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How nonstick bugs evade natural fly paper
Date:8/8/2008

k 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 5cm. 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 1.5cm 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.


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Contact: Kathryn Phillips
kathryn@biologists.com
44-012-234-25525
The Company of Biologists
Source:Eurekalert

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