They’re here. Native to East Asia, the so-called murder hornets were spotted in North America for the first time late last year and just again in May. The presence of the predators, which can grow as much as 2 inches in length, drew media attention because their frightening prowess at killing honeybees means they could adversely affect the supply of foods we consume that require pollination. Known officially as the Asian giant hornet, the species is capable of wiping out an entire hive in a matter of hours, decapitating bees with powerful mandibles and hauling away the thoraxes to feed their young. The hornets are less of a direct threat to humans, although they do kill about 50 people a year in Japan, where they are most prevalent. The Gazette spoke with Benjamin de Bivort, the Thomas D. Cabot Associate Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and James Crall, a postdoctoral fellow working in de Bivort’s lab. Both researchers study pollinators, like bees, and they shared their views on how much we should worry about the sightings in Washington state and British Columbia.Q&ABenjamin de Bivort and James CrallGAZETTE: Remind us, why should we care about what happens to honeybees?CRALL: Bees are incredibly important for human well-being, including both managed honeybees and wild bees. Put simply: About one in three bites of food comes from crops that depend on animals for pollination, and bees are the most important group of pollinators. The parts of our diet that depend on pollinators — including many fruits, nuts, and vegetables — are really nutritious. Losing pollinators means less healthy food and worse health outcomes for humans. Of course, beyond their role in food production, bees are incredibly important for preserving biodiversity, more generally.DE BIVORT: From a basic science perspective, honeybees are particularly interesting because they live in societies of tens of thousands of individuals. This high level of sociality offers advantages and challenges for them as a species. For example, they have evolved an extreme form of division of labor and behave in ways that are highly altruistic. At the same time, each individual honeybee is highly dependent on her sisters, so when the colony as a whole is unwell, it is very bad news for all the individual bees.GAZETTE: What were your initial reactions on hearing about the emergence of the Asian giant hornet here?CRALL: My first reaction was that I’m really glad entomologists in Washington state have been so proactive in setting a monitoring system to look for these hornets. My second thought, though, was that I wish people reacted this strongly to all the other threats that we know full well are wreaking havoc on bee populations, like climate change, and many aspects of industrialized agriculture, including pesticides.DE BIVORT: Yes, much depends on whether the wasps actually become established, meaning they reproduce to a stable, self-sustaining population size. I believe it’s rarely the case that an invasive species becomes established but is later eliminated through deliberate control measures. But if they do become established, then the honeybees will experience strong evolutionary pressures over the next years as they adapt to this new ecological interaction.,GAZETTE: What do you mean?DE BIVORT: If bees end up facing the hornets as a recurring threat, then any bees that happen to have comparative advantages against hornet attacks — like tougher exoskeletons or more sensitive olfactory systems to smell the hornet as it approaches — will have an evolutionary advantage and may outcompete more vulnerable bees. It’s even conceivable that bees here could evolve similar social defenses as bees that have been in ecological contact with the hornets for a long time.GAZETTE: So, what could this all mean for bees in the U.S.?CRALL: The hornet has been found just twice in North America — once in British Columbia and once in Washington state — in late 2019 and, so far, one has been found in 2020 so it’s likely at least some individuals survived through the winter. It’s not clear yet whether they have become established. And even if they become locally established where they were introduced, it’s not really clear how widespread they could become in the U.S. based on the kinds of climates they inhabit in their native range. So, at this point it’s really important to be monitoring — as is happening in Washington state — but I wouldn’t say they pose an imminent threat to bees.GAZETTE: Why more of a remote threat for wild bees?CRALL: Well, it’s not that I think honeybees are any more affected per se, it’s just that I think we know less about to what extent they prey on wild, native bees — of which there are 4,000 species in North America. Unlike domesticated honeybee colonies that usually have a beekeeper keeping close watch who may notice if a giant hornet comes to wipe out the colony, nobody is reporting when a solitary bee nest gets eaten. “Both wild bee populations and managed honeybees face a slew of critically important threats. … I think the giant hornet ranks well below all of these in terms of what keeps me up at night.” — James Call DE BIVORT: Another thing it could mean centers around stressors. Colony collapse disorder is the well-known phenomenon of colonies suddenly failing, which has both commercial and ecological impacts when it comes to domestic honeybees. It’s likely the result of many simultaneous stressors, each one of which is survivable, but in combination push a colony to the breaking point. These stressors include mite parasites, viruses, environmental contamination, and pesticides. Adding a predatory wasp would likely contribute to this stressor load.GAZZETTE: Bees in Japan have a defense against these so-called murder hornets. What is it and why don’t ours?CRALL: The Asian honeybee has a remarkable defense against these hornets: Worker bees will collectively ball up around the hornet and heat their bodies up to a temperature — around 122 degrees Fahrenheit — that is lethal to the hornet, as well as to the bees themselves. This is, however, a different species of honeybee — Apis cerana — that is native to the same range as the giant hornet, so it has had time to evolve defense mechanisms. The common European honeybee — Apis mellifera — that is introduced and widely managed in the U.S. has not co-evolved with this hornet, however, and so hasn’t evolved effective defenses.DE BIVORT: To me this reiterates how the strong sociality of bees is so relevant to their evolution and ecology. It isn’t possible for solitary bees to mount this particular defense. At the same time, a nest with just one bee isn’t nearly so tempting a prize for a predator as a colony of tens of thousands of bees.GAZETTE: What are other threats the bee population has been facing and where do those rank with murder hornet threat?CRALL: Both wild bee populations and managed honeybees face a slew of critically important threats, including diseases and pests, land-use change, habitat loss, exposure to pesticides and other agrochemicals, and climate change — all of which can act together to exacerbate impacts on bees. I think the giant hornet ranks well below all of these in terms of what keeps me up at night.DE BIVORT: I agree, particularly since it remains uncertain if the hornets are a permanent addition to our North American ecology. The hornets themselves may very well be subject to similar environmental threats as the bees, considering the population declines seen broadly across insect species.Interviews were edited for clarity and length.
By Andréa Barretto/Diálogo October 14, 2016 The Brazilian Army is testing its first Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) used to locate and identify targets. The 9th Campaign Artillery Group (9th GAC, per its Portuguese acronym) will be in charge of the prototype called the Horus FT 100. “The Target Search Battery is a military unit whose fundamental objective is to provide data on targets and send them to an artillery unit so that it is able to react more quickly against a threat,” explained Lieutenant Colonel Moacyr Azevedo Couto Junior, commander of the 9th GAC. “It doesn’t operationally exist yet in the Brazilian ground forces,” he added. The RPAS – an aircraft equipped with controlling software, is one of the tools used by the Battery to locate and identify targets within a given radius of action. It is being studied for deployment in missions along the borders, in addition to specific artillery-related activities. “During border operations, we will be able to use the RPAS to, for example, do reconnaissance on bodies, observe roads and vicinities, monitor suspicious cars on highways, and identify targets,” Lt. Col. Couto said. “We haven’t participated in any operations yet because we’re in the team- training stage, but we’ve already had the ability to engage in this type of mission,” he added. The first flight is expected to take place by the end of 2016, during the Federal Police’s Operation “Antonio Joao”. “After