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Insect

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

Farm 432 is a device for kitchens that continually breeds and collects fly larva as a rene...

Flies are usually considered unwelcome guests in the kitchen, but one industrial designer is aiming to turn them into a renewable food source. Katharina Unger's Farm 432 concept is a fly-breeding device for home use that continually collects fly larva as a protein source for less squeamish diners. As unappetizing as it may sound, the designer hopes that convincing the Western world to add insects to its diet could help increase the planet's overall food supply.  Read More

The Kite Mosquito Patch is worn on the clothing like a decal, and is said to keep mosquito...

Depending on what part of the world you live in, mosquitoes can range from being an annoyance, to acting as carriers of life-threatening diseases such as malaria and West Nile virus. Sprays containing deet do a fairly decent job of keeping the mozzies at bay, but they’re also highly toxic. Less-nasty sprays, bracelets and other devices are also available, although (as I can attest to from personal experience) they tend not to be very effective. Now, however, a group of California-based entrepreneurs are developing what could be the ultimate deterrent – the Kite Mosquito Patch.  Read More

The tick rover drags an insecticide-laced cloth behind it (Photo: VMI Photos by John Rober...

It's summertime in the Northern Hemisphere, and that means the bugs are out – specifically, ticks. In light of the ensuing infestation, otherwise known as the annual repopulation, three professors at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) have crossed the business of pest control with the world of robotics by last month testing their robotic "tick rover" to determine its efficiency at removing the blood suckers from the yard.  Read More

Using genetic engineering to alter the Aedes aegypti mosquito's sense of smell could revea...

It has long been believed that detecting carbon dioxide was one of the ways that mosquitoes target their human prey. But the fact that mosquitoes tend to favor certain people over others indicates that some other odor also plays a part in the attraction. Researchers at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) have genetically engineered mosquitoes to alter their sense of smell, which could provide the understanding required to block the pesky pests' attraction to humans.  Read More

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