Thursday, October 21, 2010

Scorpionflies Swarm Woods in North Texas

As you stroll through the woods this fall, you might notice an interesting insect called a scorpionfly, Panorpa nuptialis. This insect is found in the South Central U.S. in wooded areas, near water or in grasslands. Their bodies are around 1 inch in length with snout-like mouthparts and yellow bands on their wings. The male’s genitalia resemble a scorpion’s stinger, hence the common name. They are not strong fliers so they are easy to capture.
Adults feed mainly on dead insects but they can also feed on pollen and nectar; while the larvae feed on dead insects. Before mating, the males will emit a pheromone from their abdomen to attract females. The males will then offer the attracted female a gift. Females often select their mating partners based on this gift offering of prey.
Although scorpionflies may appear scary, especially the males, they do not sting or bite.

Photo of a scorpion fly, Panorpa nuptialis Gerst (Mecoptera: Panorpidae), female. Photo by Bart Drees, Professor and Extension Entomologist, Texas A&M University.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Can Cockroaches Be Used To Heal People?

Scientists have found that cockroaches might be a good option to fend off dangerous, drug-resistant bacterial infections. British researchers at the University of Nottingham's School of Veterinary Medicine and Science have found 9 different molecules from the tissues of cockroaches and locusts to combat bacteria like E. coli and drug-resistant staph infections (MRSA). These molecules found in the brain and nervous tissues of cockroaches are able to kill 90% of E. coli and MRSA in lab tests, without harming human cells. Since cockroaches live in unsanitary environments, they produce these molecules combat infection. Health experts are afraid that existing bacterial infections will become resistant to current modes of treatment so new ways to kill these bacteria are definitely needed. For the complete story, please visit: