Author Topic: The Hive: The Malthus Bug Thread  (Read 18826 times)

Malthus

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Re: The Hive: The Malthus Bug Thread
« Reply #165 on: August 22, 2018, 07:19:23 am »
I found a Masked Hunter Bug:



They are the immature form of a species of assassin bug - they glue bits of dust all over their bodies for camouflage.

I thought it was neat, let it crawl on my hand - but later, I read about them: apparently they can give a horribly painful bite, worse than a wasp sting. I escaped without the bite.

So if you see one - don't pick it up.
The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane—Marcus Aurelius

Malthus

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Re: The Hive: The Malthus Bug Thread
« Reply #166 on: October 22, 2018, 09:25:04 am »
Another interesting find:



I was our for a weekend walk in the local cemetery with the family, and we came across thousands of these large (more than 2 inch) bugs crawling along the ground; there were so many, that hundreds were crushed on the cemetery roads - even though there were very few cars.

My son and I kidded each other about picking them up, but they were so large and ugly we weren't seriously tempted. I had no idea what they were ...

Turns out not picking them up was a good idea - they are American Oil Beetles, one of the "Blister Beetles", and they are highly toxic; they exude an oil (hence the name) from their limbs, which creates big, painful skin blisters if handled.

So if you see one - don't touch it. And definitely do not eat it, they are very poisonous.
The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane—Marcus Aurelius

Malthus

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Re: The Hive: The Malthus Bug Thread
« Reply #167 on: November 19, 2018, 10:08:26 am »
I was out skiing at Hardwood Hills when I noticed a piece of what appeared to be a leaf falling from a tree - turned out it was a moth, for some reason not in hibernation, flying about. It landed nearby on the snow and I took a picture of it.

Reminded me of the fragility of life:

The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane—Marcus Aurelius

Savonarola

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Re: The Hive: The Malthus Bug Thread
« Reply #168 on: February 08, 2019, 09:07:33 am »
I thought you might appreciate this, Malthus:

VR Therapy Makes Arachnophobes Braver Around Real Spiders

(Although I don't know if that's good news or bad news for you.)
In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace—and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock

Malthus

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Re: The Hive: The Malthus Bug Thread
« Reply #169 on: February 08, 2019, 09:37:34 am »
I thought you might appreciate this, Malthus:

VR Therapy Makes Arachnophobes Braver Around Real Spiders

(Although I don't know if that's good news or bad news for you.)

Room 101 therapy!  :D

This part really caught my attention:

Quote
“Say you have a room full of [computer generated] people listening to you for social anxiety. If they’re not quite humanlike, but they’re close, you might end up focusing on that, and that weirding you out in a way that’s not necessarily helpful for treatment.”

Go in with one phobia, come out with another.
The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane—Marcus Aurelius

jimmy olsen

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Re: The Hive: The Malthus Bug Thread
« Reply #170 on: March 01, 2019, 11:45:57 pm »
Eight Legged Freaks! :o

https://www.foxnews.com/science/huge-spider-drags-opossum-across-amazon-rainforest-floor-in-haunting-footage

Quote
Huge spider drags opossum across Amazon rainforest floor in haunting footage
It is far better for the truth to tear my flesh to pieces, then for my soul to wander through darkness in eternal damnation.

Jet: So what kind of woman is she? What's Julia like?
Faye: Ordinary. The kind of beautiful, dangerous ordinary that you just can't leave alone.
Jet: I see.
Faye: Like an angel from the underworld. Or a devil from Paradise.
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viper37

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Re: The Hive: The Malthus Bug Thread
« Reply #171 on: March 02, 2019, 10:00:33 pm »
damn!  Beaten by Tim!
I was just gonna post this here :)
I need a sig.  My kingdom for a sig!

Malthus

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Re: The Hive: The Malthus Bug Thread
« Reply #172 on: March 04, 2019, 09:16:16 am »
A very worthy addition!
The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane—Marcus Aurelius

jimmy olsen

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Re: The Hive: The Malthus Bug Thread
« Reply #173 on: March 04, 2019, 07:17:32 pm »
Malthus is obviously in tune with the Lord

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/04/parasitic-wasps-dominate-the-animal-kingdom/557348/
Quote
An Inordinate Fondness for Wasps
There are probably more species of them than any other animal group.

