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Universal "Death Stench" Repels Bugs of All Types

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the was-it-something-i-said dept.

Biotech 248

Hugh Pickens writes "Wired reports that scientists have discovered that insects from cockroaches to caterpillars all emit the same stinky blend of fatty acids when they die and that the death mix may represent a universal, ancient warning signal to avoid their dead or injured. 'Recognizing and avoiding the dead could reduce the chances of catching the disease,' says Biologist David Rollo of McMaster University 'or allow you to get away with just enough exposure to activate your immunity.' Researchers isolated unsaturated fatty acids containing oleic and linoleic acids from the corpses of dead cockroaches and found that their concoction repelled not just cockroaches, but ants and caterpillars. 'It was amazing to find that the cockroaches avoided places treated with these extracts like the plague,' says Rollo. Even crustaceans like woodlice and pillbugs, which diverged from insects 400 million years ago, were repelled leading scientists to think the death mix represents a universal warning signal. Scientists hope the right concoction of death smells might protect crops. Thankfully, human noses can't detect the fatty acid extracts. 'I've tried smelling papers treated with them and don't smell anything strong and certainly not repellent,' writes Rollo in an e-mail. 'Not like the rotting of corpses that occurs later and is detectable from great distances.'"

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This is nonsense (4, Interesting)

Rooked_One (591287) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465195)

Maybe for some bugs, but for those nasty caca roches, I get a bowl, wipe the top 4 inches around inside with vegtable oil then put whatever inside... coffee grounds, bananas... whatever... There are tons of dead ones in there but that doesn't stop more from coming. Also, cockroaches are cannibals.

Bring out your dead ! (4, Insightful)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465287)

Your anecdote does nothing to invalidate the article's data.

It makes sense for any animal to avoid a site where its own are dead.

It's the same category of reflex that makes us want to throw up when someone pukes (being social animals we often eat together), that makes us universally find some smells offensive (pretty much always originally attached to something potentially toxic), etc.

Re:Bring out your dead ! (1, Interesting)

bcmm (768152) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465705)

It makes sense for any animal to avoid a site where its own are dead.

Except for cannibals which are so hard to kill that whatever happened to the dead one was probably just bad luck. Like, for example, roaches. IIRC, their attraction to the smell of their own dead is pretty well documented.

Re:Bring out your dead ! (2, Informative)

orangesquid (79734) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465913)

I have ants where I live, and I've experimented by killing and collecting dead ants, then crushing them and spreading the juices around.

The ants don't care about their own dead, apparently. I find trails of ants all the time where dead ants are scattered along the trail. It doesn't deter them one bit...

Re:Bring out your dead ! (2, Interesting)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#29466043)

I have ants where I live

I would hope so, unless you are posting from the ISS ;)

The ants don't care about their own dead, apparently

Actually a lot of ants will collect their dead. It's really quite amazing to watch too.

Re:Bring out your dead ! (2, Funny)

Rooked_One (591287) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465725)

Ah I see your analogy about the puking part... I won't go anywhere someone has puked unless i'm really messed up... so given all the chemicals that i've sprayed in my garage, good chance they are probably tripping their antennae off.

Re:Bill Mays Here!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29466199)

The new CPU BUG REPELLANT!!!

Just smear this copy of Windows ME on your monitor and you can repel Windows VISTA!!!

Buy now and get your very box of grid squares!!!

For a real human-detectable dead insect stench (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29466211)

Step on an earwig.

Re:This is nonsense (4, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465299)

Maybe for some bugs, but for those nasty caca roches, I get a bowl, wipe the top 4 inches around inside with vegtable oil then put whatever inside... coffee grounds, bananas... whatever... There are tons of dead ones in there but that doesn't stop more from coming. Also, cockroaches are cannibals.

Well, to be fair, your observations are from cockroaches that have lived in close quarters with humans and not those in nature. Notice that in the article, it's only Wired who suggests this would protect you from an infestation. The scientists say this may protect crops--which are in a more natural setting. And I think you would see a much higher success rate on cockroaches or wood beetles that live in the wild versus those in your home. Many animals behave very differently in their natural environment.

