Neonicotinoids shuts down bees power plants

Neonicotinoids are a prime suspect in the loss of honey bees. They have been shown to interfere with the way that bees forage and navigate. New research now shows that the neonicotinoid pesticdes also impact on the way that cells in bees produce energy. Imidacloprid – a neonicotinoid – and Fibronil – a pyrazoles – have been shown to interfere with the actions of  mitochondrial bioenergetics. Mitochondria produces the power that cells need to do their work. Bees use a lot of energy during flight and any impact on the way that their cells produce energy can have devastating consequences. There is a growing body of evidence that neonicotinoids impact on…

Controversial bee project buzzing with success

A bee re-introduction plan in Kent which led to outrage in Sweden appears to be working as researchers discover workers in the fields – a sure sign of the queen bees having bred. There has been a number of failed attempts at reintroducing the short-haired bumblebee to Kent in this year it may have finally been successful. It appears that it has been no easy task for the team to bring back the short-haired bumble bee to Dungeness and the Romney Marshes with attempts to introduce the species from New Zealand failing and at least two previous attempts to introduce queen bees from Sweden also having failed. However 2014 appears to…

Radio-tagged bumble-bees reveal impacts of pesticides

A study involving the tagging of bees shows how neonicotinoid based pesticides influence the foraging of bees and interferes with the insects learning new foraging skills. The study was undertaken by researchers from Guelph’s School of Environmental Sciences and Imperial College London and was published in British Ecological Society’s journal Functional Ecology. The study by by Nigel Raine, a professor in Guelph’s School of Environmental Sciences, and Richard Gill of Imperial College London demonstrates that long-term exposure to neonicotinoids leads to bees changing their usual behaviour in relation to pollen collection and even which flowers the bees go to in order to collect pollen. “Bees have to learn many things about their environment,…

International taskforce back action on neonicotinoids

An international team affiliated with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has come down in favour of regulatory control of the neonicotinoids basec pesticides. The task force undertook a meta-analysis of 800 peer-reviewed studies and concluded that the evidence was sufficient to support regulatory action. The scientists from the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides are affiliated with both the IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management and the IUCN Species Survival Commission. The analysis, known as the Worldwide Integrated Assessment (WIA), to be published in the peer-reviewed Journal Environment Science and Pollution Research, finds that neonics pose a serious risk to honeybees and other pollinators such as butterflies and to…

Europe’s bumblebees heading for disaster

Of the 68 species of bumblebee that live in Europe almost a quarter (24%) are at real risk of extinction. This was the findings of a recently published report produced by the European Union. The study which aimed to look at the state of the species on a European level is a concern because of the role that bumblebees play in pollinating not just wild plants but also commercially valuable crops. The study examined all of the 68 bumblebee species that occur in Europe. It is part of the Status and Trends of European Pollinators (STEP) project and the European Red List of pollinators, both funded by the European Commission. The…

Global Re-introductions case studies published

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has released the latest volume of case studies involving the re-introduction of endangered species. The 298 page book is available to download free of charge in pdf format. It covers 236 re-introduction programmes and is the 4th in a series from the Reintroduction Specialists Group. The book is Global Re-Introduction Perspective: 2013. The 236 projects examined spans the globe and include a wide range of different re-introduction projects. From the re-planting of mangrove swamps to the re-wilding of orang-utans the book records the level of succeed that was accomplished or the current level of success. One of the projects in the…

Spiders opt for a side portion of veg with their meat

Far from being purely meat eaters it appears that some species of spider opt for a side portion of vegetable matter with their protein. A study by researchers from Exeter University has discovered that some orb spiders will eat pollen as well as predating on insects and that pollen can make up 25% of a spiders diet. Dr Dirk Sanders of the University of Exeter demonstrated that orb web spiders – like the common garden variety – choose to eat pollen even when insects are available.  He explained, “Most people and researchers think of spiders as pure carnivores, but in this family of orb web spiders that is not the…

CITES checklist now online

With 35,000 different species covered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) it can be difficult for wildlife traders and customers to ensure that they have the adequate documentation and certificates. Many exotic pet or plant owners may not even be aware of the need for certification of some species. THat has all changed now with an easy to use web site that offer quick checking of species for any trade restrictions. The new online tool offered by CITES allows for checking of species by scientific name, common names, index listing or country of origin of species. With a few taps on a keyboard you can find out…

Air pollution impacts on bees ability to find food

Diesel fumes from modern transport and agricultural equipment could be preventing honeybees from finding their food flowers according to scientists. The researchers from Southampton have discovered that air pollution can mask the odour of flowers. By masking the floral smells of different species the honey bees are unable to find their preferred source of food. Ultimately this could impact on the ability of bees to prosper and pollinate the food crops that humans depend on. The Southampton team, led by Dr Tracey Newman and Professor Guy Poppy, found that diesel exhaust fumes change the profile of flora odour. They say that these changes may affect honeybees’ foraging efficiency and, ultimately,…

Scotland loses a third of its honeybees over winter

Last winter saw one of the biggest losses of managed honeybees in Scotland for many years. The results of a recent survey has just been published and last winters weather together with the slow start to this spring saw 31% of honeybee colonies fail to make it for the new season. The survey run by Strathclyde academics on behalf of the Scottish Beekeepers’ Association discovered that 31.3% of honeybees failed to survive which was double the death rate of 2012 when 15.9% of honeybee colonies died. Dr Alison Gray and Magnus Peterson, of Strathclyde’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics, warn the figures ought to be of major concern because bees play…

