March 16th, 2013
10:48 AM ET

Bus riders: Trip turned into roach-fest

Roaches crawling out of air vents. Roaches climbing up seats and windows. Roaches on people's coats and hats. Roaches everywhere.

It sounds like a scene from a horror movie - but is in fact what passengers say happened on a Greyhound bus journey from Atlantic City to New York on Friday.

"There's like a thousand roaches," passenger Dawn Alexander told CNN affiliate WABC. "And when I say infested, I mean infested. People were in the aisles literally brushing roaches off of them."

"We thought it was one. It turned out to be a whole house full of roaches," said a fellow passenger.

Cellphone footage shows the pests scurrying across the bus floor and steps.

Greyhound's Media Relations Director Maureen Richmond said the bus driver had acted swiftly when passengers alerted him to "bugs on the bus."

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Mutant butterflies a result of Fukushima nuclear disaster, researchers say
This image from a study on Fukushima's impact on butterflies shows wings mutated by the radiation.
August 14th, 2012
10:35 AM ET

Mutant butterflies a result of Fukushima nuclear disaster, researchers say

In the first sign that the Fukushima nuclear disaster may be changing life around it, scientists say they've found mutant butterflies.

Some of the butterflies had abnormalities in their legs, antennae, and abdomens, and dents in their eyes, according to the study published in Scientific Reports, an online journal from the team behind Nature. Researchers also found that some affected butterflies had broken or wrinkled wings, changes in wing size, color pattern changes, and spots disappearing or increasing on the butterflies.

The study began two months after an earthquake and tsunami devastated swaths of northeastern Japan in March 2011, triggering a nuclear disaster. The Fukushima Daiichi plant spewed radiation and displaced tens of thousands of residents from the surrounding area in the worst nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine.

In May 2011, researchers collected more than 100 pale grass blue butterflies in and around the Fukushima prefecture and found that 12% of them had abnormalities or mutations. When those butterflies mated, the rate of mutations in the offspring rose to 18%, according to the study, which added that some died before reaching adulthood. When the offspring mated with healthy butterflies that weren't affected by the nuclear crisis, the abnormality rate rose to 34%, indicating that the mutations were being passed on through genes to offspring at high rates even when one of the parent butterflies was healthy.

The scientists wanted to find out how things stood after a longer amount of time and again collected more than 200 butterflies last September. Twenty-eight percent of the butterflies showed abnormalities, but the rate of mutated offspring jumped to 52%, according to researchers. The study indicated that second-generation butterflies, the ones collected in September, likely saw higher numbers of mutations because they were exposed to the radiation either as larvae or earlier than adult butterflies first collected.

To make sure that the nuclear disaster was in fact the cause of the mutations, researchers collected butterflies that had not been affected by radiation and gave them low-dose exposures of radiation and found similar results.

"We conclude that artificial radionuclides from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant caused physiological and genetic damage to this species," the study said.

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Filed under: 2011 tsunami • Animals • Insects • Japan
Beetles buried to boost breeding
An American burying beetle perches on the wing of a dead bird. This species of beetle is endangered.
June 17th, 2011
02:45 PM ET

Beetles buried to boost breeding

What do you do with one of the world's most endangered insects? Throw it in a hole with a dead animal, of course.

That's exactly what about 35 scientists, foresters and volunteers did this week with 150 pairs of American burying beetles in Ohio's Wayne National Forest, said Bob Merz, director of the Center for American Burying Beetle Conservation at the St. Louis Zoo.

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Filed under: Animals • Environment • Insects • Missouri • Ohio • Rhode Island • Science
Gotta Watch: Weird foods
June 8th, 2011
09:27 PM ET

Gotta Watch: Weird foods

Have you ever heard the saying you are what you eat? Well, if you like to sink your teeth into some of the foods in this Gotta Watch, we really hope that saying isn't true. Here are three of our favorite videos about foods that are not for people with a weak stomach. Bon Appetit!

Tacos a pest hazard - A California restaurant owner can no longer serve their most talked-about dish. That's because it's made out of grasshoppers and the health department isn't too thrilled with having bugs in your food. Supposedly they taste just like chicken.

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Filed under: Agriculture • Arizona • California • Gotta Watch • Insects • San Francisco • U.S.
Ants using chemical warfare, class project finds
Some kinds of ants produce toxins that can kill other ants, according to a research project at Stanford University.
June 8th, 2011
08:11 AM ET

Ants using chemical warfare, class project finds

U.S. ants defending against their invading Argentine counterparts may have found a deterrent to the fast-spreading colonies: weapons of mass destruction.

Stanford University sophomores conducted a research project that suggests that winter ants have been using a form of chemical warfare – manufacturing a poison in a gland in their abdomens – to stop Argentine ants in their tracks, according to ScienceDaily.

"This is the first well-documented case where a native species is successfully resisting the Argentine ant," Deborah M. Gordon, a biology professor, said in a ScienceDaily article based on a Stanford press release.

Argentine ants, native to you guessed it Argentina and other parts of South America, are pervasive in hot climates but have increasingly invaded colder climes.

In 2009 the BBC reported that supercolonies of the species in Europe, Japan and the United States actually had the same parentage, thus forming one intercontinental megacolony.

"If you live in a Mediterranean climate, the Argentine ant is the ant in your kitchen," Gordon said. "These ants, wherever they become established, wipe out all the native ants."

But they're being repelled by winter ants tired of running, the Stanford project has found.

The Stanford project began four years ago as students began observing ant mounds on campus.  “One day it was just winter ants going about their business foraging for food and making trails just typical ant behavior," said Leah Kuritzky, a Stanford student involved with the project.  "The next day we came back and the ground was littered with Argentine ants. There were dead ants all around and there was a lot of fighting around the nest entrances."

"It turns out the winter ants use the secretion only when they are really overwhelmed, so it is probably energetically very expensive for the winter ant to manufacture and use this stuff," Gordon said.

Gordon said cooler weather in the region may also be contributing to the demise of the Argentine ants.

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Filed under: California • Insects • Nature • Science • U.S.
South gets a major buzz on every 13 years
The 13-year periodical cicada has big red bug-eyes to go with its orange legs and wing parts.
May 24th, 2011
12:01 PM ET

South gets a major buzz on every 13 years

The brood is back, and it's gonna be noisy.

Trees, posts, walls and other vertical surfaces throughout the American South are being covered this spring with billions of periodical cicadas: red-eyed insects that emerge, like Chicago Cubs fans' pennant hopes, for a few weeks just once every 13 years.

The bugs are perfectly harmless to humans, unless you count annoyance caused by the remarkable amount of noise the love-starved little critters make. The male cicada's mating call has been compared to a circular saw, only more shrill - and that's just the way the lady cicadas like it. FULL POST

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