Tag Archives: nature

Electronic-loving ants invade USA

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Photo by: sanchom

An invasive species of ants referred to as ‘Tawny Crazy Ants’ are invading the south-eastern part of the United States, displacing the indigenous fire ants – and showing a strange love for all things electronic that is causing problems throughout the region.

“They nest in electronics and create short circuits, as they create a contact bridge between two points when they get electrocuted they release an alarm pheromone,” says research assistant Edward LeBrun from The University of Texas said.

“The other ants are attracted to the chemicals that other ants give off.”

Together with his colleagues, Edward LeBrun has been mapping the rise of the Tawny Crazy Ants.

“The “ecologically dominant” crazy ants are reducing diversity and abundance across a range of ant and arthropod species,” their report concludes.

This is not only bad news for species such as the fire ants, but also for humans living in the area.

“When you talk to folks who live in the invaded areas, they tell you they want their fire ants back,” said LeBrun. “Fire ants are in many ways very polite. They live in your yard. They form mounds and stay there, and they only interact with you if you step on their mound.”

LeBrun said that crazy ants, by contrast, “go everywhere.” They invade people’s homes, nest in crawl spaces and walls, become incredibly abundant and damage electrical equipment.

Nokia are reported (not really) to be following the development closely, ready to step in and lend a hand by donating mobile phones to lure the Crazy Ants away from people’s’ electronic equipment.

“It’s not like we were ever going to sell them anyway,” a fictional spokesperson for the company said.

It’s still a good idea, though…

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Scientists discover exploding termites

A discovery that must, simply must, have come as a bit of a surprise to Robert Hanus from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry in Prague has been that a newly identified species of termite have a defence system that brings to mind the computer game Lemmings.

When Neocapritermes taracua, a species of termite found in the rain forests French Guiana, workers grow old, they grow a sack of toxic liquid that they can explode onto enemies. Of course, this kills the worker.

For us over 30, here’s a bit of Lemmings (including an oh no!):

Japan’s nuclear plants are (almost) offline

According to an article in The New York Times, nearly all of Japan’s nuclear plants are now offline. Only two of the country’s 54 nuclear reactors are still running.

So far, the shut down hasn’t led to any major power outages, but that’s partially due to some pretty extreme measures taken by the people and Government of Japan.

For example, air-conditioners are now shut off, even in the heat of summer.

One place the country have felt the brunt force of what shutting off the plants means is on the economy. Partially due to the tsunami, but also due to a sudden rise in the cost of energy, Japan posted its first trade deficit for nearly three decades.

Apart from rising energy prices, Japan also faces another financial problem. Several of the country’s industrial giants have both constructed and run nuclear power plants. The shutting down of these plants leaves these companies with a greatly reduced income and many workers very suddenly out of a job.

One potential way out of this is for the companies to look abroad for opportunities to build and run nuclear power plants there. However, the mood is very much against nuclear power in many places at the moment.