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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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This High-Tech Material Can Change Shape Like an Octopus
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Octopuses can do some pretty amazing things with their skin, like “see” light, resist the pull of their own sticky suction cups, and blend in seamlessly with their surroundings. That last part now has the U.S. Army interested, as Co.Design reports. The military branch’s research office has funded the development a new type of morphing material that works like an octopus’s dynamic skin.

The skin of an octopus is covered in small, muscular bumps called papillae that allow them to change textures in a fraction of a second. Using this mechanism, octopuses can mimic coral, rocks, and even other animals. The new government-funded research—conducted by scientists at Cornell University—produced a device that works using a similar principle.

“Technologies that use stretchable materials are increasingly important, yet we are unable to control how they stretch with much more sophistication than inflating balloons,” the scientists write in their study, recently published in the journal Science. “Nature, however, demonstrates remarkable control of stretchable surfaces.”

The membrane of the stretchy, silicone material lays flat most of the time, but when it’s inflated with air, it can morph to form almost any 3D shape. So far, the technology has been used to imitate rocks and plants.

You can see the synthetic skin transform from a two-dimensional pad to 3D models of objects in the video below:

It’s easy to see how this feature could be used in military gear. A soldier’s suit made from material like this could theoretically provide custom camouflage for any environment in an instant. Like a lot of military technology, it could also be useful in civilian life down the road. Co.Design writer Jesus Diaz brings up examples like buttons that appear on a car's dashboard only when you need them, or a mixing bowl that rises from the surface of the kitchen counter while you're cooking.

Even if we can mimic the camouflage capabilities of cephalopods, though, other impressive superpowers, like controlling thousands of powerful suction cups or squeezing through spaces the size of a cherry tomato, are still the sole domain of the octopus. For now.

[h/t Co.Design]

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Animals
25 Benefits of Adopting a Rescue Dog
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According to the ASPCA, 3.3 million dogs enter shelters each year in the United States. Although that number has gone down since 2011 (from 3.9 million) there are still millions of dogs waiting in shelters for a forever home. October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month; here are 25 benefits of adopting a shelter dog.

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