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Scientists Use Sex-Crazed Bugs As Pesticide

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the doin'-it-hopper-style dept.

Biotech 107

ByronScott writes "In today's 'gross news' category, some female insects just 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, resulting in decreased populations. Yes, that means that the female bugs will miss out on the joys of motherhood, but the idea that the insects will be having some fun instead of being gassed to death by poisons is pretty cool."

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Disease (0, Offtopic)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 4 years ago | (#31545664)

How long before unsafe sex becomes a concern? This smacks of the 60's for grasshoppers. Free love (as in beer). Woot!

Free as in beer? (1)

Attack DAWWG (997171) | more than 4 years ago | (#31545876)

Free love (as in beer). Woot!

Uh, since when did grasshoppers ever pay for love or even sex? What would they use for money, anyway?

Re:Free as in beer? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31546034)

Assuming you're married or have a girlfriend, you would know that you pay. Maybe not in dollars in cents, but you pay...

Re:Free as in beer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31546338)

Assuming you're married or have a girlfriend, you would know that you pay. Maybe not in dollars in cents, but you pay...

Dude, if you married a grasshopper, you have bigger problems than money...

Re:Free as in beer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31549622)

And in dollars and cents too if we're being honest here.

QFTS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31545670)

"but the idea that the insects will be having some fun instead of being gassed to death by poisons is pretty cool" That's assuming it's at all fun for them. For all we know, sex among animals is painful, messy and downright disturbing... Kind of like the first time you did it. (Oblig /. troll: it's slashdot, we're all virgins)

Re:QFTS (2, Insightful)

Eric Smith (4379) | more than 4 years ago | (#31546008)

In some cases, probably a lot worse than the first time you did it. horrific beetle sex [scienceblogs.com]

Re:QFTS (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31546930)

Or, like the bed bug, which has more recently evolved into bypassing the reproductive tract altogether--the male pierces the female in the abdomen and injects his sperm into her ovaries directly. Of course, they're pretty horny buggers, and they do the same to other males.

Re:QFTS (1)

mhelander (1307061) | more than 4 years ago | (#31548410)

"Gas is to merciful, send out the sex crazed rape squads!"

Cool ! (3, Insightful)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 4 years ago | (#31545674)

Wait 'til somehow one slips in with the super-sexed modification but not the sterilization.

Re:Cool ! (4, Informative)

vxice (1690200) | more than 4 years ago | (#31545716)

from tfa "uval and his team are using a high-protein, bacteria enhanced “stud” breakfast to feed to the males before they’re released." The bugs aren't genetically super sexed but due to eating habits are more attractive.

Re:Cool ! (4, Funny)

santax (1541065) | more than 4 years ago | (#31545974)

So... and where can I get such a breakfast?

Re:Cool ! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31546016)

I remember hearing about an implant for males that was remote control operated, and was basically a little sphere that expanded on command, thus closing the vas deferens or whatever its called and preventing ejaculation. At the time i was all 'womans rights foundations has a bazillion offices and the national mens rights committee is staffed by an 80 year old working out of his living room' so I was not happy. Then I had sex for the first time. amazing how attitudes change. also grasshoppers or something.

Re:Cool ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31546870)

stop it you markov troll

Re:Cool ! (1)

Dante (3418) | more than 4 years ago | (#31547830)

You know you are right, I bet it is a Markov chain....

Re:Cool ! (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 4 years ago | (#31550516)

I bet it is a Markov chain....

Or in this case a Markov ball and chain...

Imagine this with humans (5, Funny)

voss (52565) | more than 4 years ago | (#31546496)

doc: "Good news Is youre gonna get laid all the time, but you wont be able to have kids"
Guy:"Doc dont hold back, whats the bad news?"

Re:Cool ! (1)

Korin43 (881732) | more than 4 years ago | (#31546512)

Not to mention that if having constant sex was a benefit to the species, they'd already be doing it.

Re:Cool ! (2, Insightful)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#31545852)

Nature... finds a way.

Re:Cool ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31546644)

Isn't that what they said about the dodos?

Re:Cool ! (3, Insightful)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 4 years ago | (#31546944)

Nature... finds a way.

No, a lot of times it really doesn't [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Cool ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31547950)

LMAO

Re:Cool ! (1)

clintonmonk (1411953) | more than 4 years ago | (#31549574)

But sometimes it does [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Cool ! (1)

Metasquares (555685) | more than 4 years ago | (#31549624)

It's just part of the process. Designs die out; new ones rise up to fill the niche.

