The collapse in honey bee populations could be linked to a ‘’zombifying’’ parasitic fly which takes control of bees by laying eggs inside them, scientists believe.
Colony collapse disorder (CCD) is marked by the sudden disappearance of worker bees from a colony. It was first recognised as a serious problem by US beekeepers in 2006, but has also affected bee colonies across Western Europe. In some of the recorded cases, bee losses have reached levels of up to 90%.
Viral and fungal infections and toxic chemicals in pesticides have all been suggested as possible explanations for CCD.
The new theory involves the parasitic fly Apocephalus borealis which is already known to attack bumble bees.
Evidence has now emerged of the fly targeting honey bees. The insect lays its eggs in the abdomens of bees, which start displaying ‘’zombie’’ behaviour, abandoning their hives en masse to congregate near lights.
Finally they die, and the fly larvae emerge from their bodies.
US scientists noted that hive abandonment is a primary feature of CCD.
Genetic tests also showed that both bees and flies were often infected with deformed wing virus and the fungus Nosema ceranae.
Both infections have previously been cited as possible causes of CCD, suggesting a link.
Professor John Hafernik, from San Francisco State University, said: ‘’We don’t know the best way to stop parasitisation because one of the big things we’re missing is where the flies are parasitising the bees.
‘’We assume it’s while the bees are out foraging because we don’t see the flies hanging around the bee hives. But it’s still a bit of a black hole in terms of where it’s actually happening.’’
Analysis of the parasites confirmed they were the same flies that have been infecting bumblebees. The fly could be an emerging and potentially costly new threat to honey bees, say the scientists.
Prof Hafernik added: ‘’Honey bees are among the best-studied insects in the world. So at one level, we would expect that if this has been a long-term parasite of honey bees, we would have noticed.’’
Big feats of a small creature
A mini Yorkshire terrier from New Jersey is now the holder of a very big world record: world’s smallest working dog.
Lucy, who weighs just 2 1/2 pounds, was named the world’s smallest working dog last week by Guinness World Records. In the process, she doggedly beat out the previous record holder: Momo, an eight-year-old Chihuahua from Japan that works as a police search-and-rescue dog.
By comparison, Lucy’s job is not as dangerous, but it’s just as important. She works as a therapy dog, through the Leashes of Love program, based in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
The tiny terrier makes her rounds each week, visiting hospitals, nursing homes, and rehabilitation centers. She also works with children with disabilities, and troubled youth.
“Because she is so tiny, people are drawn to her — she stops traffic,” said Sally Leone Montufar, Lucy’s owner, in an interview with NBC Philadelphia.
Lucy has been brightening up the days of those in need for about one year, but that almost didn’t happen.
Montufar met Lucy when the Yorkie’s previous owner was taking her to the animal shelter in a Juicy Couture dog carrier, according to the CourierPostOnline.com.
“(The designer tote bag) was very beautiful,” she says, “and out came this peanut.”
Montufar decided to give Lucy a home.
After Montufar brought Lucy back to health, she trained her to do therapy work. She visits hospitals, nursing homes and special schools, often wearing dresses and bonnets, ABCNews.go.com reported.
Although the Guinness honor is a big deal for little Lucy, Montufar can’t help but worry her dog’s fame came at the expense of Momo.
“I didn’t want Lucy to unseat him because he’s employed by the Japanese police as a search-and-rescue dog,” she told the CourierPostOnline. “But she’s a different kind of working dog.” SOURCE: huffingtonpost.com
An unlikely visitor
An Australian woman has told how she got up in the middle of the night to find a saltwater crocodile in her living room.
Jo Dodd got up to investigate when her dog started barking and found herself face-to-face with the 5ft 6ins croc.
“Our dog was outside the bedroom door barking loudly,” said Ms Dodd, 42, who lives in Darwin.
“I opened the sliding door and saw the crocodile right outside the door. It is pretty full-on when there is a crocodile in your lounge room — I nearly died.”
Ms Dodd woke up her husband, Micko Srbinovska, 42, who grabbed his guitar to fend off the ‘salty’ as he edged towards the phone.
He called the local Crocodile Management Unit who sent out female crocodile catcher Dani Best to remove the angry reptile. Ms Dodd added: “It was prehistoric. The hissing sounded like a vampire. Then it went into its death rolls — the power of this thing was just phenomenal.
