insects

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UConn has received a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to preserve and exhibit a collection of two million army ants.

The World Health Organization says there is now scientific consensus that the Zika virus is connected with microcephaly — a condition in which babies are born with very small heads and brain damage.

Scientists have been working for months to confirm a link between Zika and microcephaly, ever since Brazil reported a startling increase in cases last fall.

U.S. Dept. of Agriculture

The common bed bug is currently one of the most ubiquitous insects on earth. For centuries, they've have been a source of itching, anxiety, and skin rashes that range from mild to severe.

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Imagine a farm sprayed with pesticides. You're likely to think of crop-dusting biplanes,  but a new pest-control idea is using a much smaller, and more natural source: bumblebees.

A team of U.S. government disease detectives launched an eagerly anticipated research project in Brazil on Monday designed to determine whether the Zika virus is really causing a surge of serious birth defects.

A 16-member team of epidemiologists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began training dozens of Brazilian counterparts in Joao Pessoa, Brazil, in preparation to begin work on Tuesday. The researchers will gather data on hundreds of Brazilian women and their children.

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One morning at breakfast, I found myself swatting flies. What, flies in winter? Then I saw they were coming from my amaryllis plant on the table. I love house plants, but so do the pests.

Tom via Flickr / Creative Commons

Connecticut officials have prepared a plan to respond to the Zika virus that includes in-state testing for the virus, monitoring mosquitoes, and public education on how to avoid infection.

Until very recently it was thought that just one bacterium was to blame for causing Lyme disease in humans. But it turns out that a second, related bug can cause it too.

In 2013, during routine testing of bacterial DNA floating around in the blood samples of people suspected of having Lyme disease, researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., realized they were looking at something different.

The World Health Organization has declared the cluster of microcephaly associated with the spread of the Zika virus to be a public health emergency of international concern — a designation reserved for an"extraordinary event" that is "serious, unusual or unexpected."

Dr. Margaret Chan, the WHO's director-general, said during a press briefing Monday that an international coordinated response was needed to improve mosquito control as well as to expedite the development of tests that detect the Zika virus.

A human study of Zika virus vaccine could begin as early as this year, U.S. health officials told reporters Thursday.

But the officials cautioned that it could be years before the vaccine is available for wide use.

The news came as the Zika virus continues to spread through the Americas. Still, a large outbreak is seen as unlikely in the U.S.

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President Obama called for urgent action against the Zika virus this week. Meanwhile, one Brazilian virologist at the University of Connecticut has been hard at work in the development of a vaccine. 

Theophilos Papadopoulos via flickr.com / Creative Commons

Winter is a great time to sit down and plan the expansion of existing gardens or creation of new ones. But don't just think of growing gardens for yourself. 

The outbreak of Zika virus in Brazil and other countries has raised concern that the pathogen could start spreading widely in the United States, as well. But federal health officials and other infectious disease specialists say so far that seems unlikely.

The World Health Organization says it expects the Zika virus to spread to every country in the Western Hemisphere except Canada.

It says the virus has already "spread to 21 countries and territories of the Americas."

"Canada is off the list simply because it's too cold for the type of mosquito that transmits the Zika virus," NPR's Jason Beaubien reports to our Newscast unit.

Bed Bugs: Our Creepy, Pervasive, and Expensive Problem

Jan 11, 2016
Gilles San Martin / Creative Commons

A Norwalk-based exterminator was called to an apartment building in the New Haven area and, entering one unit, he found the walls “dripping with bed bugs.”

In New Hampshire, male crickets start singing in July or August.  They stop singing when the temperature drops below 50 and they die when it gets too cold.  The death of the crickets is, in a way, a sign that winter has begun.  This year, as NHPR's Sean Hurley reports, the crickets stopped on October 17th with the first hard frost.

Don't Let The Bed Bugs Bite!

Oct 22, 2015
Truly Nolen / Creative Commons

Humans are used to being the predator, not the prey. But when it comes to our relationship with bed bugs - well, these little critters have been making a meal of us for thousands of years.

Rhode Island Researchers Get $2M For Tick Study

Oct 20, 2015

A tick researcher at the University of Rhode Island will use $2 million in federal grant funding to study tick repellent clothing. Professor Tom Mather plans to test garments that have been treated with a chemical called permethrin. If it’s effective, Mather said it could have serious public health benefits.

“Ticks up here transmit multiple diseases,” said Mather. “Lyme disease is of course what everyone hears about, but just as dangerous probably more dangerous are some of the infections that black legged ticks in our area carry.”

Thegreenj / Creative Commons

A food truck at the University of Connecticut is now serving up roasted crickets. 

The World's Disappearing Natural Sound

Aug 31, 2015

With guest host Jane Clayson.

A legendary natural sound collector shares his recordings from around the world. We’ll listen in.

Jessica Lucia flickr.com/photos/theloushe / Creative Commons

Hunting for fireflies at dusk is a staple of summertime fun, but for years, no knew exactly how the bugs emitted their signature glow. Now, new research claims to have the answer. 

Börkur Sigurbjörnsson / Creative Commons

Today, our show about poo.

First, the 'no-poo' movement. Before the last century, people washed their hair a lot less often than we do today. A little Castille soap, an egg yoke for extra shine, and one hundred strokes with a boar bristle brush would do the trick. It wasn't until John Breck introduced his golden shampoo that everyone wanted to have the long lustrous locks of a Breck Girl. Today, 'no-poo' converts are going back to the basics and they say they're hair has never looked so good.

Newport Hospital has opened a new center for Lyme disease. Most doctors can treat Lyme with antibiotics, but the new clinic aims to help patients with lingering symptoms.

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Officials say mosquitoes in six Connecticut towns have tested positive for West Nile virus.

James Gathany / Creative Commons

Connecticut health officials have found West Nile virus in mosquitoes in three towns.

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This iridescent, copper-colored beetle hails from Japan, has been around since 1916, and is not a picky eater. Japanese beetles feast on grapes, cherries, raspberries, cannas, basil, roses, and lots of other plants. They often feed en masse, devastating plants. 

Tony Austin / Creative Commons

We must really love tomatoes. Even with farmer's markets, CSAs, and farm stands loaded with fresh, locally-grown tomato fruits this time of year, we still insist on growing our own. This is even more impressive considering all the problems tomatoes can have.

Wayback Burgers

Gillian Maffeo said it all started as an April Fool's Day joke. Wayback Burgers, a resturant chain headquartered in Cheshire with locations across the state and country, started advertising a new type of milkshake: one infused with protein, from bugs. 

As many outdoorsy Vermonters are discovering, ticks are in plentiful supply this summer. Bad news for humans at risk for Lyme disease. But the bumper crop is providing ample specimens to study and, amazingly, to dissect with some really tiny scalpels.

Nicholas A. Tonelli / Creative Commons

This year's cold winter killed off a high percentage of insects that target Connecticut's hemlock trees. That's good news for forests and for landowners in the state.

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