Whatever the case, I'm really excited to see fatty acid extracts used instead of chemical compounds on the food that I eat. Especially for people that have small gardens of tomatoes and vegetables. I'd personally pay a small premium on my produce for crops grown and repelling insects with this technology.

Re:This is nonsense (3, Insightful)

nameer (706715) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465357)

But fatty acid extracts are chemical compounds. And lets be clear, if they figure this out to the point that it works reliably, the next step is bring in the chemists and chemical engineers to figure out how to scale this up to industrial proportions. That will mean building the compounds in bulk, not extracting them from cockroaches. Which to be fair, is better for the roaches.

Re:This is nonsense (4, Insightful)

Jeffrey_Walsh VA (1335967) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465945)

Roaches have lived among humans for long enough that their natural eviroment is our home.

Re:This is nonsense (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29465305)

Doesn't seem to work for flies, either. I work in a small pizzaria in small canadian hick-town and the flies get out of hand in the harvest season. I spend half an hour killing them with flyswatters akimbo. I sweep them up, but another half an hour later, new flies are examining the dead fly carcasses. Quite interesting.

Re:This is nonsense (5, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465395)

half an hour later, new flies are examining the dead fly carcasses. Quite interesting.

Joe? Are you alright? Joe? JOE?

Re:This is nonsense (4, Funny)

martas (1439879) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465719)

it's Steve, you insensitive clod!

Re:This is nonsense (1)

pisto_grih (1165105) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465827)

Snaaaakkkkkee!

Re:This is nonsense (3, Funny)

MrMr (219533) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465427)

new flies are examining the dead fly carcasses
And not the pizza's?
Quite interesting.

Re:This is nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29465465)

You clearly need one or more electrical trap lamps. Keeps the fly population down and you get bonus entertainment in the form of fly-exploding-into-gibs sound effects.

Re:This is nonsense (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465823)

Plus a zingy alternative pizza topping!

Re:This is nonsense (1)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465313)

I was always led to believe that Cockroaches favourite food was dead Cockroach go figure.

The oil could seal the stench... (1)

dsginter (104154) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465331)

Oil is a remarkable sealant - something to keep in mind. I don't have a cockroach problem but, here in Michigan, the wolf spider [google.com] (and various other species scare the bejebus out of me (ever hear a 12 year old girl scream?) so I have discovered that eucalyptus oil is handy to keep them at bay.

Re:The oil could seal the stench... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465505)

How big have you seen them? I'm also in Michigan, and I don't think I have ever seen (in the wild, knew someone with a tarantula) a spider any bigger than a half-dollar coin (and that was probably an extreme example).

Re:The oil could seal the stench... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29465747)

I was wondering that too! I don't remember ever seeing a wolf spider of any size in the state, and I'm a native Michigander.

Re:The oil could seal the stench... (1)

dsginter (104154) | more than 5 years ago | (#29466007)

The biggest that I saw was about 5 inches across (Independence Oaks in Clarkston) but, normally, they are less than half of that size. I had a couple in my house recently - only about 1.5 inches - and they are QUICK.

***shudder***

Re:The oil could seal the stench... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29465587)

Learn some basic chemistry!
Oil is a remarkable good *solvent* for organic matter like the compounds in question. So oil would definitely *not* seal the stench of long chain fatty acids.

Re:This is nonsense (1)

forgot_my_username (1553781) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465371)

Maybe for some bugs, but for those nasty caca roches, I get a bowl, wipe the top 4 inches around inside with vegtable oil then put whatever inside... coffee grounds, bananas... whatever... There are tons of dead ones in there but that doesn't stop more from coming. Also, cockroaches are cannibals.

And they make a tasty treat for the kids!

Re:This is nonsense (1)

JockTroll (996521) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465765)

"And they make a tasty treat for the kids!"

Not as good as wasabi-laced sweets.

Re:This is nonsense (0, Troll)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465417)

It also seems to not jive with the currently understood mechanics of evolution. DETECTING such a stench would lead to a survival advantage, but actually emitting it is something done after death - so there is no natural selection at work to lead to the unification of a "death scent" to evolve towards.

Re:This is nonsense (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29465589)

It certainly does jive with evolution as currently understood. There are plenty of examples where evolution has resulted in genes that don't help you directly, but help those around you. In the fairly common case that those around you are your relatives, and thus likely to share that gene, natural selection will still be pushing for it, because it is making others with that gene more likely to survive.

