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Elephants Can't Stand Ants

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For years, African farmers have been fighting off what just might be the world's largest pests -- elephants. The mammoth foragers have been known for breaking down fences and destroying vast quantities of produce.

Scientists believe they may now have a way to keep elephants away from the crops and the solution just might be the most simple: ants. Researchers have discovered that elephants avoid ants because the tiny insects can get inside the elephants' trunks and start biting. While the elephant's hide is remarkably thick, the lining of their trunks is incredibly soft and sensitive. As a result, elephants have been known to run at the slightest sniff of an ant.

Researchers are hoping they can save crops and prevent farmers from harming the elephants by simply adding ants (or even just ant odor) to the crops.

[Image courtesy of a.jellyfish's Flickr page.]

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Animals
Elusive Butterfly Sighted in Scotland for the First Time in 133 Years

Conditions weren’t looking too promising for the white-letter hairstreak, an elusive butterfly that’s native to the UK. Threatened by habitat loss, the butterfly's numbers have dwindled by 96 percent since the 1970s, and the insect hasn’t even been spotted in Scotland since 1884. So you can imagine the surprise lepidopterists felt when a white-letter hairstreak was seen feeding in a field in Berwickshire, Scotland earlier in August, according to The Guardian.

A man named Iain Cowe noticed the butterfly and managed to capture it on camera. “It is not every day that something as special as this is found when out and about on a regular butterfly foray,” Cowe said in a statement provided by the UK's Butterfly Conservation. “It was a very ragged and worn individual found feeding on ragwort in the grassy edge of an arable field.”

The white-letter hairstreak is a small brown butterfly with a white “W”-shaped streak on the underside of its wings and a small orange spot on its hindwings. It’s not easily sighted, as it tends to spend most of its life feeding and breeding in treetops.

The butterfly’s preferred habitat is the elm tree, but an outbreak of Dutch elm disease—first noted the 1970s—forced the white-letter hairstreak to find new homes and food sources as millions of Britain's elm trees died. The threatened species has slowly spread north, and experts are now hopeful that Scotland could be a good home for the insect. (Dutch elm disease does exist in Scotland, but the nation also has a good amount of disease-resistant Wych elms.)

If a breeding colony is confirmed, the white-letter hairstreak will bump Scotland’s number of butterfly species that live and breed in the country up to 34. “We don’t have many butterfly species in Scotland so one more is very nice to have,” Paul Kirkland, director of Butterfly Conservation Scotland, said in a statement.

Prior to 1884, the only confirmed sighting of a white-letter hairstreak in Scotland was in 1859. However, the insect’s newfound presence in Scotland comes at a cost: The UK’s butterflies are moving north due to climate change, and the white-letter hairstreak’s arrival is “almost certainly due to the warming climate,” Kirkland said.

[h/t The Guardian]

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Here's Why Mosquitoes May Like to Snack on You More Than Your Friends
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Ever come back from a camping trip covered in red welts, while your companions’ limbs remained blissfully bite-free?

It’s not just all in your head: Researchers find that mosquitoes may like to gnaw on certain individuals more than others, including pregnant women, sweaty people, those with blood type O, and even beer drinkers.

To find out if you're more at risk for becoming an insect’s snack than other outdoor enthusiasts, check out Tech Insider’s video below.

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