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Pests

Science

Insect pests romanced by a sticky acoustic trap

You've probably never heard of huanglongbing – unless, of course, you're a citrus farmer. Then you'd know that it's another name for citrus greening disease – a tree affliction brought about by the Asian citrus psyllid, a pinhead-sized insect. To fight the blight, researchers have decided to appeal to the bug's romantic side by creating a trap that lures it in by playing the sound of a female psyllid.Read More

ZappLight bulb turns ordinary lamps into bug-killers

Thanks to the Zika virus, mosquitoes are back in the news and as feared as ever. While getting a dedicated bug-zapping light could help keep the little beasts at bay, not everyone wants to bother buying such a device. Well, that's why the ZappLight was created. It's an LED light bulb that goes into a regular socket, and it reportedly kills mozzies.Read More

Health & Wellbeing

High-tech comb uses plasma to kill lice

As some parents will already know, head lice infestations can be very difficult to treat. Typically a toxic shampoo or lotion has to first be applied to the sufferer's scalp, after which the lice are removed by pulling a specialized comb through their hair. Louse eggs aren't harmed by such shampoos, however, so the treatment needs to be repeated once they've hatched. This means more nasty chemicals, and more discomfort for the child (or adult). That's why researchers at Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Engineering and Thin Films have developed an alternative, in the form of a comb that zaps the pests with cold plasma.Read More

Environment

Dose of household vinegar found to kill off reef-eating starfish

The crown-of-thorns starfish poses a major threat to the wellbeing of Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Wild, uncontrollable outbreaks over the past few decades have seen the pests multiply to devour vast amounts of coral, and as it stands there's little that can be done. One method conservationists have used to some effect is injecting them with ox bile, but researchers have now discovered that a simple dose of vinegar can do much the same job, promising to significantly cut the cost of an expensive battle to rid a World Heritage Site of this damaging pest.Read More

Environment

Nanotech could rid cattle of ticks, with less collateral damage

If you've ever used tick medicine on your dog, then you're probably aware of how toxic the stuff is. Well, it's used on cows too, and it can end up in their meat, milk, or the surrounding environment. Fortunately, however, scientists at the National University of Mexico have developed a new type of tick treatment for cattle that is reportedly much less toxic than what's currently used.Read More

Science

Scientists design a better bedbug trap

Having any amount of bedbugs in your home is not a good thing. The sooner that you know they're there, however, the easier it will be to exterminate all of them. With that in mind, scientists from Canada's Simon Fraser University have developed a method of luring the li'l bloodsuckers into traps, and then keeping them there so that their presence can be duly noted and addressed. Read More

Science

Genetically-modified fruit flies could control wild populations by producing only sons

Mediterranean fruit flies are responsible for extensive damage to fruit and vegetable crops, not only in the Mediterranean region but also in Australia, North and South America. While existing methods of controlling them include the use of insecticides and sterilization, the University of East Anglia and biotech company Oxitec are pioneering what they claim is a greener and less expensive approach – they're genetically modifying male fruit flies to produce only male viable offspring. Read More

Science

Effective, safe, and pleasant-smelling mosquito control could be on the way

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

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