Re:Cool ! (2, Interesting)

CityZen (464761) | more than 4 years ago | (#31545860)

It seems likely as it's really hard to breed a bunch of sterile bugs! :-)

Re:Cool ! (1)

thms (1339227) | more than 4 years ago | (#31545946)

Or wait until evolution does its work (I know she hates to be anthropomorphized). While males come from a controlled lab environment, the fact that they are fed a special diet to outcompete wild, fertile males could be enough to create a selection pressure which produces a new type of female that avoids these lab-males.

Re:Cool ! (2, Funny)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 4 years ago | (#31547160)

selection pressure which produces a new type of female that avoids these lab-males.

Evolution will give here the ability to have spontaneous headaches?

Re:Cool ! (1)

quickpick (1021471) | more than 4 years ago | (#31546168)

Wait 'til somehow one slips in with the super-sexed modification but not the sterilization.

is that like dark matter for penguins?

Sounds like something I've seen on TV before (1)

ForestGrump (644805) | more than 4 years ago | (#31545706)

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.

All natural male enhancement that works? And is legit?

Re:Sounds like something I've seen on TV before (2, Funny)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#31547086)

You'll be irresistible to bugs.

Re:Sounds like something I've seen on TV before (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31547738)

Yeah but they're female!

Nothing New Here. (5, Informative)

lobiusmoop (305328) | more than 4 years ago | (#31545766)

Sterile insect technique [wikipedia.org] . Developed in the 1950's.

Re:Nothing New Here. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31545896)

Quoting your article:

"Biotechnological approaches based on genetically modified organism (transgenic organisms), still under development, are promising; however since no legal framework exists to authorize the release of such organisms in the nature"

We're you trying to confirm or invalidate the previous comment?

Re:Nothing New Here. (2, Interesting)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 4 years ago | (#31546090)

Actually, I looked over the various articles and it doesn't mention anything about using Biotechnological approaches. What seems to be new and exciting, according to the articles, is that they're feeding the males something which is supposed to be make them more enticing to the females so that the females will be more interested in the sterile males than the non-sterile males.

I remember hearing about the sterile insect technique back in high-school in the 70s. Even the articles in question say that the concept isn't new--the only new part seems to be using attractive males.

spanish fly (1)

vxice (1690200) | more than 4 years ago | (#31545780)

from TFA "uval and his team are using a high-protein, bacteria enhanced “stud” breakfast to feed to the males before they’re released." I wonder if they use spanish fly?

Tiger Woods Gene (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31545782)

I heard they grew the bugs with some of Tiger Wood's blood and that made them all crazy.

Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31545820)

Now we just need this in a human female version

A very green solution, except... (3, Interesting)

sirrunsalot (1575073) | more than 4 years ago | (#31545870)

Fascinating, but I can only imagine this is a very expensive solution to implement since the sterilized males must be specially bred, and, well, it's not exactly a self-propagating solution. Of course, that's also a benefit since as far as solutions that tamper with biology go, self-limiting processes can't very well get out of control. The article doesn't discuss what effect one male has or any practical implications of the solution.

Although the technology certainly doesn't exist to implement it, I wonder what would happen if some sort of genetic time-bomb—something like the mechanism for the Hayflick Limit [wikipedia.org] —were used to create a bug that reproduces for a while, then it's descendants become sterile. It would still be self-limiting, more potent than one bug, and still pesticide-free! Well the hard part of scientific discovery is done, now it'll only take fifty years of toil in the lab to achieve it...

Re:A very green solution, except... (1)

jadin (65295) | more than 4 years ago | (#31545986)

Of course, that's also a benefit since as far as solutions that tamper with biology go, self-limiting processes can't very well get out of control.

But my grandpa said all the dinosaurs were girls...

Re:A very green solution, except... (2, Funny)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 4 years ago | (#31546592)

No I didn't! Just grandma.

Re:A very green solution, except... (1)

Raptoer (984438) | more than 4 years ago | (#31546048)

The sterilized males are usually created using radiation, get a bunch of males together and irradiate them. Some may die, the rest will be sterile, although they may be weaker than wild insects. They've discovered a way to overcome the weakness in the sterilized males by feeding them a super diet.

Re:A very green solution, except... (2, Funny)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31546254)

And of course as a side effect the various irradiated bugs bite unsuspecting field trip students and imbue them with super powers. I cannot wait until Grasshopper-Man starts solving crimes!

Re:A very green solution, except... (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 4 years ago | (#31546096)

Just make sure you patent it so you can make money in 50 years...

