Earth Changes


Monarch butterfly population drops to dangerously low levels


Monarch butterfly
Monarch butterflies are in decline nationwide, and may be approaching dangerously low levels.

Monarchs have declined nearly 80% in the 21 years researchers have been monitoring their wintering populations, from a high of up to one billion butterflies in the 1990s to roughly 56 million today, according to a recent report from the Xerces Society.

But according to Mark Ferguson, a biologist for the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, Vermont may play an important role in the continued efforts at monarch conservation.

"Vermont's meadows and old fields provide habitat for milkweed, which is a critical food source for monarchs," said Ferguson. "In contrast, increasing levels of herbicide use in large-scale agriculture in the Midwest appear to have greatly reduced the abundance of milkweed in that part of the country, which historically produced half of the monarchs in eastern North America."

Monarchs lay eggs on milkweed and feed on milkweed as caterpillars. Most eastern monarchs overwinter at a single site in the mountains of central Mexico. According to Ferguson, monarchs need to reproduce several times during their north-bound migration, and require milkweed at each of these sites.


Horse rescued from sinkhole in Washington County, Pennsylvania


Crews in Washington County rescued a horse from a sinkhole on a Scenery Hill farm Friday morning. The retired racehorse, named Chautauqua Worms, was uninjured except for a few cuts, rescuers said.
The Washington County Animal Response Team rescued a horse Friday morning from a 6-foot sinkhole at a Scenery Hill farm.

Responders lifted the 1,000-pound horse, named Chautauqua Worms, from the hole with an A-frame hoist borrowed from the county, said Ed Childers, a firefighter at the North Strabane fire department, which runs the rescue team known as CART.

The response team arrived at the Amos Road property about 6 a.m., pulling the horse from the pit at 9:30 a.m., Childers said.

"All in all, everything went pretty well," Childers said. "No injuries, no damaged equipment."

Neighbors identified the horse as belonging to horse farm owner Lisa Beinhauer. She could not be reached for comment.

Arrow Down

Beach closed after large sinkhole appears in Exmouth, UK


The sinkhole
A 15ft deep hole opened up on a popular Devon beach on Thursday.

A large part of the beach in Exmouth has been closed to the public over fears of further sinkholes appearing in the sane.

One beach-goer reported the discovery to the coastguard near Orcombe Point.

Specialist teams secured the area and on arrival found a hole approximately 15ft wide and the same distance down had appeared and was filled with water.

The surrounding sand was also soft, with fresh holes starting to appear nearby.

East Devon District Council said a 100m squared cordon has now been put in place after concern was raised that the hole may be indicative of a much larger chamber underneath.


Suspected poacher killed by wild boar in India

© David J Slater
Wild boar
A suspected poacher was killed in wild boar attack in the fields of Sonegaon-Shirumpur in Chimur tehsil on Saturday afternoon. Forest officers are investigating the motive behind the deceased, Chagansingh Bhond (56), visiting remote fields away from forest with his accomplices.

As per reports, Bhond, along with a couple of accomplices, was moving through the fields when a wild boar charged at them. Though his aides escaped, Bhond suffered serious injuries and died on-the-spot. His friends rushed him to Chimur rural hospital, where doctors declared him brought dead.

Forest officials were informed about the incident. A team led by RFO, Chimur range KR Akkewar visited the spot. He said post mortem report would confirm the exact cause of death. He, however, claimed that footprints of many people along with those of dogs and wild boars were found on the spot. He raised suspicion about motive of Bhond's visit to the remote area.


West LA fault line might slice all the way down to the Earth's Mantle

© California Dept. of Conservation
The Hollywood Fault has gotten a lot of attention lately from opponents of developments in its vicinity, but we can't forget that Hollywood's not the only fault in town. Researchers at UC Santa Barbara have just discovered something super fascinating about one lower-profile (but very important) fault: the Newport-Inglewood Fault, which runs along the Westside through the LA basin and was responsible for the 6.4 Long Beach earthquake in 1933. The new findings suggest the fault might be way deeper than previously thought and that it may be the ancient collision site of the Pacific and North American tectonic plates, says the UC Santa Barbara Current, the university's official news site.


Aggressive fox traps 8 people in Alconbury sports club, UK

© Mark Magee
Mark Magee photographed the fox through a window from the safety of the club
A "vicious" fox trapped eight people inside a sports club for three hours as it stalked them from the car park.

The animal appeared as people were preparing to leave Alconbury Sports and Social Club, Cambridgeshire.

Panic reigned, with a woman being bitten, a man falling off his bicycle as he was chased and a pest controller being pursued back to his car.

