insects

What is an invasive species?

Invasive species can mean a lot of things, from fungus to feral pigs and European starlings to kudzu vines. Basically, it's anything brought to a place, either by humans or nature, that didn't originate there. They aren't always a problem, but many times they can wreak havoc on the local ecosystem. Learn all about these invaders today.

What's the deal with controlled burns?

Starting a fire to prevent fire seems counterintuitive, but it makes a lot of sense once you understand it. But controlled burns aren't just to help prevent forest fires. They're also a vital part of keeping the local ecosystem healthy and thriving. Learn all about how controlled burns work right here, right now.

Chiggers: The Phantom Menace

Chiggers are tiny little mites capable of making your life miserable. Worse than mosquitoes? Maybe. But they aren't insects - mites are actually part of the arachnid family and behave a little like ticks. Learn all about these nearly invisible pests in today's episode.

The Best Stuff We've Read This Week

Each week, Josh and Chuck read tons of great articles, some of them really good. Here are the best of the bunch for your enjoyment.

Termites: They Bore But They Aren't Boring

Their soft white bodies look creepy and, to be sure, they are, but termites are pretty amazing bugs. They build ventilation systems into their mounds, poop on their enemies and grow mushrooms. Learn all the neat stuff you didn't know about termites here.

How Cockroaches Work

You've seen them in your home and probably squealed in terror, but now it's time to learn all about cockroaches. From their ability to run incredibly fast to the appendage that alerts them when you're about to whack them with your shoe, cockroaches are fascinating creatures that deserve your respect.

How Cicadas Work

Cicadas are crawling out from underground, where they have been hiding in the darkness for almost two decades. As of May 2013, they're invading the East Coast from North Carolina to New York. But why? Learn more about cicadas with Josh and Chuck.

How Bees Work

With less than a million neurons in their tiny heads, bees shouldn't be able to do much more than eat, sleep and reproduce. And yet, bees are capable of high functions like population economics and navigating by the sun on overcast days. Learn about these fascinating insects, including what a stinger really is in this episode of Stuff You Should Know.

Altruistic Ants and Poor, Childless Humans Share Depressing Commonality of Dying Alone

I was researching an article from the BBC about a curious phenomenon, ants leaving the nest when they sense they're nearing death. Two Germans researchers infected one lab-raised ant colony with a fatal fungus and gassed another with CO2 (artificially decreasing the ants' lifespan, as the article euphemistically put it). The majority of the ants that died from the fungal infection or who succumbed to the artificially reduced lifespan gassing left their colonies. The researchers concluded that the ants were indeed presenting behavior of something generally considered to be exclusive to higher mammals -- altruism.