Las vigas – Some types of helminths can fling themselves high into the air to catch fruit flies and other insects. Experiments are now revealing this leap Steinernema carpocapsae Nematodes benefit from a secret weapon that makes them especially effective at chasing victims: static electricity.
flying insects Build an electric charge as they move through the air (SN: 10/31/22). It’s the same effect that causes electricity to collect on fog droplets in clouds, and ultimately leads to lightning.
Biomechanics researcher Victor Ortega Jimenez of the University of Maine in Orono reported March 6 at the American Physical Society meeting that individual insects can accumulate a charge of 100 volts or so. When the nematodes jump, the The charge on a passing insect attracts parasites Like lint to a firm sweater.
To test the effect of the electric charge, Ortega Jimenez and his colleagues mounted dead fruit flies on wires and placed them near a nematode-covered surface. With no charge on the fly, only nematodes that had hopped in the direction of the insect landed on the target, as expected. When the researchers applied an electric charge to a suspended fruit fly, even nematodes that were initially heading in the wrong direction were caught in the electric field and pulled into the fly.
Ortega Jiménez also studied the effects of electric force on spider webs. When charged insects approach a net, “the silk is directly attracted to the insects,” he says. That made him wonder if jumping nematodes depended on these powers as well.
Researchers have long looked at the effect of fluids and airflow on insects and other microorganisms. But only recently have they added electricity to the mix, says Ortega Jimenez. “We need to know how animals actually deal with these forces at this scale.”