Re:A very green solution, except... (3, Informative)

pclminion (145572) | more than 4 years ago | (#31547168)

Fascinating, but I can only imagine this is a very expensive solution to implement since the sterilized males must be specially bred

The technique has been used worldwide with other insects for decades. You may not even know it ever existed, but there used to be flies which laid larvae in your flesh, where they would gestate and then eat their way out of your body. Yeah. Not nice. We got rid of that this way. (Not globally -- the species remains in a few other places)

Re:A very green solution, except... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31548504)

I've heard of them. They've got two mouths, have concentrated acid for blood, and apparently enjoy covering walls in goo.

We got rid of [it]... (Not globally -- the species remains in a few other places)

Yeah, derelict ships in space might still have a couple.

Death by Snoo-Snoo (5, Funny)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#31545872)

nuff said.

Re:Death by Snoo-Snoo (4, Funny)

madsenj37 (612413) | more than 4 years ago | (#31546230)

Fry: Goodbye, friends. I never thought I'd die like this. But I always really hoped.

Zapp Brannigan: We need rest. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is spongy and bruised.

Re:Death by Snoo-Snoo (1)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 4 years ago | (#31546566)

What's "Snoo"?

Re:Death by Snoo-Snoo (2, Funny)

smoyer (108342) | more than 4 years ago | (#31549032)

Nothing much ... what's snoo with you?

Re:Death by Snoo-Snoo (1)

karlwilson (1124799) | more than 4 years ago | (#31546884)

*siiiiigh*

Missing tag (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31549500)

unfunfunf

Wait a minute... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31545960)

So they are going to introduce effectively a new specie to bring the population of another specie back (despite it being both grasshoppers here).... Great plan, I mean what could could possibly go wrong?

Re:Wait a minute... (1)

Raptoer (984438) | more than 4 years ago | (#31546006)

Same species, just sterilized and fed an amped up diet. This has been used in the past (especially with mosquitoes) without the amped up diet.

Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31546004)

"In today's 'gross news' category, some female insects just 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, resulting in decreased populations.

What does the Torah say about pre-marital sex?

I kid I kid, don't be so fahklumpt!

Re:Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31546176)

What does the Torah say about pre-marital sex?

I kid I kid, don't be so fahklumpt!

Is that supposed to be jew-talk?

insect sex is not fun (3, Interesting)

Gearoid_Murphy (976819) | more than 4 years ago | (#31546024)

insect sex is notoriously violent, insects do not use sex as a bonding mechanism so there's no pleasure, in the sense we know, associated with it. Many different species have developed various strategies to work around this, such as scrapers on the end of the males penis to remove rivals sperm. I kid you not, god help me, I'm after a bottle of wine and can't be bothered finding the link.

Re:insect sex is not fun (3, Informative)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31546280)

Supposedly the human male's penis [elsevier.com] is also designed to remove other male's sperm from the vaginal tract.

Re:insect sex is not fun (1)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 4 years ago | (#31547878)

So you're telling us that sloppy seconds is better from a reproductive point of view?

No, it is just that women ain't faithful (2, Interesting)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 4 years ago | (#31548384)

The scraping is true and happens in all species where the female has no concept of fidelity. You can also judge the fidelity of the female by the relative size of the male balls. The bigger, the more sperm he produces. NOT to fertilize the egg, but to flood out his rivals sperm and create a protective covering against further attempts.

Biology, messing with your preconceptions.

Re:insect sex is not fun (2, Funny)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#31548782)

From the link, "two surveys of college students showed that sexual intercourse often involved deeper and more vigorous penile thrusting following periods of separation"

There I was puzzled as to why having a good hard fuck seemed a good idea after a period of separation, but now I know - obviously it's just to remove someone else's semen.

Re:insect sex is not fun (1)

oljanx (1318801) | more than 4 years ago | (#31547302)

Party pooper.

Re:insect sex is not fun (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31547628)

PZ Myers on beetle sex: You want to put WHAT in my what??!? [scienceblogs.com]

Old technique, but it works (5, Informative)

Captain Nitpick (16515) | more than 4 years ago | (#31546036)

The sterile insect technique [wikipedia.org] dates to the 1950s, and has been used with great success in suppressing the screw-worm [wikipedia.org] (eradicated in the US in 1982). An animal infested with screw worm maggots can die simply from the tissue damage as the maggots "screw" into their flesh. It's one of the few species against which there is an intentional attempt at extermination, and I can't disagree with it.

The technique inspired the Nebula Award-winning science fiction story The Screwfly Solution [wikipedia.org] . In the story, the technique does not so much go wrong as horribly right.

