In his decades of beekeeping, Ted McFall had never seen anything like it.
As he pulled his truck up to check on a group of hives near Custer, Wash., in November, he could spot from the window a mess of bee carcasses on the ground. As he looked closer, he saw a pile of dead members of the colony in front of a hive and more carnage inside — thousands and thousands of bees with their heads torn from their bodies and no sign of a culprit.
“I couldn’t wrap my head around what could have done that,” Mr. McFall said.
Only later did he come to suspect that the killer was what some researchers simply call the “murder hornet”, a delicacy by many in Japan.
With queens that can grow to two inches long, Asian giant hornets can use mandibles shaped like spiked shark fins to wipe out a honeybee hive in a matter of hours, decapitating the bees and flying away with the thoraxes to feed their young. For larger targets, the hornet’s potent venom and stinger — long enough to puncture a beekeeping suit — make for an excruciating combination that victims have likened to hot metal driving into their skin. In Japan, the hornets kill up to 50 people a year. Now, for the first time, they have arrived in the United States.Beyond its size, the hornet has a distinctive look, with a cartoonishly fierce face featuring teardrop eyes like Spider-Man, orange and black stripes that extend down its body like a tiger, and broad, wispy wings like a small dragonfly.
Jun-ichi Takahashi, a researcher at Kyoto Sangyo University in Japan, said the species had earned the “murder hornet” nickname there because its aggressive group attacks can expose victims to doses of toxic venom equivalent to that of a venomous snake; a series of stings can be fatal.
In a region with extensive wooded habitats for hornets to establish homes, the task of finding and eliminating them is daunting. How to find dens that may be hidden underground? And where to look, given that one of the queens can fly many miles a day, at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour?
The Labrador Retriever continues its reign at the top! In the spirit of National Purebred Dog Day, the American Kennel Club wants to let dog owners know that the loveable Lab remains the number one most popular breed in the United States. The annual celebration of National Purebred Dog Day on May 1 highlights the pride, predictability and purpose of purebred dogs, as well as the many ways these wonderful dogs impact humans every day.
While the Labrador Retriever holds firmly to the top spot, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi has ascended the list over the past decade. The lively little herder landed at number 10, its highest ranking since becoming recognized by the AKC in 1934. Moreover, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi knocked the Yorkshire Terrier out of the top 10, where the breed had been a fixture since 1995.
The Labrador Retriever is also number one in Atlanta, Denver and Raleigh, while New York City, San Francisco and Miami are French Bulldog lovers.
In addition to the country’s most popular, there were some rare and unique breeds on the rise in 2019. The Boykin Spaniel rose 11 spots (100 to 89), the Lowchen rose 10 spots (168 to 158), the Swedish Vallhund rose 10 spots (169 to 159), and the Lagotto Romagnolo rose nine spots (99 to 90). Looking back over the past decade, the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon made quite a jump, rising 46 spots from 108th in 2009 to 62nd in 2019.
2019 Most Popular Dogs in the U.S.
2018 Most Popular Dogs in the U.S.
The coronavirus pandemic has shaken the world and humans are trying everything possible to keep themselves away from the virus and to curb its spread. But what came as a shock was animals have started testing positive for the virus.
Reports about animals testing positive for the coronavirus have been reported from different parts of the world. Even though studies show that the chances of the virus being transmitted from animals to humans are very little, people are now worried about their pets falling prey to the virus.
Humans with respiratory issues are among those worst affected by the coronavirus, and this applies to canines too. Winston, a 2-year-old pug in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, was reported to be the first dog in the U.S. to test positive for the virus. Although cases of other dog breeds being tested positive for the virus have been reported from different countries, animal experts say pugs are more likely to be vulnerable to the virus.
According to Annie Harvilicz, a veterinarian and chief medical officer for Animal Wellness Centers hospitals, pugs, which are popular and one of the most loved dog breeds due to their short and squished-looking noses, are prone to having weak lungs.
“It’s possible that being a pug made him (Winston) more susceptible to the virus,” Harvilicz told media. “Pugs have brachycephalic syndrome. This gives them the appearance of a shortened snout but causes them to have upper respiratory issues,” she said.
Winston started showing mild symptoms after his owners were diagnosed with the virus. Harvilicz noted that the dog had been more at risk because he’s a prolific face-licker. “This pug lived in the house with a dog that didn’t contract the virus. It could be that Winston had a higher viral load because he was always licking faces,” she said.
Other dog breeds with similar features of a flat face and a short neck are also likely to be vulnerable. Bulldogs, Chow-Chows, and Shih Tzus all fall under this category. They are often referred to as “brachycephalic breeds.”
