Thursday, August 7, 2014

DISASTER PRECURSORS: The Latest Incidents Of Strange Animal Behavior And Warnings From the Nature - Mass Bees Die-Offs In Portland Area, Oregon And Mass Die-Off Of Fish And Crabs "Panics Fishermen" In Paradip, India; Dad & Son In ICU After Wasp Attack In Altamonte Springs, Florida, United States; 20 Dogs Die From Arizona Heat; Alien Trap-Jaw Ants Spread Along Gulf Coast! [PHOTOS+VIDEOS]

June 24, 2014 - EARTH - The following constitutes the latest reports of unusual and symbolic animal behavior, mass die-offs, beaching and stranding of mammals, and the appearance of rare creatures.
Mass Bees Die-Offs Reported In Portland Area, Oregon
Department of Agriculture inspector Isaac Stapleton examines the honeybee hives of Jon Beaty in Estacada after
they have recently suffered mass bee die off. (Photo: Thomas Patterson / Statesman Journal)

The Oregon Department of Agriculture is investigating at least three Portland-area mass bee die-offs that appear to be linked to pesticides.

Beekeepers in several locations have reported entire colonies dying suddenly.

Estacada beekeeper Jon Beaty checked his hives Wednesday night.

"I noticed that there were hundreds of bees lying on the ground in front of the hives dead, which was shocking to me," Beaty said.

Sandy beekeeper Dena Rash Guzman noticed tens of thousands of dead bees in and around two of her eight hives Wednesday.

"I live in the middle of nowhere on a 60-acre sustainable farm," she said. "We've had beehives here for four years and never have had this happen."

Guzman called expert Matt Reed, owner of Portland's Bee Thinking beekeeper supply store, who came out to take a look.

"When a honeybee colony dies en masse like that, usually it is pesticides," Reed said. "A lot of them were dropping off the combs as I inspected them."

Reed said he's seen a rash of similar reports on Portland-area beekeeping Facebook forums this week.

Beaty and Guzman suspect aerial spraying of nearby nurseries and Christmas tree farms.

An ODA pesticide investigator took samples at the hives Friday morning, ODA spokesman Bruce Pokarney said.

(Photo: Thomas Patterson / Statesman Journal)

(Photo: Thomas Patterson / Statesman Journal)

Eugene pesticide operator has license suspended

The state has suspended a Eugene pesticide operator's licensefollowing an incident this week that left about 1,000 bees dead.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture found that an employee of Glass Tree Care and Spray Service sprayed the neonicotinoid pesticide imidacloprid on 17 flowering linden trees at an apartment complex Tuesday.

Neonicotinoids can harm bees if used improperly.

It's the same situation that caused a highly publicized die-off of 50,000 bumblebees at a Wilsonville Target a year ago.

That incident led to the formation of a legislative task force on pollinator health that will begin meeting this month.

It also led Oregon to require that neonicotinoid pesticides imidacloprid and dinotefuran sold in the state be labeled with instructions prohibiting use on linden trees and other tilia species.

Glass Tree Care was using a product with an old label on it, ODA said. But older labels state the pesticides cannot be used when the trees are in bloom.

WATCH: Mass bee die-offs reported in Portland area.

By law, pesticide applicators must follow label instructions.

Most of the pollinators impacted were bumblebees, ODA spokesman Bruce Pokarney said. Some honeybees also were found dead and dying.

As a condition of license reinstatement, Glass Tree Care and Spray Service must have the applicator retake and pass examinations required for a commercial pesticide applicator; the company must cooperate with ODA, to the department's satisfaction, in preventing or mitigating further harm from incident; and the company must provide to ODA a written plan describing how it will set in place policies or protocols to prevent recurrences of incidents involving pesticide applications to plants in bloom.

ODA is considering additional enforcement action, Pokarney said.

"We've given information to all of our pesticide licensees. We've made a great effort to talk about pollinator protection," Pokarney said. "They should have known better." - Statesman Journal

Mass Die-Off Of Fish And Crabs "Panics Fishermen" In Paradip, India
A group of people fishing at Puri Canal in Bhubaneswar on Friday.  (Express photo)

Large scale death of marine species including fish and crabs for the last couple of days on Santra Creek here has spread panic among local fishermen. Scientists of State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) have rushed to the spot to collect water samples to ascertain the cause of the mass death of marine species.

The fishermen alleged that discharge of chemical effluents from the proposed Paradip refinery project of IOCL is the main cause of the fish death.

Though the refinery project is yet to be commissioned, IOCL authorities have pressed several contractual agencies for the project’s construction work. The agencies have been discharging chemical effluents into Santra creek and Kadua river leading to the mass death, alleged the fishermen.