There has been a lot of research done, for example, on why soldiers are willing to die for their community (death being pretty much the end of the line for your genes...). The answer is that he's protecting his parents, siblings, and children, who are going to propagate the heroism gene, while the cowardly guy who runs away and survives might get his relatives killed, thus lowering the number of copies of the cowardly gene.

And before you say "but that's just human emotion!", no, mother bears will fight and die to protect their young. Lots of flocking birds have "lookouts" that will squawk when danger approaches, which statistically is going to cause the lookout to be a lot more likely to get eaten, but protects his flock. Most herd animals have group behavior where adults will ring the outside of the herd to protect the young at the center of the herd (even adults who don't have direct children, they're still willing to protect the presumably more distant relatives of the herd)...

Remember, evolution is tied to genes, not individuals. And your genes are statistically tied to your community and your relatives.

Re:This is nonsense (3, Insightful)

quadrox (1174915) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465595)

you are completely wrong. Go read dawkins books, e.g. the blind watchmaker.

Re:This is nonsense (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465713)

Quadrox is wrong. The Anonymous Coward parent is right. The gp posting by AC exactly summarizes Dawkins' The Selfish Gene, second edition, with chapter 13 titled "Nice Guys Finish First" added. The line "Evolution is tied to the genes, not individuals" is the one sentence summary of that whole book.

Re:This is nonsense (1)

fracai (796392) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465637)

Evolution occurs on a species level, not an individual one. Also, evolution isn't "directed" towards anything. It's random mutations, and those which end up being more beneficial are the ones that stick around.

In this case, it's entirely feasible to imagine multiple species developing a common scent that is avoided by all. It would after all improve the chances of survival for the _entire_ population. There are many species of insect and plant which have bitter tastes as well. Such features may not be beneficial at all to the individual plant, but to the population they discourage future meals.

Then again, it may have simply evolved in a common ancestor to them all.

Re:This is nonsense (4, Funny)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 5 years ago | (#29466167)

It also seems to not jive with the currently understood mechanics of evolution.

Dear Sir,

We are writing to you in relation to views and opinions that you articulated in Slashdot post #29465417 on 18th September last. Saids view on the mechanics of evolution were found by the committee to be grossly nescient and incorrect, and moreover demonstrating of a grievously lack of creative and logical thinking on your part. In the words of one committee member, and I quote: "WTF?!".

Following arbitration on the matter, the committee deeply regrets to inform you that your Geek Credentials and subsequent privileges have been placed in probation pending a completed review by yourself on the basics of the theory of evolution and its predictions. We regret to inform you that until such time as this review has been filed your access to association slide rules and soldering kits will be suspended and you will be restricted to playing only those table top games which restrict themselves to six sided dice. Moreover, while you may still retain them, use of association anti-wedgie underwear is also prohibited during this time.

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International Geek and Nerd Association

P.S. We mean it about the underwear.

Re:This is nonsense (1)

MadAnalyst (959778) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465451)

Maybe for some bugs, but for those nasty caca roches, I get a bowl, wipe the top 4 inches around inside with vegtable oil then put whatever inside... coffee grounds, bananas... whatever... There are tons of dead ones in there but that doesn't stop more from coming. Also, cockroaches are cannibals.

Just a thought, but the presence of so much good stuff (emitting their own smells/pheromones) in your big bowl of food may overwhelm and/or mask the the negative impact of the fatty acid system. Their experiments seem to be on far more simplistic model systems free from interference.

Re:This is nonsense (5, Funny)

strength_of_10_men (967050) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465597)

Doesn't work for me either! My car's windshield and hood are plastered with dead insects. You would think that would warn other insects to stay away but no, after every road trip, there are just MORE bugs splattered on my car. I call BS.

Re:This is nonsense (1)

bcmm (768152) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465797)

If you're moving faster than the wind, nothing is going to smell you coming.



(Please somebody say WHOOSH!)

Re:This is nonsense (5, Funny)

Follier (901079) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465843)

A friend of mine would kill one roach, and stick it on a toothpick (or a "pike" as he called it) and stood it up on a bottle-cork at the entrance to a hole -- as an "example to the others!" He swore it worked.

