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What is this New Zealand insect and what is it in?

What is this New Zealand insect and what is it in?


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What kind of insect is this? Found in Early September at Jubilee Park, Dunedin, New Zealand. It was suspended from a silk thread (quite long, a few meters) to a tree above. It was climbing the thread, balling the thread as it went up. It looks like a caterpillar. What species is this and what is it inside of?


The quality of the pictures is not the best one, but due to the fact that this is NZ, it's probably a moth from the species Liothula omnivora.

It's a kiwi insect (that is, endemic to New Zealand). Its English common name is bagworm, and its Maori common name is pū a Raukatauri. The English name explains your question ("what is it in?"). According to Farm Forestry New Zealand:

The common name of this insect refers to the strong silk bag made as a refuge by the caterpillar. The bag is brown to greyish, often covered with fragments of vegetation, and so tough it cannot be torn open.

Here is a picture of it:

And here is the adult, for comparison:


Pandemic-inspired discoveries: New insect species from Kosovo named after the Coronavirus

While the new Coronavirus will, hopefully, be effectively controlled sooner rather than later, its latest namesake is here to stay - a small caddisfly endemic to a national park in Kosovo that is new to science.

Potamophylax coronavirus was collected near a stream in the Bjeshkët e Nemuna National Park in Kosovo by a team of scientists, led by Professor Halil Ibrahimi of the University of Prishtina. After molecular and morphological analyses, it was described as a caddisfly species, new to science in the open-access, peer-reviewed Biodiversity Data Journal.

Ironically, the study of this new insect was impacted by the same pandemic that inspired its scientific name. Although it was collected a few years ago, the new species was only described during the global pandemic, caused by SARS-CoV-2. Its name, P. coronavirus, will be an eternal memory of this difficult period.

In a broader sense, the authors also wish to bring attention to "another silent pandemic occurring on freshwater organisms in Kosovo's rivers," caused by the pollution and degradation of freshwater habitats, as well as the activity increasing in recent years of mismanaged hydropower plants. Particularly, the river basin of the Lumbardhi i Deçanit River, where the new species was discovered, has turned into a 'battlefield' for scientists and civil society on one side and the management of the hydropower plant operating on this river on the other.

The small insect order of Trichoptera, where P. coronavirus belongs, is very sensitive to water pollution and habitat deterioration. The authors of the new species argue that it is a small-scale endemic taxon, very sensitive to the ongoing activities in Lumbardhi i Deçanit river. Failure to understand this may drive this and many other species towards extinction.

Interestingly, in the same paper, the authors also identified a few other new species from isolated habitats in the Balkan Peninsula, which are awaiting description upon collection of further specimens. The Western Balkans and especially Kosovo, have proved to be an important hotspot of freshwater biodiversity. Several new insect species have been discovered there in the past few years, most of them being described by Professor Halil Ibrahimi and his team.

Ibrahimi H, Bilalli A, Vitecek S, Pauls SU, Erzinger F, Gashi A, Grapci Kotori L, Geci D, Musliu M, Kasumaj E (2021) Potamophylax coronavirus sp. n. (Trichoptera: Limnephilidae), a new species from Bjeshkët e Nemuna National Park in the Republic of Kosovo, with molecular and ecological notes. Biodiversity Data Journal 9: e64486. https:/ / doi. org/ 10. 3897/ BDJ. 9. e64486

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.


10 Intense Facts About the Giant Weta

The giant weta is one of the biggest insects on Earth, easily dwarfing most bugs and even some small rodents. Here are 10 facts you probably don't know about this New Zealand native.

1. It can outweigh a mouse.

The giant weta is the world’s heaviest reported insect. It can weigh up to 2.5 ounces, though many weta don’t reach quite that giant of proportions. You can watch one face off with a cat above.

2. Its name means “god of ugly things.”

The name weta comes from the Maori word wetapunga, or “god of ugly things” [PDF]. The genus name, deinacrida, means “terrible grasshopper.”

3. It loves carrots.

In 2011, Smithsonian researcher Mark Moffett stumbled upon a particularly large giant weta on a trip to New Zealand’s Little Barrier Island. An image of Moffett feeding the huge insect a carrot went viral. A New Zealand insect expert later noted to the New Zealand Herald that feeding the insects carrots is quite common.

4. It has dozens of weta cousins.

There are over 70 species of weta in New Zealand. The giant weta’s close relatives include the carnivorous tusked weta, the tree weta, and the cave weta. Alpine weta can freeze solid during the winter, thawing out and going on their way once spring comes.

5. It can’t jump.

Though it looks like a big cricket, giant weta are too heavy to fly. Some of its relatives, like the tree weta, are more agile and can jump, but giant weta are decidedly earth-bound.

6. It’s close to extinction thanks to rats.

When humans arrived in New Zealand hundreds of years ago, they inadvertently brought weta predators along with them, like rats and cats, which ate the insects. First described in 1842, the giant weta was considered extinct on mainland New Zealand by the 1960s, though they were once populous across the northern island. Giant weta are now considered limited to Little Barrier Island, about 50 miles northeast of Auckland.

7. It’s bred in captivity.

Several conservation groups have begun breeding giant weta in captivity to increase the species’ numbers. So many baby wetapunga hatched at the Auckland Zoo in 2013 that the zoo had to take on more staffers to feed them all. In May 2014, the zoo released 150 giant weta on the island of Tiritiri Matangi.

8. It breathes through its exoskeleton.

Like other insects, the weta doesn’t have lungs it breathes through its exoskeleton. Holes in the weta’s exterior shell connect to tubes that pump oxygen to every cell in the insect’s body.

9. It has ears on its knees.

The holes that serve as weta ears are located just below the knee joint on the front legs.

10. It’s older than some dinosaurs.

Fossils found from the Triassic period 190 million years ago show striking similarities to the weta that inhabit New Zealand today.


When is the best time to visit New Zealand?

Summer is the most popular time to visit New Zealand. Over December, January and February, the number of visitors increases, as people arrive from overseas to travel while the weather is warm. Summer holidays mean more Kiwis are travelling New Zealand too, making the most of the sunshine and Christmas break.

If you would prefer to enjoy sunny days, but with fewer crowds, the best time to go to New Zealand is in autumn. From March to May the weather is still reasonably warm – particularly in the north – but the crowds have thinned out. As autumn is also the shoulder season, you can enjoy better rates on accommodation and activities.

Winter in New Zealand is the best time to visit if you’re enthusiastic about snow sports. With a light dusting of snow, Queenstown and the Central Plateau are transformed into winter wonderlands. If you want to ski or snowboard your way down the slopes of the Southern Alps, the best month to visit New Zealand is either July or August.

Spring arrives in September and lasts until November. Although there is still a high chance of rainfall around this time of year, the weather starts to warm up – it’s the perfect time of year to enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking. Spring is also when calves, lambs and daffodils pop up in New Zealand’s green fields, so it’s an incredibly picturesque time. Cool nights and warm days are common, which makes for pleasant travel weather.


Insects Are Dying Off at an Alarming Rate

Ecosystems can’t function without the millions of insects that make up the base of the food chain, and a new review in the journal Biological Conservation suggests human activity and climate change are chiseling away at those foundations.

The new study shows 41 percent of insect species have seen steep declines in the past decade, with similar drops forecast for the near future. It’s estimated that 40 percent of the 30 million or so insect species on earth are now threatened with extinction.

Previous studies have looked at smaller areas, with a 2017 study showing 76 percent of flying insects had disappeared from German nature preserves and a study last fall that showed insect populations in pristine rainforest in Puerto Rico have also seen precipitous declines, dropping a factor of 60. This new study, however, looks at 73 studies about insect decline from around the globe. Though most focus on North America and Europe, and it is the first attempt at quantifying the global impact.

Brian Resnick at Vox reports that the individual numbers are sobering. Lepidoptera, the order of insects that includes butterflies, which are often the canary in the coalmine for ecosystem problems, have declined by 53 percent. Orthoptera, which include grasshoppers and crickets, are down about 50 percent, and about 40 percent of bee species are now vulnerable to extinction. Many other orders of insects have seen similar drops.