Club chairman Bruce Staines, who was chased around the car park, said he had "never seen anything like it".

Mr Staines admitted he "tweaked his groin" trying to get away from the marauding animal and back to the safety of the club.

"None of us could get out. When we tried to use a side door, the fox heard and came haring round there."

Eye 2

Alligator kills man swimming at marina in Orange, Texas

© Arco Images / Huetter, Christian/Alamy
Alligators are found across the south-eastern United States from Virginia to Texas.
A man was killed early on Friday when an alligator attacked him during a late-night swim at a south-east Texas marina, according to police.

Orange police captain Robert Enmon said Tommie Woodward, 28, suffered severe trauma to a limb when he was attacked early on Friday morning at the private marina, which is along a bayou extending from the Sabine River near the Louisiana line.

Orange County sheriff's deputies and a Texas game warden found his body nearby about two hours later.

Police said Woodward, who lived near the marina in Orange, was swimming with a woman, but Justice of the Peace Rodney Price told KFDM-TV in Beaumont that the woman only jumped from a dock after he screamed for help. The woman was not hurt.

Price said it appeared Woodward was bitten soon after he jumped in.


Can't stand the heat? Make your own air conditioner for $20

Comment: Note that this article is from 2 years ago. But for readers living in countries and regions experiencing heat waves (e.g., Oregon, France and elsewhere in Europe).

The current heat wave in Europe (July 2015).
It's hot. And according to the national heat map from the US Weather Service, the heat is sweeping all across the country. (Today, Las Vegas is expected to smash an all-time high temperature.)

However, there is hope. We discovered an easy way to beat the heat without breaking the bank. Thanks to the clever minds at Snapguide, there's a simple way to build an actual air conditioner for about $20...and in less than 30 minutes.

In case you're not familiar with SnapGuide, the site's "About" page explains their mission quite simply and clearly.
Snapguide is a free iOS app and web service for those that want to create and share step-by-step "how to guides." Users are invited to create their own guides using the iPhone or iPad app. Snap pictures and videos of your project, add captions, and share your guide with the Snapguide community.
Snapguide user Rory Boyer came up with a very simple way to create a cheap and rather uncomplicated air conditioner. While it is doubtful that you could cool an entire house with this ice chest AC unit, it does appear to be an easy way to add some cool air to any room.


83-year-old man killed by dogs in Pecos, Texas

A pit bull attack Thursday morning left an 83-year-old man dead in his daughter's backyard, Pecos Police said.

The victim was identified as Norberto Legardo, a longtime Pecos resident friends described as "very kind" and "[someone who] always did good deeds."

He was feeding his daughter's dog at her Eddy Street house, investigators said, when three pit bulls belonging to a neighbor approached them.

"I think the evidence is going to show that somehow the pit bulls got into [his daughter's] yard and started fighting with the dog [he was feeding]," said Pecos Police Chief Clay McKinney. "Mr. Legardo probably tried to break up the fight and then the pit bulls turned on him."

A witness told NewsWest 9 one of the dogs lunged at the 83-year-old's throat and all three were involved in the attack. According to McKinney, "at least two" mauled Legardo.

He added that officials are still in the early stages of the investigation and "don't have many details" about the incident.

Officers were dispatched to the scene around 9:45 a.m. and found Legardo unresponsive. He was declared dead shortly after.

Police said the Labrador he was feeding was found near the residence by Animal Control and is expected to recover from injuries sustained in the attack.


Fear of volcano eruption in Manipur's Ukhrul district as continuous flow of ashes, smoke eminate from village swamp

A continuous gush of smoke and ashes from a swamp at a villag in Ukhrul.
A continuous flow of smoke and ashes from a swamp at a place near Old Wahong village of Manipur's Ukhrul district has left villagers fearing of natural calamity in the form of volcanic eruption any time, a daily reported Tuesday.

Villagers said that smoke radius of about two feet along with ashes have been seen gushing out from the earth's surface at Shitru area, since last two weeks.Shitru is located a place border Manipur, Nagaland and Myanmar.

Villagers and onlookers feared volcanic eruption at the area in a short time.However, with majority of the villagers preoccupied with cultivation of seasonal crops, and coupled with incessant rainfall, they are yet to inform State authorities about the mysterious phenomenon till date. Yet, they are clueless and at the same time quite apprehensive in case the smokes and ashes turn out to be a prelude to a volcanic eruption.

It may be mentioned that in 2013, a mud volcano erupted at the neighbouring village of New Tusom due to the shifting of tectonic plates of India and Myanmar.