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Embracing hopelessness: Getting over our faith in reason is the only path forward – Salon

Posted: June 6, 2021 at 1:54 am

Over lunch with a high school buddy, I mentioned a college classmate's death from pancreatic cancer, not long after he had receiveda Nobel prize for his own groundbreaking cancer research." My friend, a successful advertising executive, visibly shaken, asked, "How could he have died? He must have known everyone."

"You're kidding," I said. "Pancreatic cancer is the very definition of bad luck hard to detect early, hard to treat, a generally grim prognosis." I was quickly drowned out by his rapid-fire follow-up questions: "Are there any good screening tests? Biomarkers?dietary precautions I can take? Surely there must be something."

Annoyed that yet another lunch was being ruined by health anxieties, I blurted out, "It's nothing personal, but pancreatic cancer is just one of a zillion sneaky diseases lurking in the wings. At our age, we would both be better off embracing hopelessness."

"Wonderful," said my friend."My condescending doctor friend feels obliged to enlighten me by arguing that the key to life is to admit defeat. And to think you once actually took care of patients." He pulled out some change to cover his half of the lunch and left me to pay the tip.

Alone with my coffee, I wondered why I would have intentionally provoked my friend. I wouldn't wish the feeling of hopelessness on my worst enemy. After all, feeling hopeful is purpose's handmaiden, an involuntary mental state, like love orjoy, that softens reality's sharp edges. But the state of hopelessness the sober, evidence-based recognition that nothing further can be done now that's another story.

Years ago, in a book on pathological altruism how believing that you are helping others can result in unanticipated harm I described a brilliant oncologist who, hell-bent on prolonging the life of each of his patients, often turned a deaf ear to their pleas that "enough is enough." On numerous occasions I tried but failed to dissuade him from pursuing what I and others thought was overly aggressive intervention. The final straw was his insistence that I perform a lumbar puncture on a clearly terminal patient. I argued that the procedure was certain to cause the patient discomfort, with a negligible chance that it would affect his outcome. He countered that if I refused, he would do the puncture himself. I gave in; the patient suffered a post-spinal tap headache that persisted for his last three days. That was adual cognitive blunder: the oncologist's unwillingness to accept his patient's imminent death was rivaled by my persistent inability to acknowledge the utter hopelessness of trying to convince him otherwise.

To get a sense of how difficult it is to fully embrace obvious hopelessness, I'm reminded of the time I "went broke" in a high-stakes poker game in Las Vegas. Fresh out of residency and still burdened with debt, I'd squirreled away enough winnings from our small-stakes home games to pony up a single buy-in in the "big game" held during the annual World Series of Poker. Shortly after sitting down, I found myself involved in the largest pot I had ever played. When all the cards had been dealt, I had an almost sure winner. I bet, my opponent raised, I re-raised, and my notoriously conservative opponent, after a dramatic pause, shoved in the remainder of his chips.

I realized that he had to have the one hand that could beat me. Though it was obvious that I hadno chance of winning, if I folded I'd never know for certain. Having never been in this spot before, I couldn't shake the remote possibility that he had misread his hand or was making an uncharacteristically high-level bluff. For what seemed like forever, I sat motionless as unemotional probabilities jousted with wishful thinking. Of course, reason eventually failed; I called and lost.

"Sorry, kid, but you had to call," the winner said as he scooped up my chips. "You had too much money invested in the pot." He patted me on the back. "I suppose you're right," I said, getting up and starting for the door. When I was presumably out of earshot, the winner said to the other players at the table, "Throwing good money after bad what a fish." The others laughed.

* * *

I'm watching a panel of TV talking heads outline the various reasons why Republicans and Democrats are constitutionally incapable of finding common ground. The pundits glumly acknowledge that the two parties exist in alternative universes governed by incompatible principles and diametrically opposed facts. Nevertheless, despite being unable to suggest any practical steps forward, they conclude with the self-canceling phrase, "Even so, I remain hopeful."

Really? Hopeful of what? Given their convincing skeptical arguments, why on earth should we share their unjustified sense of optimism? Imagine a simple litmus test:a national betting forum in which experts were forced to place wagers on their opinions. If they were unwilling to bet any of their hard-earned dollars, we would have an independent measure of their actual degree of hopefulness.

Moving down to the personal level: would you be willing to bet that we will soon see major improvements in our educational system, stricter gun control, a revitalized power grid, highwaysand bridges, high-speed transit systems, an improved health care system? That additional evidence or more convincing lines of reasoning will alter the views of creationists, atheists, climate change and Holocaust deniersor anti-vaxxersor, conversely, dissuadehardcore rationalists who insist that we will one day understand how consciousness arises, and that a foolproof "theory of everything" is imminent? Though none of my politically savvy friends and colleagues have bitten on this proposition,no matter how favorable the odds I've offered, they continue to passionately debate and argue the nuances of a better future they do not doubt will occur.

The point is obvious but bears repeating: To recognize the myriad ways in which so-called rational discourse has failed us, and yet to act as though change is just around the corner, is the same type of misplaced hope that propelled the oncologist to deny that his patient was beyond treatment and why I lost my Las Vegas bankroll because I could not fold what I unequivocally knew to be a losing hand.

As a practicing physician, I have witnessed this conflict between emotional optimism and a dispassionate recognition of futility contribute to many of medicine's onerous excesses. Case in point: unnecessary back surgeries performed because the surgeon cannot overcome his gut feeling that the procedure might work despite the lack of objective evidence. The same dynamic applies to failed interpersonal relationships. You glumly conclude that your spouse is serially unfaithful, abusiveor hopelessly addicted to alcohol or drugs, but persist with the belief that perhaps he or she will change. Ditto for dealing with a troubled, persistently rebellious teenage child:When a therapist deems your child incorrigible and recommends commitment to a rehab program, you are forced to choose between tough love and false hope.

Admitting defeat is antithetical to our default tendency to delude ourselves when times are bad, even when the negative data is indisputable. Wherever measurable, from life expectancy and quality of health care to literacy in math and science, the world ranking of the United States is in free fall. The logical conclusion: It's time for a societal hard love project.

