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Date:8/14/2008

g the bugs to -120C, Voigt and Gorb looked at the insect's coating at high-resolution with a cryo scanning electron microscope (cryo-SEM). The mirid bugs 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 mass that looked like a gel with well-defined edges. The mirid bug's greasy coating appeared to disrupt the glue in some way, preventing it from adhering to the insect's surface.

Finally the researchers 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 other insects, with the glue stretching to produce filaments as much as 5 cm long. But when they successfully attached glue droplets to unwashed mirid bug cuticles, the cuticles easily broke free of 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 Pameridea roridulae roaming free, while other insects succumb to the glue that mirid bugs simply shrug off.

Original work:

Voigt, D. and Gorb, S.

An insect trap as habitat: cohesion-failure mechanism prevents adhesion of Pameridea roridula bugs to the sticky surface of the plant Roridula gorgonias


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Contact: Dr. Dagmar Voigt
voigt@mf.mpg.de
49-711-689-3456
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

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