“We estimate the current proportion of insect species in decline . to be twice as high as that of vertebrates, and the pace of local species extinction . eight times higher,” the review states. “It is evident that we are witnessing the largest [insect] extinction event on Earth since the late Permian and Cretaceous periods.”

Marlowe Hood at AFP reports that the impacts on the ecosystem are already being felt. In Europe, over the past 30 years bird populations have declined by 400 million, likely a casualty of the huge decline in flying insects. But birds, lizards, bats and plants aren't the only species that will suffer if insects continue to decline. Hood reports that 75 of the top 115 global food crops depend on insect pollination.

“There are hardly any insects left—that's the number one problem,” Vincent Bretagnolle, an ecologist at French National Centre for Scientific Research says.

The causes are not surprising, and have all been on the radar for decades. Deforestation, agricultural expansion and human sprawl top the list. The wide use of pesticides and fertilizer as well as industrial pollution are also taking massive tolls. Invasive species, pathogens and climate change are also getting punches in.

“It is becoming increasingly obvious our planet's ecology is breaking and there is a need for an intense and global effort to halt and reverse these dreadful trends” Matt Shardlow of the U.K. advocacy group Buglife tells Matt McGrath at the BBC. "Allowing the slow eradication of insect life to continue is not a rational option.”

In an editorial, The Guardian points the finger squarely at us:

“The chief driver of this catastrophe is unchecked human greed. For all our individual and even collective cleverness, we behave as a species with as little foresight as a colony of nematode worms that will consume everything it can reach until all is gone and it dies off naturally,” they write. “The challenge of behaving more intelligently than creatures that have no brain at all will not be easy.”

Perhaps counterintuitively, the report states that before the insect apocalypse is complete, some areas may see insects flourish. While climate change is making the tropics much hotter and pushing insects to extinction, warming in more temperate zones are making theses areas more hospitable for certain insect species, including flies, mosquitoes, cockroaches and agricultural pests.

“Fast-breeding pest insects will probably thrive because of the warmer conditions, because many of their natural enemies, which breed more slowly, will disappear,” Dave Goulson from the University of Sussex, not involved in the study, tells the BBC’s McGrath. “It’s quite plausible that we might end up with plagues of small numbers of pest insects, but we will lose all the wonderful ones that we want, like bees and hoverflies and butterflies and dung beetles that do a great job of disposing of animal waste.”

So what can be done to stop the global arthropod apocalypse? The solutions sound familiar for anyone following the various environmental catastrophes unfolding across the globe. Reduce habitat destruction and begin a program of intensive ecological restoration. Face climate change head on. Drastically reduce pesticide use and redesign agricultural systems to make them more insect-friendly.

“Unless we change our ways of producing food,” the authors write, “insects as a whole will go down the path of extinction in a few decades.”

About Jason Daley

Jason Daley is a Madison, Wisconsin-based writer specializing in natural history, science, travel, and the environment. His work has appeared in Discover, Popular Science, Outside, Men’s Journal, and other magazines.


Explained: What Is N440K Covid Variant? Is It More Virulent? Know What CCMB Says

Outlook Web Bureau 2021-05-10T07:22:56+05:30 Explained: What Is N440K Covid Variant? Is It More Virulent? Know What CCMB Says
Also read

As the country is witnessing a rise in Covid cases, a new variant, &lsquoN440K&rsquo is creating a buzz &ndash It is spreading a lot more in the southern states especially Andhra Pradesh as compared to the other Covid variants.

According to reports, this new variant of SARS-CoV-2 is the reason behind the havoc caused in Visakhapatnam, Karnataka, Telangana, and other southern parts. This virus was also found in parts of Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh.

What is &lsquoN440K&rsquo?

N440K is a powerful variant that spreads rapidly &ndash It leads to severe Covid-related complications. As per reports, it is 15 times more virulent than the original variant because if a person gets infected with the original variant, he/she would reach the dyspnea or hypoxia stage within a week, but if a person gets infected with the N440K variant, he/she would reach the serious condition-stage within just three-four days. The Andhra Covid strain can transmit to more than four people within a short span.

What did CCMB find about N440K?

The Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) recently said no evidence regarding the Andhra coronavirus strain is deadly or more infectious than others.