“She just jumped on top of it, taped up its snout, back and front legs.”
The crocodile was a suspected escapee from the nearby Darwin Crocodile Farm.
Baby chimp adopted by dog
A baby chimpanzee has been adopted by a motherly mastiff in Russia.
A zoo keeper took the infant chimp home to hand rear it when the youngster was rejected by her natural mother.
Within hours, say reports, the primate was one of the pack when the family pet dog adopted her as a new puppy.
Now the chimp eats with the mastiff and the family’s other pet dogs and even shares their bed.
Experts say dogs are normally frightened of primates because their behaviour is too unpredictable.
But one observer said: “They look completely relaxed with each other. It won’t be long before the chimp is taking her mum for walkies.”
Miracle escape for bungee jumper
A young backpacker had an amazing escape after a bungee cord snapped plunging her into croc-infested water at the foot of Victoria Falls.
Erin Langworthy, 22, leapt from the Victoria Falls Bridge, 360feet above the Zambezi river on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia. But the cord broke and the Australian traveller, from Perth, had to swim through the rapids with her feet still tied.
She said: “It went black straight away and I felt like I had been slapped all over.
“I landed with my legs tied and then had to swim to the Zimbabwe side through the rapids.
“It was quite scary because a couple of times the rope actually got caught on some rocks or debris.
“I actually had to swim down and yank the bungee cord out of whatever it was caught on to make it to the surface.”
Ms Langworthy spent a week in hospital following the horror incident, which happened on New Year’s Eve.
Zambian tourism minister Given Lubinda said around 50,000 people made the leap each year at the world-famous beauty spot.
The Zambia-based Safari Par Excellence travel firm describe the Victoria Falls bungee jump as the most scenic in the world.
A new spin on Yoga
A South African woman has launched an unusual yoga class in Hong Kong — for dogs.
Suzette Ackermann’s ‘doga’ classes are aimed at dog-owners wanting to pamper their pets.
“I already gave yoga classes for adults and also for mothers and their children, so I thought ‘this cannot be so different than that!’ and it is not so different,” she says.
Dog owner Baleros Harty said: “It’s relaxing, it’s like you’re bonding with the dog, and the dog listens to you more. It’s better-behaved when we do yoga together.”
Thousands celebrate no pants day
Thousands of people around the world braved the morning rush hour without their trousers for the annual No Pants Day.
They included hundreds of people on the London Underground where the event is rebranded the No Trousers Tube Ride.
No Pants Day is organised by flashmob gang Improv Everywhere, which uses Facebook to invite people to take part.
This year an estimated 16,000 people took part in 59 cities, in 27 countries, including Washington DC, Toronto, Mexico City, Madrid and Tel Aviv.
Yeti crab = Baywatchstar?
Forget being roasted on national television, starring in your own reality show or being the poster child for red swim trunks, how do you know when you’ve really made a name for yourself? When you’ve also made a name for a new genre of the infraorder Brachyura — or rather, crabs. And that’s exactly what the distinguished David Hasselhoff has done.
After scientists discovered a new type of Yeti crab, they noticed that this crawler had an unusually hairy chest and dubbed their new quite furry friend, the “Hasselhoff.” The crab reportedly lives approximately 2,500 meters below water, on the Southern Ocean floor of the Antarctic.
But Hasselhoff isn’t the only star to receive such an honour. Celebs like Angelina Jolie, Steven Spielberg, Mick Jagger and even Charlie Chaplin have also been the inspiration when it comes to naming some of our planet’s smallest life forms.
The ‘force’ is withthis burger!
French fast food chain Quick has introduced the Darth Vader Burger to the world. The Star Wars-inspired burger, complete with black buns, was released by the burger chain to promote the release of “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace in 3D.”
The Daily Mail reports that the burger buns aren’t actually rotting or burnt. The buns have simply been dyed black. The Daily Mail couldn’t answer, however, why Quick decided to create a Darth Vader Burger (spelled Darth Vador Burger in France) when The Phantom Menace lacks Darth’s sinister presence.
The chain has also introduced the Jedi Burger, which looks a little more normal, and the Dark Burger, based on Darth Maul.
The Star Wars burgers are only available until March 1st and they’re only available in France. So if there’s a disturbance in your stomach, you’ll need to book a ticket quick.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 14th, 2012.
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