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Small jumping bugs inside Swiss flat

Small jumping bugs inside Swiss flat


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Saw these bugs inside the flat I'm renting (Switzerland), but I really can't figure what kind they are. What I can say about them:

  • They can do small jumps (up to 5cm I would say). It doesn't seem to be for locomotion, but as a means of escape when I try to catch one.
  • Size: about 1.5mm for the "big" ones. There are of various sizes down to 0.25mm for the really tiny ones (approximately; never managed to get one without crushing it). They behave much the same as the big ones (including the jumps) and are whiter in color.
  • They don't seem to live as a colony or in a nest (or I simply didn't find it), but sparsely on the wood floor, often near the baseboards. Found some on the walls, but those were the exceptions. They don't seem to like the bathroom.
  • Rather delicate; can easily be crushed.
  • Seem more active in the evening and at night, but don't mind going out during the day.
  • I live alone, without pets, but I don't remember having been bitten. I guess they don't feed on blood.
  • Seem to have long antennas (about half their body size) and small wings.

Side note: the flat is on the 3rd floor of a recent building (finished 14 months ago). I'm the first tenant.

An exterminator came and quickly classified them as some kind of flea. He put some pesticide on the baseboards, and their number is now quickly decreasing. But I'm still curious.

My first thought was "fleas" (because of the jumps), but I deemed them too squishy and not "vampire" enough for that. Also, I don't think that (what I assume to be) the young ones should be able to jump.

Then I thought "springtails", but I didn't see any furcula (granted, I don't have a good eyesight) and I don't think they are supposed to have wings.

One of them was nice enough to jump on some tape.

Top (on a ruler):

Front/Side:

Also, blowing on it (to open the wings):

Youtube video of one of them


I believe these are some sort of Psocoptera, "booklice", even though they don't really jump much. Could it be that they ran or flew a little bit instead? I won't try an identification of the species, but in general booklice like damp places and most of them aren't considered serous pests.

Example of a booklouse: Slender legs and antennae, wings, and general appearence close to your specimens. (Image from Wikipedia)


Guide to Bunny Poops

A big thank-you to Christie Taylor for sharing this article with BUNS. Christine is an Educator with the House Rabbit Society and has a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. You can find her on twitter @graamhoek .

This is a short guide to bunny poops. They can communicate a lot of data via poop-o-gram if you're paying attention. Always consult your vet before changing your rabbit's diet. If your bunny hasn't pooped in the last 24 hours, please take your bunny to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Thanks to everyone who has helped make this guide better!


Leaping Nematodes! Tiny Worms Jump to Reach Next Victim

A tiny worm called Steinernema can fling itself nearly ten times its own length and seven times its height in pursuit of a new host.

Author&rsquos note: My blog's survey ends tomorrow (the 20 th ), and all readers -- even new ones -- are invited to take it! Please see the end of this post for details.

We humans are not the best leapers, but like most things, that doesn&rsquot stop us from trying. The world record men&rsquos long jump is 24 feet, four and a quarter inches, or about four times the height of a six-foot man. The record high jump is 8 feet and one-half inch -- barely more than one human height.

Yet a tiny nematode worm called Steinernema can fling itself nearly ten times its own length and seven times its height in pursuit of a new host insect. It would be as if while walking through the forest, you had to dodge flesh-eating earthworms tossing themselves at you from the ground (and you had no handy fingers and opposable thumbs with which to remove them. Love those thumbs!!).

Yet if you are a cricket or a katydid, this is your reality.

Things are not looking good for this katydid, who has acquired a deadly hitchhiker indicated by the arrow. Fig. 1E from Hallem et al. 2011. Click here for source.

Nematodes are tiny animals that are also called roundworms. Though relatively simple in design, the basic nematode body plan has gone through enormous natural selection to produce some pretty wild variations (as I blogged about in "A Stuffy Government Yearbook and Its Beautiful, Exotic Worms"). They also dominate the Earth numerically (as I wrote in &ldquoNematode Roundworms Own This Place&rdquo) &ndash four out of every five animals on Earth is a nematode. They are found sucking on plants, attacking or scavenging prey in nearly every environment on the planet.

Nematodes that jump &ndash of which all known are in the genus Steinernema -- are either parasitic or in a stage that actively hitches rides on passing insects. Steinernema specializes in turning their host into a live-in/eat-in kitchen once finished with it, crawling outside said home&rsquos putrefying remains identifying a new chump and crawling onto or, if necessary, launching themselves onto it boring inside releasing a horde of lethal symbiotic bacteria that quickly overwhelm and kill the insect and then proceeding to eat and make little worms inside the cadaver for two to three generations so a new nematode can crawl outside and do it all over again. Fun fun!

Adult Steinernema helping themselves to an all-you-can-eat cricket cadaver buffet. Arrowhead indicates an individual worm. Fig. 1F from Hallem et al. 2011. Click here for source. Steinernema nematodes gorging themselves on delicious dead waxworm. Arrowhead shows a group of them emerging from the body in a clump, part of nictation behavior aimed at getting picked up by the next waxworm. Yellow arrow indicates an individual worm. Fig. 1G from Hallem et al. 2011. Click here for source.

Nematodes don&rsquot just jump blindly, either. Identifying their next host is done in response to environmental cues, specifically, when a nematode smells its next meal delivering itself. And not only can the nematodes smell their next meal coming and jump to snag it, they can aim based on the movement of air around them.

The reason we know so much about these particular nematodes is that we use them as biocontrol agents for insect pests. Steinernema is not picky. It attacks a wide range of insects.

Scientists realized as early as 1965 that some nematodes possessed astounding acrobatic ability. The first report, in no less venerable a publication than Nature [Disclaimer: Scientific American is owned by Nature], described an enigmatic nematode referred to only by its Super Spy Code Name &ldquoDD 136&rdquo that possessed this particular bit of roundworm magic.

In a series of elegant schematics, the scientists laid out the launch sequence necessary to send a roundworm into low-Earth orbit (or at least onto the nearest cricket):

Fig. 1 from Reed and Wallace 1965. Click here for source.

As this first team interpreted events, a nematode first plants itself like a flagpole, standing erect on a bent tail. Standing is best because it reduces the surface tension experienced by the worm, making it easier either to latch on to a passing animal or to jump if necessary.

In this position, the worm first waves back and forth, a behavior called nictation. If this action fails to secure new lodgings, the nematode then folds back on itself so that its head touches its body near the tail, forming a loop sealed by a moisture droplet. The muscles on the inside of the loop contract to hold the pose, which is opposed in part by hydrostatic pressure, the pressure of bodily fluids on the animal&rsquos cuticle, or skin (this kind of pressure is the same that you would feel by folding a balloon artist&rsquos balloon in half).

When the worm is ready to rock and roll, it relaxes the muscles on the inside of the loop and contracts the muscles on the outside. This force, together with hydrostatic pressure, places tension on the loop that&rsquos opposed by the surface tension of the water droplet pulling the other way. Eventually, the nematode defeats the droplet, which catastrophically fails. The potential energy of the bend is suddenly converted into kinetic energy and the worm snaps back into shape. The acceleration of the nematode&rsquos head as it resumes its natural position produces momentum that frees the nematode from the droplet holding its tail to the surface and sends it off into the wild blue yonder.

In 1999, another group, also writing in Nature, characterized this earlier explanation as &ldquoinaccurate&rdquo. According to them, once the nematode forms the loop of its body, it then uses its normal S-shaped crawling movement to slide its head toward its tail on the ground, making the loop smaller but the bend in it tighter. When the cuticle on the top of the loop becomes sufficiently stretched and the cuticle on the inside of the loop kinks under the pressure, sufficient force is amassed to break the surface tension in the water droplet holding the loop together. The rest of the leap happens pretty much as described before.

To watch this happening in real life, check out the videos of nematode jumping taken by a team of scientists at Cal Tech available here and here. You can practically hear the &ldquoPee-yew. &rdquo sound effect.

The force of the loop snapping open is enough not only to break the tension holding the worm to its surface droplet, but also to propel it an average of nine times its body length across the ground (5 millimeters, or half a centimeter) and seven times its body length high (4 millimeters), the authors calculated.

Although the Nematode Space Program is admittedly in its infancy, members of Steinernema have vowed to put a nematode on the moon by the end of this decade. Though that may sound ambitious, they have already managed to travel deeper than any human has made it unassisted, at least 1.3 kilometers (and possibly 3.6km) beneath Earth&rsquos surface. So really . anything is possible.

Last chance for the blog survey &ndash ends tomorrow (Nov. 20)! I&rsquove teamed up with researcher Paige Brown Jarreau -- author of the blog From the Lab Bench -- to create a survey of all of my readers &ndash new, old, and first-time readers alike. By participating, you&rsquoll be helping me improve The Artful Amoeba and contribute to SCIENCE on blog readership. You will also get FREE science art from Paige's Photography for participating, as well as a chance to win a $50.00 Amazon gift card (100 available, or guaranteed 2 per specific blog included in this survey) or a T-shirt. It should only take 10-15 minutes to complete. You can find the survey here: http://bit.ly/mysciblogreaders.

Campbell, James F., and Harry K. Kaya. "How and why a parasitic nematode jumps." Nature 397, no. 6719 (1999): 485-486.

Hallem, Elissa A., Adler R. Dillman, Annie V. Hong, Yuanjun Zhang, Jessica M. Yano, Stephanie F. DeMarco, and Paul W. Sternberg. "A sensory code for host seeking in parasitic nematodes." Current Biology 21, no. 5 (2011): 377-383.

The views expressed are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


MATERIALS AND METHODS

Ten adult hedgehog fleas, Archaeopsyllus erinacei (Bouncé 1835), taken from hedgehogs were kindly supplied by staff at St Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital Trust, Aylesbury, Bucks., UK. To determine leg movements and jump trajectory, sequential images of jumps were captured at rates of 5000 frames s –1 and with an exposure time of 0.067 ms with a single Photron Fastcam 1024 PCI camera [Photron (Europe) Ltd, West Wycombe, Bucks, UK] that fed images directly to a computer. 51 jumps by 10 adult fleas were analysed. Each flea jumped between three and nine times (median five). Jumps occurred in a chamber of optical quality glass 80 mm wide, 80 mm tall and 10 mm deep at its base expanding to 25 mm at the top, in which the temperature was 20–25°C. All analyses of the kinematics were based on the two-dimensional images provided by the single camera. The flat body plan of the body of a flea and the orientation of the chamber made it possible determine which jumps were within 20 deg of the sagittal plane. Within this 20 deg arc, errors in the calculation of jump velocity and jump trajectory will be small (a maximum 6% underestimate of velocity and a maximum 2 deg error in the elevation of the jump).

Jumps were either spontaneous, elicited by a light touch of a paintbrush, or in reaction to turning on lights. The fleas jumped from a high-density Styrofoam floor, which was flat and stable, but allowed them to grip the substrate firmly. The motion of the flea over the first four frames after take-off was used to calculate the take-off velocity and elevation of the jump. When analysing the sequences of images of a jump, a line was drawn through the body to represent its transverse axis and its orientation with respect to the ground. If the centre of this line does not represent the true centre of mass of the flea, there will be an error in the estimation of the velocity and trajectory of the centre of mass that is proportional to the flea's rotation rate multiplied by the distance between the centre of the measurement line and the real centre of mass. Fleas do not, however, rotate at sufficiently high rates for this error to be large. For example, even if it is assumed that the centre of a line drawn through the flea is as much as half a body length away from the true centre of mass then the error will be only 8% and thus negligible for all reasonable estimates of the centre of mass.

