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“Stick insects have developed an ingenious way of overcoming the conflict between attachme...

Could studying the slow moving stick insect help Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt cover 100 meters faster? Researchers at Cambridge believe it could. It's all to do with sticky toes versus hairy toes.  Read More

Ohio State's Carlos Castro, with an ant similar to those used in the study (Photo: The Ohi...

Though ants have long been known to carry loads many times their own weight, a new study has cast light on the extent of this strength and the mechanics responsible for it. Research conducted by a team from The Ohio State University suggests an ant can lift 5,000 times its own body weight, with its neck bearing most of the load, providing a potential blueprint for the development of much stronger robots.  Read More

The robot makes a bee-line for a red cylinder, after learning that 'red is good'

Because of bees' small size, maneuverability and almost machine-like swarm mentality, it shouldn't come as a surprise that scientists are developing tiny flying robots based on the insects. In order to navigate autonomously, however, those robots' artificial bee brains will have to be capable of identifying objects in their environment, and reacting accordingly. Well, thanks to research recently conducted in Berlin, they may soon be able to do so.  Read More

A fruit fly sits on a podium in the middle of the picture, while scents are emitted from t...

Scientists from the University of Konstanz, Germany, are the first to demonstrate that fruit flies can distinguish cancerous cells from healthy ones via their sense of smell. The team has genetically modified fruit flies so that their antennae glow when they detect a cancerous odor. In an experiment, scientists directed smells at fruit flies. The fruit flies' appearance was monitored via a microscope.  Read More

Approximately 5,000 bees are receiving RFID tags like this one

Bees are integral to the pollination of major crops around the world, so the more that we understand how they go about their business, the better we can facilitate the process and thereby boost yields. With this in mind, scientists from Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) are taking the unprecedented step of equipping up to 5,000 honeybees with RFID (radio frequency identification) tags.  Read More

Foul-smelling, toxic mosquito repellent could soon become a thing of the past  (Photo: Shu...

Methods for controlling mosquitoes usually take two tacks: luring the mosquitoes into a trap away from humans, or discouraging them from biting at the source. Both methods can be expensive, unhealthy, cumbersome, or disgusting (the smell of rancid butter, anyone?) and generally aren’t scalable for the countries that suffer the most from mosquito-borne disease. New research explores how a mosquito’s neurons actually detect humans, and presents a promising class of chemicals, screened for safety, cost, and an appealing scent, some of which attract mosquitoes and others of which mask the smell of tasty human skin.  Read More

Swarms of remote-control cockroaches could be used to map hazardous environments for first...

Living remote-control cockroaches are now a thing. They actually exist. Besides wowing people and sparking ethics debates, however, the cyborg insects may ultimately have some very worthwhile applications. A team led by North Carolina State University's Dr. Edgar Lobaton has brought one of those applications a step closer to reality, by developing software that would allow "swarms" of the cockroaches to map hazardous environments such as collapsed buildings.  Read More

Researchers have discovered which receptors mosquitoes use to detect DEET (Photo: Shutters...

Nothing keeps the mosquitoes away quite as well as DEET, but it's not the most innocuous of substances – besides stinking, it also melts plastic and synthetic fabrics, plus it's even been linked to problems in users' central nervous systems. It can also be prohibitively expensive for use in developing nations. Thanks to research being conducted at the University of California, Riverside, however, a new generation of non-toxic but highly-effective repellants may be on its way.  Read More

A Colorado potato beetle tries to find purchase on one of the slippery surfaces

Not having air conditioning in my house, here's something I didn't know: the inner surfaces of air conditioner ventilation pipes are often covered in cockroaches. Nice. In order to keep the roaches out of those pipes – along with keeping other insects out of other places – scientists from Germany's University of Freiburg have developed new bio-inspired surface coatings that even sticky-footed bugs can't cling to.  Read More

Gear teeth of a juvenile Issus coleaptratus (Photo: University of Cambridge)

Among the mechanical components not found in nature is the spur gear. That is, until now. Zoologists of the University of Cambridge have discovered that the juvenile form of the leaf-hopper Issus coleoptratus has a set of gear-like linkages between the two jumping legs to synchronize the legs during a jump.  Read More

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