The diamond in the dirt: discovery of a new antibiotic!

“Scientists have discovered a new kind of antibiotic — buried in dirt. Tests in animals show that it is effective against drug-resistant bacteria, and it could lead to desperately needed treatments for deadly antibiotic-resistant infections.”

This isn’t terribly surprising, most of our antibiotics have been found in dirt. But the practice of digging through the microbial communities in dirt to find antibiotics was thought to be a tapped out approach.

Want to know how scientist did it anyway? Read about it here!

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Sperm packages of ungodly size, genitals that double as a souped-up stomach, and an unexpected set of chewing jaws

And all of those are found in just one species, the Pieris rapaethe cabbage white butterfly.

In an wonderful piece over at the Atlantic, we learn about the crazy sex life/organs of this very common butterfly.

I was enthralled reading the whole thing, but the main investigator is quoted below, is really why I’m sharing this.

“Jumping spiders with telescope eyes are singing and dancing to impress their mates. That butterfly on your kale has a chewing jaw in its reproductive tract that helps it to regain control over its own reproductive timing. It is this ability of life to continually surprise us that brings me such joy as a scientist. And it’s my hope that, in some small way, my work can return some childlike wonder to the daily lives of others. It is only through falling back in love with nature that we stand any chance of saving it.” –Nathan Morehouse

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All the trees will die, and so will you

The title of this post is not my own, but it kind of has a point. Not “everything dies” but rather, a lot more apocalyptic.

A brown-black beetle (the polyphagous shot hole borer) breeds inside trees. It drills networks of tunnels, which then get infected by a fungus it carries to feed it’s young. Eventually the tree dies, the beetle moves on and the whole cycle starts again.

This would be a cute horror story, if the beetle wasn’t on track to kill 26.8 million trees across Southern California. Which is going to directly link to the death of humans. Interested? Find out why here.

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Save the (Wild) Bees

The domesticated honey bee dominates headlines as beekeepers struggle to stop mass die-offs. But they are not the only pollinators out there, and not the only bees that are declining.

“The needs of wild bees are so different that, as some experts say, raising honeybees to save pollinators is like raising chickens to help birds.”

Want to know more? Read about it here.

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Crazy Giant Bug Invasion

This title is not as excessive as it might seem at first. So let’s break it down.

The cicadas that live in DC are on a 17-year cycle. That means once every 17 years, they all emerge at once, make a ton of noise, leave their exoskeletons everywhere, mate, and go back into the ground. It’s pandemonium when it happens. If you want to know more, check out cicadamania.com.

The giant bug swarm is not due back till 2021, but some of these giant menaces are climbing out early. Four years early actually, as in, right now. Scientists aren’t entirely sure why this is happening. What to know more about the confused (“Crazy”), larger than mosquitoes (“Giant”) insects (“Bugs”) that are showing up before their time (“Invasion”)? Read about it here.

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