Jump trajectory, linear velocity and angular velocity were measured. For statistical analyses, one jump was taken randomly from each flea and data were compared with the data on locusts from Sutton and Burrows (Sutton and Burrows, 2008) using an F-test (the var.test function) in the software package R (R Foundation for Statistical Computing). Data are presented as means ± standard deviation unless otherwise stated.

The morphology of the hindlegs was photographed and drawn using a Leica stereomicroscope fitted with a drawing tube, or with a Nikon DXM 1200 camera. The presence of the elastic protein resilin was revealed by its characteristic fluorescence (Weis-Fogh, 1960 Andersen, 1963) established using an Olympus BX51WI compound microscope with OlympusMPlan ×10/0.25 NA and LUCPlanFLN ×20/0.45 NA objective lenses, under ultraviolet (UV) or white epi-illumination. Images were captured with a Q-imaging Micropublisher 5.0 digital camera (Marlow, Bucks., UK) as colour (RGB) TIFF files. The UV light was provided by an X-cite series 120 metal halide light source, conditioned by a Semrock DAPI-5060B Brightline series UV filter set (Semrock, Rochester, NY, USA) with a sharp-edged (1% transmission limits) band from 350 nm to 407 nm. The resulting blue fluorescence emission was collected in a similarly sharp-edged band at wavelengths from 413 nm to 483 nm through a dichromatic beam splitter. Images captured at the same focal planes under UV and visible light were superimposed in Canvas X (ACD Systems of America, Miami, FL, USA). To look for structures on the hind tarsus and trochanter that might be associated with improving traction with the ground, dried specimens were sputter-coated with gold and images were taken with a Phillips XL-30 scanning electron microscope.

Two kinetic models were used to calculate the kinematics predicted by the Rothschild and the Bennet-Clark hypotheses. The equations of motion for both models were written and implemented in Mathematica 5.0 (Wolfram Research, Champaign, IL, USA) (Appendix 1, 2). The parameters for each model are based on the data presented for Xenopsylla cheopis in (Bennet-Clark and Lucey, 1967 Rothschild and Schlein, 1975 Rothschild et al., 1975).


Harlequin Bug (Murgantia histrionica)

Harlequin bugs are shield shaped, with either black and red or black and yellow markings. They lay their black and white eggs in bands of six on the undersides of leaves.

These bugs have sucking mouthparts that they use to drink the sap from leaves. This results in white spots known as stipples. If an infestation becomes large enough, plants can turn brown and wilt.

Small numbers of the bugs can be controlled by picking off adults and eggs, and placing them in soapy water.

Harlequin bugs can also be controlled with sprays of neem oil, pyrethrin, or spinosad.

Insecticidal soaps can be used to help control harlequin bugs as well. They don&rsquot actually kill the bugs, but they can soften their shells so other insecticides will become more effective.


Found: The First Mechanical Gear in a Living Creature

U.K. scientists find the first biological gears on a jumping insect half the size of a fire ant.

With two diminutive legs locked into a leap-ready position, the tiny jumper bends its body taut like an archer drawing a bow. At the top of its legs, a minuscule pair of gears engage&mdashtheir strange, shark-fin teeth interlocking cleanly like a zipper. And then, faster than you can blink, think, or see with the naked eye, the entire thing is gone. In 2 milliseconds it has bulleted skyward, accelerating at nearly 400 g's&mdasha rate more than 20 times what a human body can withstand. At top speed the jumper breaks 8 mph&mdashquite a feat considering its body is less than one-tenth of an inch long.

This miniature marvel is an adolescent issus, a kind of planthopper insect and one of the fastest accelerators in the animal kingdom. As a duo of researchers in the U.K. report today in the journal Science, the issus also the first living creature ever discovered to sport a functioning gear. "Jumping is one of the most rapid and powerful things an animal can do," says Malcolm Burrows, a zoologist at the University of Cambridge and the lead author of the paper, "and that leads to all sorts of crazy specializations."

