Insect Cuticle Aids Spiders’ Traps

Aug 9th, 2017 Amazing, Interactions, Life 1 min read

The woolly webs of orb-weaver spiders form an inescapable trap around prey. But it’s not just the threads’ tangles that ensnare meals. As researchers reported this week (May 31) in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the waxy coating on some insects teams up with fibers from the spider web to form a composite adhesive material, gluing prey in place. Thus, in a rather dark…

Why Female Dragonflies Go to Extreme Lengths to Avoid Sex

Aug 9th, 2017 Amazing, Interactions, Life 1 min read

Some female dragonflies go to great lengths to avoid sex—they fake their own deaths. For the first time, a scientist has observed that female moorland hawker dragonflies freeze mid-air, crash to the ground, and lie motionless when faced with aggressive males. Called sexual death feigning, this behavior evolved to protect females against aggressive males; for instance, female moorland hawker dragonflies risk injury and sometimes death…

A Defence Against the Next Flu Pandemic Could Lie in the Skin of a Western Ghats Frog

Aug 9th, 2017 Amazing 1 min read

A protein found on the beautifully coloured skin of a frog from the Western Ghats has the potential to be a weapon against the influenza virus, a recent study has found. The ‘weapon’ protein has been named ‘urumin’ after urumi, a sword with a flexible, whip-like blade used in Kalaripayattu, a martial arts form native to Kerala. The frog is the widespread fungoid frog (Hydrophylax bahuvistara)….

This venomous frog has killer spines on its head

Aug 6th, 2015 Amazing 1 min read

When Carlos Jared picked up a little frog hiding in the scrublands of the Brazilian Caatinga, he didn’t expect to be hurt. And he didn’t expect an intense pain radiating up his arm for the next five hours. “It took me a long time to realise that the pain had a relationship with the careless collection of these animals,” he recalls. Now he understands why….

The wasps that rule the world

May 22nd, 2015 Amazing, Interactions 1 min read

On Costa Rica, inside a wheel of sticky silk, an orb weaver spider is doomed to die. She is a formidable predator, but this Leucauge argyra has fallen victim to something even worse. A white grub is stuck to her abdomen, and it’s growing bigger while the spider shrinks. One day, the spider stops building her usual orb web. Instead, she keeps repeating the first few steps,…