Fungicides implicated in honey bee parasite susceptability

A study just publishes seems to show that honey bees can be exposed to sub-lethal levels of widely used fungicides which will make them more at risk from the gut parasite Nosema ceranae. The team of researchers in the United States pollen in beehives across a wide range of crops that required pollination. The researchers examined the pollen from the hives and identified 35 different pesticides. Of particular interest was high levels of fungicides. The researchers said in the paper, While fungicides are typically seen as fairly safe for honey bees, we found an increased probability of Nosema infection in bees that consumed pollen with a higher fungicide load. Our results highlight a need…

International taxonomists name their Top 10 new species from 2012

In celebration of  Carolus Linnaeus – the scientist who established the naming system for species – the world’s top taxonomists have released their latest Top 10 new species list. The latest list  covers 2012 and is the 6th annual list they have produced. The choice of this years top species covers a wide range of organisms from the most basic of microbes through to a brand new monkey species that was named last year. Most of the species are still alive and well today but there was also a new fossil species included in this years list. There is a nod to the modern world in the list also with…

Dragonflies start to take centre stage

Dragonflies are growing in popularity with the general public – at least in the US – with festivals springing up across the country. It’s long overdue as dragonflies and damselflies have to be some of the most stunning and fascinating insects that can be seen. The US Wildlife and Fisheries Service has featured the new public love for the creatures with a blog post that highlights some of the best places in the US to see these colourful creatures in flight. It’s not just new festivals that are suddenly THE wildlife festival to go to but a raft of new id guides on dragonflies have just been published. “People are…

Need to name a new species? Look to Yellow Pages

Discovering, describing and naming a new species used to be a long time-consuming task but thanks to DNA profiling it is much quicker and easier. That’s important with current levels of habitat loss. But what happens when new species come thick and fast? How do you name all those new species? That’s a problem that researchers had when they visited New Guinea on the hunt for beetles. They discovered 101 new species thanks to DNA profiling. The task then was to name the new species and for that they looked to the local phone book. Now families living in the country could have a brand new species of beetle named after them…

Kill Bill hits the insect world

Dressed in orange with black stripes Uma Thurman as Beatrix Kiddo in Kill Bill leaves a trail of blood and gore throughout the movie. The Bride fights the Crazy 88 scene is one of the most bloody in Quentin Tarantino’s film. Now a blood-thirsty parasitic wasp from Thailand has been named after the lead character. Cystomastacoides kiddo lays its eggs inside other living insects or larvae and as the eggs develop the eat away at the living host until the host eventually dies. The Thai species ‘Kiddo’ was collected in a Malaise trap as part of the TIGER (Thailand Inventory Group for Entomological Research) programme of sampling insects in 25 national parks…

10 years of tropical forest bug counting

A project to count all the arthropods in the San Lorenzo forest of Panama could help to give a much more accurate estimate of the number of species on Earth. The project discovered that for every plant species there were 20 species of arthropods, for every species of birds there were 83 species of arthropods and for every species of mammal there were 312 species of arthropods. Those ratios appeared to be constant across different areas of a tropical forest. If other ecosystems have similar ratios then it could make it easier to estimate the total number of animal species on the planet. [pullquote]We can think of it in terms…

Can gardens still help this years butterflies

It’s clearly coming towards the end of a washout summer and one of the insects that have really bared the brunt of the adverse weather is the butterfly. The cold and wet weather has meant that numbers are well down in many parts of the UK. However if you end up having a bit of an ‘Indian Summer’ then gardeners could offer last-minute help as the insects prepare for the winter. Over the last couple of weeks there has been some warm and sunny days that has led to a big boost in butterfly numbers out on the wing but the plants on which the butterflies feed and rely on are now fast…

Britains iconic moorlands could be lost due to herbicide ban

Concerns are being raised that the ban of the herbicide Asulam by the EU could lead to major losses of Britain’s heather moorlands. The chemical is the most effective bracken control herbicide available and it ban at the end of the year could mean maintaining the habitat becomes too difficult. Britain has 75% of the world’s heather moorlands and substantial parts of it remains as heather moorlands thanks to active management. Without effective control of bracken the richness of the plant and insect life will soon be lost. The Moorland Association (MA) claims that the ban on Asulam could put at risk 850,00 acres of habitat as the moors owners –…

Flickr leads to discovery of new lacewing species

A brand new species of lacewing has been discovered in Malaysia but were it not for photo sharing website Flickr the species could have remained unknown and undescribed. The insect was photographed in the rain-forest of Selangor in Malaysia and then released. The images were posted online and discovered by research scientists. The new green lacewing with its highly decorated wing panel has been named Neuroptera: Chrysopidae: Semachrysa jade sp. n. Despite it being recognised as a new species from the images researchers still spent a year looking for another live sample in order to confirm the new species and to preserve the sample as a reference point. The new…

Common pesticide gives bees a sweet-tooth

A single small dose of a commonly used pesticide can give honey-bees a sweet-tooth and that could be a problem as bees turn their noses up to nutritious but less sweet nectar. It’s yet another problem that is being laid at the door of the neonicotinoids. Small single dose of pesticide changed honey-bee behaviour. This latest research saw biologists at University of California San Diego administer a small single dose of imidacloprid. The level would be the same as they would receive through nectar in the wild. The result was that the honey-bees became ‘picky eaters’ and would only feed on the sweetest nectar and ignored less sweet nectar. [pullquote]bees that fed on the pesticide reduced the number of their waggle dances…