Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

How nonstick bugs evade natural fly paper

12.08.2008
There are few things more irritating than a fly buzzing around the house. South Africans have an unconventional solution to the problem.

They hang up a bunch of Roridula gorgonias leaves. Attracted to the shiny adhesive droplets on the leaf's hairs, the hapless pest is soon trapped by the natural flypaper. However, this is not the end of the story.

Each R. gorgonias plant is home to a population of Pameridea roridulae (mirid bugs), which dine on the trapped insects. Yet the mirid bugs successfully evade their host's sticky clutches. Curious to find out how, Dagmar Voigt and Stanislav Gorb from the Max-Planck Institute for Metals Research, Germany, decided to take a look at the apparently non-stick bugs to see how they elude R. gorgonias' grasp and publish their results in The Journal of Experimental Biology on August 8 2008 at http://jeb.biologists.org/

But how could the team get their hands on R. gorgonias plants complete with their own private mirid bug colony so far from the plant's home? 'Fortunately there are a few R. gorgonias enthusiasts in Germany' says Voigt, and after contacting Klaus Keller in Augsburg, he agreed to supply the team with the hairy plants and their residents.

Back in their Stuttgart lab, Voigt and Gorb decided to test how non-stick mirid bugs really are. Wrapping a bug in a leaf the team were amazed when they unrolled it and 'the bug jumped up and ran away!' says Voigt. The bug was completely non-stick. Next the team checked the mirid bug's surface by pressing a bug against a glass slide and looking at the slide under a microscope to see if they were covered in a special glue-proof coating. The bugs seemed to be coated in a greasy fluid. Voigt explains that all bugs are covered in a greasy layer, so what made the mirid bug's surface more non-stick than other insect coatings?

Flash freezing the bugs to ?°C, Voigt and Gorb took a high-resolution look at the insect's coating with a cryo-scanning electron microscope (cryo-SEM). The mirid bug's coating was 30 times thicker than the blowfly they compared it with. But how was this extra thick coating protecting the mirid bugs? Did it come loose when contacted by adhesive? Or was the greasy coating somehow disrupting the glue's adhesive powers?

Touching a sticky hair against a piece of mirid bug cuticle and looking at it with cryo-SEM, the team could see that the glue seemed to run like a fluid over the thick greasy surface. However when they looked at a R. gorgonias hair in contact with a section of blowfly cuticle, the glue formed a discrete blob that looked like a gel with well-defined edges. The mirid bug's greasy coating seems to disrupt the glue in some way, preventing it from adhering to the insect's surface.

Finally, the duo measured how strongly the glue became attached to various insects' surfaces. Having removed the mirid bug's protective layer by washing in cold chloroform, the team found that the glue stuck as strongly to the mirid bugs as to other insects, with the glue stretching to produce filaments as long as 5·cm. But when they successfully attached glue droplets to unwashed mirid bug cuticles, the cuticles easily broke free from the glue, rarely forming filaments more than 1.5·cm long. Voigt suspects that insect victims eventually exhaust themselves, fighting against the adhesive filaments.

Voigt and Gorb are keen to understand more about the mechanism that keeps P. roridulae roaming free, while other insects succumb to the glue that mirid bugs simply shrug off.

Kathryn Phillips | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.biologists.com

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Turning carbon dioxide into liquid fuel
06.08.2020 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

nachricht Tellurium makes the difference
06.08.2020 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: ScanCut project completed: laser cutting enables more intricate plug connector designs

Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT have come up with a striking new addition to contact stamping technologies in the ERDF research project ScanCut. In collaboration with industry partners from North Rhine-Westphalia, the Aachen-based team of researchers developed a hybrid manufacturing process for the laser cutting of thin-walled metal strips. This new process makes it possible to fabricate even the tiniest details of contact parts in an eco-friendly, high-precision and efficient manner.

Plug connectors are tiny and, at first glance, unremarkable – yet modern vehicles would be unable to function without them. Several thousand plug connectors...

Im Focus: New Strategy Against Osteoporosis

An international research team has found a new approach that may be able to reduce bone loss in osteoporosis and maintain bone health.

Osteoporosis is the most common age-related bone disease which affects hundreds of millions of individuals worldwide. It is estimated that one in three women...

Im Focus: AI & single-cell genomics

New software predicts cell fate

Traditional single-cell sequencing methods help to reveal insights about cellular differences and functions - but they do this with static snapshots only...

Im Focus: TU Graz Researchers synthesize nanoparticles tailored for special applications

“Core-shell” clusters pave the way for new efficient nanomaterials that make catalysts, magnetic and laser sensors or measuring devices for detecting electromagnetic radiation more efficient.

Whether in innovative high-tech materials, more powerful computer chips, pharmaceuticals or in the field of renewable energies, nanoparticles – smallest...

Im Focus: Tailored light inspired by nature

An international research team with Prof. Cornelia Denz from the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Münster develop for the first time light fields using caustics that do not change during propagation. With the new method, the physicists cleverly exploit light structures that can be seen in rainbows or when light is transmitted through drinking glasses.

Modern applications as high resolution microsopy or micro- or nanoscale material processing require customized laser beams that do not change during...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2020”: The final touches for surfaces

23.07.2020 | Event News

Conference radar for cybersecurity

21.07.2020 | Event News

Contact Tracing Apps against COVID-19: German National Academy Leopoldina hosts international virtual panel discussion

07.07.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rare Earth Elements in Norwegian Fjords?

06.08.2020 | Earth Sciences

Anode material for safe batteries with a long cycle life

06.08.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Turning carbon dioxide into liquid fuel

06.08.2020 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>