Okay, so there has been a lot of news circulating about N440K variant being or not being the cause of second wave based on a study from our lab. I will just try to clarify the findings which have been discussed and how the findings were interpreted: a thread#N440K #LongCovid

&mdash Vishal Sah (@acurious_one) May 4, 2021

Speaking to The Print, CCMB&rsquos Director Rakesh Mishra said that N440K is less than 5 per cent in the state and is on the verge of getting disappeared or replaced by other existing Covid variants.

&ldquoThere is no unique AP strain or a Vishakapatnam strain. Neither were any existing strains found to be more infectious or deadly than what we already saw before. The N440K has been around for quite some time and was prevalent in other southern states (Karnataka, Kerala) earlier. But now the N440K in Andhra is less than 5 per cent and is likely to be replaced by a double mutant or any other variant. It could have been around during the first wave also,&rdquo Rakesh Mishra was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, CCMB&rsquos Vishal Seth, one of the authors of the pre-print, took to his Twitter handle and clarified that the study did not compare the virus with B.1.17 UK or B.1.617 Indian variant. He wrote, &ldquoWe did not compare the infective titer of N440K with the UK or double mutant in this study. We compared it with its parent strain which did not have N440K mutation and with another strain which is now almost lost among the population.&rdquo

Besides, speaking to The New Indian Express, Mishra said the N440K strain, which was found in 20-30 per cent of samples in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana will fade away in the coming weeks.

However, people are advised to strictly adhere to Covid Appropriate Behaviour like wearing a mask, maintaining physical distance, personal hygiene, and proper sanitation, as the new variant of Covid-19 &mdash B.1.617 known as the &lsquoDouble Mutant&rsquo or &lsquoIndian Variant,&rsquo is steadily becoming a dominant &lsquovariant&rsquo of Coronavirus, he said.


Summary

We report evidence of a new trophic interaction in nature whereby a parasitic plant attacks multiple species of insects that manipulate plant tissue when the two co-occur on a shared primary host plant. Most plant species are attacked by a great diversity of external and internal herbivores [1]. One common herbivore guild, gall-forming insects, induce tumor-like structures of nutrient-rich plant tissue within which immature insects feed and develop 2, 3. While the gall is made of plant tissue, its growth and development are controlled by the insect and it therefore represents an extended phenotype of the gall former [4]. Typically, parasitic plants attack other plants to gain nutritional requirements by connecting directly to the vascular system of their hosts using modified root structures called haustoria [5]. Here, we document the first observation of a parasitic plant attacking the insect-induced galls of multiple gall-forming species and provide evidence that this interaction negatively affects gall former fitness.


A complicated picture

Does this give us cause to be relatively cheerful (or at least, less miserable)? Hardly. While these estimates of how rapidly insect populations are declining are much lower than some previous estimates, it’s still serious. The general rate of decline may be an underestimate, too – most of the long-term data came from protected populations of insects in nature reserves.

Even if you’re not enamoured with creepy crawlies, their gradual disappearance from the places they were once numerous is an ongoing crisis for the natural world. Insects and small invertebrates occupy the bottom rungs of most terrestrial ecosystems. As ecologist E.O. Wilson once observed, if you take away the “little things that run the world” then most of the creatures occupying niches further up the food chain will disappear too, and that includes humans. That’s why a 2017 study in Germany rang so many alarm bells – it reported a 75% decline over 27 years in the local biomass of all kinds of flying insects.

When was the last time you saw a bug splat on a car windscreen? Vesperstock/Shutterstock

But what does a “general decline” mean? It doesn’t mean that every kind of insect is affected in the same way. Several recent studies have shown that some species are able to prosper while their close relatives die out. A study of wild pollinators (bees and hoverflies) in the UK between 1980 and 2013 showed that around 10% of these insects increased in abundance while more than 30% declined. The insects that did well were crop specialist pollinators, those that didn’t were those specialists that preferred plants pushed out of farmed landscapes.

It’s a complicated picture, but the sheer number of records collected under different conditions from diverse sources in this new study gives grim confirmation that something is very wrong.


Meet the Robinmoore&aposs Night Frog, one of seven new night-frog species discovered in an Indian mountain range, and unveiled by a University of Delhi researcher in 2017.  