Farmers in Paradip area also complained that prawn and other marine species have perished in nearly 11 gheris causing loss to the tune of `4 crore. Prawn farmer Susant Pradhan said marine fishes in a three-acre gheri have died due to release of chemical effluents from the refinery project. The loss is estimated to be around `35 lakh, he added.

Fishermen Madhu Parida, Lalu Patra, Gobind Samal and others said they had cultivated prawn and marine fish by availing loans from private financiers. After the death of the marine species, it is an uphill task to repay the loans, they rued.

On the other hand, a senior officer of the IOCL refuted the allegation of the death of marine fish due to discharge of chemical waste from the refinery project. The project has not yet been commissioned and so there is no question of chemical waste being discharged into Santra creek. Moreover, IOCL collected water samples for testing and found the allegation baseless from the report, he added.

Senior scientist of SPCB Prasant Kar, who visited the spot, said, “Our team has collected water samples which would be tested at the central laboratory in Bhubaneswar. The cause of the death of marine fishes is yet to be ascertained as we are awaiting the laboratory report. Fishes and crabs in around 10 prawn gheris on Santra creek have perished,” he added. - New Indian Express

Dad, Son In ICU After Wasp In Altamonte Springs, Florida, United States
Neighbors, beekeeper help pair survive
A father and son from Altamonte Springs are both in intensive care units at two separate hospitals after being attacked by a massive swarm of wasps.

David Alvarez and his 7-year-old son, Jordan, were on a walk with their dog last Wednesday evening in a wooded area along the Little Wekiva River near Mahogany Lane when one of them, or the dog, stepped on a yellow jacket nest, disturbing thousands of the wasps.

The pests relentlessly attacked Alvarez and his son.

“Just to see them like that and so swollen and so many marks on them, it's just horrible,” said Jennifer Jones, the man's wife and boy's mother.

Jones has been going back and forth between Florida Hospital Altamonte and Orlando, visiting her husband and son, who are struggling to recover from the attack. She said her husband's grandmother lives in the neighborhood they were in and that he's gone for walks in the same area for the past 30 years.

When the yellow jackets attacked, Jones said her son led his dad, who is allergic to them, out of the wooded area and onto the road, where they flagged down help.

“I was driving down the street and I saw a man and a boy stumbling out of the woods and stumbled across the road covered in bees,” said Brien Schou.

Schou said he rolled down his window to see what they needed and wasps immediately flew into his vehicle. Schou called 911 while other neighbors ran out to help.

“I know he wanted to quit because he said, 'I just wanted to give up because it hurt so bad, but I had to keep going because I seen daddy laying there on the ground.' I just can't believe how strong he is,” said Jones of her 7-year-old son.

To Jones' amazement, a beekeeper who lives nearby also heard people screaming for help. Jim Kunze jumped in his truck and drove around the block, where he found the two suffering.

“It was pretty bad. It was chicken pox times five, at least,” said Kunze.

Kunze threw on his bee outfit, put Jordan in his truck to get some air conditioning and immediately went to work, pulling off and killing the yellow jackets that were still attacking Alvarez.

WATCH: Father, son in ICU after being attacked by wasps in Altamonte Springs.

Kunze said he believes the family's dog was walking ahead of the father and son and may have stepped on the nest.

“They've got guards at their entrance, and once the first one stings, it puts out a pheromone, it alerts the rest and the rest go to that point,” said Kunze.

Alvarez has developed pneumonia and a blood clot. He is still unconscious and heavily sedated. His son was taken out of ICU but was re-admitted Monday due to some difficulty breathing.

“They will be lucky to survive this. They were attacked that viciously,” said Kunze.

Jones said her husband was alert enough to give her phone number to paramedics, who called her to tell her what happened. She said when she got there,  a yellow jacket was crawling out of her son's ear.

The family's dog was also stung and started to have liver failure. She was taken to a veterinarian and seems to be recovering well.

Jones said she's thankful for the first responders and the beekeeper who helped her family.

With kids out of school for summer and playing outside, Jones said she just wants other parents to be aware of what happened to her family.

“It's so nerve-racking because it's kind of by a school and it is summer time and kids go and explore and the main thing is, I don't want this to happen to another kid,” said Jones.

Friends of the family have started a GoFundMe account to raise money for their medical bills. Click here for more information. - Click Orlando.