I just thought he was crazy. Apparently he was on to something.

Less nonsense (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29466165)

Maybe for some bugs, but for those nasty caca roches, I get a bowl, wipe the top 4 inches around inside with vegtable oil then put whatever inside... coffee grounds, bananas... whatever... There are tons of dead ones in there but that doesn't stop more from coming. Also, cockroaches are cannibals.

Got a roach problem? Cheap boric acid, sold in plastic bottles everywhere. Don't dump it, pour it, spoon it. Don't waste time preparing mixtures of food and boric acid. Snip the top off of the plastic top. Tip the bottle a little bit, and squeeze. Practice until you can create clouds of fine particles floating in the air. Globs and clumps of white powder do you no good at all - you want a very fine cloud to float out, so that it can settle and coat everything.

Get rid of kids and pets for a couple days - some people say this stuff is bad for them.

Proceed to walk all around the house, puffing powder into every corner, nook, crevice, and cranny. Don't forget to crawl under the sink, behind the toilet, behind doors - everywhere. Get the cracks between window frames, behind mirrors, closets, every where! Got a crawlspace under the house? Get down there and puff away. Don't forget the attic, if you have one. Powder the water heater, and the cubby hole that it stands in. (gas heater? this stuff isn't flammable, but for safety sake, you might turn the gas off for a few hours) Get under and behind appliances like microwaves, refrigerators, freezers, washers, dryers and dishwashers.

Perhaps most importantly, puff this stuff into all cracks between baseboards, paneling, corners of rooms, door frames. If you can get a tool behind a baseboard or panel, pry it out slightly to puff dust behind it.

I've cleaned out unbelievable infestations in repossessed mobile homes. They don't come back! Three or four of those 1 pound bottles will take care of the largest single wide mobile home, I've used six in doublewides.

If no one is actually living in the home, there's no need to "clean up" right away. Leave everything like it is, so that if you've missed anyplace, those cannibal roaches come out to consume the dead.

When it is time to clean up - just sweep and mop floors. There's no need to vacuum the dust from inaccessible places. Just leave it to aid in prevention of future infestations.

For ten dollars or less, you can accomplish what the high dollar pest control companies cannot.

NOTE: Dusting for roaches may be less effective in the moist basements inhabited by geeks.

Re:This is nonsense (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 5 years ago | (#29466187)

Maybe for some bugs, but for those nasty caca roches, I get a bowl, wipe the top 4 inches around inside with vegtable oil then put whatever inside... coffee grounds, bananas... whatever...

So, what you're saying is that either the scientists are flat out lying when they claim this works for cockroaches, or that they're so incompetent that they can't even tell when an insect is avoiding some area due to an applied chemical? Really?

Honestly, what the *fuck* is with Slashdotter arrogance? I mean, I've been around here a long time, but it just seems to be getting worse. Do you *honestly* think you're so much fucking smarter than these scientists that, based on a fucking pop-sci article and an abstract, you can invalidate their work with your silly little anecdote?

I mean, seriously... what the fuck is wrong with you?

Prolly not going to work. (0)

amn108 (1231606) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465199)

Just like any other method, it will not work, because nature has a knack of finding a way out. Mosquito sprays, shark repellants - all that does, is bring about mutations in species, so that the supposed repellant can be overcome with ease. Results are repellent-insensitive mosquitoes, sharks impervious to ultrasound etc.

Re:Prolly not going to work. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29465315)

Mosquito sprays, shark repellants - all that does, is bring about mutations in species, so that the supposed repellant can be overcome with ease. Results are repellent-insensitive mosquitoes, sharks impervious to ultrasound etc.

Bollocks. Can you provide a single reference to a shark repellent which was proved or convincingly demonstrated to be effective and any evidence of a subsequent mutation that caused that species to be immune?

Re:Prolly not going to work. (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465407)

Can you provide a single reference to a shark repellent which was proved or convincingly demonstrated to be effective

Freakin' lasers?

Re:Prolly not going to work. (1)

bheekling (976077) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465503)

Does this mean we'll never have sharks with frickin' lasers?