As a rule, venomous bandy-bandy snakes are burrowers. But this new species, Vermicella parscauda, discovered by University of Queensland-led biologists in Australia, was found hanging out on a concrete block, the university reported in 2018. It&aposs described as in danger of extinction due to local mining. 


Description of Lesson

This laboratory and field lesson follows the stages of the 5E Learning Cycle: engage, explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluate.

Engage (

This lesson will challenge students to answer the question, What is the role of insect emergence in connecting aquatic and terrestrial habitats and organisms? The instructor should lead a discussion to elicit prior knowledge from the students, addressing the following items:

Name and describe the different organisms in and around a stream or river.

List examples of specific connections between rivers, streams, and the land.

Have students complete a pre-assessment, drawing on ideas shared during the discussion and their own previous knowledge. Provide an image of a stream and surrounding riparian zone, and ask students to draw a diagram of an aquatic-terrestrial food web (for an example, see Figure 1). Next, have students watch the film RiverWebs (Monroe, 2008). This award-winning documentary is a tribute to pioneering stream ecologist Dr. Shigeru Nakano. At heart, it is an inspiring narrative that highlights the web of ecological connections between water and land, the similarly connected community of scientists that extends across cultures, and the connections humans share with environments like streams and forests. Through this story and impressive videography, students learn about the diversity of life in and around streams, as well as new ways of thinking about ecosystems. Revisit the two items discussed at the beginning of the lesson, and allow students to add to their aquatic-terrestrial food web using a different colored writing implement.

Base image of a stream and riparian zone. A sketched food web shows potential pathways of energy and nutrients.

Base image of a stream and riparian zone. A sketched food web shows potential pathways of energy and nutrients.

The RiverWebs DVD can be ordered through the non-profit organization Freshwaters Illustrated. However, if instructors are unable to purchase this DVD, we recommend supplementing with YouTube video clips. The video clips lack the human element of the RiverWebs film, but can still add to the discussion. Links to relevant content are provided below:

About NABS (North American Benthological Society), 5:04 in length: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dChyTqgP_cU

Educational segments from the RiverWebs film, 3:42 in length: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hETqaIpeJiU

Dragonfly emergence segment from the BBC documentary, Life in the Undergrowth, 2:02 in length: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyIF7eX6qmo

Lastly, because an understanding of the ecological linkages being explored requires recognition of how the life cycles of insects connect land and water, challenge students to build a concept map (Angelo & Cross, 1993) of insects in different stages of their life cycles using photos (see the Penobscot County SWCD, 1994, identification guide for a selection of images). It is important to distribute the photos in a random stack, allowing students to create the connections and groupings themselves. Ask students to share and compare their concept maps (for an example, see Figure 2). Discuss the process of metamorphosis, and describe the complex life cycles of aquatic insects. Hemimetabolous insects (from orders such as Ephemeroptera, Odonata, and Plecoptera) undergo incomplete metamorphosis. The wings develop externally, and the immature individuals (called instars) have legs. Holometabolous insects (from orders such as Coleoptera, Trichoptera, and Diptera) undergo complete metamorphosis. The wings develop internally, and the immature individuals (called larvae) resemble worms. This concept mapping activity is intended to be a discovery experience. It is unlikely that students will recognize the images of immature and adult forms as the same organism the surprise will generate interest, and prompt students to revisit and modify their concept maps.

A sample student concept map. This student does not recognize the larval and adult forms of the focal insect life cycles. A comprehensive map will have the larval stages matched with the adult stages while also distinguishing the aquatic and terrestrial stages. Common misconceptions encountered during this exercise: insects have only one life stage, insects without wings will be wingless adults, adults with wings are never aquatic, and insects do not transition from the aquatic to terrestrial environment.

A sample student concept map. This student does not recognize the larval and adult forms of the focal insect life cycles. A comprehensive map will have the larval stages matched with the adult stages while also distinguishing the aquatic and terrestrial stages. Common misconceptions encountered during this exercise: insects have only one life stage, insects without wings will be wingless adults, adults with wings are never aquatic, and insects do not transition from the aquatic to terrestrial environment.

