Talk like an ant

Ant colonies operate like well-oiled machines. Much of the communication between individuals is mediated by cuticular hydrocarbons (the cuticle on an insect is their tough outer skin), that make up pheromones. Continue reading “Talk like an ant”

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Keepin’ up with the Spruces

The boreal forest, also called the taiga, is the northern forest that circles the globe and borders the arctic circle. There, hardy conifers like pine and spruce set up shop in the nutrient-poor soil. What affects their growth the most? Is it the temperature? Lack of water? Not enough sun? …Or is it something else? Find out below!

Continue reading “Keepin’ up with the Spruces”

Beetles in color!

J.B.S. Haldane once remarked that if there is a creator, they must have an inordinate fondness for beetles. Hundreds of thousands of beetle species have been named; by contrast, only about 60,000 species of vertebrates have been described. Naturally, the sheer number and diversity of beetles out there is of great interest to biologists. Continue reading “Beetles in color!”

Title translation: Bumblebee vs pesticide

You know how antibiotics are great because they kill bad bacteria and make you better, but are also kind of iffy because they kill good bacteria and make you a little ill? Antibiotics are made to kill bacteria, indiscriminately, no matter whether they’re harmful or helpful. The same thing goes on with pesticides (insecticides) and plants. Continue reading “Title translation: Bumblebee vs pesticide”

A tale of two squirrels

Until recently, North America had two native species of flying squirrel, the Northern flying squirrel and the Southern flying squirrel (such creative naming!). These two species are in the same genus, Glaucomys, and are closely related: so close, in fact, that in the northeast where their ranges overlap, they sometimes interbreed! But far, far away in the forests of the Pacific northwest dwells a mysterious population of Northern flying squirrels…and a group of scientists was determined to find out why. Continue reading “A tale of two squirrels”