No, you might counter; things will be better when cooler heads prevail. Perhaps we can gather better evidence, generate more convincing arguments, work harder toward bipartisan compromise, wait for better and more widespread educational opportunities to kick in This commonly held bedrock belief in the power of reason to shape public opinion is understandable; our founders, fully steeped in the Enlightenment-era emphasis on rationality, could not have anticipated future cognitive science advances revealing the many deceptive ways in which conscious experience arises from perceptual illusions. We are in the process of learning that our sense of self, our agency (so-called free will), and, most importantly, our sense of thinking and assessing or judging our ideas are purely involuntary mental sensations that paradoxically create the illusion of being in conscious control of our thoughts and actions.

* * *

I confess to a certain discomfort in arguing that conscious deliberation is strictly an epiphenomenon that plays no role in our decision-making. In the past I have been willing to accept that there may be a small conscious component to our thoughts that we can use to improve critical thinking. I no longer feel, however, that clinging to this unprovable fanciful notion is even a useful fiction. As the distinction between conscious versus subliminal control over our behavior is critical to mankind's future, a few words of explanation are in order.

We readily accept that perception occurs involuntarily, but tend to view reason, though arising from similar subconscious processing, as at least partially in control of its origins and premises. As we experience the flow of thought via symbols such as language or numbers, it is only natural that we assume they are the building blocks of our thoughts. Not so. As we can see from preverbal infants and other animals, language is not necessary for thought. What we experience as conscious thought the vocabulary of reasoning is at best a rough translation of poorly understood non-linguistic brain processes.

In my 2008 book "On Being Certain," I offered the artificial neural network (ANN)-based analogy of decision-making as the product of a subliminal committee weighing various alternatives and then sending the most appealing of them into consciousness. To highly simplify this idea, imagine each committee member as a set of neural connections representing a single genetic or innate biological predisposition, personal experienceor cultural influence. Each committee member gets one vote either approving or disapproving of a piece of incoming information. The committee's final tally is a function of its inherent open-mindedness, the prevailing strength of its already-acquired opinions and beliefs, motivations of the various committee members, and the degree to which the members of the committee value evidence-based reasoning over other modes of decision-making, such as reliance on trusted authorities and prevailing dogma. The power of conviction of this new information to sway committee members will determine whether this new information reaches awareness.

Decide whether to take your family vacation in the mountains or at the seashore. No matter what reasons you may provide and your spouse or children counter with, they are post-hoc rationalizations for personal tastes no different than the preference for chocolate over vanilla ice cream. Traditional modes of discourse from polite debate to high-decibel exhortations are no more likely to change another's tastes than trying to prove that Brussels sprouts taste sweet or bitter (a distinction that has recently been shown to be genetically determined). The essential stumbling block of modern discourse: Your reasoning may not be my reasoning any more than your tastes are my tastes.

* * *

I cannot imagine a more impossible assignment than changing how we view our thoughts. And yet, if there is to be real hope for a better collective future, we need to come up with fresh approaches that are both scientifically plausible and generally palatable. Though I have no ready suggestions, we can draw a few hints from observing nonhuman ways of thinking. Two tantalizing examples come immediately to mind: artificial intelligence deep learning and insect swarm behavior.

To begin with AI, consider the rudimentary necessities for an artificial neural network (ANN), using algorithms inspired by the human brainto learn to play chess. No advance knowledge of chess is necessary. Given a clear designation of purpose (winning) and an immense amount of training data (games played) providing appropriate feedback as to the best moves, the initially ignorant ANN will soon beat the world's greatest chess masters. (Of course, AI can only address those problems for which there is sufficient objective data; subjective issues such as human character, ethics and morality remain beyond its reach).

These two basic requirements a large amount of uncensored data and clarity of purpose highlight major differences between human and machine thought. Unlike machines, our unique predispositions and different cultural influences generate highly personal hunches, intuitionsand beliefs that collectively prejudge the potential value of any incoming piece of information. By contrast, the ANN initially considers every possible move, no matter how seemingly ridiculous and nonsensical to an outside observer, until it has been empirically tested.

The second prerequisite of a deep learning AI system clarity of purpose points out a different version of the same problem. Unlike single-purpose algorithms designed to win at chess or poker, human motivation is multifaceted, inconsistentand often contradictory. Even when we believe in the single-mindedness of our goal winning at our Friday night poker game we often play sub-optimally, submarined by contrary urges such as making a low-probability bluff to humiliate an irritating opponent, or playing a bad hand with the low=probability but highly appealing possibility of making a straight flush. Unfortunately, as introspection and self-reflection arise from the same opaque circuitry that we are trying to examine, our self-knowledge boils down to trust and acceptance of those subliminally generated self-narratives that make their way into consciousness. (As I've written previously, our assessment of the motivation of others, based upon putting our own often-inaccurate sense of self into the shoes of another, is even more suspect).

Some successful features of AI in comparison to human thought are worth emphasizing: There is no censoring of incoming information, reliance upon gut feelings, pride in untestable intuitions and unreliable claims of motivation the bitter fruits of mistakenly believing that we can objectively judge our thoughts. But there's more than observing thinking at an individual level; we also need to consider group influences. For example, witness the dramatic behavioral shifts in locusts when subjected to crowded conditions.

During the dry season, locusts lead isolated relatively antisocial lives, shying away from contact with others and living off a limited plant diet. Then, when the rains come and vegetation blooms, they breed and their population soars. While the food supply is plentiful, they remain solitary vegetarians. When the rain stops and the vegetation dries up, the increased number of locusts crowd together in areas of remaining vegetation. This increased contact triggers a variety of stunning behavioral changes. They abandon their normally solitary behavior to seek out one another's company, and then start reproducing explosively to form massive swarms. Their leg muscles enlarge, and they begin marching movements in time with the other locusts. Their brain size increases by 30 percent, primarily in areas of visual processing necessary to cope with the group foraging rather than solitary food finding. Even their external appearance and color changes. Within hours the locusts are transformed from solitary plant eaters to synchronized, swarming cannibalistic devourers of their brethren.

Though we cannot know what if anything a locust experiences consciously, imagine what it might be thinking if it had a mind capable of self-reflection. Might it question what came over it to go from being a loner to suddenly seeking out crowds and wanting to mate like crazy, or why it has forsaken its healthy plant diet for gross eating of its brethren'sflesh? How would it interpret its radical shift in social behavior, sexual promiscuityand indifference to the plight of others?

Science to the rescue. Researchers have shown that this shift in locust behavior is triggered by stroking small tufts of hair located on the locusts' hind legs the region that most frequently comes into contact with other locusts when they are in close proximity. Stimulation of these hairs creates an outpouring of the brain neurotransmitter serotonin; blocking the serotonin release prevents the swarming behavior.

How extraordinary that, in a Rube Goldberg-like sequence of events, increased population density leads to physiological brain and muscle changes that alter perception and behavior. Have you ever wondered what the crowds converging on Miami Beach during the height of the pandemic were thinking when they shunned mask-wearing and social distancing, caught up in the moment of seeking the company of others, perhaps even with the possibility of getting lucky and "hooking up?" Or the frenzied behavior at a political rally or international soccer game? Closer to home, have you ever been exiting a crowded stadium or theater and found yourself taking short marching steps to accommodate the milling crowds surrounding you? You are sure that you have voluntarily chosen to take smaller steps to avoid others. But what if you and the crowds at Miami Beach or the stormers of the Capitol on Jan.6were responding reflexively to a sudden shift in their levels of neurotransmitters? As agency is a perceptual illusion, how are we to distinguish between personal choice and indifferent biology? That crowds can structurally change brain anatomy and behavior should be a both a cautionary tale and a clue as to how we should reconsider human thought going forward.

* * *

The above comments are not intended to in any way denigrate the value of reason, only to relocate its site of origin. Though there is no conscious control center for the mind, this does not mean that we cannot change our minds by appealing to our senses. One photo of a fatal car crash carries more weight than hours of traffic-ticket-school lectures on the evils of speeding. The smell of bakedgoods can enhance our desire to be charitable.A close reading of ancient Stoicism evokes an unexpected personal epiphany of acceptance of life's circumstances.

But learning the appeal of an elegant line of reasoning runs into the more basic problem that critical thinking, like any skill, is easier and more enjoyable for some than others. At one extreme, there are those for whom a lifetime of rumination and cogitation offers an unparalleled sense of meaning.For others, hard thought is a deeply unpleasant slog that cannot hold a candle to gut feelings, the warm comfort of communal beliefsand the unfettered promises of propaganda and demagoguery.

Even the best reasoning skills are not enough to arrive at a consensus opinion on the major issues of the day. Once we fully accept that critical thinking develops outside of conscious control, it becomes self-evident why the smartest among us, even when presented with the same evidence, prefer different lines of reasoning that often result in conflicting arguments and conclusions. Case in point: the widely disparate theories cluttering the field of philosophy of mind, from the diametrically opposed views of free will to the underlying nature of consciousness. We are better off seeing different modes of thinking in the same aesthetic light as personal tastes for or against Brussels sprouts, preferring Scotch to boxed white wineor switching from being a Yankees fan to rooting for the Mets.

For a moment try to imagine the utter chaos of a world that fully accepted that our thoughts occur to us rather than being consciously generated. There would be no agreement as to what constituted good science, expertise, real versus fake news, correct logic, unequivocal proofor degree of personal responsibility for our thoughts and actions. Thefundamental tenets of democracy freedom to choose, equal value of each vote, what constitute theinalienable rights of the individual would all be profoundly challenged. In short, it would look just like today's world.

But with a difference. We have been sold an unwarranted bill of goods as to our uniqueness in the animal kingdom. Like all other creatures, we are decision-making organisms, not rational agents. Our use of language and numbers and the ability to think about our thinking (metacognition), no matter how spectacular and profound, is as subliminal in origin as a termite's ability to build a termite mound.

Forget hostile debate and impassioned oratory. A willingness to change our minds requires a deeply felt acceptance that our decision-making arises out of impossible-to-fully-unravel subterranean inclinations. To get to a "we're all in this together" communal spirit, we must fully abandon our sense of pride, defensivenessand certainty in our thoughts, or even our conviction that our thoughts are solely of our own choosing (think of the locust example). My unwarranted wishful thought: perhaps stepping back from our favorite arguments will allow a glimpse of a shared humanity lurking beneath conflicting urges and ideologies. It's hard to imagine, and even harder to bet on, but just maybe and the slightest perhaps is still better than nothing, which is why I retain a modest bit of hope in the face of the utter hopelessness of our times.

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The 5 Bugs That Are Most Likely to Bite You While You’re Sleeping – Best Life

Posted: at 1:53 am

If you've ever woken up with a strange bump on your body and no sign of the culprit, you have to confront the uncomfortable likelihood that a bug snuck in and snacked on you in the middle of the night. Between the popular myth that you swallow eight spiders a year in your sleep and the knowledge that there are bugs that can live in your bed, it's no wonder people are nervous about unwelcome visitors overnight. But if you want to freak yourself out further, read on to learn which bugs are most likely to bite you while you're sleeping.

RELATED:5 Things You're Buying That Bring Bed Bugs Into Your House, Experts Say.

It's no surprise that a creature called a bed bug is one of the insects most likely to bite you while you're sleeping. Entomologist and pest control expertRyan Smithsays bed bugs are probably the most common nocturnal bug and they love hiding out in your mattress. "A bad infestation of bed bugs can cause people to wake up and have trouble sleeping as a result of their biting," he says.

According to Vulcan Termite and Pest Control, one way to know if you have bed bugs is by identifying dark stains left on the sheets from where they've excreted or fed. "Bed bugs are most active an hour or two before sunrise when you're still fast asleep," according to Vulcan. "Once the sun comes up, they hide away under the mattress and in nearby crevices."

Pest expertJordan Fostersays these bugs only feed for a few minutes, but you could wake up with multiple bites if a host of them are feasting on you. Per Foster, bed bug bites are often painless at first but can turn into itchy welts, most commonly found on exposed skin. These pests prefer nibbling armpits, around the neck, behind the knee, and the inner thighs.