ED YONG
APR 6, 2018
When talking about whether theology has anything to learn from science, the British biologist J. B. S. Haldane used to quip that God must have “an inordinate fondness for beetles.”

He had a point. Around 380,000 species of beetle have been described, which accounts for a quarter of all known animal species. There are more species of ladybugs than mammals, of longhorn beetles than birds, of weevils than fish. Textbooks and scientific papers regularly state that beetles are the most speciose group of animals; that is, there are more of them than there are of anything else.

But Andrew Forbes, from the University of Iowa, thinks that this factoid cannot possibly be right.

In a new paper, published online as a pre-print, Forbes and his colleagues argue that nature’s apparent beetlemania is more a reflection of historical bias than biological reality. Beetles are often conspicuous, shiny, beautiful, and varied—qualities which meant that 19th-century naturalists like Charles Darwin collected them for sport, and eagerly compared the size of their collections. Thanks to their inordinate fondness for beetles, we have a disproportionately thorough picture of the group’s diversity. The same can’t be said of other groups of insects that are smaller on average, harder to study, and less charismatic.

Forbes studies parasitoid wasps. These creatures use their stingers to lay eggs in (or on) the bodies of insects and other hosts. The grubs, upon hatching, devour their hosts alive, sometimes commandeering their minds and changing their behavior, and sometimes bursting out of their desiccated carcasses. There’s a wasp that takes cockroaches for walks after turning them into docile zombies, a wasp that forces spiders to spin a protective cocoon all while sucking them dry, a wasp that turns caterpillars into half-dead, head-banging bodyguards, a wasp that conscripts ladybirds into acting as babysitters.

Their lives are grisly and sinister, but their abilities are incredible.

No one really knows how many of them there are. There aren’t many scientists who specialize in studying them. They can spend much of their lives hidden inside the bodies of other insects. And since they specialize in body-snatching, they can be incredibly small. The smallest of them, the fairy wasps, parasitize millimeter-long insects, and are themselves no bigger than a single-celled amoeba. This means that when scientists try to catalog the number of insects in a given area, they often ignore all but the biggest and most conspicuous parasitic wasps.

Other insects, however, do not ignore them. It seems that every species of insect is targeted by at least one species of parasitic wasp—if not several. There are even parasitic wasps that exclusively target other parasitic wasps—they’re called hyperparasites. (They include the crypt-keeper wasp that was newly identified last year.) To Forbes’s knowledge, no insects have escaped these parasites. Even those that live under water have their own particular wasp nemeses.

The beetles certainly aren’t immune. “When we collect a species of beetle in large numbers, we’ll rear out 10, 20, maybe 30 different wasp species,” Forbes says. Surely then, he argues, parasitic wasps must outnumber beetles in terms of species?

The only way that wouldn’t be true is if these parasites were mostly generalists, and the same wasps were targeting many species of beetle. In their paper, Forbes and colleagues argue that this is unlikely. They focused on four different genera of North American insects that have been very well studied: Rhagolettis fruit flies, Malacosoma tent caterpillars, Dendroctonus bark beetles, and Neodiprion sawflies. They then tallied the parasitic wasps that are known to specifically target these groups and these alone.

By extrapolating this conservative figure out to other insect groups, they estimated that the parasitic wasps probably outnumber the beetles by somewhere between 2.5 and 3.2 times. It’s hard to say for sure without a full count of either group, but Forbes makes a compelling case.

“It’s certainly preaching to the choir,” says Josephine Rodriguez, an entomologist from the University of Virginia’s College at Wise. “It doesn’t surprise me at all. I really think the only people that would disagree would be the fly people.”



“Look at it this way,” says Lynn Kimsey, from UC Davis. “Beetles have never been very good at parasitism. Wasps, on the other hand, are all about parasitism. So for each beetle species there are probably at least two wasp parasitoids: One [that targets] the eggs and one [that targets] the larvae.” Kimsey recently surveyed the insects that live in Southern California’s sand dunes, and found that wasps—and other hymenopterans, like ants and bees—accounted for 42 percent of all the insects present, and outnumbered the beetles by two to three times.

