World’s Biggest Bee Not Extinct
You’d think that the world’s biggest bee would be hard to lose track of. But Wallace’s Giant Bee — an Indonesian species with a 2.5-inch (6.4 centimeters) wingspan and enormous mandibles — was last seen by researchers in 1981; it was feared to be extinct.
However, scientists finally spotted the rare bee in January, in the Indonesian province of North Maluku on the Maluku Islands. They detected a solitary female bee after investigating the region for five days, and a photographer captured the first-ever images of a living Wallace’s Giant Bee (Megachile pluto) at the insect’s nest in an active termite mound.
U.N. officials warned that a locust outbreak is spreading along both sides of the Red Sea from Sudan and Eritrea to Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
They report that heavy rains from two tropical cyclones in 2018 triggered the breeding of locust swarms, with the insects also spreading as far away as Iran.
“The next three months will be critical to bring the locust situation under control before the summer breeding starts,” Food and Agriculture Organization locust expert Keith Cressman said in the statement.
One small swarm of the insects can chomp through as much plant food in a single day as 35,000 people.
Monarch Realm Expands
A small, secluded colony of monarch butterflies has been found after years of searching by park rangers and conservationists.
Rumors of a possible colony around Mexico’s Nevado de Toluca volcano had spawned numerous searches. But a handful of communal landowners stumbled across the tiny colony just before Christmas.
News of the discovery came as officials announced the wintering population of monarchs in 15 acres of their main habitat in the mountains of Michoacan state had increased by 144 percent over the previous year.
The location of the newly discovered colony is being kept secret and will be patrolled by paid conservation workers.