pilot training and a series of activities with the system have been completed, it will be possible to develop a proposal to deploy the Battery, so that it can start operating, in practice, within the Brazilian Army,” stated Lt. Col. Couto. That phase is known as the experimentation phase, and is scheduled to end in 2017. Strategic positioning The group’s proximity to Brazil’s border areas – around 230 kilometers from Paraguay and 310 kilometers from Bolivia – is one reason it was chosen to undertake the experimentation mission. The 9th GAC is subordinate to the 4th Mechanized Calvary Brigade, which encompasses the area where implementation of the Integrated Border Monitoring System (SISFRON, for its Portuguese acronym) began in 2014. The project calls for the installation of a technological platform equipped with radars, computers, and communication systems along 16,000 kilometers of Brazil’s borders. The goal is to combat the most common crimes in these areas, such as drug trafficking and contraband. “The Horus FT 100’s deployment joins forces with SISFRON’s tools, expanding the Army’s capacity to monitor our border regions,” says Lt. Col. Couto. The Horus FT 100 was delivered to the 9th GAC in February. Since then, attempts have been made to connect the system with the SISFRON equipment, yielding positive results. “We transmitted RPAS images to a SISFRON control center in real time during an ongoing operation. It worked really well,” Lt. Col. Couto said. Eyes in the sky The Horus FT 100 is an unmanned aircraft. These types of flight platforms are known as “eyes in the sky” because they expand the military’s aerial observational capacity. Sensors attached to the aircraft act like “eyes.” The Horus FT 100 has the capacity to operate with four types of sensors: an electro-optical imaging and infrared sensor (for nighttime operations); a laser target designator sensor (to identify a point with precision); a signal intelligence sensor (to capture long-range communication data); and an aerial photogrammetric sensor (which enables maps to be produced using photographs). The aircraft acquired by the Army works with daytime multi-camera video that transmits images in real time. Regarding the equipment’s characteristics, First Lieutenant Marcelo Fontes da Costa Filho, one of the pilots in the Target Search Battery, explained that the aircraft is a short-range category 1, able to travel a maximum radius of 27 kilometers at a maximum height of nearly 3 kilometers. “But, for filming, the ideal scenario is for the aircraft to remain at 4,000 feet, which is more or less about one kilometer in the air,” 1st Lt. Marcelo said. During takeoff and landing, the Horus FT 100 is operated by a pilot from the ground using a radio-controlled system to fly the aircraft. While it is in the air, the aircraft is not flown by a pilot, but by software programmed with the entire route, along with all the actions to be completed by the aircraft. “Before the mission begins, we program the software. But this itinerary can be modified during the operation,” 1st Lt. Marcelo added. Pilot training The Target Search Battery team has four pilots, two of whom have already completed training. 1st Lt. Marcelo is among them. Training began in 2014 at the FT Sistemas, Horus FT 100’s manufacturer, headquartered in upstate Sao Paulo. “During training at the manufacturer, we learned about the equipment’s aerodynamics, the aircraft’s assembly, radio-controlled operation, software programming, and everything else required using the Horus FT 100,” 1st Lt. Marcelo stated. “But our training didn’t stop there. Every week, we go through flight-training activities.” Afterwards, they completed two aeronautical knowledge internships. The first one, held last year, took place at the Army’s Aviation Instruction Center in Taubaté, and the second at the Army’s Third Aviation Battalion in Campo Grande. “The goal of this internship is mostly to provide a view about flight safety,” 1st Lt. Marcelo added. Flight safety not only focuses on the equipment but also on the pilots, 1st Lt. Marcelo explained. This requires paying attention to the weather forecast and prior contact with the Air Force to avoid having other aircraft in the same area where the flight will take place. It also requires that the team carefully select the site where it is going to position itself to operate the aircraft. “We try to choose a spot as far away as possible from side roads that might be used by suspects to surprise us,” 1st Lt. Marcelo concluded.