RELATED:If You Smell This in Your Bedroom, You Might Have Bed Bugs.

If you have pets in your home, you're more likely to get bitten by fleas at night, especially if your pet sleeps with you. "Fleas are always searching for easy prey, which means they might feast on you while you sleep," Smith says. Unlike bed bugs, fleas tend to bite around the ankles. These bugs leave extremely itchy, red, and sometimes sore bites behind. According to Foster, flea bites can even lead to hives or a rash. He warns against scratching flea bites, because it could result in an infection.

Chiggers are tiny red bugs that can result in very itchy bites. "People are the main source of food for chiggers," Foster says. "This small, minuscule insect attaches itself to the skin, remaining tight for a few days, and then falls off." A chigger bite may get worse for a few days before getting better. While chiggers can bite you while you're sleeping in your bed, Vulcan notes that you're most likely to get a chigger bite during the spring, summer, or fall while camping or sleeping outdoors.

According to Healthline, spiders are more active at night. The good news is that spiders generally only bite when they feel threatened, but if they get trapped in your clothing or you roll onto them, you could wake up with a small wound. If a spider bit you, there's likely only one bite, compared to bed bugs or flea bites that usually come in packs. A spider bite can result in swelling, red welts, itching, and a rash, per Healthline.

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You've probably woken up with the familiar itch of mosquito bites many times before. Once one of these pests begins feeding on you with its long tube-like mouth, it's likely to keep going, which can result in a fair amount of itchy bites. Healthline notes that many types of mosquitoes are more active at dusk and at night, which makes your slumber a perfect time for them to feast.

RELATED:If You Live Here, Prepare for a Mosquito Invasion Like You've Never Seen.

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‘You have to think like them:’ Not the season for termites to play second fiddle – Journal & Courier

Posted: at 1:52 am

Here's a video of termites. Wochit

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. If insects were teenagers in a high school cafeteria, cicadas would be sitting at the popular table.

Theyre all the buzz right now.

And termites would be far across the lunch room, wondering, What do they have that we dont have?

For one thing, termites didnt disappear for 17 years and show up all dressed and ready to find a date.

Termites, one insect expert said, dont really go away. Even in the cold months, they dont die, said Curtis Rand, a Purdue University graduate and self-proclaimed termite enthusiast.

Yes, there is such a thing.

Termites are one of my favorite insects, Rand, vice president of Franklin Pest Solutions, told the Journal & Courier. I got into termites when I went into this business and learned more about them. Its not what I studied at Purdue, but Ive studied them since. Theyre neat, when you think about it. When you have to treat for them, you have to think like them.

Termites prefer the warm soil that can be found in Central Indiana during the spring and summer, making their way to the top of the earth in search of wood to eat.(Photo: Courtesy of Franklin Pest Solutions)

Right now, theyre thinking about coming up for air. In the winter months, termites go deeper under ground until the top soil begins to heat up again.

For termites in Indiana, things are heating up. You could say that this is their prom season, prime time for you to be on the lookout.

Central Indiana is prime real estate for termites, Rand said, because of the rich soil that drew farmers here in the first place.

Think about the Indianapolis area, Lafayette, West Lafayette, Rand said. Think of all the vegetation you have, especially where you are, with the Wabash River running through heart of the city, all that moisture.

Indiana built up as the farmers tilled up the land, which is very fertile soil. They took away the trees for farming, but the termites didnt go anywhere.

So, the termites needed to munch on something.

When we think about termites, most of our world was wood water, the earth and termites were there to take care of the underbrush, Rand said. They serve a very good purpose for breaking down trees."

Through his professional study of insects, Rand believes all inspects serve a purpose except one. Mosquitoes.

I still havent figured out the reason for them.

Termites prefer the warm soil that can be found in Central Indiana during the spring and summer, making their way to the top of the earth in search of wood to eat.(Photo: Courtesy of Franklin Pest Solutions)

Back to termites.

Unfortunately we put a bunch of houses where those trees used to be, so they eat our homes. We do want termites in our world, we just dont want them in our homes.

Termites especially like Indiana and Illinois, he said, because the ground temperature doesnt get too cold.

In Alaska, for example, you dont find many termites, Rand said.

Termites, beneficial to ecosystem as a whole, aren't considered "pests" until they invade our homes. Remember, they're encountering us in their environment, Rand said.

"Termites are much older than human beings," Rand reminds us. "Theyve lived through a lot."

This particular insect can be a real pest because it only needs about 1/64th of a inch to squeeze into your world. To get that image in your mind, think about tapping a pencil on a piece of paper. That dot you just made? That's as small a hole as a termite needs.

A key to keeping termites from your home is to keep untreated wood at a distance.

"You cant prevent termites," Rand said, "but what you can do is mitigate potential issues. Some people may have a wood fence that touches a house. Make sure theres a piece of metal between the wood pile and your home, five, 10, 15 feet away."

Curtis Rand, a Purdue University graduate and vice president of Franklin Pest Solutions, is fascinated by termites, a "pest" that does serve a purpose.(Photo: Courtesy of Franklin Pest Solutions)

While termites will remain in our environment for the unforeseeable future, Rand described a successful, non-invasive way of removing them from your immediate environment.

And this non-invasive trick plays on a termite's hierarchy of eating: the worker termite eats, then throws up the food for the soldier termite, who then feeds the queen.

The worker termite, according to the experts, is the only type that actually eats wood. The rest the soldier and the queen eat what the worker termite provides.

A Sentricon bait trap, Rand said, for example, attracts the worker termites, who feed on the bait and regurgitate yuck! as the food source for the soldier termites and the queen. When the workers die, they can't feed the queen and/or the soldiers, who then die.

The queen and soldiers die from one of two ways: either from being fed the bait in the regurgitated food or from lack of food, because the workers that feed them have died.

"When a queen dies," Rand said, "the colony dies."

Rand said exterminators aren't in the business of killing pests so much as they are concerned with removing them from our path. In his decades of work, he's encountered many a pest, with any number of legs and eyes.

One memorable visit involved inspecting a commercial kitchen.

"When I removed one of the ceiling tiles, thousands of cockroaches fell on my head," he said.

