Leafcutter bees as plastic recyclers? Not a good idea

Image of hand holding strips of plastic with holes in them.

(Utah State University) Plastic has become ubiquitous in modern life and its accumulation as waste in the environment is sounding warning bells for the health of humans and wildlife. Previously, researchers have noted leafcutter bees were using plastic waste to construct their nests, and they suggested such behavior could be an “ecologically adaptive trait” and a beneficial recycling effort. However, just because bees can use plastic, doesn’t mean they should.

Entomologists eradicate first Asian giant hornet nest

Image of entomologist in hazard suit showing container of hornets.

(Washington State Department of Agriculture) WSDA entomologists successfully eradicated an Asian giant hornet nest by vacuuming the hornets out of the nest on Oct. 24, just two days after finding the nest in a tree on private property in Blaine, Wash. In all, the entomologists with WSDA’s Pest Program removed 98 worker hornets. During the early morning extraction, 85 hornets were vacuumed out of the nest and another 13 live hornets were collected with a net while observing the nest.

Why some ecologists worry about rooftop honey bee programs

Image of rooftop bee boxes.

(Wired) The growing interest in hobbyist beekeeping has some ecologists worried. The European honey bee, as its name might suggest, is not native to North America. While honey bees are a managed pollinator species, about 4,000 species of native bees also call the US home, including its urban areas. One group of researchers observed dozens of wild species across several Chicago neighborhoods, while another nature organization recorded more than 200 species in New York City. Now, some ecologists are concerned that with so much human help, the newcomers might outcompete their wild cousins, causing an ecological ripple effect that would threaten both the bees and the plants that depend on them.