A New Year for Discovery

The rainforest is filled with wondersAs I search through Facebook-esque articles and blogs for Ehrlich’s page, I sometimes stumble upon beautiful articles. Sometimes the article is about a woman who feeds the pest mice instead of killing them (only to anger her neighbors), and sometimes it is straight scientific data that blows my mind.

A few weeks ago I found an article on Mongabay.com that educated me, and the world, about a study done in the Panama rainforest that resulted in finding 130,000 arthropods, of which 60-70% were new to science! In layman’s terms (“Rachael-terms”), according to Merriam Webster Dictionary an arthropod is “any of a phylum (Arthropoda) of invertebrate animals (as insects, arachnids, and crustaceans) that have a segmented body and jointed appendages, a usually chitinous exoskeleton molted at intervals, and a dorsal anterior brain connected to a ventral chain of ganglia”. So…what Ehrlich works with – bugs, creepers, crawlies and ickies. But, what is astounding is that over half of them were new, never before seen, never recorded. Ever.

I find this so intriguing. According to the article, more than 100 scientists collected the arthropods from 2003 to 2004 and over the next eight years, attempted to identify them through various methods. The conclusion was amazing in that the scientists found 6,144 species in the less than half hectare plot. If 65% of the species were new, that means that almost 4,000 of those species were never before seen!

Panama rain forest arthropods

The research plot, 0.48-hectare, is the size of less than a full football field. Do you know how tiny that is in comparison to a whole rainforest? Obviously it is difficult to categorize everything in a rainforest, and I still praise these people for trying. Look at what was found in such a small area, AND it took 10 years. Just fascinating…

Now, the question is – will these new species pose a problem for Pest Control Professionals? The answer – nah, probably not. The rainforest is an exclusive habitat and the beings that live within the moist, hot plant life probably need the climate to survive. I live in Pennsylvania, and the worst we get is stink bugs for the most part. I can only image if we suddenly found 4,000 new species of bug to come after me and bite me. I would not be a happy camper.

Point of the story – keep up with the news. This is an amazing discovery and we will only make more with the coming years. Have a wonderful and safe 2013!

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