The researchers believe that the issus&mdashwhich lives chiefly on European climbing ivy&mdashevolved its acrobatic prowess because it needs to flee dangerous situations. Although they're not exactly sure if the rapid jump evolved to escape hungry birds, parasitizing wasps, or the careless mouths of large grazing animals, "there's been enormous evolutionary pressure to become faster and faster, and jump further and further away," Burrows says. But gaining this high acceleration has put incredible demands on the reaction time of insect's body parts, and that's where the gears&mdashwhich "you can imagine being at the top of the thigh bone in a human," Burrows says&mdashcome in.

"As the legs unfurl to power the jump," Burrows says, "both have to move at exactly the same time. If they didn't, the animal would start to spiral out of control." Larger animals, whether kangaroos or NBA players, rely on their nervous system to keep their legs in sync when pushing off to jump&mdashusing a constant loop of adjustment and feedback. But for the issus, their legs outpace their nervous system. By the time the insect has sent a signal from its legs to its brain and back again, roughly 5 or 6 milliseconds, the launch has long since happened. Instead, the gears, which engage before the jump, let the issus lock its legs together&mdashsynchronizing their movements to a precision of 1/300,000 of a second.

The gears themselves are an oddity. With gear teeth shaped like cresting waves, they look nothing like what you'd find in your car or in a fancy watch. (The style that you're most likely familiar with is called an involute gear, and it was designed by the Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler in the 18th century.) There could be two reasons for this. Through a mathematical oddity, there is a limitless number of ways to design intermeshing gears. So, either nature evolved one solution at random, or, as Gregory Sutton, coauthor of the paper and insect researcher at the University of Bristol, suspects, the shape of the issus's gear is particularly apt for the job it does. It's built for "high precision and speed in one direction," he says. "It's a prototype for a new type of gear."

Another odd thing about this discovery is that although there are many jumping insects like the issus&mdashincluding ones that are even faster and better jumpers&mdashthe issus is apparently the only one with natural gears. Most other bugs synchronize the quick jolt of their leaping legs through friction, using bumpy or grippy surfaces to press the top of their legs together, says Duke University biomechanics expert Steve Vogel, who was not involved in this study. Like gears, this ensures the legs move at the same rate, but without requiring a complicated interlocking mechanism. "There are a lot of friction pads around, and they accomplish pretty much of the same thing," he says. "So I wonder what extra capacity these gears confer. They're rather specialized, and there are lots of other jumpers that don't have them, so there must be some kind of advantage."

Even stranger is that the issus doesn't keep these gears throughout its life cycle. As the adolescent insect grows, it molts half a dozen times, upgrading its exoskeleton (gears included) for larger and larger versions. But after its final molt into adulthood&mdashpoof, the gears are gone. The adult syncs its legs by friction like all the other planthoppers. "I'm gobsmacked," says Sutton. "We have a hypothesis as to why this is the case, but we can't tell you for sure."

Their idea: If one of the gear teeth were to slip and break in an adult (the researchers observed this in adolescent bugs), its jumping ability would be hindered forever. With no more molts, it would have no chance to grow more gears. And with every bound, "the whole system might slip, accelerating damage to the rest of the gear teeth," Sutton says. "Just like if your car has a gear train missing a tooth. Every time you get to that missing tooth, the gear train jerks."


Symptoms of Lice

How to Clean Hair Brushes & Lice

Often the first sign of lice will be an excessively itchy scalp. Itching will be focused around the ears and the nape of the neck. Look through your hair using a fine-toothed comb or a toothpick and look for signs of the whitish-yellow eggs or black, sesame seed looking adults. Lice will not always appear black or brown, as the younger ones are generally clear in color. As they age and fill will blood their color will darken as well. If you are checking your hair in the beginning stages of a lice outbreak, you may have a hard time finding them because of their small size and light color. Even so, you should begin treatment immediately or see your doctor.

  • Often the first sign of lice will be an excessively itchy scalp.
  • Look through your hair using a fine-toothed comb or a toothpick and look for signs of the whitish-yellow eggs or black, sesame seed looking adults.