There are a few other animal groups that could potentially be more speciose than the wasps. For example, insects also harbor bloodsucking mites and parasitic nematode worms. The same argument that Forbes makes for the wasps could also be made for these other groups, which are studied even less. “We don’t have the knowledge,” Forbes says. “The best thing that can happen is that other folks try to prove us wrong and we learn a lot more about mites and nematodes.”

In the meantime, the wasps are the ones to beat, and the implications of their supremacy are unsettling. It’s easy to see parasites as niche and unsavory creatures, but they’re actually practicing the most successful lifestyles around. The defining innovation of the animal kingdom is not the stone tool of the ape nor the flight-capable feather of the bird, nor the hive mind of the ant, but the egg-laying stinger of the parasitic wasp.
It is far better for the truth to tear my flesh to pieces, then for my soul to wander through darkness in eternal damnation.

Jet: So what kind of woman is she? What's Julia like?
Faye: Ordinary. The kind of beautiful, dangerous ordinary that you just can't leave alone.
Jet: I see.
Faye: Like an angel from the underworld. Or a devil from Paradise.
--------------------------------------------
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Malthus

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Re: The Hive: The Malthus Bug Thread
« Reply #174 on: March 05, 2019, 09:21:15 am »
Quote
They include the crypt-keeper wasp that was newly identified last year.

New favorite name.  :lol:
The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane—Marcus Aurelius

viper37

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Re: The Hive: The Malthus Bug Thread
« Reply #175 on: March 05, 2019, 09:22:46 am »
I need a sig.  My kingdom for a sig!

jimmy olsen

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Re: The Hive: The Malthus Bug Thread
« Reply #176 on: March 05, 2019, 05:38:51 pm »
Quote
They include the crypt-keeper wasp that was newly identified last year.

New favorite name.  :lol:

Pretty interesting story on that one.

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/01/inception-but-with-parasites/514211/

Quote
The Parasite That Compels Other Parasites to Shove Their Heads Into Holes
… and then eats them

ED YONG
JAN 24, 2017

In 2015, Scott Egan was walking along a Florida beach when he noticed some oak trees with distinctive swellings on their branches. He recognized them as the work of gall wasps—parasitic insects that lay their eggs in plants. From within, the larvae manipulate trees into creating chambers full of nutritious tissues. Tucked away in these crypts, the young wasps can eat their fill in safety. Once they turn into adults, they chew their way out and fly away. 

Egan, being a keen naturalist and an expert on gall wasps, snipped off some of the branches, took them back to his lab, and kept them in a container on his desk. After a couple of months, he noticed that a few orange insects had fallen to the bottom. Those were the gall wasps—an orange species called Basettia pallida, which had finally chewed their way out of their crypts. But not all of them made it. Egan noticed that some were stuck, their heads wedged in their own escape holes.


BASSETTIA PALLIDA IN ITS CRYPT.
To find out why, Egan teamed up with Kelly Weinersmith, a parasitologist and a colleague at Rice University. They cut open the branches and realized that every stuck wasp had a companion inside its crypt—a second wasp, half the size of the first, and iridescent blue. And in every case, the blue wasp was eating the orange one.
 
The blue wasp was a completely new species, and Weinersmith and Egan named it the crypt-keeper wasp. It’s a stunning example of a hyperparasite—a parasite whose host is also a parasite. This lifestyle is surprisingly common, especially among wasps. Many species lay eggs in the bodies of other insects, only to have other wasps lay eggs in their young. And sometimes, hyperparasites can be parasitized by other hyperparasites, creating hierarchies of bodysnatching that can grow to four tiers.

Even by these standards, the crypt-keeper wasp is special. Parasites are incredibly common, but only some manipulate the behavior of their hosts. There are fungi that turn ants into zombies, hairworms that compel crickets to jump into water, and tapeworms that force shrimp to swarm in groups—all to help the parasites spread to their next hosts. The crypt-keeper wasp does this too, but as Weinersmith and Egan have shown, it’s one of the few known hypermanipulator­­s—parasites that manipulate the behavior of other manipulative parasites.