Re:Prolly not going to work. (1)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465383)

It's called Evolution if there is any kind of advantage (Which outweighs any disadvantages) to the mutation it stands a chance of progressing and becoming widespread. Hence viruses that are immune to most variants of penicillin and bugs that are immune to pesticides. One must say that this doesn't always track though see http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~kyperry3/Blue_Fugates_Troublesome_Creek.html [ancestry.com] although this involved a very small population who were cognescent.

Re:Prolly not going to work. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29465563)

It's called Evolution if there is any kind of advantage (Which outweighs any disadvantages)
Sort of. Any advantage that outweighs a disadvantage and allows for more procreation stands a chance. The procreation bit is key.

Re:Prolly not going to work. (2, Informative)

icebrain (944107) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465671)

It doesn't surprise me that penicillin (an antibiotic) doesn't work too well against a virus. That's not a mutation.

Perhaps you meant bacteria that are immune to penicillin (which, in many cases, are the result of stupid people insisting on trying to treat viral infections with antibiotics).

Re:Prolly not going to work. (1)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465723)

oops sorry my mistake must cut down on liquid lunch :)

Re:Prolly not going to work. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29466059)

Honest to God question: been spending time with my 9-month old sister; she's to take a teaspoon of amoxicillin 3 times a day... (forgot the dose exactly, either 250mg each or the whole bottle was 250mg), supposedly to treat her "cold" - isn't a "cold" actually a virus? Just curious, struck me as quite odd.

Re:Prolly not going to work. (0, Redundant)

CxDoo (918501) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465803)

All viruses are "immune" to antibiotics.

Re:Prolly not going to work. (1)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465929)

Yup already acknowledged my mistake to the other reply

Re:Prolly not going to work. (1)

dintlu (1171159) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465485)

Nature doesn't have a knack for anything, it's a dumb process.

But you're kind of right - if the reproductive advantages a species of insect gains from living in human dwellings outweighs the reproductive advantages of an aversion to "Death Stench," insects unaffected by this odor will fill the niche.

Perfect bug repellent? (1)

halbert (714394) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465219)

Wouldn't this be the perfect bug repellent? I guess they don't emit the fatty acids when you squash them, or people wouldn't still get bugs in there houses. :-)

Re:Perfect bug repellent? (2, Interesting)

danking (1201931) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465311)

Well I think you would have to leave it around for it to start rotting, I assume most people clean up the squashed roach after they squash it.

I wonder if this is why they ... (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465225)

... quit coming to my roach motel.

if you build it (2, Funny)

Rooked_One (591287) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465243)

we will come! :) We don't care if other people build it either

-Mister cockroach.

Worse smell than a Seppo! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29465229)

It was hard to imagine, but it looks like there is something out there more repugnant than a Seppo!

Smelling death (2, Interesting)

spgass (1217724) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465253)

The article says humans cannot detect the fatty acid extracts, but I wonder if this theory expands to mammals. After getting a couple of squirrels with my tube trap [olddominionwildlife.com] , squirrels now seem afraid to enter. My wife thought they might "smell death"

Re:Smelling death (3, Funny)

confused one (671304) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465437)

Bob the squirrel saw his cousin Sammy go in there. He saw what happened to Sammy. Bob does not want to end up like Sammy.

As an added reminder, essence of Sammy remains in the trap. Sammy juice. Yuck.

Sharks, too (4, Insightful)

Das Auge (597142) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465271)

The same thing works on sharks. I watched a Discovery show where they got the sharks into a feeding frenzy, dropped some of the repellent (dead shark material) into the water, and all of the sharks took off in seconds.

Thinking about it, I doubt very much that humans millennia ago smelled dead human and though, "Hey, I wonder what killed him. I'm going to go see."

Re:Sharks, too (1)

travdaddy (527149) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465471)

Thinking about it, I doubt very much that humans millennia ago smelled dead human and though, "Hey, I wonder what killed him. I'm going to go see."

I guess we have now evolved to that point? Or maybe past it, "Hey, I wonder what killed him. I'm going to go see, and we'll base a CSI episode off of it."

Re:Sharks, too (4, Insightful)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465933)

Not really. It takes a lot of practice to overcome revulsion of the dead. There is nothing that smells quite as bad like a dead person, even a fresh one has a smell that will tie your stomach in a knot. My fiance is a mortician and it took her quite some time to get over the smell. It still creeps me out when I end up having to wait on her at the funeral home.

