Travellers warned over bed bug ‘epidemic’

Bed bugs have been around for Millenia, however, the threat to travellers is becoming worse as they are becoming increasing resistant to High Street bought insecticides.

Experts believe that a new strain of bed bugs that are resistant to some of the cheaper, less potent insecticides pose a threat to holidaymakers. “They have been bad for some time here in the US,” said Michael Potter, a professor of entomology – the study of insects and their relationship to humans – at the University of Kentucky. “In Europe and the UK it has been getting progressively worse.”

The debate is still out on how these new bed bugs have spread. One theory, and the most dominant, is that it’s due to the increase travel of a larger proportion of the population that travel. Travellers can not only harbour bed bugs on their bodies but also their luggage- this makes it incredibly easy for bed bugs to travel large distances. Even airline passengers are not immune. In 2017, there was a case of a Canadian family bitten by bed bugs on a British Airways flight from Vancouver to London. The following year a British Airways flight from Heathrow to Ghana was grounded when the crew refused to fly on a heavily infested aircraft.

There are precautions that can be taken by travellers –

  • On arriving at a hotel it is advisable to check the bed thoroughly, lifting up each corner of the mattress, inspecting seams and the bed frame itself.
  • Suitcases should not be thrown onto the bed or floor, because the bugs can climb inside and become unwelcome holiday souvenirs.
  • Wash clothing on a hot wash if an infestation is suspected

Whilst bed bugs are becoming resistant to some, less potent insecticides – there are still some companies producing and selling really effective products against bed bugs. For example Pest Expert have a wide range of bed bug killing products and they are nothing less than highly effective. The treatment kits, containing different products with different delivery methods are particularly effective.

So there is still is hope for consumers to treat bed bugs themselves.

New species of frog discovered that looks like Kermit!

A new species of glass see through frog has been discovered in Costa Rica, and it looks just like Kermit! They are found in Central and South American rainforests and they live in high trees near streams and creeks.

The male glass frogs may be small, but they are extremely territorial; they will fight with other males that try to trespass on their territory. Sadly, due to deforestation, they are threatened by habitat loss. Bearing in mind these threats, finding one of these ‘Kermit frogs’ is even more rare and special.

The amphibian that is a lime green in colour has bulging white eyes and perfect circular black pupils, just like the muppet’s musical puppet. The green colouring helps the frog stay camouflaged on the underside of leaves in the day, as they are nocturnal.

Image result for kermit frog species

The ants that decorate their homes with the heads of their enemies

Scientists are starting to understand and solve a mystery involving different species of ant.

Scientists have known that one species of ant, Formica archboldi, like to decorate their nest with the skull or head cases of several types of trap-jaw ants. They find this quite bizarre as trap-jaw ants come equipped with potent stingers and gigantic mandibles that can snap closed like a bear trap. They mouths have some special features such as allow the ant to catapult to freedom when facing attack.

Diminutive F. archboldi ants, native to Florida and surrounding states, nevertheless succeed in taking them down and nabbing their heads—but how? “Something weird was going on but no one had looked into it yet,” until now, says Adrian Smith, a research biologist at North Carolina State University.

In a new study published in the journal Insectes Sociaux, Smith has shown that F. archboldi ants subdues the other ants with a quick and efficient spray of toxic acid. This is curious, most ants that possess the ability to spray acid use it as a last resort self-defence mechanism. F. archboldi ants, however, goes on the attack. “They just seem to be sort of ready for the fight,” says Smith.

No one is sure why the headhunters should be such effective predators of trap-jaw ants, but it may have something to do with a waxy layer of scents ants produce called cuticular hydrocarbons. When Smith sampled these scents from F. archboldi, he found that they matched the species of trap-jaw ants they co-occur with almost perfectly.

A strange but fascinating story.

The reclaiming of the shrew

The Etruscan Shrew was believed to have died out 50 years ago on the island of Tavolara, which lies just off the coast of Sardinia. The world’s smallest mammal, which weighs less than 2 grams and has a body length of roughly 1.5 inches was rediscovered on the island, decades after it was thought to be extinct.

Conservationists have been working to eradicate the large rat populations on the island in order to protect a colony of around 10,000 Manx shearwater which nest there. The programme started in 2012 and involved dropping poisonous bait on the island and was recently declared a success when the island was confirmed to be rat free. The rats were feeding on the eggs and chicks of the birds and were a huge problem but with the eradication came sparks in life for both the Manx shearwater and Etruscan Shrew.

One of the photographers from the conversation projects said “It was wonderful to find this little animal, a great feeling. No one, not even the locals, had seen one since the 1960’s. It’s impossible to say how many there might be on the island.”

A year on from the last poison distribution, no rats have been detected.

Although the Etruscan shrew was nearly at the point of extinction on the island it is relatively widespread in Southern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia. It may be a small animal but has a great appetite, eating up to twice its bodyweight each day.

The eradication of the rat population on the island has not only benefited the Etruscan shrew but the small creatures such as lizards, geckos and tortoises.

The rat that stole the poison

In the early hours of Monday morning on a farm in North Yorkshire, a large quantity of Rat Poison among other items were stolen. Police and other residents of the town are perplexed as to why thieves would steal rat poison. This theft has been linked to other farm burglaries that have occurred recently where animals have also been stolen. Officers say in particular they are trying to locate the owners of 11 Swaledale Tup lambs and want to speak to anyone who lost or sold 30 turkeys on or around Friday 12 October. There are still a lot of animals that need to be returned so Police Officers have asked anyone that hears or see’s anything suspicious to inform them. Investigations into these crimes are still ongoing and will be concluded once ‘the rat’ is caught.