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Throw Wildflower Seed Bombs to Bring Back the Bees

The bees could really use some help. In the last 10 years, a phenomenon called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has killed off huge numbers of honeybees around the world. It's normal for beekeepers to lose 10–15 percent of their hives each winter, but beginning in 2006, beekeepers started reporting losses of 30–90 percent. Scientists believe CCD may be caused by a combination of pesticides, parasites, and a decline in wildflowers as more and more land is developed. 

This is where Seedles come in. Each "bomb" contains wildflower seeds packed in compost and brightly colored clay. "Planting" them is easy: You just throw them on the ground and wait for the rain, sun, and soil to do their work. The candy-colored seed bombs "practically grow themselves," says the company's website

There are six varieties, one for each region of the country, so bee lovers can be sure to plant native flowers that will thrive in their area.

Seedles are the brainchild of San Francisco's Ei Ei Khin and Chris Burley, a couple who initially hoped they could get people to plant a million flowers. They surpassed that number in 2014. In an email to mental_floss, Burley (now the company's "pollinator-in-chief") said they've since set their sights higher: a billion flowers for the bees. 

Khin and Burley are especially concerned about the interdependence between honeybees and our food supply. Of 100 major American crops, 70 are pollinated by bees; without them, we might not have apples, almonds, carrots, or avocados. To encourage interest and awareness in the plight of the bees, Seedles partners with local food companies to give out free seed bombs.

Because they're pretty, simple, nontoxic, and foolproof, the seed bombs make great educational tools. Kids like Khin and Burley's two-year-old son, Orion, love chucking the little clay balls. 

All images courtesy of Seedles

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Animals
This Octopus Species in Northern Australia Can Hunt on Dry Land
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YouTube

Most octopuses live in the ocean—but in northern Australia, a small, shallow-water species takes to land in search of food. Abdopus aculeatus is the only octopus that’s specially adapted to walk on dry ground. Using its long, sucker-lined arms, the slimy sea creature pulls itself along the shoreline as it searches tide pools for crabs.

Witness Abdopus aculeatus in action by watching BBC Earth’s video below.

[h/t BBC Earth]

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Weather Watch
Rising Temperatures Are Killing Off African Wild Dogs
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Over the last few decades, images of fluffy white harp seals, polar bears, and penguins have become shorthand for climate change's creeping destruction of our planet. But the poles aren't the only ecosystems in danger. A new study published in the Journal of Animal Ecology finds that rising temperatures near the equator are making it much harder for African wild dogs to survive.

"When people think about climate change affecting wildlife, they mostly think about polar bears," lead researcher Rosie Woodroffe of the Zoological Society of London told The Guardian. "But wild dogs are adapted to the heat—surely they'd be fine."

To find out, Woodroffe and her colleagues analyzed data from packs of African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) in Kenya, Botswana, and Zimbabwe. The dog packs have been under scientist surveillance for years—some since the late 1980s—and at least one dog per pack is fitted with a radio collar.

The researchers overlaid information about local weather and temperature with data on the dogs' hunting habits, the size of each litter of pups, and how many pups from each litter survived.

These dogs are creatures of habit. Adults rise early and leave the den for a morning hunt. They range over their large territories, chasing antelopes. At midday, when the Sun is highest, they return to their pups with food. They may go out again in the evening as the temperature drops.

But like the polar bears' glaciers, the dogs' environment is gradually heating up. All three countries saw a temperature increase of about 1.8°F over the study period. This may not sound like much, but for the dogs, it was plenty. Between 1989 and 2012, the number of pups per litter in Botswana surviving to their first birthday dropped from 5.1 to 3.3. Dog packs in Zimbabwe saw a 14 percent decrease in pup survival; in Kenya, the rate declined by 31 percent.

"It's really scary," Woodroffe said.

"If you are an animal who makes your living by running around really fast, obviously you are going to get hot. But there are not enough hours in the day anymore that are cool enough to do that. It is possible that some of these big areas will become too hot for wild dogs to exist."

Woodroffe and her colleagues were not anticipating such clear-cut results. "It is shocking and surprising that even right on the equator these effects are being seen," she said. "It illustrates the global impact of climate change." 

[h/t The Guardian]

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