Why Tigers Find Calvin Klein's Obsession for Men Cologne So Irresistible

iStock.com/guenterguni
iStock.com/guenterguni

Calvin Klein's Obsession for Men cologne was released in 1986, and the scent is making a surprising comeback in the animal kingdom. As The New York Times reports, forest rangers in central India are using the fragrance to lure a dangerous tiger out of the jungle.

That's the goal, anyway. The 5-year-old female tiger, known as T-1, is suspected of killing 13 people over a period of more than two years. Indian authorities hope they can trap the cat and move her to a zoo or wildlife refuge. However, if attempts to tranquilize and capture her are unsuccessful, the Supreme Court has given forest rangers its blessing to shoot and kill the animal if necessary.

All parties are hoping to avoid more bloodshed, though, and they believe Calvin Klein's Obsession for Men could play a key role. The secret to the scent's seductiveness is civetone, a pheromone that's secreted by small carnivorous mammals called civets and used in many musky colognes. Civetone used to be scraped from a civet's perineal glands—which, less glamorously, are situated near the animal's anus—but today most civetone is synthetic.

When big cats like tigers catch a whiff of civetone, they go crazy and bask in the scent. Los Angeles-based biologist Miguel Ordeñana suggested that civetone resembles a type of "territorial marking" that makes big cats want to rub their own scent all over it. For this reason, wildlife photographers and conservationists sometimes use civetone-rich cologne to coax cats towards the camera.

It's also spritzed throughout some zoos as part of their animals enrichment programs. Louise Ginman of Sydney's Taronga Zoo told Scientific American that lions, tigers, and snow leopards all love Calvin Klein cologne. "We spray it around the enclosure in lots of little concentrated sprays, and when the cats come out and smell it, they literally roll onto the ground, rub their cheeks all over it, and rub their faces with it," Ginman says. "I guess it's kind of like the reaction that you get from a cat when it's enjoying catnip. They just seem to be in absolute heaven."

The scent is also appealing to cheetahs. In 2010, Wildlife Conservation Society researchers at New York's Bronx Zoo sprayed a variety of perfumes and colognes inside the tiger, snow leopard, and cheetah enclosures. Calvin Klein Obsession for Men was definitely the biggest crowd pleaser, but Obsession for Women didn't incite the same response.

As for T-1, she's been spotted only a few times in recent months, and for only a few seconds at a time. Horses have been used in an attempt to lure her out into the open, but she has "ripped into them, eaten fast, then vanished," The Times notes. Let's hope that Obsession for Men will be the unlikely force that saves lives—of both animals and humans alike.

[h/t The New York Times]

Why You Should Never Squish a Stink Bug

iStock.com/drnadig
iStock.com/drnadig

Commit the insect you see above to memory. That’s the brown marmorated stink bug, an invasive species originally from Asia that’s made inroads across large sections of the United States, including the Mid-Atlantic.

If you come across one, don’t squish it. In fact, don’t even nudge it. A stink bug’s pestilence can survive after death. And you can probably guess how.

According to The State, stink bugs release a secretion that smells absolutely awful when they’re disturbed or feel threatened. Stomping them just expedites the liquid. Those who have had the unfortunate opportunity to get a whiff have described it as resembling skunk odor or rotten cilantro.

In winter, the bugs tend to find their way indoors, where their half-inch bodies tend to catch the eye of homeowners. Fortunately, they’re largely harmless, and are not known to carry diseases or be destructive to pets or property. (Crops are an exception: The stinkbugs can prove damaging to agriculture.) While exterminators can treat houses, some recommend just ignoring them.

If you want a DIY approach, you can try vacuuming them up or leaving out trays with soapy water. The mixture will kill the bugs and minimize any post-mortem secretion.

Since the bugs were first spotted in Allentown, Pennsylvania around 1998, they’ve been spotted in 43 states. Generally, you probably won’t see more than a few in your home, though they’ll definitely congregate if conditions are right. One wildlife biologist in Maryland suffering from an infestation counted 26,000 stink bugs in his residence.

The good news? Scientists have determined that the stinkbug’s natural predator, the samurai wasp, is in hot pursuit. Entomologists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture had made plans to bring the wasp over from Asia to help control the bug population but discovered in 2014 that the wasp had somehow made the journey on its own. Their idea of population control is injecting their own eggs into a stinkbug’s, its larvae eating the pest. The parasitic wasp is in 10 states and climbing.

[h/t The State]

New Study Reveals 'Hyper-Alarming' Decline of Rainforest Insect Populations

iStock/jmmf
iStock/jmmf

Climate change is decimating yet another vital part of the world's ecosystem, according to a startling new paper. Rainforest insects are dying off at alarming rates, according to a new study spotted by the The Washington Post. In turn, the animals that feed off those insects are decreasing, too.

In the study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a pair of scientists from the Rensselaer Polytechnic University in New York and the National Autonomous University of Mexico studied populations of rainforest arthropods (an invertebrate classification that includes insects and spiders) in the El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico. They compared the number of insects lead author Bradford Lister found on trips in 1976 and 1977 with the number he and co-author Andres Garcia found on trips they took between 2011 and 2013.

Lister and Garcia used nets and sticky traps to collect insects on the ground and several feet above the ground in the forest canopy. They dried these captured bugs and measured the mass of their haul against the mass of insects found in the 1970s, finding that the modern net sweeps captured only an eighth to a fourth of the insects captured in the '70s. The mass of insects captured by sticky traps on the ground declined by 30 to 60 times what they were a few decades ago. They also tracked populations of lizards, frogs, and birds that live off those rainforest insects, finding that those populations had declined significantly, too, at levels not seen in other rainforest animals that don't rely on insects for food.

Tropical insects are particularly vulnerable to climatic changes, since they can't regulate their body temperature. During the time of the study, average maximum temperatures in El Yunque rose by almost 4°F (2°C). The warming climate is "the major driver" of this decline in arthropod populations, the study authors write, triggering a collapse of the forest food chain.

The paper has other scientists worried. "This is one of the most disturbing articles I have ever read," University of Connecticut entomologist David Wagner, who wasn't involved in the research, told The Washington Post, calling the results "hyper-alarming." Other studies of insect populations have found similarly dire results, including significant declines in butterflies, moths, bees, and other species. One recent study found that Germany's flying insect populations had decreased by as much as 75 percent in the last three decades. Scientists don't always attribute those population losses directly to warmer temperatures (habitat loss, pesticide use, droughts, and other factors might play a role), but it’s clear that insect populations are facing grave threats from the modern world.

Not all insect species will be equally affected by climate change, though. While we may see a sharp drop in the populations of tropical insects, scientists project that the number of insects in other regions will rise—leading to a sharp increase in crop-eating pests in some parts of the world and broadening mosquitos' geographical range.

[h/t The Washington Post]

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