During another notable inspection, Rand came across some books. On the surface, one particular book seemed in good condition. But when he opened the spine, the inside pages had been eaten away.

And what was the name of the book?

"The Bible."

Deanna Watson is the executive editor at the Journal & Courier. Contact her at Follow her on Twitter at @deannawatson66.

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Specimen of Invasive ‘Super-Termite’ Captured in Israel, Raising Hopes of Controlling the Species – Algemeiner

Posted: at 1:52 am

The Formosan termite (Coptotermes formosanus). Photo: US Department of Agriculture.

A specimen of an insect species so damaging that it is sometimes called the super-termite has been captured in Israel, giving environmental protection officials a chance to wipe out the invasive species.

The Formosan termite (Coptotermes formosanus), is believed to originate in southern China or Taiwan, but has spread widely throughout the world, mainly due to its aggression and voracious appetite.

Israeli news site N12 reported that the species was found to be present in Israel eight months ago in the city of Petah Tikvah. On Wednesday morning, following an extensive search, an underground monitoring station managed to capture a living specimen.

The capture is significant, as the only way to control the species is to feed a growth-inhibiting hormone to an individual, which then spreads it to the rest of the colony.

The super-termite breeds in the millions and builds colonies underground that can quickly infest buildings and other artificial structures. According to the website Pest World, their colonies can include 350,000 workers alone, and their queens can lay 1,000 eggs per day. The bugs eat wood at a fantastic rate, with a colony being able to consume more than an ounce every 24 hours.

In the US alone, the species is believed to cause $5 billion a year in damage. In the state of Hawaii, for example, the Formosan termite is responsible for 50% of all infestations in high-rise structures.

Israels Ministry of Environmental Protection toldN12 that, in the coming days, the termites will release swarmers winged individuals that emerge from the underground colonies and take to the air for reproductive purposes.

Gal Zagron, head of the Pest Control and Management Division at the ministry, said of the swarming, We are talking about a once a year opportunity to watch a termite burst out of the nest in the ground and in trees and fly into the air.

Because were talking about a new invasive species, she explained, it is important to immediately locate every place where there are Formosan termite colonies, in order to try and prevent their damaging spread and establishment in the entire country.

Specimen of Invasive 'Super-Termite' Captured in Israel, Raising Hopes of Controlling the Species - Algemeiner

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Penetration: Key instances of the Covid-19 impact on the Pest Control Market The Courier – The Courier

Posted: at 1:52 am

The global market for pest control is estimated to experience a negative impact due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the crisis, major manufacturers experienced several issues such as disruption in raw material supply and less production due to lockdown of industries, which restricted the demand and supply for insecticides across the globe. However, leading market participants are concentrating on product developments and advancements to gain a competitive edge in the overall industry. For example, in November 2020, Bayer, a leading insecticides manufacturer, introduced a new product called Fludora Co-Max. This product is an effective way to combat vector borne diseases and resist mosquitoes. Such product launches are expected to create a major impact on the on-going activities to sustainably and actively tackle the rising pest problems. These initiatives made by market leaders are predicted to have significant impact on the global market during this time.

Global Pest Control Market Analysis

The increasing prevalence of vector-borne diseases across the globe is estimated to fuel the market growth during the forecast time. As per Rentokil, a global leader in pest control services, more than 3.9 billion people across the 128 countries are at higher risk of contracting dengue fever and they estimated about 96 million new cases occurring per year globally. This factor is predicted to increase the demand for pest control products and is anticipated to drive the industry growth in the forecast time. In addition, rise of pest intolerance due to rising consumer awareness about health and other hygiene issues may drive the pest control market growth in the analysis timeframe. Moreover, 29% Americans experience rodent issues in commercial, residential, and agricultural sectors and this will propel the market growth during the forecast period. In China, every year, termites are the reason for about $1 billion economic losses as they cause floor damages, ceiling damages, and others similar issues. Such aspects are estimated to enhance the growth of the market in the review time.

However, increasing concerns related to toxicity of the pest control chemicals and stringent regulations imposed by the governments for the approval of these products are significant factors acting as restraints for the growth of the market in the forecast time.

Check out How COVID-19 impacts thePest Control Market.Click here to Connect with Analyst @

Emergence of biological pest elimination products to minimize the use of chemicals in pest control is estimated to propel the opportunities for the industry growth in the upcoming years. This growth is majorly attributed to biorational or biological pesticide products containing pheromones or living microorganisms, which are non-toxic and best alternatives for chemical products.

Global Pest Control Market, Segmentation

The global pest control market is categorized based on pest type, control type, end user, and region.

Pest Type:

The pest type segment is further categorized into rodents, insects, termites, and others. Among these, the termites pest control sub-segment is anticipated to have the fastest growth rate and surpass $9,095.4 million by 2027, with a healthy CAGR of 5.5%.

The sub-segment growth can be attributed to increasing usage of pest control products to control termites as there is rise in urbanization and termites are considered as the main reason for wood structure losses. As per U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans spend about $1 billion on termite control and related services per year to avoid property damage caused by termites. This aspect is estimated to fuel the pest control market growth in the analysis period.

Control Type:

The control segment is further categorized into biological, mechanical, chemical, and others. The biological sub-segment is anticipated to have a lucrative growth in the forecast years and is anticipated to register a revenue of $5,510.0 million during the analysis timeframe.

The sub-segment growth is projected to be due to the increasing importance of biological practices to control pests in agricultural, residential, and commercial places as biological products are non-toxic and environmentally friendly. Also, International Organization for Biological Control (IOBC), an organization affiliated with the International Union of Biological Sciences, supports the research and practitioners in the biocontrol practices to identify the major restrictions to biocontrol uptake in the pest control market. This aspect is estimated to result in lucrative growth in the pest control market in the coming years.

End User:

The end user segment is further categorized into agriculture, residential, industrial, commercial, and others. The residential pest control sub-segment is predicted to have a rapid growth in the forecast time and generate a revenue of $7,974.7 million by 2027.

Increasing consumer awareness about vector-based diseases due to climate changes is creating significant importance for residential pest control. This is because pest control is necessary in residential places to avoid health issues and property damages. This aspect is estimated to accelerate the growth of the pest control market during the analysis time.


