The banana as we know it is in imminent danger

The banana is the world’s most popular fruit crop, with over 100m metric tons produced annually in over 130 tropical and subtropical countries. Edible bananas are the result of a genetic accident in nature that created the seedless fruit we enjoy today. Virtually all the bananas sold across the western world belong to the so-called Cavendish subgroup of the species and are genetically nearly identical. These bananas are sterile and dependent on propagation via cloning, either by using suckers and cuttings taken from the underground stem or through modern tissue culture.                        

The familiar bright yellow Cavendish banana is ubiquitous in supermarkets and fruit bowls, but it is in imminent danger. The vast worldwide monoculture of genetically identical plants leaves the Cavendish intensely vulnerable to disease outbreaks. Fungal diseases severely devastated the banana industry once in history and it could soon happen again if we do not resolve the cause of these problems. Plant scientists, including us, are working out the genetics of wild banana varieties and banana pathogens as we try to prevent a Cavendish crash.

Ultimately we need to increase the pool of genetic diversity in cultivated bananas.’ Photograph: Clive Gee/PA

This image sure looks photoshopped, but this is actually a real fish, called blue parrotfish. This intriguing blue colored fish is a member of the parrotfish genus Scarus and is found on coral reefs in shallow waters in the tropical and subtropical parts of the western Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. (Source)


– Beautiful Freak – 

Ordinarily I wouldn’t post images that I am not satisfied with in terms of my focus, depth of field, etc. However, even though I’m not happy with how the pics turned out, I just had to share.
Turns out this creature is an Owlfly larva (Ascalaphidae)! It was so well camouflaged that at first I only saw the caterpillar and was wondering why it looked weird. I bent down and only noticed that this creature had practically severed the caterpillar in two!
Is it weird that I’m so excited about finding this? :P 

Did some reading about these creatures and here’s what I found:
These are dragonfly-like insects that have large bulging eyes and strongly knobbed antennae. They are neuropterans in the family Ascalaphidae; they are only distantly related to the true flies, and even more distant from the dragonflies and damselflies. They are diurnal or crepuscular predators of other flying insects, and are typically 5 cm (2.0 in) long.
The Owlfly larvae are predatory, and lie on the ground or in vegetation, covered with debris, waiting for prey. Larvae resemble those of antlions, but have a “finger-like appendage” on the side of each segment. Some genera actively cement sand and debris onto their bodies as camouflage.

Habitat: Subtropical mountainous area, dense brush and trees
Location: New Taipei, Taiwan

by Wesley Oosthuizen


– The Emerald Emperor – 

Geometrid Moth (Pelagodes antiquadraria, Geometridae)

Habitat: Subtropical Mountainous area, dense brush and trees.
Location: New Taipei, Taiwan

Location: New Taipei, Taiwan

by Wesley Oosthuizen

Florida’s famous Everglades, the largest remaining subtropical wilderness in the U.S., is known for its rich animal and plant life, it’s the only place in the world where alligators and crocodiles exist side by side. It is also a refuge for large wading birds, such as the roseate spoonbill, and features temperate and tropical plants. (Thinkstock) 


Vitex agnus – castus (chaste tree)

This purple flower is known as the “chaste tree” and mainly grows in subtropical areas of the world. The plant is used as a herbal remedy for premenstrual stress syndrome (PMS) and Cyclical mastalgia (breast pain). Vitex agnus – castus can affect men by reducing their libido if an excessive amount is taken.