Explore (

For students, the explore stage is an opportunity to foster a sense of discovery and act the part of a scientist. For instructors, it is a time to guide and facilitate, providing background information and resources, but challenging students to develop a hypothesis and study design themselves. The question to be addressed is, What is the role of insect emergence in connecting aquatic and terrestrial habitats and organisms within an ecosystem? Field investigations will require access to a local river or stream they may be carried out as a class, in small groups, or individually. The following information is intended for the instructor, but may be disclosed to students as well.

Emerging aquatic insects can be sampled using floating emergence traps adapted from Malison and colleagues (2010) or sticky traps (Smith et al., 2014). The floating traps are constructed from a frame of PVC pipe, with swimming pool noodles wrapped around the base, and a fine mesh tent to capture insects (Figure 3). Floating traps need to be secured to a post or rebar when set out in the water. Insects can be collected in the bottom of the bottle trap (if used), which can be detached and brought back to the laboratory. However, we recommend that students collect the adult insects from the traps using an aspirator (Carolina Biological Supply, Burlington, NC, USA). The sticky traps are constructed from petri dishes coated with adhesive, and attached to a PVC pole with Velcro (Figure 4). Traps can be spaced along the bank, and in the water of a shallow stream or river, with the base of the pole driven securely into the ground. Insects should collect in the sticky petri dishes, which can be detached, covered with lids, and brought back to the laboratory. Both trap types are established, scientific methods for sampling emergence (Malison et al., 2010 Smith et al., 2014 Baxter et al., in press).

Guide to how to build a floating insect emergence trap.

Guide to how to build a floating insect emergence trap.

Guide to how to build a sticky trap for insects.

Guide to how to build a sticky trap for insects.

Students must provide a justification for their proposed study design, showing evidence of background research and planning, and explain the reasoning behind the following decisions:

What type of emergence trap will you use?

The advantage of the floating traps is the ability to observe live insects and collect good, whole specimens. Floating traps can be deployed in the river or stream, and partly onto the bank. Sticky traps can be set up on the bank or in shallow water, and are relatively easier to build and transport.

Where will you set the emergence traps, and how many will you use?

Trap placement is important, as emergence varies with distance from stream edge and between pool and riffle habitats (Malison et al., 2010). Floating traps set mid-channel collect proportionately more insects of the orders Trichoptera, Ephemeroptera, and Diptera, whereas traps set against the bank collect proportionately more Plecoptera (Malison et al., 2010). Emergence can be greater from pool versus riffle habitats (Iwata, 2007), but can also be high from habitats like floating mats of algae or aquatic vegetation (Power et al., 2004), and certain taxa may prefer one habitat type to the other (Malison et al., 2010). There are many spatial aspects of emergence that students can explore, not only between stream reaches but also within a single reach.

When will you sample, and how long will the emergence traps remain set?

In many temperate watersheds, the best time of year to sample is the spring, when emergence rates are high (Nakano & Murakami, 2001) and there is a strong chance of trap success. However, emergence is a year-round phenomenon, and some insects (e.g., winter stoneflies from the family Capniidae) only emerge in the middle of winter and may provide a crucial, seasonal food resource to streamside predators such as resident birds (Nakano & Murakami, 2001). Depending on time constraints set by the instructor, there are numerous temporal aspects of emergence that students can investigate. To obtain a representative sample from the emergence traps though, we recommend setting them for a period of 1–3 days. For further, detailed discussion regarding trap types, placement, replication, and timing, see Baxter et al. (in press).

To answer the question, What is the role of insect emergence in connecting aquatic and terrestrial habitats and organisms?, students need to go beyond collecting aquatic insects and quantitatively measure the connection from the terrestrial side. We recommend counts of spiders. A procedure is described here, but students can also search the literature and review other methods for example, the study by Benjamin and colleagues (2011), who measured the effects of nonnative trout on riparian spiders via reduced insect emergence, provides a good example. In either case, instructor supervision may be required as spider surveys are best conducted after sunset. Students will need a 10-meter length of string or a measuring tape, a good flashlight or headlamp, a classification key (see Figure 5 for an example), and a data sheet (see Figure 6 for an example).


Watch the video: Insect Returns From The Dead. Wild New Zealand. BBC Earth (December 2022).