The studies conducted by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the risk of animal-to-human transmission is low but it doesn’t hurt to practice basic social distancing guidelines for pets too.
The CDC’s extended coronavirus social-distancing guidelines for pets recommended that pooches should stay away from other canines and also avoid dog parks. According to Marty Irby, Executive Director at Animal Wellness Action, “The virus can stay on a dog’s fur… I’d be looking for anything that might be on the ground, possibly spit or moisture, during walks.
Dogs and cats are the furry darlings of the U.S. pet market, but the reptile business has advanced as well over the past decade and could grow considerably in coming years, market research firm Packaged Facts reports.
Reptile products are projected to grow from $495 million in 2019 to between $550 million and $650 million by 2024, depending on the depth and duration of coronavirus pandemic-triggered impacts on household finances and housing situations. That’s according to the firm’s just-released Reptile Products: U.S. Pet Market Trends and Opportunities. The figures include food and non-food supplies for pet reptiles including snakes, lizards and turtles as well as amphibians such as frogs.
Like dog and cat owners, reptile owners have strong ties to their pets: 85% of “other pet” owners, including reptile owners, consider their pets to be part of the family, according to the proprietary February/March 2020 survey data presented in the report.
“Reptiles as family suggests new opportunities for premiumization,” said Packaged Facts Research Director David Sprinkle, “including more expansive and diverse and visually appealing habitats, and supplies that increasingly echo what a reptile would experience in the wild.” Reptile ownership also synchs with the demographic shifts to millennial and urban households.
When pet care budgets are limited, reptiles may gain in appeal in being affordable compared with keeping dogs or cats, with most reptile owners viewing their reptile setups as a reasonable initial expense. The reptile business may also get a bump because of the heightened levels of comfort and affection pet owners are finding in their pets due to being home bound and social distancing, and because children are a key factor to the household ownership of reptiles, and children now more than ever need to be meaningfully entertained.
More than half of adoptions or acquisition of pets other than dogs or cats involve buying pets either for or at the request of children, according to Packaged Facts survey data. Households with children are therefore the top demographic for reptile ownership, with households with three or more children being more than twice as likely than average to own reptiles.
Wendy’s and Shake Shack are feeling the impact of the nation’s meat supply issues, CNBC writes. Plants in a handful of states are slowing production or temporarily shuttering as the coronavirus pandemic impacts its workforce. Some 1,043 Wendy’s restaurants — a fifth of U.S. properties — list beef items as “out of stock.” Pork production in the U.S. has also slipped by 50%, according to industry heavyweight Tyson Foods. Costco has temporarily limited the purchase of poultry, beef and pork to three items per member.
Looks like non-meat products may be the meal of choice in the U.S. if meat production continues to fail. This could not only affect the human populations but our pets as well! Is this the beginning to the end of the world as we know it as more companies begin to feel the effect of the loss of meat production ?
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Thursday authorized deployment of armed forces into the Amazon region to fight fires and deforestation, three months earlier than in 2019, after a jump in destruction in the world's largest rainforest.
Last year, Bolsonaro waited until August to send troops into the region, following international outcry over a wave of fires in the rainforest, which traps vast amounts of greenhouse gases that cause climate change.
The order is effective from May 11 to June 10, but can be extended to 60 days in total, as Bolsonaro did last year.
Vice President Hamilton Maurao said last week that the government planned to send in the military as part of a plan to establish bases in the Amazon to fight deforestation.
Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon in the first three months of 2020 rose 51% from a year earlier. The first quarter coincides with the rainy season when destruction usually eases as loggers are deterred by the weather.
Environmental advocates say the military's presence should deter illegal destruction of the rainforest in the short term, but argue the armed forces cannot replace the permanent oversight of environmental agencies.
World food prices fell for a third consecutive month in April, hit by the economic and logistical impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the United Nations food agency said.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) food priceindex, which measures monthly changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar, averaged 165.5 points last month, down 3.4% on March.
The FAO sugar price index fell to a 13-year low, plunging 14.6% from March, with the coronavirus crisis hitting demand and tumbling crude oil prices also reducing the need for sugarcane to produce ethanol, the Rome-based agency said.
The vegetable oil price index fell 5.2%, hit by falling palm, soy and rapeseed oil values, while the dairy index dropped 3.6%, with butter and milk powder prices posting double-digit declines.
The meat index shed 2.7%, with a partial recovery in import demand from China failing to balance a slump in imports elsewhere. FAO also said major producing countries suffered logistical bottlenecks, while coronavirus lockdowns in many nations had caused a sharp fall in sales.
