Agriculture
Chicken Eggs as Drug Factories
Silk’s superpowers
Watering the Air
Amphibians
Salamanders
Tree Frogs
Bullfrogs
Animals
Elephant Mimics
Bee Disease
Feeding School for Meerkats
Behavior
Giving Sharks Safe Homes
A Recipe for Happiness
Mosquito duets
Birds
Chicken
Rheas
Owls
Chemistry and Materials
These gems make their own way
A New Basketball Gets Slick
Heaviest named element is official
Computers
Supersonic Splash
Graphene's superstrength
Seen on the Science Fair Scene
Dinosaurs and Fossils
Battling Mastodons
Dino Bite Leaves a Tooth
Dino-bite!
E Learning Jamaica
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
Earth
Hints of Life in Ancient Lava
Ancient Heights
A Grim Future for Some Killer Whales
Environment
A Change in Leaf Color
Pumping Up Poison Ivy
Alien Invasions
Finding the Past
Ancient Cave Behavior
Childhood's Long History
Watching deep-space fireworks
Fish
Sturgeons
Flashlight Fishes
Puffer Fish
Food and Nutrition
Chocolate Rules
The Essence of Celery
Packing Fat
GSAT English Rules
Problems with Prepositions
Order of Adjectives
Capitalization Rules
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
Mastering The GSAT Exam
Scotiabank Jamaica Foundation Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) Scholarships
GSAT Scholarship
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
GSAT stars reap scholarship glory
GSAT Exam Preparation
42,000 students will sit for the GSAT Exam in two weeks
GSAT Mathematics
GSAT Practice Papers | GSAT Mathematics | Maths
How a Venus Flytrap Snaps Shut
Math is a real brain bender
Human Body
Dreaming makes perfect
Kids now getting 'adult' disease
A Long Haul
Invertebrates
Bedbugs
Lobsters
Clams
Mammals
Spectacled Bear
Ponies
Mongooses
Parents
Expert report highlights the importance to parents of reading to children!
How children learn
The Surprising Meaning and Benefits of Nursery Rhymes
Physics
Invisibility Ring
Hold on to your stars, ladies and gentlemen
Spin, Splat, and Scramble
Plants
Sweet, Sticky Science
Cactus Goo for Clean Water
Fast-flying fungal spores
Reptiles
Iguanas
Copperhead Snakes
Pythons
Space and Astronomy
A Moon's Icy Spray
Black Holes That Burp
Solving a Sedna Mystery
Technology and Engineering
Young Scientists Take Flight
Space Umbrellas to Shield Earth
Slip Sliming Away
The Parts of Speech
Countable and Uncountable Nouns
Pronouns
What is a Verb?
Transportation
Revving Up Green Machines
How to Fly Like a Bat
Middle school science adventures
Weather
Warmest Year on Record
Polar Ice Feels the Heat
Where rivers run uphill
Add your Article

Hungry bug seeks hot meal

Superman may have something in common with one kind of seed-eating bug. Both use special powers to zero in on a warm target. In the bug’s case, the target is dinner.

For humans, finding some Oreos or popcorn can be a challenge in a crowded supermarket. Now imagine how hard it must be for a tiny bug on the lookout for pine cone seeds. The insects have to search among many needles. And there aren’t any aisles with signs.

Recently scientists discovered that a bug that dines on pine cone seeds uses a special ability to seek them out. This insect finds its next meal by sensing the food’s temperature. All living things give off heat in the form of infrared light. While this kind of light is invisible to humans, scientists have found that the seed-eating bug is able to detect it.

When it grows cold outside this cone-loving bug shows up in people’s homes. This got bug scientists thinking. Perhaps the seed-eaters were creeping into homes looking for a warm place to catch some zzz’s. And if the bugs could sense the warmth in homes, maybe they could sense warm food, too.

Scientists know that some plants can generate heat. Skunk cabbages, for example, heat themselves and even melt the snow around them. So the bug scientists thought the seed bugs could be searching for cones that give off some heat.

The researchers took their theory, or idea, outdoors for a test. They brought along a special camera that gave them the ability to see warmth. Through this camera, heat showed up in shades of yellow and orange. When the scientists looked at the pine cones through the camera, the bugs’ food lit up. The trees looked as if they were covered in candles. “All we could think of was Christmas,” said Stephen Takács, the leader of the study and a scientist at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Canada. “We were just stunned.”

The researchers took the temperatures of different kinds of cones and needles during each season. It turned out the cones were always about 15 degrees Celsius warmer than the surrounding needles. That’s the difference between needing a light jacket and knowing it’s time to break out your shorts. The find was proof enough that the cones were warmer than their environment. Still, the team wanted to explore if the bugs were truly detecting the hotter food.

The scientists hunkered down and watched the bugs search for food in the wild and in the lab. Sure enough, the insects had an obvious preference for cones that glowed especially bright from their warmth.

This is the first time scientists have found a seed-eater with a knack for detecting heat given off by its plant meal, Takács says. Scientists have started to wonder if other bugs have similar skills.

“We tend to focus on things humans can see, can observe easily” explains scientist Irene Terry of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Now scientists are learning that other things help insects find food, she says.

On the bugs’ bodies, researchers found sensors that seemed to be used to find the warm cones. The scientists tested this theory by painting over the sensors with silica paint. This kind of paint blocked the bugs’ sensors from detecting the heat. The team found that, once painted, the bugs no longer hunted for the “lit up” cones.

The scientists also peered inside the bugs’ nervous system, which responds to input from the senses. The researchers found a clear pathway from the sensors to the brain. This connection might be used to tell the bugs’ brains that hot food is directly ahead or, maybe, a little to the left.

Takács isn’t sure why the cones are warm. He thinks the cones may be hotter because bigger objects collect heat better than smaller objects. He says the warmth could also be produced from the energy generated during seed development.

While scientists continue to search for these answers we can be sure of at least one thing. These seed-eating bugs have the skills to find their next hot meal.

Hungry bug seeks hot meal
Hungry bug seeks hot meal








Designed and Powered by HBJamaica.com™