Ants Use Acid to Make “Gardens” in Amazon, Study Says

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: March 20, 2006   View Article

Ants in the Amazon rain forest labor to keep their territory free of all plants except for one tree species, according to a new study. Scientists call these cultivated spaces devil’s gardens, after the local legends that hold they’re home to evil spirits. Some of the gardens are at least 800 years old.

Termite Power: Can Pests’ Guts Create New Fuel

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: March 14, 2006   View Article

Tiny microbes that live inside termites may one day help cure the world’s energy woes, according to scientists.

The researchers are trying to understand how bacteria that help termites digest wood and other plants release the hydrogen that’s trapped in the material.

It’s Invaders vs. Invaders as Scientists Target Alien Species

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: February 22, 2006   View Article

Empowered by a lack of natural enemies, invasive species often overwhelm the regions they infiltrate.

But some scientists are fighting invaders with invaders, importing natural enemies from the problem species’ native regions.

Power Lines May Make a New Kind of Buzz – As Home for Bees

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: December 14, 2005   View Article

If Kimberly Russell’s vision pans out, the millions of acres of land that lie under electric power lines across the United States will come to life with the buzz of busy bees.

Russell studies insects and spiders at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Her research shows that bees take refuge under power lines when utility companies allow the land there to grow shrubs and flowers.

5-Foot Giant Water Scorpion Once Roamed U.K. Shores

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: November 30, 2005   View Article

If you think scorpions are scary, try this on for size: a six-legged water scorpion the size of a human. Newly discovered tracks reveal that about 330 million years ago, just such a creature lumbered along the riverbanks in present-day Scotland.

The fossilized track is the largest of its kind ever found and shows these now extinct creatures could walk on land, according to Martin Whyte, a geologist at the University of Sheffield in England.

Glowing Butterflies Shine With Natural LEDs

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: November 17, 2005   View Article

For 30 million years African swallowtail butterflies have dazzled their mates with glowing splashes of color on their wings. And the process they use to control the flow of light in their wings is strikingly similar to a technology that humans only recently developed, physicists report.

From the lasers used to read information on CDs and DVDs to the data carried across oceans along optical fibers, the control of light is essential to modern living.

Can Global Warming Cause Caterpillar Outbreaks

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: November 16, 2005   View Article

Get ready—the killer caterpillars are coming.

As the weather gets wackier in response to rapid global warming, parasitism against caterpillars will decrease, biologists warn in a new study. This will free the caterpillars to devour agricultural fields and strip leafy forests bare.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach