Scientists Use Sex-Crazed Bugs as Alternative to Toxic Pesticides

by , 03/19/10
filed under: Design, Design for Health

Hebrew University of Jerusalem, boaz yuval, toxins, pesticides, pesticide alternative, super sexed insects, super sexed bugs, insect sex, pesticide alternative, sex crazed bugs,

In today’s “gross news” category, some female insects might be getting lucky. As an alternative to toxic pesticides, scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have created “super-sexed” sterilized male leafhoppers to knock bug boots with females in the wild. Yes, that means that the female bugs will miss out on the joys of motherhood, but if the research proves successful, we may be able to eliminate a lot of the harmful and very ungreen chemicals that we currently use to keep food crops pest free.

The sterile insect technique that Professor Boaz Yuval of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment and his team are working on is not exactly new. Basically, the method is to rear millions of specimens of a pest species, separate the sexes, sterilize the males and release them into the wild. If all goes as planned, the sterile lab-raised males will copulate with females who will then be unable to lay fertile eggs.

So what makes the “super sexed” males so, well, sexy and irresistible to the females? Yuval and his team are using a high-protein, bacteria enhanced “stud” breakfast to feed to the males before they’re released. The formula should significantly improve their sexual performance.

Is all this talk about bug sex grossing you out yet? We admit that it’s not the most appropriate topic of convo (especially if you’re eating lunch), but it’s pretty cool to think that this could be a new way to keep all those yucky pesticides off of our food. Plus, the idea that the insects will be having some fun instead of being gassed to death by poisons is pretty cool.

Via Care2

Second image via Radu P.’s Flickr photostream

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    […] in recent years, striking the mammals as they hibernate. The syndrome is thought to be a result of pesticides, which is also considered one of the causes for Colony Collapse Disorder affecting bee […]

  2. congressive March 23, 2010 at 10:23 pm

    “a high-protein, bacteria enhanced “stud” breakfast”

    Now THAT’S what I call a breakfast of champions!

  3. terrydarc March 21, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    With our luck, the gene will spread to fertile males and THEN where will we be?

  4. equaliter March 20, 2010 at 11:10 am

    Wouldn’t it be more practical to release sterilized females? I don’t know how it works for these bugs but if they’re anything like people then the female can have sex with any number of males and only one need to be fertile, but if a fertile male wastes his stuff on an infertile female it takes significant time and energy for him to produce more.

  5. geoffstanley March 19, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    Is the point of this to prevent the bugs from laying fertile eggs in our foods, or is it to kill them off? Either way it will lower their population, and if it’s to have any beneficial effect for our crops its going to have to be a pretty severe population drop. This is screwing with the ecosystems, and who’s to say that it would be any better than pesticides?

    I’m with SeanB. We have to realize that our crops are not, in fact, ours. Losing some of ‘our’ crops to the bugs is not only acceptable if it means we don’t have to deal with pesticides or bug genocides like this idea would have, but it’s the right thing to do! Why do we expect ‘our’ crops to be for only for human consumption? They are grown on Earth that we do not own, by the sunshine we do not claim.

  6. SeanB March 19, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    It still seems a lot more unreasonable than just changing the way that people create their societies and settlements. Why not leave nature be and question our own nature?

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