Somehow, the crypt-keeper wasp can find an oak tree that already contains the larva of a crypt gall wasp, and then lays an egg inside the crypt. Once hatched, its larva manipulates its orange crypt-mate into chewing an escape hole that’s smaller than usual. The orange victim then plugs the small hole with its own head, while the crypt-keeper larva devours it alive. Eventually, the crypt-keeper turns into an adult and chews its way to freedom, through the head of its roommate/larder/wall-plug.

Because of its behavior, Weinersmith and Egan gave the wasp the formal name of Eudurus set, after Set, the Ancient Egyptian god. “Set was the god of chaos and evil, and he was said to control other evil beings,” says Weinersmith. “He also locked his brother Osiris in a crypt for him to die. It kind of blew our minds how many cool connections we could find.”

After discovering the crypt-keeper, Egan went to the American Museum of Natural History and looked at old collections of gall wasps that had been gathered by Alfred Kinsey. (Yes, that Kinsey; before becoming synonymous with human sexuality, he was a prolific gall-wasp aficionado, who collected millions of the insects.) In some of the stored branches, Egan saw little heads plugging holes. We’ve found several such samples in museums around the country, going back 100 years.” 

“This is the type of science I love; it leaves us hungrily asking more questions,” says David Hughes from Pennsylvania State University, who studies manipulative parasites. For example, “how does this wasp get its egg into its soon-to-be excavator? And how does it do that so precisely to stop the activity at a stage where the hole is large enough just for a head to block, but not for the body of the manipulatee to emerge?” It might secrete some kind of mind-addling chemical. Alternatively, it might just eat its host to the point when it still has enough energy to make an escape hole, but not enough to make a big one.



Whatever the method, it’s clear that the crypt-keeper benefits. It can’t effectively chew its way out of the crypt on its own; if Weinersmith and Egan resealed those head-plugged holes with fresh bark, the crypt-keepers were three times more likely to die trapped in their crypts. “This make a strong case for the adaptive significance of the manipulated host behavior,” says Shelley Adamo from Dalhousie University, who also studies parasites.

But why would the crypt-keeper force its host to plug the escape hole? It’s not clear, but Weinersmith and Egan found an enticing clue. In some cases, they saw that a third type of wasp—a fairy wasp—would emerge from infected branches. Fairy wasps are among the smallest animals alive, and some of them are hyperparasites of the family that includes the crypt-keeper.

So, perhaps the crypt-keeper uses its host to plug the crypt, so it can’t get parasitized itself by an intruding fairy wasp. Or maybe the fairy wasp uses the presence of a head-plugged hole to find a crypt-keeper wasp to target.  “We’re hoping to catch the fairy wasp this year, and get the whole system into the lab,” says Weinersmith. “It blows our minds that there could be yet another layer to all of this.”

The writer Jonathan Swift, of Gulliver’s Travels fame, said it best:

"So nat'ralists observe, a flea

Has smaller fleas that on him prey;

And these have smaller fleas to bite ’em.

And so proceeds Ad infinitum."
It is far better for the truth to tear my flesh to pieces, then for my soul to wander through darkness in eternal damnation.

Jet: So what kind of woman is she? What's Julia like?
Faye: Ordinary. The kind of beautiful, dangerous ordinary that you just can't leave alone.
Jet: I see.
Faye: Like an angel from the underworld. Or a devil from Paradise.
--------------------------------------------
1 Karma Chameleon point

Syt

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Re: The Hive: The Malthus Bug Thread
« Reply #177 on: March 22, 2019, 06:31:49 am »








There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.

jimmy olsen

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Re: The Hive: The Malthus Bug Thread
« Reply #178 on: March 22, 2019, 07:47:32 am »
AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  :yucky: :yucky: :yucky::bleeding::bleeding::bleeding::bleeding::bleeding:
It is far better for the truth to tear my flesh to pieces, then for my soul to wander through darkness in eternal damnation.

Jet: So what kind of woman is she? What's Julia like?
Faye: Ordinary. The kind of beautiful, dangerous ordinary that you just can't leave alone.
Jet: I see.
Faye: Like an angel from the underworld. Or a devil from Paradise.
--------------------------------------------
1 Karma Chameleon point

Grey Fox

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Re: The Hive: The Malthus Bug Thread
« Reply #179 on: March 22, 2019, 08:06:48 am »
Now, that's some high level white privilege.
Colonel Caliga is Awesome.