Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sunbathing helps these bugs stay healthy

Date:
August 24, 2012
Source:
Simon Fraser University
Summary:
Sunbathing may be healthy -- at least for one group of North American insects, the Western boxelder bug -- that apparently uses the activity to fight off germs. The bugs are known to group together in sunlit patches and release monoterpenes, strong-smelling chemical compounds that help protect the bugs by killing germs on their bodies.

The Western Boxelder bug "sunbathes" to stay healthy.
Credit: Image courtesy of Simon Fraser University

Sunbathing may be healthy -- at least for one group of North American insects that apparently uses the activity to fight off germs, Simon Fraser University scientists have found.

Western Boxelder bugs (WBB), found largely in B.C. interior regions, are known to group together in sunlit patches and while there, release monoterpenes, strong-smelling chemical compounds that help protect the bugs by killing germs on their bodies.

Researchers previously thought the compounds had a role in reproduction or defending the bugs against predators. But their latest study found that the compounds were emitted when the bugs were in sunshine -- in effect, sunbathing -- and weren't used for communication or other purposes.

According to the researchers, sunlight appears to activate the biosynthesis of the compounds in the bugs, described as highly gregarious creatures. The chemicals then physically encase fungal spores on the bugs' body surface and set off a chain of events that ultimately protect them from germ penetration.

Their findings are published in the August issue of the journal Entomologia Experimentalis it Applicata.

"Prophylactic sunbathing defends these bugs against pathogens that they encounter in their shelters," says SFU biology professor Gerhard Gries, who co-authored the paper with colleague Zamir Punja and former graduate student Joseph Schwarz, now working on his PhD in entomology at Washington State University. Gries holds an NSERC-Industrial Chair in Multimodal Animal Communication Ecology at SFU.

"If they are converting the sun's solar energy to fuel chemical work, without the aid of microbial symbionts -- organisms that live together with a host, often to their mutual benefit -- we would consider this a highly remarkable feat in the animal world."

Gries says while the phenomenon may exist in other insects it has yet to be observed or reported.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Simon Fraser University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Joseph J. Schwarz, Zamir Punja, Mark Goettel, Gerhard Gries. Do western boxelder bugs sunbathe for sanitation? Inferences from in vitro experiments. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata, 2012; DOI: 10.1111/j.1570-7458.2012.01314.x

Cite This Page:

Simon Fraser University. "Sunbathing helps these bugs stay healthy." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120824150247.htm>.
Simon Fraser University. (2012, August 24). Sunbathing helps these bugs stay healthy. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120824150247.htm
Simon Fraser University. "Sunbathing helps these bugs stay healthy." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120824150247.htm (accessed August 22, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, August 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) — An experimental drug used to treat Marburg virus in rhesus monkeys could give new insight into a similar treatment for Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Terrifying City-Dwelling Spiders Are Bigger And More Fertile

Terrifying City-Dwelling Spiders Are Bigger And More Fertile

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) — According to a new study, spiders that live in cities are bigger, fatter and multiply faster. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) — According to a new study, elderly people might have trouble sleeping because of the loss of a certain group of neurons in the brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ramen Health Risks: The Dark Side of the Noodle

Ramen Health Risks: The Dark Side of the Noodle

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) — South Koreans eat more instant ramen noodles per capita than anywhere else in the world. But American researchers say eating too much may increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins