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Scientists Develop Artificial Surfaces Insects Cannot Climb

Beetles, cockroaches, and ants will have a harder time walking on facades or air conditioners in the future – thanks to the bio-inspired, anti-adhesive surfaces Prof. Dr. Thomas Speck, Dr. Bettina Prüm, and Dr. Holger Bohn are developing together with the Plant Biomechanics Group of the University of Freiburg. The team studied plant surfaces in order to determine what influence cell form and microstructure as well as surface chemistry exert on the adhesion behavior of insects.

The researchers conducted adhesion experiments in which Colorado potato beetles walked across differently structured plant surfaces as well as replicas made of synthetic resins. The team used a highly sensitive sensor to measure the traction forces of the beetles on various surfaces. They discovered that wavy or strongly curved cells can increase the adhesive powers of beetles, whereas microstructures composed of wax crystals or cuticular folds reduce them. The latter are tiny folds in the cuticle, a protective layer on the surface of the leaf resembling polyester. The beetles had the hardest time walking on surfaces with cuticular folds with a height and width of approximately 0.5 micrometers and a spacing of between 0.5 and 1.5 micrometers. “That is the perfect anti-adhesion surface. The insects slip off of it much easier than off glass,” says project director Thomas Speck. The cuticular folds reduce the contact area between the adhesive hairs on the beetles’ legs and the plant surface. Unlike on more coarsely structured surfaces, the beetle can’t dig its feet firmly into the cuticular folds. Thus, the microstructure of the surface has a stronger effect on the adhesion of the beetle than the cell form.

The team also took contact angle measurements to investigate the wettability of the various surfaces. The researchers used hydrophobic and hydrophilic artificial moldings of the microstructured plant surfaces in order to study the influence of the surface chemistry on surface wettability and the beetles’ walking behavior. Much like wax crystals, cuticular folds are very good at repelling water. In contrast to the wettability, which depends on both the microstructure and the surface chemistry, the walking behavior of the beetles is not influenced by the surface chemistry. This means that the beetle’s adhesive power depends solely on the physical microstructure of the surface.

Speck and his team published their findings in the current issue of the journal Acta Biomaterialia. In the future, the anti-adhesion surfaces could be used to line the ventilation pipes of air conditioners, which are often teeming with cockroaches and other insects. In addition, they could also be applied to facades and window frames to prevent insects that move predominantly by walking from entering the house and invading the cupboard and medicine cabinet. “This aspect is particularly important in the tropics,” says Speck.

The fundamental biological research on anti-adhesion surfaces will be conducted from now on at the Freiburg Center for Interactive Materials and Bioinspired Technologies (FIT), where the researchers will also press ahead with the material development and begin constructing a prototype. “We also want to collaborate with our colleagues at FIT to make the artificial surfaces adaptable to the hair structure of different groups of insects, for instance by means of stretching or shrinking,” explains the project director.

Original publication:

Prüm, B.; Bohn, H. F.; Seidel, R.; Rubach, S. & Speck, T. (2013). Plant surfaces with cuticular folds and their replicas: Influence of microstructuring and surface chemistry on the attachment of a leaf beetle.

Tips to Keep Food Safe In the Summer

During warm weather, it is especially important to take extra precautions and practice safe food handling when preparing perishable foods such as meat, poultry, seafood and egg products. The warmer weather conditions may be ideal for outdoor picnics and barbecues, but they also provide a perfect environment for bacteria and other pathogens in food to multiply rapidly and cause foodborne illness. Here are some suggestions to reduce the risk of foodborne illness this summer.

  • Wash Your Hands. Always wash your hands with warm water and soap for at leasthotdog 20 seconds before and after handling food.
  • Always marinate food in the refrigerator. Don’t use sauce that was used to marinate raw meat or poultry on cooked food. Reserve a portion of the unused marinade to use as a sauce.
  • When grilling foods, preheat the coals on your grill for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the coals are lightly coated with ash.
  • Use a food thermometer to ensure that food reaches a safe internal temperature.
  • Hamburgers should be cooked to 160 ºF, while large cuts of beef such as roasts and steaks may be cooked to 145 ºF for medium rare or to 160 ºF for medium. Poultry must reach a temperature of 165 °F. Fish should be opaque and flake easily.
  • When taking foods off the grill, do not put cooked food items back on the same plate that held raw food, unless it has been washed with hot water and soap first. In hot weather (above 90°F), foods should never sit out for more than one hour before going in the refrigerator.
  • Keep covers on any bowls with fruit or salads to keep flies and other flying pests off your food.  A fly can have millions of bactieria on them.
  • A full cooler will maintain its cold temperatures longer than one that is partially filled so it is important to pack plenty of extra ice or freezer packs to ensure a constant cold temperature. Keep the cooler out of the direct sun. Keep drinks in a separate cooler from foods. The beverage cooler will be opened frequently while the food cooler stays cold.
  • If you have more questions or concerns about food safety, contact The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854). TTY 1-800-256-7072.

Article Source: http://www.fightbac.org/safe-food-handling/safety-in-all-seasons/136-seven-super-steps-to-safe-food-in-the-summer-

Insects Wings Found to Have Natural Antibiotics

Cicada wings used as antibiotic to kill bacteriaScientists have discovered that cicadas, a locust-like insect, have wings that naturally kill some bacteria on contact. This could potentially be used to keep public surfaces, like handrails, clean.

The clanger cicada keeps bacteria away because of the small spikes that kill bacteria by ripping them apart on contact. Scientifically speaking, the spikes are a layer of nanopillars, which cover the span of the wing’s surface. The bacteria lands, sticks to the spikes, and sinks into the crevices between them; it tears if the strain is too much.

This cicadas’ wings is one of the first surfaces in nature that have such an incredible power. A power that could potentially be used to help kill bacteria on public surfaces by incorporating the nanopatterns from the insect’s wings into the design of the new surfaces.

Full Article on Yahoo. More information on PubMed.

Getting Rid Of Bugs, Try Eating Them??

Gross or great? Unexpected delicacies from around the world

Published July 23, 2012 / The Daily Meal

In the field of adventurous eating, those seeking flavor-packed thrills are often ready and willing to sample the world’s most exotic cultural delicacies and outrageous ingredients.
However, there are some foods out there that push those with even the most fearless palates to the outer limits of their culinary comfort zones. Considered delicacies in some parts of the world, these dishes prey on the phobias of the squeamish and even make some courageous eaters cringe.

Teriyaki Cockroaches
Hissing cockroaches are one of the the largest species of cockroach, and sometimes can grow as large as 7.5 centimeters. At the Gene Rurka Farm in New Jersey, these crawling critters are injected with honey and soy sauce, fried, and served as a crunchy treat.

Chapulines
Chapulines, or grasshoppers, elevate bug-eating to a gourmet delicacy. Eaten predominantly in the Oaxaca region of Mexico, chapulines are high in nutrients and provide a cheap source of protein. Classic chapuline recipes incorporate tortillas, chile, garlic, and lime juice.

Chapulines must be thoroughly cooked before consumption, as they sometimes carry nematodes that can infest the human body. Buy these crunchy critters at the Benito Juarez Market

Fried Tarantula
A delicacy of Cambodia, fried tarantulas are consumed primarily in towns such as Skuon, where they are sold in stalls at food markets. Crispy tarantulas with lime and kampot black pepper dip is served at Friends in Phnom Penh.

Locals began eating the eight-legged creatures in order to stave off famine during the reign of Khmer Rouge in the 1970s. These edible spiders are fried in oil and contain gooey insides with a crunchy exterior.

Squirrel Brains
Squirrel brains are a regional delicacy in Appalachian regions in Kentucky. Popular recipes include scrambling squirrel brains with eggs or including the meat in a stew known as burgoo.

In recent years, however, doctors have warned against squirrel consumption because of the possibility that squirrels carry a variant of fatal mad cow disease.

 http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2012/07/23/gross-or-great-unexpected-delicacies-from-around-world/#ixzz22UTX8Cfe

A Burrowing Microscopic Mite Can Lead To Scabies

Scabies is one of those terms that sounds like it must mean something disgusting. Actually, it is an itchy skin condition caused by a microscopic mite. Scabies has been around for more than 2,000 years and was the original inspiration for the phrase “the seven-year itch.” The female mite burrows into the skin, laying eggs as it tunnels. The body develops an allergic reaction to the mites and their waste products, causing extreme itching.

The classic symptom is severe itching, especially at night or after a warm bath. The mites are generally too small to be seen with the naked eye, but your doctor may take a skin scraping to view under the microscope.Fortunately, the treatment of scabies is relatively simple. The therapy of choice is the prescription cream permethrin, also known as Elimite. Note that while there are some over-the-counter products containing permethrin available for treating lice, they are not as strong as the prescription form and are not recommended for treating scabies.Apply the cream to the entire body, even areas without rash, making sure to get between the fingers and toes and under the nails. Leave the cream on for 8 to 12 hours, usually overnight, and then wash off completely. A second application one week later may be necessary. The mites can survive only for a few days off of the body, so wash towels, sheets and recently worn clothes in hot water.Even though the infestation is cured, the itching and rash may persist for several weeks after treatment. An oral antihistamine like Benadryl and a steroid cream such as hydrocortisone can provide some relief. Scabies is highly contagious and spreads from direct, prolonged, person-to-person contact. It takes about a month for symptoms to develop after exposure to the mite, so go ahead and treat the entire family before the rash appears.