Re:Sharks, too (1)

Archon-X (264195) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465481)

Now we can just use youtube!

The only good bug is a dead bug. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29465275)

Join the Mobile Infantry and save the Galaxy. Service guarantees citizenship. Would you like to know more?

I smell.. (1)

digitalderbs (718388) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465277)

...an insect repellent.

Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29465293)

Oh, please...This research-at least as reported by Hugh Pickens above- sounds so flawed! (That's not to say that parts of it are not valid). Have you ever watched ants coming by to pick up their dead? The arrogance!

Folklore (3, Interesting)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465307)

Several gardening experts claimed that grinding up bugs and spraying them on crops would repel bugs, but field tests have shown no special results. Perhaps this only works in confined spaces like were cockroaches live.

Nothing eats dead bugs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29465317)

Because such things might really be attracted to this "repellent."

Good for democracy (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465319)

I vote we hose down K Street with it. We'll have a representative democracy in under 5 minutes!

Re:Good for democracy (1)

FauxPasIII (75900) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465909)

Thanks. If I see my congressman surrounded by lobbyists in gas masks, I'll know who to talk to.

Crops (5, Insightful)

Stile 65 (722451) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465323)

How are they going to use this for protecting crops? If ants are repelled, wasps and bees will be, too, and there goes your pollination.

Re:Crops (2, Funny)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465627)

It creates a niche market for bee gas masks. Brilliant business strategy, I say.

Re:Crops (2, Informative)

Gorath99 (746654) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465869)

How are they going to use this for protecting crops? If ants are repelled, wasps and bees will be, too, and there goes your pollination.

Still useful (if it really works) for protecting fruit though. Once the blossom is gone and the fruit starts to develop, pollination is no longer an issue.

Re:Crops (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29466079)

This could be still usefull for crops that are self pollinating. Not every crop needs bees.

Re:Crops (2, Informative)

Inda (580031) | more than 5 years ago | (#29466215)

That not what self pollinating means though. Pollen still needs to be transfered from one flower to another. It's just that the flowers can be on the same plant.

How does this play into natural selection? (1, Troll)

Chameleon Man (1304729) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465335)

Am I missing something, or does the evolutionary process in developing this not line up? I was always under the impression that individual species were in constant competition with each other (with the exception of living in a society where symbiotic relationships occur). Accounting for natural selection, how can the "death stage" be improved generation by generation when the species that develops this ability is...well...dead?

Re:How does this play into natural selection? (1)

ledow (319597) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465477)

Because you're simply placing too much emphasis on natural selection being somehow performed with a destination in mind.

Evolution is mostly accident. The fact that the fatty acids inside a dead corpse happen to put off others has nothing to do with those creatures benefiting from it - it's just the way fatty acids smell when a living thing dies. And any sensible living thing might well benefit from detecting a unique odour that only occurs around rotting corpses so that it can steer clear of the area - the danger might still be present and/or a rotting corpse isn't particularly a good thing to smother yourself in.

However, my question would be more along the lines of: if it's a universal smell, why don't humans smell it... and are vultures and other carrion-eaters put off by it?

Re:How does this play into natural selection? (1)

Chameleon Man (1304729) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465941)

Okay, I understand now that the smell itself is flagged by the animals as a warning sign. It was a genuine question I had, yet some begrudged slashdotter felt the need to mod me as a troll...

Especially good, because.. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29465359)

An obvious reason why pest traps may be less effective is if the dead pests emit a smell that makes others stay away.

If you spread this smell around, it will make pests stay away - but if it comes a point they develop "immunity" to it, it will also greatly increase the effectiveness of pest traps.

Great... (5, Funny)

Gage With Union (1174735) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465373)

So the solution to live cockroaches on my floor is dead cockroaches?

As someone living in a gentrifying neighborhood, any chance this works on hipsters?... (some ground up Converse All-Stars and stovepipe jeans?)

Re:Great... (3, Funny)

secretcurse (1266724) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465411)

Well, the one nice thing about hipsters is that they have some level of reasoning. Just nail one to the front door with a sign that reads "no Pabst" and you shouldn't have to deal with any others.

