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Rare Snow Rollers Form Across Idaho

Recently, two Idaho residents named Dan and Dennis Robbins stepped outside after a snowstorm. They witnessed a surreal site: dozens of icy cylinders made entirely from snow, strewn across a hill with no sign of human interference.

According to CityLab, these unusual hollow formations are called snow rollers. (They're also sometimes referred to as snow doughnuts.) They're extremely rare, and only form in very precise weather conditions. A strong wind picks up a chunk of snow on a hill, bluff, or other inclined surface and rolls it along the ground. As the snow piece moves, it picks up even more snow, growing larger and larger until it's eventually too big for the wind to push it any further. The snow on the ground has to be the right mixture of wet and loose, icy and packed, for the accumulated mass to form a perfect wheel. In other words, the perfect (snow)storm of events needs to exist for snow rollers to blow into your own backyard. 

Throughout the past few years, snow rollers have been spotted everywhere from Washington State to Parkersburg, West Virginia and Norwood, New York. Last year, they popped up across Ohio, Illinois, and Pennsylvania. If you're lucky enough to see a snow roller in your own town this winter, take a picture. After all, they don't come along every day—and they won't last long. 

[h/t CityLab]

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Which Rooms In Your Home Have the Most Types of Bugs, According to Entomologists 
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Insects can make any home their own, so long as it contains cracks, doors, and windows for them to fly, wriggle, or hitchhike their way in. And it turns out that the creepy crawlers prefer your living room over your kitchen, according to a new study that was recently highlighted by The Verge.

Published in the journal Scientific Reports, the study looked at 50 homes in Raleigh, North Carolina, to measure their insect populations. Entomologists from both North Carolina State University and the California Academy of Sciences ultimately discovered more than 10,000 bugs, both alive and dead, and a diverse array of species to boot.

The most commonly observed bugs were harmless, and included ladybugs, silverfish, fruit flies, and book lice. (Luckily for homeowners, pests like bedbugs, termites, and fleas were scarcer.) Not all rooms, though, contained the same distribution of many-legged residents.

Ground-floor living rooms with carpets and windows tended to have the most diverse bug populations, as the critters had easy access inside, lots of space to live in, and a fibrous floor habitat that could be either a cozy homestead or a death trap for bugs, depending on whether they got stuck in it. The higher the floor level, the less diverse the bug population was, a fact that could be attributed to the lack of doors and outside openings.

Types of bugs that were thought to be specific to some types of rooms were actually common across the board. Ants and cockroaches didn’t limit themselves to the kitchen, while cellar spiders were present in all types of rooms. As for moths and drain flies, they were found in both common rooms and bathrooms.

Researchers also found that “resident behavior such as house tidiness, pesticide usage, and pet ownership showed no significant influence on arthropod community composition.”

The study isn’t representative of all households, since entomologists studied only 50 homes within the same geographical area. But one main takeaway could be that cohabiting bugs “are an inevitable part of life on Earth and more reflective of the conditions outside homes than the decisions made inside,” the researchers concluded. In short, it might finally be time to make peace with your itty-bitty housemates.

[h/t The Verge]

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Special Viewfinders Allow Colorblind People to Experience Fall Foliage in All Its Glory
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Each autumn, the foliage of the Great Smoky Mountains erupts into a kaleidoscope of golds, reds, and yellows. Visitors from around the world flock to the area to check out the seasonal show, and this year some guests will have the chance to see the display like they’ve never seen it before. As the Associated Press reports, Tennessee is now home to three special viewfinders at scenic overlooks that allow colorblind users to see the leaves of the forests in all their glory.

The new amenities cost $2000 apiece and have been installed by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development at the Ober Gatlinburg resort, at Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area near Oneida, and at the westbound Interstate 26 overlook near Erwin in Unicoi County. The lenses are similar to glasses that allow people with red-green vision disorders to see in full color, but according to state officials this is likely the first time the technology has been implemented in scenic tower viewers.

Color blindness varies from person to person, but those who have it may tend to see mostly green or dull brown when looking at a brilliant autumnal landscape. Before the new features debuted at the beginning of November, tourism officials allowed a group of colorblind individuals to test them out. You can watch their reactions to seeing the true spectrum of fall colors for the first time in the video below.

[h/t AP]

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