Insects and spiders sometimes cause fears and phobias , and an even more serious condition called delusional parasitosis can develop.

Dust mites and mold mites are closely related and very common in homes. Dust mites feed on microscopic skin flakes and other debris found in house "dust" while:

Mold mites occur wherever mold grows. Both cause a large percentage of indoor allergies and people often mistake rashes, allergic skin reactions, chemical/physical skin irritation and even drug side effects with "bug bites".

Mission: To provide accurate, up-to-date and unbiased information for solving common insect and mite problems around your home, business and landscape using least-toxic methods.


How Fleas Work

Fleas are minuscule, but anyone who has seen one usually can recognize it with ease. They're tiny, flat, wingless insects that have a knack for jumping away before you can catch them. Their bodies are covered with hard plates called sclerites. So, if you do catch one, squashing it can be a challenge. Their hard, outer shell protects them from everything from an animal's teeth to hitting the floor after a long jump.

To the naked eye, a flea's exoskeleton seems completely smooth, but it's really covered in tiny hairs that point away from the flea's head. Their flattened bodies and these backward-pointing hairs are what enables them to crawl through a host's fur, and if something tries to dislodge them, the hairs act like tiny Velcro anchors. That's why a fine-toothed comb removes fleas better than a brush. The teeth of the comb are too close together for fleas to slip through, so it can pull them from the host's hair, regardless of which way a flea's hairs are pointing.

A flea also has spines around its head and mouth, with the number and shape varying according to the species. The mouth itself is adapted for piercing skin and sucking blood. Several mouthparts unite to form a needlelike drinking tube. Here's a rundown:

  • Labrum and labium make up the "upper" and "lower" lips
  • Labial palps are long, five-segmented sensory organs that come from the labium.
  • Maxillae is a pair of short, wide plates located in front the labial palps.
  • Maxillary palps: A long, four-segmented palpus comes off each maxilla.
  • Fascicle are three long, slender stylets that are supported within the labial palps.
  • Maxillary lacinae: These are the two outer stylets of the fascicle. They're serrated and blade-like.
  • Median epipharynx: This is the central stylet of the fascicle that joins with the maxillae to form a tube-like food canal.

Fleas use their sharp maxillary laciniae to easily puncture the skin of their host. Then blood travels from their host through the tip of the median epipharynx up the flea's food canal. This requires a lot of suction, which comes from pumps in the flea's mouth and gut.

A flea's legs are adapted for jumping. As with all insects, a flea has three pairs of legs that attach to its thorax. The back legs are very long, and the flea can bend them at several joints. The process of jumping mimics the action of a crossbow. The flea bends its leg, and a pad of elastic protein called resilin stores energy just like a bowstring.

A tendon holds the bent leg in place. When the flea releases this tendon, the leg straightens almost instantly, and the flea accelerates like an arrow from a crossbow. This anatomy gives fleas the ability to jump about 7 inches (17.8 centimeters) vertically or 13 inches (33 centimeters) horizontally. In human proportions, that's a 250-foot (76-meter) vertical jump or a 450-foot (137-meter) horizontal jump. As it lands, the flea uses tiny claws on the ends of its legs to grasp the surface underneath.

Aside from these adaptations, fleas look a lot like most other insects, and their reproductive cycles are similar as well.


How to Get Rid of Booklice

This article was co-authored by Chris Parker. Chris Parker is the Founder of Parker Eco Pest Control, a sustainable pest control service based in Seattle. He is a certified Commercial Pesticide Applicator in Washington State and received his BA from the University of Washington in 2012.

There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, 88% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status.

This article has been viewed 372,246 times.

The small bugs that are often found in stored books are tiny insects called booklice. These creatures are drawn to areas with high humidity and moisture, and love feeding on mold. Despite the name, booklice aren't only found in books and they aren't actually lice. However, there are methods you can use to get rid of these pests, and the key is controlling the humidity in your home or office.