Friday, 20 March 2015

This frog in amber was taken about 230 million years ago. Unbelievable.

Is this the World’s Oldest Bug Trap?

Bugs have been making pests of themselves for plants and people since prehistoric times. Even when the world was young and plants began to emerge out of the primordial ooze, bugs were already there waiting to eat them. The oldest bugs in the world were recently discovered in Italy. Two prehistoric mites and a fly were found entombed in drops of amber, or resin.

It takes thousands, if not millions, of years for resin to become amber. These latest amber-trapped bugs were dated at 230 million years old, which makes amber the planet’s oldest bug trap. Amber also acts as a preservative, enabling scientists to microscopically identify whatever bug is trapped inside. Perfectly preserved insects in amber fetch a high price for collectors, jewelry buffs and museums.
Resin is incredibly sticky, as anyone who has ever leaned against an evergreen knows. When it is inside a tree, we usually refer to this substance as sap. Sap is the plant’s lifeblood because it carries nutrients and water up from the roots and food down from the leaves. Resin is also a tree’s defense against attack by burrowing bugs. If a bug tries to chew its way into a tree, the tree produces copious amounts of resin to “pitch” out the bug and seal off the point of entry. This is one way bugs become encased within drops of resin. Bugs are also attracted to resin drops on the outside of trees. When they approach what appears to be a tantalizing food source they become trapped in the thick, sticky morass.
Humans have long used sticky substances to get rid of pests. Today, environmentally-conscious homeowners are opting for sticky traps for insect pest control. Professional pest control companies may use this type of trap when a chemical control is undesirable. Sticky traps are a perfect choice for gardens, greenhouses and homes as they use a non-toxic glue to attract insect pests. They can be placed both vertically and horizontally and even cut into smaller sections for use in limited spaces.
Amber is an ancient form of insect control. Today, people appreciate it for its beauty and simplicity. The next time you get sap stuck on your hands, be more appreciative of the tree that’s just trying to defend itself against an invasion of ravenous bugs.
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