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Sexually Confusing Male Moths

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For the last four years, the Natural History Museum in London has suffered from a moth infestation. The insects like to munch on the clothes, furs, and feathers in the museum's prized collection. But the museum is outwitting the moths by tricking male moths into donning female moth "perfume," causing other males to follow them—to no reproductive avail. Sexually confusing these moths may be the key to keeping them from getting frisky and reproducing.

Developed by Exosect, the Pheromone Destruction System makes male moths attracted to other male moths. The system involves laying out small tablets full of the female moth pheromone to draw in male moths. Intrigued, the male moths fly over to check out the scent. The tablet is made from a wax powder that sticks to the insects, so when the male moth then flies away— probably more than a little confused—he smells like a female. That attracts other male moths to him. The result is a lot of sexually confused male moths that spend their time following each other around throughout their brief lives—and the even smaller timeframe in which they can mate.

"They only live for a couple of weeks and during that time there is only a small window in which they can reproduce,” Armando Mendex, the museum’s quarantine facility manager and project head, told The Telegraph. "If they spend this unknowingly attempting to attract and fertilize male moths, then it reduces the offspring we are up against."

This process doesn’t harm the moths in any way, but it does reduce the population. Since the museum introduced the system, the number of moths fluttering through the exhibition halls has been cut in half.

[h/t The Telegraph]

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Courtesy of The National Aviary
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Animals
Watch This Live Stream to See Two Rare Penguin Chicks Hatch From Their Eggs
Courtesy of The National Aviary
Courtesy of The National Aviary

Bringing an African penguin chick into the world is an involved process, with both penguin parents taking turns incubating the egg. Now, over a month since they were laid, two penguin eggs at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania are ready to hatch. As Gizmodo reports, the baby birds will make their grand debut live for the world to see on the zoo's website.

The live stream follows couple Sidney and Bette in their nest, waiting for their young to emerge. The first egg was laid November 7 and is expected to hatch between December 14 and 18. The second, laid November 11, should hatch between December 18 and 22.

"We are thrilled to give the public this inside view of the arrival of these rare chicks," National Aviary executive director Cheryl Tracy said in a statement. "This is an important opportunity to raise awareness of a critically endangered species that is in rapid decline in the wild, and to learn about the work that the National Aviary is doing to care for and propagate African penguins."

African penguins are endangered, with less than 25,000 pairs left in the wild today. The National Aviary, the only independent indoor nonprofit aviary in the U.S., works to conserve threatened populations and raise awareness of them with bird breeding programs and educational campaigns.

After Sidney and Bette's new chicks are born, they will care for them in the nest for their first three weeks of life. The two penguins are parenting pros at this point: The monogamous couple has already hatched and raised three sets of chicks together.

[h/t Gizmodo]

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holidays
Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album
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Feeling a little Grinchy this month? The Sweden branch of ActionAid, an international charity dedicated to fighting global poverty, wants to goat—errr ... goad—you into the Christmas spirit with their animal-focused holiday album: All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.

Fittingly, it features the shriek-filled vocal stylings of a group of festive farm animals bleating out classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The recording may sound like a silly novelty release, but there's a serious cause behind it: It’s intended to remind listeners how the animals benefit impoverished communities. Goats can live in arid nations that are too dry for farming, and they provide their owners with milk and wool. In fact, the only thing they can't seem to do is, well, sing. 

You can purchase All I Want for Christmas is a Goat on iTunes and Spotify, or listen to a few songs from its eight-track selection below.

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