seasons are beginning in Pakistan and India.

Since the swarms have already destroyed tens of thousands of hectares of agricultural land, farmers in Punjab, the most important agricultural region of Pakistan, received ten euro cents for every kilogram of locust. The collected insects were then turned into chicken feed. Since this solution helps both to compensate farmers for their lost income and to eradicate the plague, the Pakistani government is now planning to expand the programme to the entire country.

Science • Nature
Asian giant hornets surfaces in British Columbia, Canada

The Asian giant hornet, colloquially known as the murder hornet, has been spotted in Lower Mainland, British Columbia, miles away from Washington State where it was spotted first. Provincial Apiculturist Paul Van Westendorp confirmed the identity of the specimen, who will perform both an autopsy and a DNA sequencing to determine its origin.

Science • Nature
Asian giant hornets spotted in the US
Asian giant hornets spotted in the US
Credit: wikimedia/NUMBER7isBEST (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The Asian giant hornet, also called murder hornet, has been spotted in the US, mainly in Washington State. Beekeepers have reported thousands of dead bees with their heads ripped off. The hornets are over two inches (5 centimetres) long and can kill a beehive in hours. It's still unclear how the hornets came to the US.