Sanitizing kitchen sponges is important because they may be contaminated with pathogens like Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella. Microbiologists Manan Sharma and Cheryl Mudd also tested sponges soaked in lemon juice and in deionized water for 1 minute and in 10% bleach solution for 3 minutes, and they left one untreated. Between 37% and 87% of bacteria were killed using these methods, leaving sufficient bacteria to cause disease. (Deionized water is purified water from which most ions, such as sodium, calcium, iron, and chloride, have been removed). Others studies have shown the powerful effects of microwaving. University of Florida engineering researchers found that microwaving killed more than 99% of bacteria in sponges that had been soaked in raw wastewater, according to a Jan 22 university news release. The study was published in the December 2006 issue of the Journal of Environmental Health. Apr 23 USDA news releasehttp://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2007/070423.htm Initially, each of the sponges contained about 20 million microbes, after researchers soaked them in a solution of ground beef and lab growth medium for 48 hours. The study was conducted at the ARS Food Technology and Safety Laboratory in Beltsville, Md. See also: Sponges should be wet when placed in the microwave and should have no metallic components, according to the University of Florida release. Treatment in the microwave and the dishwasher also left sponges with less than 1% of the original counts of yeasts and molds in them, whereas 6.7% to 63% remained in the sponges treated with the other methods or left untreated. The ARS said these methods were tested because they are commonly used in households. Apr 25, 2007 (CIDRAP News) Bacteria in a kitchen sponge can best be eliminated by heating the sponge in a microwave oven or running it through an automatic dishwasher, according to a study by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). “Basically what we find is that we could knock out most bacteria in two minutes,” said Gabriel Bitton, University of Florida environmental engineering professor, in the news release. Researchers found that microwaving a wet sponge for 1 minute killed 99.9999% of bacteria, while running a sponge through a dishwasher cycle that included drying eliminated 99.9998% of bacteria, the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) said in an Apr 23 news release. News release on University of Florida studyhttp://news.ufl.edu/2007/01/22/zap-the-bugs/
LATEST STORIES And in her debut for the defending champions, dela Cruz proved why she deserved to be a starter as she racked up 11 points to help La Salle top its fiercest rival Ateneo to kick off its title defense in the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament.“It’s a privilege to be part of the first six. At first, I wasn’t expecting to be in it knowing how hard La Salle trains. Training is super hard,” dela Cruz said in Filipino.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGolden State Warriors sign Lee to multiyear contract, bring back ChrissSPORTSCoronation night?SPORTSThirdy Ravena gets offers from Asia, Australian ball clubsThe former Palarong Pambasa standout from Academia de San Lorenzo said earning a starting nod from head coach Ramil de Jesus just shows the trust the multi-titled mentor has in her capabilities.And that faith is something dela Cruz promises to repay in her stay with the Lady Spikers. Joe Gibbs dedicates Daytona 500 victory to late son Ginebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup title Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Ginebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup title MOST READ “It feels good because coach put me in the first six and that means he trusts me. I just need to prove to myself that I deserved it and that I’m not just any rookie.”Dela Cruz, who also saw action during the Asian School Games in Singapore in 2017, although admitting to losing her focus in some parts of the game, certainly lived up to that promise in just her first game in the UAAP and helped seniors Desiree Cheng and May Luna.“I really need to be confident in everything that I do. I feel like I get caught in the moment too much and they remind me to snap out of it.”Despite dela Cruz’s impressive debut, de Jesus said her prized recruit is just scratching the surface.“As a rookie, I see that her performance is only 60 percent of what she can do and I expected that because everything is new to her like the huge crowd and the noise,” de Jesus said.ADVERTISEMENT Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Japeth Aguilar wins 1st PBA Finals MVP award for Ginebra Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard PLAY LIST 02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award Tom Brady most dominant player in AFC championship history Philippine Army to acquire MANPADS, self-propelled howitzers Nadine Lustre’s phone stolen in Brazil View comments Gretchen Barretto’s daughter Dominique graduates magna cum laude from California college Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.netMANILA, Philippines—It’s not often that a rookie gets to be part of De La Salle’s stacked starting lineup.Jolina dela Cruz did on Sunday as she cracked the first six, filling the spot vacated by the ever-reliable opposite hitter Kim Kianna Dy.ADVERTISEMENT Will you be the first P16 Billion Powerball jackpot winner from the Philippines? In fight vs corruption, Duterte now points to Ayala, MVP companies as ‘big fish’