The pest control market for the Asia-Pacific region is projected to witness rapid growth and generate a revenue of $8,168.0 million by the end of 2027.

The demand for pest control services is surging in the Asia-Pacific region specifically because the rise in population has directly impacted the pest control use in agriculture sector to meet the increasing food demand. Also, increase in pest intolerance due to rising living standards of individuals in Asia-Pacific countries due to rising consumer focus on hygiene and pest free environments is estimated to fuel the growth of the market in the analysis time.

Key Players in theGlobal Pest Control Market

1 Bayer AG2 Syngenta3 Corteva4 Rollins, Inc.5 The Terminix International6 UPL7 FMC Corporation8 ADAMA Ltd9 Rentokil Initial plc10 BASF SE

Along with the company profiles of the key players in the market, the report includes the Porters five forces model that gives deep insights into the competitive environment of the market.

Porters Five Forces Analysis for the Global Pest Control Market


About Us:Research Dive is a market research firm based in Pune, India. Maintaining the integrity and authenticity of the services, the firm provides the services that are solely based on its exclusive data model, compelled by the 360-degree research methodology, which guarantees comprehensive and accurate analysis. With unprecedented access to several paid data resources, team of expert researchers, and strict work ethic, the firm offers insights that are extremely precise and reliable. Scrutinizing relevant news releases, government publications, decades of trade data, and technical & white papers, Research dive deliver the required services to its clients well within the required timeframe. Its expertise is focused on examining niche markets, targeting its major driving factors, and spotting threatening hindrances. Complementarily, it also has a seamless collaboration with the major industry aficionado that further offers its research an edge.

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Penetration: Key instances of the Covid-19 impact on the Pest Control Market The Courier - The Courier

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Extensive Study on Global Termite Control Products Market Status and Prospect, Forecast 2021 to 2027 Jumbo News – Jumbo News

Posted: at 1:52 am

The Global Termite Control Products Market Report Analysis 2021-2027 presents a comprehensive assessment of the market and includes future trends, current growth factors, facts and figures, historical information, and forecast till 2027. This global Termite Control Products market is defined with its respective details such as product type, business overview, sales, manufacturer, application, and other features. It provides a systematic approach to the current and potential situation in the global region. Detailed information on the growth rate of the Termite Control Products market, technological innovations, and key strategies implemented by leading Termite Control Products industry players.

This report offers: Covid-19 Impact analysisMarket Sizing and Growth Opportunity Termite Control Products Industry Leading Players and Their Market ShareRegional Segmentation and AnalysisLatest Market Trends and OpportunitiesSWOT and PESTEL analysisMarket Growth DriversExport and Import Production and ConsumptionMarket Forecast By Type, Application, Region

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Scope of the Termite Control Products Market Report:

This report provides a comprehensive analysis for North America, China, Europe, Southeast Asia, Japan, India, and the rest of the world. Furthermore, the business overview, revenue share, and SWOT analysis of the leading players in the Termite Control Products market are available in the report.

Termite Control Products Market Key Manufacturers Analysis

BASF SEThe Dow Chemical CompanyBayer CropScience AGSyngenta AGSumitomo Chemical Co.FMC CorporationNufarm LimitedUnited Phosphorus LimitedRentokil Initial plc.ADAMA Agricultural Solutions Ltd.Nippon SodaControl solution plc.Ensystex

MARKET SEGMENTATIONMarket By TypeBifenthrinsBoratesSulfuryl FluoridesOther

Market By Application/End UseCommercial & IndustrialResidentialLivestock FarmsOthers

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The Global Termite Control Products Market Report has been prepared with an in-depth study of trending growth opportunities and includes self-explanatory statistics of Termite Control Products market growth. The global market report provides a basic overview, a detailed overview of the features, and an explanation of the entire production process along with various advanced production methods. Our Qualified Researchers have intensively compiled the Termite Control Products Market Report with reference to databases, secondary sources, and directories to enhance the understanding of the relevant technical terms.

Key points Covered in TOC:

First, the report includes the top Termite Control Products manufacturing industry players in the region, such as the United States, the European Union, Japan, and China. It also characterizes the market based on geological regions.

Further, the Termite Control Products report details company profiles, market share, and contact details as well as Termite Control Products industry value chain analysis, Termite Control Products industry rules and policies, market growth conditions, and constraints on growth. The report also mentions the scope of Termite Control Products market development and various business strategies.

The research report includes products that are currently in demand in the market and their price breakup, manufacturing volume, import/export, and Termite Control Products market revenue contribution worldwide.

Finally, the Termite Control Products Market Report gives you details about market research findings and conclusions that help you develop profitable market strategies to gain a competitive advantage.

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4 Habits That Will Help You and Your Business Bounce Back Into Top Shape – Entrepreneur

Posted: at 1:52 am

June4, 20215 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Some call it "Covid pounds." Others label it the "quarantine 15." And some refer to it as the "pandemic pounds."

Regardless of the name, we are emotionally and physically under duress.

According to an American Psychological Association (APA) survey of more than 3,000 peoplereleased a year to the day since the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a pandemic 61 percent of American adults reported undesired weight gain or loss since the coronavirus outbreak.

As if that wasn't problematic enough, according to the APA's latest "Stress in America" report, more than two in five of the surveyed adults (42 percent) revealed that they gained more weight than they intended over the past 12 months. And that amount was 29 pounds, on average.

Besides the everyday stressors from just being a human, entrepreneurs have a business to manage as the world is figuring itself out. If you're looking to have a bounce back year with your health and business, practice these four cornerstone habits.

Related:3 Overlooked Reasons Why Entrepreneurs Struggle to Lose Weight

As you're looking to rebound in health and business, you'll inevitably do some researching and strategizing to formulate your game plan.

While this is the logical thing to do, avoid becoming overwhelmed with possible solutions by adopting the "law of one." Adopting the law of one simplifies your life and ensures that you'll operate with unparalleled focus.

For example:

Fewer decisions, fewer distractions, and fewer opportunities to procrastinate equalmore mental and emotional energy that you can positively allocate toward your goals. The more dialed in your focus, the more likely you'll transform your health while forging an unfair advantage in business.

While you may not have a martial arts tournament set up anytime soon, the principle applies to your fitness and business: Go deep with one thing and master that, rather than dabblingin multiple things and ending up average at all of them.

Related:The Surprising High-Performance Habit That Entrepreneurs Can Use to Survive (and Thrive) During Any Crisis

Besides running a business, entrepreneurs aren't exempt from facing various challenges, obstacles and painful periods of life.

Maybe you've had to rebuild a severly impacted business over the last year. Or perhaps you're losing weight that accumulated over the previous year. Or you're simply leaping into entrepreneurship after having sat on the sidelines for so long waiting for the perfect moment to leave the job that brings you no purpose.

Whatever the case, turning poison into medicine starts with facing your current reality and not running away from it.Whether it's your weight, business, finances, relationshipsor something else, you can turn poison into medicine by changing your perspective. And changing your perspective begins with monitoring your internal dialogue.

After all, the only reality existing is the one you're perceiving.

If you had a termite issue in your room and it led to a hole in the wall, would you hang up a picture to remedy the situation?

Of course not. But this is how many people approach their health and business.

They treat the symptom, but not the cause. And to no surprise, the problem rears its ugly head back months later, and often worse.

Whether weight gain or inconsistent revenue, those are merely the symptoms that won't go away unless their root causes are addressed. Without focusing on the root causes, you can find yourself on a rollercoaster with both your weight and income.

Getting to the root causes for weight gain could be uncontrolled stress levels leading to mindless snacking, poor time managementor a non-sustainable nutrition plan. And inconsistent revenue could be due to a flawed sales process or even your beliefs and attitudes around money.

Before blindly jumping into action, do some preliminary work and investigate the possible root causes for your problems. Getting to the root cause will help you develop more precise solutions, so you never have to deal with them again.

Related:The No. 1 Reason You're Falling Short With Your Health and Business Goals

Your day-to-day life is akin to bookends and the books kept in order. Without bookends, holding a row of books upright is mission impossible. Your morning and evening routines serve as the bookends to holding together your day-to-day life.

Focusing on how you start the day is well documented. Still, it's equally important to develop some strong habits for the end the day so you can set yourself up for success the following day. There are four quarters, and your morning is the first while the evening is the fourth quarter. To ensure you start and end the day well, adopt a priming and regeneration routine to serve as your bookends.

Priming is what you'll do in the morning upon waking. Regeneration is what you'll do before sleeping. Block and script out 90 minutes for each one. Include critical habits and tasks to get you in the right frame of mind.

If you find yourself with some extra quarantine weight or a business that needs a tune-up, don't fret. Instead, let the past serve as clues to how your present currently constructs. Leverage lessons and insights from the past in this present moment so you can forge a future to your liking.

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Taking a Bite Out of Tooth Evolution: Frogs Have Lost Teeth More Than 20 Times – Lab Manager Magazine

Posted: at 1:52 am

Some frog species have teeth while others are toothless. Still others have a combination of true teeth and toothlike structures. The Solomon Island leaf frog, Cornufer guentheri, has true teeth on its upper jaw and bony fangs on its lower jaw, which do not have enamel or dentin, a dense tissue found in teeth.

Daniel Paluh/Florida Museum of Natural History

GAINESVILLE, FL Scientists have long known that frogs are oddballs when it comes to teeth. Some have tiny teeth on their upper jaws and the roof of their mouths while others sport fang like structures. Some species are completely toothless. And only one frog, out of the more than 7,000 species, has true teeth on both upper and lower jaws.

Now, the first comprehensive study of tooth evolution in frogs is bringing the group's dental history into focus. Florida Museum of Natural History researchers analyzed CT scans of nearly every living amphibian genus to reveal that frogs have lost teeth over 20 times during their evolution, more than any other vertebrate group. Some frog species may have even re-evolved teeth after losing them millions of years before.

Researchers also found a correlation between the absence of teeth in frogs and a specialized diet on small insects, such as ants and termites. Their analysis of frogs' amphibian relatives, the salamanders and obscure worm like animals known as caecilians, showed these groups retained teeth on both upper and lower jaws throughout their evolutionary history.

"Through this study, we have really been able to show that tooth loss in vertebrates is largely a story about frogs, with over 20 independent losses," said lead study author Daniel Paluh, a PhD candidate in the University of Florida's department of biology. "Only eight other groups of living vertebrates, including seahorses, turtles, birds, and a few mammals, have also evolved toothlessness.

Teeth first evolved more than 400 million years ago, quickly conferring a competitive advantage to animals that had them and leading to the diversification of sharks, bony fish, and ultimately the vertebrates that first roamed onto land.

Throughout their long history, teeth have been an important component of vertebrate evolution, yet some groups have done equally well without them. Birds lost their teeth around 100 million years ago with the advent of the beak, and both the largest known vertebrate, the blue whale, and the smallest, a frog from New Guinea, are entirely toothless.

Few researchers have focused on studying frog teeth, however, for the simple reason that they're incredibly small.

"If you open a frog's mouth, chances are you will not see teeth even if they have them, because they're usually less than a millimeter long," or smaller than the tip of a pencil, Paluh said.

That hasn't stopped some people from trying. In his study of the relationships between frog species, the famous 19th-century paleontologist Edward Cope lumped all toothless frogs into the same group, which he called Bufoniformia.

Researchers using modern genetic techniques have since shown that species in Bufoniformia aren't actually closely related, suggesting that the loss of teeth occurred more than once in frog evolution. But there the story stalled.

In the past, accurately determining which frogs had teeth would have required laborious work that irrevocably damaged or destroyed portions of preserved specimens. Frogs are also a highly diverse group, making a comprehensive assessment of their teeth a difficult task.

But Paluh and his colleagues had one major advantage: The Florida Museum leads a massive multi-institutional effort to CT scan 20,000 vertebrate specimens, giving researchers the ability to study animals in ways not previously possible.

