1942 Planet Comics Article Predicted Human Extinction By Giant Insects

The prediction, as the fantastic opening paragraph explains, was made by "many scientists" (a perennially referenced but rarely identified authority), and is "based on sound, biological facts." Ipso facto, we're doomed. Dooooooooomed! » 7/06/14 12:00pm 7/06/14 12:00pm

Why do cicadas know prime numbers?

Cicadas incubate underground for long years. They emerge every 13 or 17 years to mate and make annoying noises when people are trying to sleep. Both 13 and 17 are prime numbers. What is it that makes cicadas come out during these years? » 3/23/12 3:40pm 3/23/12 3:40pm

Why do dung beetles dance? It's not just because they're happy

Much like bees, dung beetles have a habit of shaking their groove thangs while undertaking that important task of rolling around balls of poop. When they form the ball, they crawl on top of it, and "rotate around their vertical axis". » 1/19/12 3:30pm 1/19/12 3:30pm

How scientists deciphered the "waggle dance" language of bees

This is one of the most succinct and interesting videos I've ever seen about how bees communicate with each other. Using a series of precise dance moves, they inform their hive mates about the locations of food sources. The vid was made by researchers working with a group at Georgia Tech called the Multi-Agent… » 1/17/12 7:40am 1/17/12 7:40am

These ants use their butts to fly

Some ants crawl to where they want to go. Not this species. They fly, using no wings or sails. They have all they need to fly packed right behind them at all times. » 6/22/11 7:00am 6/22/11 7:00am

How masses of swimming fire ants capture oxygen bubbles to stay afloat

One ant sinks in water, but a bunch of them? It turns out they can link together and become an unsinkable life raft. New research shows that when fire-ants are dropped in water, they quickly form a pancake-shaped floating mass, which traps air beneath them. » 4/28/11 8:00am 4/28/11 8:00am

Amazon’s $23,698,655.93 book about flies

A few weeks ago a postdoc in my lab logged on to Amazon to buy the lab an extra copy of Peter Lawrence's The Making of a Fly – a classic work in developmental biology that we – and most other Drosophila developmental biologists – consult regularly. The book, published in 1992, is out of print. But Amazon listed 17… » 4/25/11 2:30pm 4/25/11 2:30pm

How wasps produce their own antibiotics

We already know wasps are evil incarnate, but according to new research, they may yet have some redeeming features. Female beewolf digger wasps have colonies of symbiotic bacteria that inhabit their antennae and the wasps secrete this bacterial cocktail into the cocoons of their offspring. The bacteria create a… » 4/15/11 10:43am 4/15/11 10:43am

Bacteria that turns flies into sex-crazed super-breeders

The whitefly is a major agricultural pest, and over the last six years Southwest of America has seen the near total infection of the species by a symbiotic bacteria, which makes them super-breeders. The bacterium Rickettsia bellii was originally spotted in just a few specimens in 2000, but by 2006 was in 97% of the… » 4/08/11 7:30am 4/08/11 7:30am

What are the most aggressive ants in the world?

When groups of red wood ants interact and fight, the smaller groups fight harder and take more casualties. Ants are one of the few non-human animals that engages in close-contact group battles, and how they fight is directly linked to the makeup of that group. » 3/11/11 11:00am 3/11/11 11:00am

How fire ants invaded North America, then the world, in just a few…

The insect known as S. invicta, or the fire ant, will bite the crap out of you, join up with its buddies to swarm everywhere, and ruin everything in its path. And they're everywhere! The truly scary part is that they didn't used to be so ubiquitous - in fact, fire ants used to live in a relatively small area in… » 2/24/11 3:23pm 2/24/11 3:23pm

A fifty million-year-old ant, whose existence could change the history…

This ant, preserved in amber 50 million years ago, is evidence that we may have dramatically misunderstood the environmental history of India. » 10/29/10 3:00pm 10/29/10 3:00pm

Ant Mega-Colony Covers Half The Planet

Ant colonies are often part of bigger "mega colonies" that share genetic traits and will not make war on each other. One colony got so big it now rivals the human population in its reach, covering most of the planet. » 7/02/09 4:30pm 7/02/09 4:30pm