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  • News in Brief

    U.S. honeybees had the worst winter die-off in more than a decade

    U.S. honeybees just weathered an unusually bad winter.

    About 38 percent of beekeepers’ colonies died between October 1, 2018, and April 1, 2019, the Bee Informed Partnership estimates.  While it wasn’t the worst recent year overall for honeybee losses — that was 2012–2013 — preliminary results released June 19 show it is the worst winter die-off recorded over the University of Maryland–...

    06/20/2019 - 15:02 Animals, Conservation, Agriculture
  • News in Brief

    The U.S. is still using many pesticides that are banned in other countries

    Compared with other global agricultural powerhouses, the United States has lax restrictions on potentially harmful pesticides, a study suggests.

    An analysis of agricultural pesticide regulations reveals that the United States widely uses several chemicals that are banned or being phased out in the European Union, Brazil and China — three of the world’s other leading pesticide users.

    ...
    06/10/2019 - 08:00 Agriculture, Science & Society
  • Feature

    Can Silicon Valley entrepreneurs make crickets the next chicken?

    Trina Chiasson was raised in a log cabin, learned to spin plates in Chicago’s circus arts community, dreamed up a software company and three years later sold it to a bigger company. Her next challenge: building a business, called Ovipost, that brings better technology to cricket farming.

    “I didn’t know any cricket farmers growing up, I know you’ll be shocked to learn,” she says. Yet she’...

    05/02/2019 - 07:00 Agriculture, Animals, Sustainability
  • News

    A major crop pest can make tomato plants lie to their neighbors

    Don’t blame the tomato. Tiny pests called silverleaf whiteflies can make a tomato plant spread deceptive scents that leave its neighbors vulnerable to attach.

    Sap-sucking Bemisia tabaci, an invasive menace to a wide range of crops, are definitely insects. Yet when they attack a tomato plant, prompting a silent shriek of scents, the plant starts smelling as if bacteria or fungi have...

    04/04/2019 - 06:00 Plants, Animals, Agriculture
  • Science Stats

    Prosecco production takes a toll on northeast Italy’s environment

    Sorry to burst your bubbly, prosecco lovers, but skyrocketing demand for the sparkling wine might be sapping northeastern Italy’s vineyards of precious soil — 400 million kilograms of it per year, researchers report in a study posted online January 10 at bioRxiv.org.

    That’s a lot of soil, but not an anomaly. Some newer vineyards in Germany, for example, have higher rates of soil loss,...

    01/18/2019 - 13:28 Agriculture, Sustainability
  • Science Visualized

    This honeybee parasite may be more of a fat stealer than a bloodsucker

    Tests with fake bee larvae reveal that a “vampire” mite attacking honeybees may not be so much a bloodsucker as a fat slurper.

    The ominously named Varroa destructor mite invaded North America in the 1980s, and has become one of the biggest threats to honeybees. Based on research from the 1970s, scientists thought that the parasitic mites feed on the bee version of blood, called hemolymph...

    01/18/2019 - 13:15 Animals, Agriculture
  • News

    A new way to genetically tweak photosynthesis boosts plant growth

    A genetic hack to make photosynthesis more efficient could be a boon for agricultural production, at least for some plants.

    This feat of genetic engineering simplifies a complex, energy-expensive operation that many plants must perform during photosynthesis known as photorespiration. In field tests, genetically modifying tobacco in this way increased plant growth by over 40 percent. If...

    01/03/2019 - 14:00 Agriculture, Plants, Genetics