Unraveling the Mystery of Monarch Migration

monarch butterflies

Monarch butterflies fly between 50 and 100 miles each day during their migration. (Photo credit: Didier Dorval / Radius Images)

The monarch butterfly is the only butterfly species that makes an annual round-trip migration. Scientists have wondered for quite some time what triggers the monarch’s migration behavior. New research may finally provide an answer to that question.

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Using Stable Isotopes to Identify the Geographic Origin of Food

Consumers are increasingly interested in knowing where their food comes from and what exactly is in it. Unfortunately, food labels are not always accurate. In fact, some products are mislabeled intentionally in order to garner a higher price in the marketplace. Can anything be done to determine if a product really is what it says it is? How can you tell if that wedge of Parmesan cheese was really made in Parma, Italy? [Read more…]

52 Environmental Things to Do for Earth Day (and Every Day)

planet Earth

April 22 marks the 46th annual celebration of Earth Day. (Photo credit: Digital Vision/Getty Images)

April 22 marks the 49th annual Earth Day celebration. Earth Day was originally established by Senator Gaylord Nelson in 1970 to bring environmental issues to the forefront of the national agenda. Until then, there were little to no legal or regulatory mechanisms to protect the environment.

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The Science Behind Maple Syrup Production

tapping maple trees for sap

As winter transitions to spring, the perfect conditions arise for collecting sap from sugar maple trees. (Photo credit: James Pintar/Shutterstock)

As winter turns to spring, syrup producers turn their eye to the weather forecast. They are in search of the perfect conditions to begin tapping sugar maple trees for sap. Have you ever wondered how sap from a maple tree is turned into a delicious topping for pancakes and waffles? [Read more…]

Getting to Know the Groundhog

Punxsutawney Phil

Punxsutawney Phil and his handler. (Photo credit: Corbis)

On February 2nd, all eyes turn to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, home of the groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil. Local lore has it that this groundhog can predict the following six weeks of weather. If he sees his shadow, then six more weeks of winter are in order. If he does not see his shadow, then an early spring is on the way.

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Ambergris: A Perfume Ingredient with an Unusual Origin

ambergris

Ambergris is a valuable substance that originates in a sperm whale’s digestive system. (Photo credit: Michael Freeman/Corbis)

When a “strange and mysterious” object washed ashore on a public beach in Wellington, New Zealand, rumors began to spread that it was ambergris. Soon after, fortune hunters arrived and tore the mysterious substance apart with shovels, collecting pieces in plastic bags. [Read more…]

A Long Winter’s Nap No More

hibernating bear

Many bears hibernate during the long, cold, and dark winter months. (Photo credit: Ralph A. Clevenger/Corbis)

When temperatures get colder and the days get shorter, many mammals settle into a period of hibernation. But what effect will climate change — and the associated changes in weather patterns — have on this annual behavior? [Read more…]

Bringing Heritage Turkeys Back to the Thanksgiving Table

turkey_crop

Turkey is a common sight on Thanksgiving. (Photo credit: Photodisc/Getty Images)

The centerpiece of many Thanksgiving dinners in the United States is a roasted turkey. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), it is expected that over 240 million broad-breasted white turkeys–the standard turkey found in your local supermarket–will be raised in the United States. [Read more…]

Hate Cilantro? Blame Your Genes

New research indicates that your love (or hate) for cilantro depends on your genes. (Photo credit: Marnie Burkhart/Fancy/Alamy Images)

When it comes to the taste of cilantro in a spicy bowl of soup or wrapped up in a burrito, where do you stand? Do you find its taste refreshing? Or does it seem like you’re eating a mouthful of soap? This seemingly-benign herb elicits a love-hate relationship for many people. New research indicates that your genes may dictate your initial reaction to the flavor of this green herb.

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Yes, We Have No Bananas – The Demise of the Cavendish

Whether sliced into a bowl of cereal, split in two and served with ice cream, or peeled and eaten, the banana is a common part of the American diet. Americans eat more bananas annually than oranges and apples combined. Bananas are an excellent source of vitamins, including B6 and C, magnesium, potassium, and fiber. While Americans typically view bananas as a snack food, in other parts of the world, they hold a much more important nutritional role. In some areas of Africa, where more than 200 species of the fruit are grown, bananas account for 80% of consumed calories. However, the banana that you know and love a variety called the Cavendish is in danger of being wiped out by a catastrophic disease currently spreading across the globe.

bananas

The Cavendish variety accounts for nearly 100% of the bananas imported around the world.(Photo credit: Muellek Josef/Shutterstock)

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