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Posts Tagged ‘Ants

“Now I wanna remind everyone of the House of Mouse Rules: No smoking. No villainous schemes. And no guests eating other guests.”*…

Alligator and python

In addition to being home to men with questionable decision-making skills, Florida also seems to have some issues with bizarre animal behavior, whether it’s freezing iguanas dropping from trees or alligators battling pythons in the Everglades. When it comes to those animals, however, Floridians can truly put the blame on non-natives. Neither pythons nor green iguanas made the Sunshine State their home until we brought them there as pets.

In fact, there are lots of problematic invasive species that have spread through the pet trade, from predatory fish that can drag themselves between bodies of water to a crayfish that clones itself to reproduce. Those high-profile cases lead to some obvious questions, like whether pets really are more likely to be invasive and, if so, why?

Two Swiss researchers, Jérôme Gippeta and Cleo Bertelsmeier have now attempted to answer these questions. And their conclusion is that yes, our pets are more likely to be problems.

To answer the question of whether pets really are problematic, the researchers generated some basic statistics for different groups of animals (mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish). These included estimates of the total number of species, as well as the number of those that are classified as invasive and the number that are part of the pet trade.

If pets were no more or less likely to be invasive, you’d expect to see the invasive ones occupy similar fractions of both the pet trade and the total number of species in that group. But that’s not what we see in any of the groups. Invasive mammal species were present at five times the rate in the pet trade as they are in the wild around the globe. There was a similar result in birds; for amphibians, invasive species were eight times more common in the pet trade and about 10 times more common in fish.

Overall, invasive species were 7.4 times more likely to be kept as pets than you’d expect based on their frequency among vertebrate populations.

But cause and effect can be difficult to disentangle. Do we choose species that are more likely to be invasive as pets? Or have pets ended up with more opportunities to invade new environments because we transport them around the world?…

Spoiler alert: it’s the former… A new study finds the factors making them easier to keep also help them spread: “Unfortunately, we like pets that are likely to be invasive species.”

* Mickey Mouse

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As we ponder proliferation, we might recall that it was on this date in 1964 that a different kind of “invader,” the Beatles, set a record: they became the first artists to hold all top 5 spots on the Billboard Hot 100 on the same week, on April 4, 1964. 
#1. Can’t Buy Me Love
#2. Twist and Shout
#3. She Loves You
#4. I Want to Hold Your Hand
#5. Please Please Me
More Beatles on the Charts that week: #31 – I Saw Her Standing There, #41 – From Me To You, #46 – Do You Want To Know a Secret, #58 – All My Loving, #65 – You Can’t Do That, #68 – Roll Over Beethoven, #79 – Thank You Girl

At the time, the best-selling piece of Beatles merchandise was the “I Love Ringo” button.

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Written by LW

April 4, 2021 at 1:01 am

“ANT: model to cite in front of a spendthrift”*…

 

We tend to think of ants, and other social insects such as bees and termites, as busy little workers, but it turns out some of them may actually be quite lazy.

A study (paywall) conducted by researchers at the University of Arizona observed five colonies of Temnothorax rugatulus—a common ant species found across western Canada and the United States—and tracked their movements for three random days over a three weeks. Before they began their observations, they painted certain ants so they could track their individual activities. The team recorded five-minute videos of the colonies at four-hour intervals, and categorized the type of work they were doing at a given time.

They were surprised to find that almost half of the ants were actually fairly inactive throughout the day. While their counterparts busied themselves with nest-building or foraging, these ants were “effectively ‘specializing’ on inactivity,” according to the paper…

More at “Scientists say many worker ants are actually super lazy.”  See also, “News: Ants Don’t Actually Work that Hard.”

[Image above, from here]

* Gustave Flaubert, Dictionary of Accepted Ideas

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As we learn by example, we might recall that it was on this date in 4004 BCE that the Universe was created… as per calculations by Archbishop James Ussher in the mid-17th century.

When Clarence Darrow prepared his famous examination of William Jennings Bryan in the Scopes trial [see here], he chose to focus primarily on a chronology of Biblical events prepared by a seventeenth-century Irish bishop, James Ussher. American fundamentalists in 1925 found—and generally accepted as accurate—Ussher’s careful calculation of dates, going all the way back to Creation, in the margins of their family Bibles.  (In fact, until the 1970s, the Bibles placed in nearly every hotel room by the Gideon Society carried his chronology.)  The King James Version of the Bible introduced into evidence by the prosecution in Dayton contained Ussher’s famous chronology, and Bryan more than once would be forced to resort to the bishop’s dates as he tried to respond to Darrow’s questions.

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Ussher

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Written by LW

October 23, 2015 at 1:01 am

“There is no better high than discovery”*…

 

Be careful what you use as a bookmark. Thousands of dollars, a Christmas card signed by Frank Baum, a Mickey Mantle rookie baseball card, a marriage certificate from 1879, a baby’s tooth, a diamond ring and a handwritten poem by Irish writer Katharine Tynan Hickson are just some of the stranger objects discovered inside books by AbeBooks.com booksellers.

I recently opened a secondhand book and an airline boarding pass from Liberia in west Africa to Fort Worth, Texas, fell to the floor. Was there a story behind this little slip of paper? Was someone fleeing from a country ravaged by two civil wars since 1989? I will never know, but used and rare booksellers discover countless objects – some mundane, some bizarre, some deeply personal – inside books as they sort and catalog books for resale.

Adam Tobin, owner of Unnameable Books in Brooklyn, New York, has created a display inside his bookstore dedicated to objects discovered in books.

“It’s a motley assortment,” he said. “We’ve been doing it for about two years since opening the store. The display quickly took over the back wall and now it’s spreading to other places, and there’s a backlog of stuff that we haven’t put up yet. There are postcards, shopping lists, and concert tickets but my favorites are the cryptic notes. They are often deeply personal and can be very moving.”

Used booksellers often take ownership of books that have been in a family or a household for decades or even generations. “It’s easy to find things in books that are very dated,” explained Adam,” Such as a newspaper advert for elastic bands from the 19th century. My personal favorite is an ad from the 1950s that reads ‘Rinsing Dacron Curtains in Milk Makes Them Crisp, Stiff, Just Like New.’”

The most valuable item discovered by Adam is a letter written by C.S. Lewis – author of the Narnia series – but his monetary finds have been limited to a $1 note now pinned to the display.

Eager to learn more, AbeBooks.com asked its booksellers to reveal their finds. You might be surprised to learn what people will leave inside a book…

Discover this buried treasure at “Things Found in Books.”

[TotH to @MartyKrasney]

* E.O. Wilson

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As we rifle through the volumes in our libraries, we might might recall that it was on this date in 1887 that there occured an event that would surely have warmed Dr. Wilson’s heart:  an enormous “rain of ants” at Nancy in France.; “most of them were wingless” (Nature, 36-349.. as quoted in Charles Fort’s The Book of the Damned).

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Written by LW

July 21, 2014 at 1:01 am

Take me to your leader…

source: BBC

Just as one begins to feel self-satisfied about the dominance of humanity on earth, and the degree of interconnectedness afforded by Facebook, Twitter, and the like, this from the BBC:

A single mega-colony of ants has colonised much of the world, scientists have discovered.

Argentine ants living in vast numbers across Europe, the US and Japan belong to the same inter-related colony, and will refuse to fight one another. The colony may be the largest of its type ever known for any insect species, and could rival humans in the scale of its world domination.

While ants are usually highly territorial, those living within each super-colony are tolerant of one another, even if they live tens or hundreds of kilometres apart. Each super-colony, however, was thought to be quite distinct.

But it now appears that billions of Argentine ants around the world all actually belong to one single global mega-colony.

Read the entire story here.

As we contemplate connection (and redouble our efforts to emulate E.M. Forster), we might recall that it was on this date in 1957 that young Paul McCartny attended a church picnic at which a newly-formed band, the Quarrymen, were playing  between sets, McCartney played a couple of tunes on the guitar for the group and its leader, John Lennon, who invited McCartney to join.  McCartney did, but was slow to serious commitment (Paul missed his first gig, as he had a scout outing to attend).

Still, the group gained a following, changed its name to Johnny and the Moondogs, and recruited McCartney’s friend George Harrison.  After bassist Stu Sutcliffe joined, they changed the name again, to the Silver Beetles, then finally to the Beatles. Tommy Moore joined the band as drummer and was replaced by Pete Best in 1960.  After a tour to Germany in 1961, Sutcliffe left the band to become a painter (a scant year before he died of a brain hemorrhage), and the band returned to Liverpool.  In 1962, five years after Lennon and Mccartney found each other, they found Ringo; Best left the band;  the Fab Four–McCartney, Lennon, Harrison, and Starr–recorded “Love Me Do”… and the rest is history.

McCartney and Lennon in the Quarrymen (source: Dull Neon/Random Notes)

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