The project, called oVert, allows anyone with an Internet connection to access 3D models derived from the scans, which depict distinct features of an organism, including bones, vasculature, internal organs, muscle tissueand teeth. For Paluh, it meant he could virtually peer into the gape of a frog.

Working remotely during COVID-19 lockdowns, Paluh and fellow members of the museum's Blackburn Lab used oVert scans to carry out the study. To get the clearest picture of changes in teeth over time, the researchers included representatives of all amphibian groups. They analyzed patterns of tooth loss through time using a previously published map of evolutionary relationships between amphibians based on genetic data.

The study provides a powerful example of the research that can be accomplished with open-access data, said David Blackburn, Florida Museum curator of herpetology, Paluh's adviser and senior author of the study.

"We effectively crowdsourced the data collection across our lab, including people that were not in the US at that time," Blackburn said.

Their results showed that far from losing teeth once during their evolution, as suggested by the now debunked idea of the Bufoniformia, frogs have undergone "rampant tooth loss," Paluh said, with toothlessness popping up in groups as distantly related as toads and poison dart frogs.

The team also noted a tight correlation between the presence or absence of teeth in frogs and their eating habits. While dietary information is scant for many species of frogs, the researchers uncovered a connection between a diet of tiny insects and a lack of teeth.

"Having those teeth on the jaw to capture and hold on to prey becomes less important because they're eating really small invertebrates that they can just bring into their mouth with their highly modified tongue," said Paluh. "That seems to relax the selective pressures that are maintaining teeth."

Some species of poison dart frogs, for example, have evolved to feed mostly on ants and mites that produce toxic compounds, using their sticky, projectile tongues to scoop up their prey and swallow it whole. The frogs are able to store the toxins from their food source and repurpose them for their own use, secreting the compounds through their skin to ward off predators. And the turtle frog, a toothless burrowing species in Australia, tunnels through the maze of underground passages inside termite nests, hunting the insects that constructed them.

Teeth seem to be superfluous for mammals that feed on ants and termites as well. Pangolins and anteaters, which have highly specialized tongues for probing ant and termite nests, are both toothless.

Many questions remain about frogs' tooth biology, including how the genes that regulate their tooth production turn on and off. It's also unclear whether the serrated tooth like structures in frogs that regained these features are actually real teeth, Paluh said. To determine that, scientists will need to take a more in-depth look at these structures, looking for the presence of enamel and other key defining features.

Innovative techniques, such as those used in the oVert project, are beginning to underscore knowledge gaps and limitations like these, but they also open up the field to new discoveries, Blackburn said.

"We now have lots of new questions in my lab inspired by the surprising things turning up from 3D imaging from the oVert project, and those will lead us both back into museum collections and to the field to see what these animals are doing in the wild."

- This press release was originally published on the Florida Museum website. It has been edited for style

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Termites Swarm Texas Homes as Rainy Weather Creates Perfect Conditions – Newsweek

Posted: May 26, 2021 at 1:49 am

Heavy rain across Houston and southeast Texas has prompted a buzz of termite activity, with pest control services warning that they'll be looking to spread and start colonies inside people's homes.

Termite swarms inflict more than $5 billion in property damage in the U.S. each year, according to the National Pest Management Association.

They can find their way into homes through tiny gaps, establishing millions-strong colonies in houses without being detected, and causing serious damage by chewing through wood, wall supports, roof materials and other key structures from the inside out.

Three main types of termites routinely cause problems for homeowners in Texas: native subterranean termites, Formosan subterranean termites and drywood termites.

Termites usually become more active earlier in the year, but the freezing weather that gripped Texas in February may have delayed termite activity.

However, termites are attracted to moisture, and the recent onslaught of wet weather has roused them. They'll now be looking to mate and form new colonies.

"What we are seeing right now, just late swarms of subterranean termites that are flying out," Raleigh Jenkins, the president of local pest control firm ABC Home and Commercial Services, told KHOU.

"What they want to do is distribute out to the environment and they want to separate, get in the ground and males and females want to start colonies of their own."

According to Terminix, another insect control company, termites can enter homes through a gap as miniscule as one thirty-second of an inch.

In many cases, subterranean termites make their way inside via cracks in the structure of a house, or through decking, porches and other wooden structures that are in direct contact with the ground.

"Wooden structures in Texas have more than a 70 percent chance of being attacked by termites within 10 to 20 years of construction if they are not properly protected by a chemical or physical barrier," according to Texas A&M AgriLife, which has published a paper with advice for homeowners looking for a termite control service.

There are several telltale signs of a termite infestation.

Wooden flooring can display discolored blister marks, while wooden furniture may sound hollow when it's tapped or have a honeycomb structure.

Termites often shed their wings after swarming, and their droppings have a likeness to sawdust or coffee grounds.

Stick-thin tunnels, known as "mud tubes," are a sign of subterranean termites, which use them as a highway between their underground nests and their food source.

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Houston, we have a problem! It’s raining termites –

Posted: at 1:49 am

Experts say termites love the rain and they're more likely to survive in a wet environment.

All the rain has stirred up some flying pests ready to do some damage.

And the constant rain is making the infestation even worse.

We spoke with a local pest control company, ABC Home and Commercial Services, and they said these little insects have been quite a problem for many people in the Houston area.

Employees said they have been swamped with phone calls from homeowners looking for help.

Experts said termites love the rain and they're more likely to survive in a wet environment.

The freeze we had in February, they said, delayed insect activity -- specifically termites, and now it's causing a problem for lots of residents.

Experts said they don't really need much room to get into your home. They just need a gap as thick as your fingernail to get in and feed off the wood.

"What we are seeing right now, just late swarms of subterranean termites that are flying out. What they want to do is distribute out to the environment and they want to separate, get in the ground and males and females want to start colonies of their own," said ABC president Raleigh Jenkins.

So if you see termites in your house you can use hair spray to knock them down and vacuum them up.

Make sure you capture a few so you can identify the problem and call an expert for help.

If you are calling an expert to help you out, make sure they're a credible company you can call in the future to come back and take care of that warranty work if needed.

But if you can't afford a professional pest company, you can try remedies from a local hardware store. But make sure you follow the instructions to a tee.

By the way, experts tell us vinegar and lemon don't really work.

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