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Jul 15, 2018 14 tweets 5 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
So...this is an interesting question, and answering it gives us a chance to see how scientific names are created, why they change over time, and why they change over time.

The moth named in this article is actually Resapamea stipata.…

Resapamea stipata isn't one of the big corn pests that we're used to seeing, and I actually had to do some serious digging to find any agriculture information.

It's a very rare pest of corn; only found when corn is grown alongside its host by accident.…
Normally, Resapamea grows by feeding on the roots of cordgrass...but will eat corn if it gets onto a plant by accident early in the season.

It's host is now being investigated as a potential source of biofuels, and this moth is one of the pest species because it feeds on roots.
A lot of the time, when you see a scientific name, it's divided into two parts.

1.) Genus-the group of insects most closely related to this insect
2.) Species-within that group, this particular insect's unique name

However the newspaper article added a third word, 'Morr'
This is a third part of the name, one which is typically left out.

In this case, 'Morr' is short for H.K. Morrison, an early entomologist who described this species in 1875.
Once you know the name, and the author, the next place to stop is to find a list called a 'checklist'.

A checklist is simply a list of names and information about classification.

Thankfully, most checklists are easy to search because many are online nowadays.
It turns out that, in this species, the names were changed because there was a similar group of moths in Europe which appear to not be very closely related.

The reasons for the redefinition are given in a book on this group in 2005.
The sorts of books which describe these reclassifications are more or less specialized textbooks. Small printing, and used only by specialists in these specific groups...and this is an area that I (@Stylopidae) am only tangentially familiar with.…
In science, a lot of what we do is really a sort of history. To keep things straight, we need to look back at why some things were grouped one way and see if that classification still makes sense based on what we know today.
A lot of times, when we take into account all of what we know about the biology of the group, the original classification no longer makes we need to change it based on what we know.

Scientific names are all about keeping things as straight and as specific as possible.
This is more or less a history of the insect in that article, and why it's so hard to find information about it.

At one point, we thought it may become an important pest...but it never ended up becoming an economic problem like many closely related moths.
R. stipata was never a problem in corn, but agriculture is always changing. Different plants are being grown for different purposes, and we need to track what may pop up when we try to grow new crops.

In the biofuels world, R. stipata is a potential pest we need to monitor.
The entomologists who describe new species, and keep track of these changes, are really our front-line defense against new pests.

They're the ones who can ID stuff like this, and let us know what bugs may be potential problems in the long run.
This area of science may be very obscure, and hard to really see the reasons why we keep things like massive insect collections, but it's also very important because agricultural researchers like me would be blind without them!

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More from @BugQuestions

Aug 26, 2018
Yeah, we get pictures/videos of this occasionally.

Ants don't really do 'funerals'; even the dead in their own colonies are put into a garbage dump rather unceremoniously.

There's a handful of possibilities for this behavior...
1.) They may be attempting to bury it, especially if it's on a hard surface.

Lots of ants bury large food items to protect it from scavengers, other ants, and to absorb liquid which comes out from the prey.
2.) The critter happened to fall into the colony's trash pile.

Ants put waste (dead ants, poop, shedskins, etc) into a large pile called a 'midden pile' which functions just like our landfills.

If something ended up in that pile, they could be moving stuff out of the way.
Read 4 tweets
Aug 25, 2018
I think this problem hits at the heart of the issue when it comes to Eckbom's, because it's often not about infestations.

This deserves it's own thread to describe how complicated this problem is, and how poorly understood it is.
So...first, I believe that these people are accurately describing their perceptions of medical issues.

Urban IPM Extension people can go through samples to find insects, inspect homes for infestations (bed bugs, fleas, etc), get someone to do skin scrapings for Scabies, etc.
However, after that, they need to be passed onto a doctor.

Often times, attempts at self-treatment can cause skin irritation. Pesticide poisoning can also cause crawling sensations.

Brain tumors, autoimmune diseases, even cold weather can do this as well.
Read 4 tweets
Aug 25, 2018
Scientists make their living using their brains to interpret data.

So what happens when that organ breaks, and a respected researcher becomes mentally ill?

In this week's second #DeepDive, let's explore the case of Jay Traver.

CW: Mental illness
Jay Traver was one of the early entomological pioneers. Her career centered mainly around aquatic insects, specifically mayflies.

Most of her work-which is still cited to this day-revolved around describing the lifecycles of mayflies.
In 1951, Traver published a paper where she claimed to have experienced an infestation by a mite called Dermatophagoides scheremetewskyi.

This is a mite which lives in homes, and although it causes allergic reactions, it was known at the time to not be parasitic.
Read 15 tweets
Aug 24, 2018
A new meme going around FB claims the WoodLouse Spider is a "deadly new species" wrecking havoc in the Southern US

It's a completely harmless spider, but it still has a neat story to tell.

For the first of this week's two #DeepDives, let's explore the biology of Dysdera crocata
So, for the first tweet in this series, let's put these rumors to rest with data.

There's a lot of verified bites from D. crocata in the medical literature-which is rare. One person allowed themselves to be purposely bitten multiple times.

No deaths; everyone was just fine.
D. crocata gets it's name-the woodlouse spider-from it's food.

They live in dark, moist, areas and are adapted to feeding on sow bugs...sometimes called rollie-pollies.

They use those huge mandibles to foil the isopod's defensive rolling.

Read 8 tweets
Aug 21, 2018
It is with a heavy heart that we announce that one of our colleagues, Vazrick Nazari, has been arrested for possession of child pornography.

We cannot tolerate exposing our followers to this sort of person, and have blocked him from our feed.…
We did consult him for help with moth IDs here on Twitter, and although there's no way we could have known he was doing this, we still feel the need to apologize for exposing our readers to-and let's just put it as bluntly as possible-an alleged child predator.
We try to be careful about who we consult, and let into our conversations.

Unfortunately, it's not always possible to know what's going on behind the scenes.

Needless to say, we will not be requesting any more assistance from this person.
Read 4 tweets
Aug 18, 2018
With Glyphosate being in the news due to a recent court ruling, let's take this opportunity to explore the history of pest control in this week's #DeepDive.

It's a huge and complex topic, so the best we can do is a brief overview.
It's not really known when humans started using pesticides.

The first agricultural societies began about 10,000 BCE, with several independent shifts around the world from relatively nomadic lifestyles to those tending crops.
The first records of pesticides being used is in Sumeria, where they used elemental sulfur to control crop pests.

This is largely an accident of geography; Sulfur deposits are abundant in a stretch between Mosul and Fatha...which allowed easy access.
Read 27 tweets

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