Sterilised insects could help control mosquito-borne diseases

A form of tiger mosquito birth control and drones may help stem the spread of some tropical diseases. Image credit - James Gathany/CDC, public domain

Aggressive tiger mosquitoes capable of spreading debilitating tropical diseases such as dengue and Zika are spreading through Europe, but scientists hope it may be possible to control these biting pests with a form of insect birth control and drones.  The bite of the Asian tiger mosquito may be little more than a pin-prick, but it … Read more

Bees use shark ‘supersense’ to help find food

Flying insects such as bees and moths have secret senses that allow them to ‘feel’ nearby flowers and navigate over long distances, according to new research. Armed with sensitive antennae and wide-angled compound eyes, bees have a sophisticated set of senses to help them search out pollen and nectar as they buzz from flower to … Read more

Biodegradable glitter and pollution-eating microalgae: the new materials inspired by nature

The reflected colour of the marble berry differs from cell to cell, giving it a striking appearance. Image credit - Juliano Costa/Wikimedia, licenced under CC BY-SA 3.0

The iridescence of marble berries and the clever, light-bending perforations of microalgae are some lessons from nature that scientists are drawing upon to create biodegradable glitter and makeup pigments, and bionic algae to use in lasers or to clean pollutants. Nature has spent millions of years evolving answers to problems. It has come up with ingenious solutions … Read more

Grassland studies, radar-tracked bumblebees offer clues for protecting pollinators

It's not just crops that rely on bumblebees; wild plants do too. Image credit - Anthony King

Scientists used a radar to track a bumblebee from its maiden flight until death for the first time as part of wider research racing to understand the impact and needs of declining bee populations, including on Europe’s fragmented biodiversity hotspots – grasslands. Wild bees are major pollinators of crops in Europe such as peas, beans and … Read more