Livin' on the MDedge

Love hormone plein air, posh preused Kleenex, and dieting plague vectors


Why Bullwinkle thinks pink

Flying squirrels are secretly doing their best flamingo impression – who knew? A forestry professor discovered, by happy accident, that flying squirrels are fluorescent – they glow hot pink under ultraviolet light.

shabeerthurakkal/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Turns out, almost all species of gliders – even blue-helmeted Rocket “Rocky” J. Squirrel – are members of the Pink Ladies. They are one of the very few glowing mammals; the only other known mammalian species to have fluorescent fur are certain opossums.

But why do these airborne rodents glow pink? Is it because of an overintake of bubblegum? Are flying squirrels just really flamboyant but also shy? Are they huge fans of the singer Pink?

A biologist involved in studying these colorful critters hypothesized that the reason is slightly more related to environment than musical preference. Flying squirrels are nocturnal, making them most active when UV light is most prominent. The garish glow might have something to do with nighttime perception.

However, we don’t know the answer for sure. And in the meantime, we can choose to believe flying squirrels eat way too much cotton candy.

Buzz, feed, diet. Repeat

Guns don’t hurt this mass murderer. Police can’t arrest it. Background checks are pointless. A border wall won’t keep it out. So, how do you stop a mosquito?

With a newly-obtained blood meal visible through her now transparent abdomen, the now heavy female Aedes aegypti mosquito takes flight as she leaves her host’s skin surface. James Gathany/CDC

Diet drugs.

Because female mosquitoes transmit malaria, Zika, and other diseases when they move from person to person feeding on human blood, investigators sought to curb that appetite by chemically re-creating the feeling of fullness they get after a big meal.

The lady killers in their study – Aedes aegypti, to be exact – when given an antiobesity drug that suppresses human appetite by activating neuropeptide receptors that regulate food intake, turned away from a tempting piece of nylon stocking that had been worn by one of the researchers. Further work showed that treated mosquitoes were as disinterested in feeding on a live mouse as mosquitoes that had already enjoyed a full blood meal.

The LOTME research staff (What? Of course, we have a research staff. You don’t?) is working on the mosquito problem too, although we’ve taken a somewhat different approach: The “volunteers” who walk into the mosquito-filled room wear a sign that says, “My blood will make your butt look bigger.”


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