Shoo Fly, Don’t Bother Bee!!!


In my previous article on Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) in honeybees, I summarized recent advances in our understanding of this malady which has arisen in recent years, leading to major declines in honeybee colonies throughout North America. The current consensus is that CCD is caused by a synergistic combination of internal (diseases, parasites) and extrinsic […]

Parasite Gene Makes Caterpillars Do its Bidding

Gypsy moth catepiller on leaf

The first solid genetic proof of an extended phenotype, a concept postulated by Richard Dawkins in 1982, has just been reported by Kelli Hoover and colleagues at Pennsylvania State University (PSU) in University Park, as well as from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service in Delaware, Ohio. These researchers have identified a viral gene that induces […]

It Takes Two to Tango… or Does It? The Curious Courtship of Collembola (Springtails)

Globular Springtail: Image by Goshzilla

Collembola, also known as springtails, are tiny terrestrial hexapods once considered primitive, wingless insects (based on the fact that they too have six legs, just like insects), but are now known to be distinct from true insects.  Most species live in loose surface soil and leaf litter where they feed on decaying organic material.  Despite […]

Where Have All The Bees Gone?

Honey bee populations are decreasing due to a number of factors. Image by Annie Cavanagh

In the past 5 years, much attention has been devoted to the topic of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a mysterious ailment that first appeared in 2006, affecting European honeybee colonies in the United States and Europe.  This disorder manifests as a sudden sharp decline (30-90%) in the number of worker bees in the colony as […]

The Ubiquitous Nematode: How a Simple Worm Conquered the Earth

Soybean cyst nematode and her egg

Although often called “nematode worms,” members of the Phylum Nematoda are only distantly related to earthworms in the garden and marine worms in the sea. They are among the most diverse of all animals, though most people in developed countries are only ever likely to encounter them in the form of the pinworm (threadworm), a common […]

Evolution in Action: Three Experiments Demonstrating Natural Selection

The number of spots on male guppies is determined by natural selection.

Like any scientific theory, the theory of evolution by natural selection can be tested by experiment. Since the publication of On the Origin of Species in 1859, biologists have devised many ingenious ways to examine the effect of natural selection on living organisms. This article looks at three such studies. Endler’s Guppies In the late […]

Endosymbiosis in Aphids: Nutrients from Symbiotic Bacteria Help Greenfly Survive on Plant Sap


The humble aphid may appear unremarkable, but it is cleverly adapted to its plant-sucking way of life. Symbiotic bacteria greatly increase the ability of plant lice, also known as greenflies, to grow and reproduce, causing annoyance to gardeners and damage to crops worldwide. Plant Sap Provides Insufficient Nutrients In general, aphids disregard the flowers, fruits […]