20 Dogs Die In Arizona Heat

Heat. There's been plenty of it to go around in Arizona these first days of summer -- literally and politically -- after the air conditioning went out at a dog kennel.  Sheriff's deputies found 20 dead dogs piled up in a shed on Friday at Green Acres Dog Boarding Facility in Gilbert. The public shock over their deaths led a U.S. senator to issue a public statement on Monday.  As fate would have it, Republican Sen. Jeff Flake's son, Austin, was minding the kennel, when the dogs died.  Green Acres is owned and operated by two of Flake's relatives, Jesse and Maleisa Hughes, the Maricopa County Sheriff's office said.  The couple was out of town, leaving Austin Flake to dogsit, when a dog apparently chewed through the electric wiring connected to the air conditioning, said Sheriff Joe Arpaio.  He called it an accident, but at the same time cast doubt on the kennel owners' account of how the dogs died.

Kennel owners: It was an accident  
"It was a tragic accident," Hughes told CNN. "We are heartbroken, and we're devastated." She doesn't believe anyone could have predicted or stopped what happened.  The air conditioning unit kicked out in the middle of the night, Hughes said.  Austin Flake and his wife slept at the east end of the house, while the temperature climbed to seething heights in the kennel on the west end, Maleisa Hughes said.  The dogs sleep there at night in a large, cooled room, she said.  The two sides of the house have separate air conditioning units, so the Flakes couldn't feel the suffocating heat.  During the day in Gilbert, the mercury has blasted up to over 100 degrees F, easily making it hard to find relief, perhaps even after temperatures dip back down to under 80 at night.  By the time the Flakes discovered the dogs at 5:30 a.m., the temperature was over 100 degrees, Hughes said.  The gnawed wire was still sputtering off sparks.  "It could have burned down our whole house," Hughes said. "My whole house could have burned down and all my children could have died, and then it would have been a tragedy."  One of the dogs that perished was her own.  The Flakes turned a hose and ice on the overheated dogs to try to save them, the sheriff's office said. "But failed to call for emergency assistance before the dogs died."

Sheriff: Story "seems unreasonable"  
Sheriff Arpaio said that his office is investigating and that parts of Hughes' story seems suspicious. "It seems unreasonable that dogs could be healthy at 11 p.m. at night and dead by 5:30 a.m. the next morning as the owners suggest," he said.  A veterinarian he conferred with has corroborated his doubts, Arpaio said.  Deputies arrived to find some of the dogs' owners at Green Acres. A couple cried and hugged, as deputies used a wheel barrow to cart off dogs' carcasses wrapped in cloth.  Pet owners told Arpaio that the Hughes misled them about the number of dogs kept at the kennel.  The Hughes have not been arrested or charged, CNN affiliate KPNX reported. - CNN.

Alien Trap-Jaw Ants Spread Along Gulf Coast
This species of trap-jaw ant, Odontomachus relictus, is only found in Florida. It is a cousin of O. haematodus,
a South American species that has recently taken hold along the Gulf Coast.Magdalena Sorger

An aggressive type of trap-jaw ant with a mighty bite is gaining ground in the U.S. southeast, new research finds.

The species, Odontomachus haematodus, is native to South America, but it seems to have spread recently along the Gulf Coast without attracting much attention until now. 

"The fact that some of these species are spreading is interesting, in part because these giant ants have managed to expand their territory without anyone noticing," Magdalena Sorger, a doctoral student at North Carolina State University, said in a statement. "We know very little about these ants, including how they interact with native ant species in the areas they're invading." [See Amazing Photos of the World's Ants

O. haematodus may have been hiding in the United States unnoticed for more than five decades. The earliest example of the species in the country comes from insect specimens kept in the Smithsonian National Collection: O. haematodus samples were picked up in Alabama in 1956. 

Often mistaken for its North American cousins, O. haematodus, when in small groups, likely blended in across the Southeast over the next several decades, but now the population is too big to ignore. Today, the species is common along the Gulf Coast, from the New Orleans area of Louisiana east to Pensacola, Florida, Sorger and colleagues wrote in their study published in the journal Zootaxa. 

The ants have a shiny body ranging from yellow to black in color, and they have taken root in a variety of habitats. Their nests have been found in rotting logs in forests as well as in building foundations in urban areas, the researchers wrote. 

Trap-jaw ants of the genus Odontomachus are remarkable for their strong set of mandibles. The creatures' spring-loaded jaws open 180 degrees and quickly snap shut to grab prey or propel the ant into the air to escape predators. (The insects had previously been called "leaping ants.") In 2006, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, clocked the jaw-snapping speed of Odontomachus bauri and found this species closes its mandibles at 78 to 145 mph. 

While native trap-jaw ants found in the United States do not usually sting humans unless handled, O. haematodus are more aggressive. In defense of their turf, ants of this species will immediately sting intruders who so much as place a hand in the leaf litter near their nests. According to anecdotal reports, the insect sting is painful but doesn't last long, Sorger and colleagues wrote. 

The team hopes their research paper will help scientists identify which species of trap-jaw ants they encounter in the future. - FOX News