"The pandemic is hitting both the demand and supply sides for meat, as restaurant closures and reduced household incomes lead to lower consumption and labor shortages on the processing side are impacting just-in-time production systems," said FAO Senior Economist Upali Galketi Aratchilage.
By contrast with the other indices, FAO's cereal price index declined only slightly, as international prices of wheat and rice rose significantly while those of maize dropped sharply.
Rice prices rose 7.2% from March, due in large part to temporary export restrictions by Vietnam that were subsequently repealed, FAO said. Wheat prices rose 2.5% amid reports of a quick fulfilment of the export quota from Russia. However, prices of coarse grains, including maize, fell 10%, hit by reduced demand for both animal feed and biofuel production.
FAO held its forecast for cereal production largely steady at 2.720 billion tonnes in 2019, but reduced its forecast for cereal utilization in 2019/20 by 24.7 million tonnes, mainly because of the impact of the coronavirus on the economy.
FAO also unveiled its first forecasts for global wheat supply and demand in the 2020/21 marketing season, predicting world production at 762.6 million tonnes, broadly in line with the 2019 level.
It said it expected smaller harvests in the European Union, North Africa, Ukraine and the United States. This would be largely offset by larger harvests in Australia, Kazakhstan, Russia and India. Global wheat utilization in 2020/21 was expected to be stable, with anticipated increases in food consumption outweighing reductions in feed and industrial uses.
The Trump administration wouldn’t let a little thing like a pandemic get in the way of its mission of rolling back Obama-era policies. As the White House supports a lawsuit from Texas that would wipe out the Affordable Care Act, a New York Times report stated that the administration will announce Tuesday that it will severely reduce emissions standards for commercial vehicles. The new rule, to be implemented this spring, would negate a 2012 policy requiring automakers’ fleets to average around 54 miles per gallon by 2025, bringing that down to 40 mpg. Written by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation, the change would result in almost a billion more tons of carbon dioxide pumped out by the vehicles affected by the rule and 80 billion more gallons of gasoline consumed than under the Obama-era standards. Despite consistent pushback from automakers like Ford, BMW, Honda, and Volkswagen on eased emissions standards, the president is reportedly expected to sell the rule change as a boon to an economy gutted by the coronavirus. The move, however, has been in the works for far longer than COVID-19 has existed on the planet. And the administration’s own analyses of the deregulation warned that it may hurt consumers by requiring car owners to fill up more often.
But far more concerning than the economic cost of the rule change is its short-term environmental effects: Critics anticipate that the move will kill several hundred Americans annually due to decreases in air quality caused by the extra billions of gallons of spent gasoline. The rollback is likely to be mired in the courts, as at least 20 states are expected to sue the Trump administration over the rule changes. (The lawsuits will join the major one filed by California in September hoping to overrule the DOT’s and EPA’s revocation of the state’s ability to set higher tailpipe emissions standards.) But during the chaos of a historic economic crisis and the tragedy of a pandemic, the White House also announced it would stop pursuing polluters — an action without an end date that snuck by without much public scrutiny.
The rule, which is in place indefinitely, means that major emitters will be able to individually assess whether conditions caused by the coronavirus will impact their ability to follow environmental laws. “This EPA statement is essentially a nationwide waiver of environmental rules for the indefinite future,” Cynthia Giles, the head of the EPA’s Office of Enforcement under Obama, told The Hill. “It tells companies across the country that they will not face enforcement even if they emit unlawful air and water pollution in violation of environmental laws, so long as they claim that those failures are in some way ‘caused’ by the virus pandemic. And it allows them an out on monitoring too, so we may never know how bad the violating pollution was.”
Despite the temporary decrease in emissions caused by coronavirus shutdowns in most of the world’s major economies, the consequences of a hotter world continue to accrue. Last week, a study published in Current Biology found that major populations of marine species have been relocating to the poles, resulting in disarray throughout oceanic food chains and uncertainty for local fisheries. Another study from last week published in Global Change Biology found that some of those animals will be migrating toward a much hotter southern pole: In January, regions of Antarctica experienced temperatures that were 6.9 degrees Celsius warmer than the historic average. Yet another study from last week found that one glacier in East Antarctica had retreated almost three miles in just 22 years. -----------------------------------------
Winter is a 4-year-old chocolate-colored llama with spindly legs, ever-so-slightly askew ears and envy-inducing eyelashes. Some scientists hope she might be an important figure in the fight against the novel coronavirus.