Re:Great... (2, Funny)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465537)

I believe you would actually have to grind up the hipster.

Re:Great... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29466109)

I believe you would actually have to grind up the hipster.

OK, so what's the downside?

Slashdotters stench (2, Funny)

MaGGuN (630724) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465401)

What sort of stench does slashdotters emit that predominantly serve as a warning signal to females? And why is there no research on it?

bedbugs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29465409)

do they work on bed bugs?

cause so far, the only practical three ways to kill em are

-acid
-hot steam
-ddt

Universal? (0)

FriendlyPrimate (461389) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465419)

Hrm....just how "universal" is this signal if humans can't detect it?

Nice (1)

OrangeMonkey11 (1553753) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465479)

I remember seeing something of this nature from Planet Earth in which certain groups of insect actually have "grave yard" section in their colony where they put their dead.

Gah! The bad grammar kills me! (1)

mistermocha (670194) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465533)

"were repelled leading scientists to think..."

WTF!?

Funny Footnote (1)

jchawk (127686) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465623)

Image: Flickr/bensheldon. Note: This photo was chosen from a disturbingly large volume of dead cockroach images on Flickr.

Every once in a while the internet totally redeems itself. :-P

Thanks, Slashdot (1)

thered2001 (1257950) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465643)

Just the stuff I want to read over breakfast.

Welcome to Joe's apartment (1)

Tautitan (1522643) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465659)

it's our apartment too We've been around for a hundred billion years and we'll be here long after you!

Is this why Raid's days may be numbered? (1)

Stormbringer (3643) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465677)

All the time I spent vacuuming out dead roaches from my computer cases... wasted. If I'd mashed them flat instead, obviously I'd have had a lot fewer live bugs to eliminate from my code as a result.

RAID's days may be numbered (5, Funny)

Elwar123 (1053566) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465695)

Is this why there's an article today that RAID's days may be numbered? [slashdot.org]

interesting results (1)

martas (1439879) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465883)

This is really interesting, especially considering the potential application for protecting crops. I have 2 concerns though:

1) How quickly does the substance dissipate? Would a farmer have to spray the every time it rains/there's a light breeze?
2) How long before some bugs say "ah, screw the smell, i'm hungry, dammit!" Some insects might evolve to sacrifice their natural defense from disease for the sake of a good meal, thus making the process useless... Thankfully there aren't really a whole lot of diseases that affect both insects and humans, what with us being in an entirely different phylum and all...

Re:interesting results (1)

insertwackynamehere (891357) | more than 5 years ago | (#29466137)

Fire is one of the few diseases that affects both phylums be careful!!

Sorry, not true (0)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465893)

Proof: Kill a single ant...

No shit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29465917)

I recall that insects secrete pain pheromones for such purposes. I'm not a scientist and I never studied biology past high school so how exactly is this news to anyone?

We need that skill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29465959)

Since nobody can smell the corpse of the US economy, and we keep sleepwalking into the future of fossil fuel depletion and The Great Die-Off. See you in the FEMA camps chumps!

Is this new? (4, Interesting)

Nerdposeur (910128) | more than 5 years ago | (#29466021)

A few decades ago, Edward O. Wilson proved that ants mark their trails with scent by removing their organs individually and smearing them around. Eventually he found one that would cause them to follow the trail, and would demonstrate his discovery by writing his name in ants.

I heard a recorded lecture where he told this story, and he also mentioned that they discovered the "dead ant" smell that would signal the colony that "this one is dead, go put it on the pile." When they put the scent on a live ant, the other ants would carry it off to the pile, ignoring the fact that it was squirming the whole way there. And until the stinky ant cleaned itself off enough, they would keep putting it back every time it left the pile.

anything for C++? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29466031)

Is there any such stuff out there for my dll libraries? I would sure like to keep the bugs out of those...

effects on household pets? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29466135)

But what is the effect on normal household pets (i.e., dogs, cats, etc.)? This could be the key that permits it or prevents it from entering most households?

Uncalled for (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29466177)

Admittedly some of us at the office don't always take showers, but "death stench" is a bit uncalled for. Besides, if you guys would spend more time on your unit tests, maybe we QA testers would have more time to attend to our hygiene.

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