Elephants are not afraid of mice, mosquitoes are not attracted to light, And least of all the wolves howl at the moon. “Big mistakes, very wrong. There is a lie for every animal “says biologist Graziano Ciocca at time.news who investigated fake news related to the animal world, bringing in these days “Bufale Bestiali” (Ed. DeAgostini), his second scientific-literary effort after “Bulls hate red” which made him win the National Prize for Disclosure Scientific under 35.
Ecologist, entomologist by passion, with “Bufale Bestiali” Ciocca wants to deny once again “false beliefs about animals”. Illustrated by colorist, writer and comic artist Lorenzo De Felici, Graziano’s new book is dedicated to children. “We are often attracted by curiosity about the animal and maybe we forget the wonder of the fauna and flora that we have around us” explains the biologist.
“Everyone knows the legend that the ostrich goes with its head in the sand
when he is afraid but many are unaware that ‘the ostrich dad is super attentive or that the female – the one that hatches the eggs of all the others – when a predator arrives she knows how to recognize her own and offers that of another companion as a meal “, says Ciocca, scientific popularizer president of the G.Eco association for the dissemination of scientific culture. “I hope with this book to arouse curiosity and interest in nature to stimulate a sense of safeguarding our environment, a deeper ecological sense” underlines the author.
This is why mosquitoes are not attracted to light
And on the list of ‘the most lies of all’, Graziano Ciocca puts the belief that ‘mosquitoes are attracted to light’. “It is the most heartfelt fake news and it is the one that concerns us most closely since we all have mosquitoes at home “he warns.” The mosquito is one of the most lethal animals for humans because it is a vector of serious diseases, it is the one on which more research has been done for eliminate the health effects of these insects as much as possible “. “Mosquitos non they are attracted from the light but -the biologist clarifies- from the smell we emit and from the carbon dioxide that we put into the air with our breath, the smell of our sebum and from the microbial community that lives on our skin “.
Mosquitoes in general that are nocturnal, and also the tiger mosquito, continues Ciocca, “they have a very developed sense of smell and light traps are not only useless, but they are harmful to the ecosystem because they kill all the other insects that are really attracted to the light “.” Many insects – he explains again – use triangulation with the stars and the Moon as a night navigation system. Since there is a celestial body that is very distant, bright, if an insect such as a moth, for example, keeps the angle constant with the Moon, then it will always go straight, since our natural satellite is 380 thousand kilometers away from us “.
“But if the insect mistakes a lamppost for the Moon, then it will spiral around the lamppost and some insects are mistakenly attracted to artificial light because they mistake it for that of the Moon and chase it to maintain their travel trajectory. So it is true that many insects are attracted to light but it is not mosquitoes that do not orient themselves with light but rely on their antennae, on their sense of smell. “And in the midst of the pandemic era, which in turn has highlighted many false beliefs on science and vaccines, Graziano Ciocca cuts short: “Anything that is controversial generates polarization, that is, there is a risk of encountering opposing groups who think differently and we must act on this”.
The fear of vaccines? People go extreme, we need to communicate in a more pop way
The biologist reports that “Some data science researchers at Sapienza teach that within the same group, people increasingly take beliefs to extremes. In particular, social networks feed this innate predisposition of our brain: we are made to seek the consent of our fellow men and we increasingly exclude those who think differently “.
So, if we want correct information to arrive and spread, “the goal is ‘not to try to prove the contrary’ – we would be identified immediately as the enemies – but ‘to try to intercept those who do not have an opinion on the matter.’ In short, we need to talk to this ‘gray’ group and try to provide these people with correct information also using pop language, engaging, easily understandable but with rigorous content “. “In short, we need to reduce this polarization” adds the biologist. “Trust cannot be bought and doubts about vaccines are not addressed in one day, it is necessary to act on correct scientific disclosure and the facts of recent days are clear”.