Winter was simply the lucky llama chosen by researchers in Belgium, where she lives, to participate in a series of virus studies involving both SARS and MERS. Finding that her antibodies staved off those infections, the scientists posited that those same antibodies could also neutralize the new virus that causes Covid-19. They were right, and published their results Tuesday in the journal Cell. Scientists have long turned to llamas for antibody research. In the last decade, for example, scientists have used llamas’ antibodies in H.I.V. and influenza research, finding promising therapies for both viruses.
Humans produce only one kind of antibody, made of two types of protein chains — heavy and light — that together form a Y shape. Heavy-chain proteins span the entire Y, while light-chain proteins touch only the Y’s arms. Llamas, on the other hand, produce two types of antibodies. One of those antibodies is similar in size and constitution to human antibodies. But the other is much smaller; it’s only about 25 percent the size of human antibodies. The llama’s antibody still forms a Y, but its arms are much shorter because it doesn’t have any light-chain proteins. This more diminutive antibody can access tinier pockets and crevices on spike proteins — the proteins that allow viruses like the novel coronavirus to break into host cells and infect us — that human antibodies cannot. That can make it more effective in neutralizing viruses.
Sharks have these smaller antibodies, too, but they “are not a great experimental model, and are a lot less cuddly than llamas,” said Daniel Wrapp, a graduate student affiliated with the University of Texas at Austin and Dartmouth College, and a co-author of the new research. Dr. Saelens said that llamas are domesticated, easy to handle and less stubborn than many of their camelid cousins, although, “if they don’t like you, they’ll spit.”
They injected Winter with spike proteins from the virus that caused the 2002-03 SARS epidemic as well as MERS, then tested a sample of her blood. And while they couldn’t isolate a single llama antibody that worked against both viruses, they found two potent antibodies that each fought separately against MERS and SARS.
The researchers were writing up their findings when the new coronavirus began to make headlines in January. They immediately realized that the smaller llama antibodies “that could neutralize SARS would very likely also recognize the Covid-19 virus,” Dr. Saelens said. It did, the researchers found, effectively inhibiting the coronavirus in cell cultures.
The researchers are hopeful the antibody can eventually be used as a prophylactic treatment, by injecting someone who is not yet infected to protect them from the virus, such as a health care worker. While the treatment’s protection would be immediate, its effects wouldn’t be permanent, lasting only a month or two without additional injections. This proactive approach is at least several months away, but the researchers are moving toward clinical trials. Additional studies may also be needed to verify the safety of injecting a llama’s antibodies into human patients. “There is still a lot of work to do to try to bring this into the clinic,” Dr. Saelens said. “If it works, llama Winter deserves a statue.” -------------------------------------
The Florida Aquarium released 3 juvenile green sea turtles and 1 sub-adult loggerhead sea turtle at Anastasia State Park. The green sea turtles, named Siesta, Anna Maria and Sanibel, and the loggerhead sea turtle, Venus, all returned to the sea following months of rehabilitation and care by The Florida Aquarium's Animal Response Team, supported by Florida Blue.
The three juvenile green sea turtles were found stranded in Volusia County on February 3rd, 2020. The turtles suffered from a wide variety of issues, including flipper injuries, pneumonia and cold stunning. They have spent months at the Rehabilitation Center receiving top notch care. Venus, the sub-adult loggerhead sea turtle, was flown down to Florida from New England on December 18th, 2020. This turtle suffered from cold stunning, which is when sea turtles are exposed to cold temperatures for a long period of time and become debilitated. Venus spent two months in the Aquarium's care without eating, which sick sea turtles often do, but finally resumed eating normally and has gained several pounds. After months of care, Venus was finally ready to go back to the sea.
All care and turtle rehabilitation by The Florida Aquarium is done with approval of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) under conditions not harmful to marine turtles and authorized under conservation activities pursuant to FWC MTP-18-172.
Coronavirus travel restrictions have separated many pets from their owners.
A combination of border closures and flight cancellations have left over 1,000 pets stranded around the world, Reuters reports.
United and other major airlines temporarily stopped their pet programs in March, saying they couldn’t be offered safely or weren’t viable financially during the pandemic. American Airlines and Alaska Airlines continue to fly pets within the U.S. on certain routes.
A few companies, such as IAG Cargo, continue to transport pets internationally, according to Reuters.
Reuters interviewed Frances Hayter and her husband Alan, who worked in Houston and had to leave their cat, Indigo, there when they returned to their home country of Australia. No airline is currently flying pets to Australia.
Indigo is staying with a veterinarian as the couple try to get the cat home. At this point, it appears it will be an expensive and time-consuming process.