Re:Old technique, but it works (1)

d_54321 (446966) | more than 4 years ago | (#31547408)

If I had mod points, I'm not sure if I'd mod this informative or funny.

Do they have lots of $100's? do they play golf? (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#31546054)

Do they have lots of $100's? do they play golf?

This is disgusting and sinful! (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31546058)

Sex should be for procreative purposes ONLY! :-P

Re:This is disgusting and sinful! (1)

sowth (748135) | more than 4 years ago | (#31546164)

Yeah, it's all fun and games until somebody puts an eye out!

FAIL (2, Insightful)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31546114)

The bug will not only have sex with one, but many male bugs. And one of them will have working sperm. Done.

Maybe making the females sterile would make a bit more sense. ^^

For database designers: It’s a one-to-many relationship.

Re:FAIL (1)

Cazakatari (1403081) | more than 4 years ago | (#31546334)

This is true, the only reason this technique was so successful with screwworm is because the females only mate once. So all they got were duds from

By the same principle, sterilizing females would have no effect if the males mate with more than one female.

Re:FAIL (4, Funny)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 4 years ago | (#31546614)

Actually, usually for database designers it's a one to zero relationship.

Re:FAIL (1)

turing_m (1030530) | more than 4 years ago | (#31549490)

Actually, usually for database designers it's a one to zero relationship.

Initiate enough union queries and eventually you'll start seeing results. The first results will likely not be what you had hoped for but over time you may manage to debug your querying process and even optimize it. As soon as you think you've got a handle on it, child processes start spawning uncontrollably, your performance will drop through the floor and the rest of your life becomes one long death march.

The tough part (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31546132)

The hardest part was making a Porsche small enough for the Leafhopper to attract the female leafhoppers.

Sterile? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31546226)

Life... finds a way.

Re:Sterile? (1)

R3coiler (1740032) | more than 4 years ago | (#31546900)

With insights like that, you could be a Hollywood screenwriter! Let's see, there's one about dinosaurs we can put you on!

Mixed feelings (1)

GUmeR (1689060) | more than 4 years ago | (#31546308)

Higher intelligence made lower intelligence go and make sex like crazy. Now imagine that WE are at the lower end, and some hypothetical super-human AI on higher end (it made us go and have sex like crazy, so we don't eat it's resources). It would be pleasurable, but still.... not sure if that would be optimal situation :/

Invasive Stranger (2, Interesting)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 4 years ago | (#31546404)

A sterilised insect is actually a foreign entity. I do recognise that feeding the population involves killing insects but a surplus of these insects might be good for the environment when it occurs. It seems that we are trying to micro manage an environment that we really do not understand. My area is loaded with pythons, monitor lizards, iguanas, a three foot long exotic rat, many species of parrots and more plants than I can name all of which are foreign to Florida. The funny thing is I enjoy most of the invaders that our government makes war upon. I particularly like fishing for huge talapia as well as rainbow and peacock bass. All three of those fish are foreign species.

possum (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31547504)

the board of tourism would like to remind you to call the "three foot long exotic rat"s possums.
you have no idea how much pr has been used to make people believe giant rats don't exist.

Now.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31546464)

Now they just need to make these sterile studs' sperm/penises either
A. Sterilize the female
B. Kill the female

Nature always finds a way... (1)

Hamsterdan (815291) | more than 4 years ago | (#31546812)

Seriously, STOP Playing GOD... Nature will find a way, and might even create a new species that is *WAY* more dangerous to crops.

Many things were deemed safe until they found out otherwise. I'm pretty sure GenX and previous remembers Thalidomid. Many crippled or dead children.

Thay are many more examples but it's the only one that comes to mind at that late hour. Seems a human being needs 8 Hours of sleep *PER DAY* , not per week :)

Re:Nature always finds a way... (1)

Hamsterdan (815291) | more than 4 years ago | (#31546832)

On another note, Am I the only one having that problem? I can only click on the first half of a line to position the cursor while typing.

WinXP (Up to date) FF 3.6 (Up to date)

Re:Nature always finds a way... (1)

Boronx (228853) | more than 4 years ago | (#31547428)

"Seriously, STOP Playing GOD..."

This isn't a game.

Re:Nature always finds a way... (1)

weirdo557 (959623) | more than 4 years ago | (#31548102)

but i almost have the high score

What scienists say (3, Insightful)

istartedi (132515) | more than 4 years ago | (#31547020)

What scientists say: (insert abstract followed by lengthy, scholarly work which includes some mention of sex).

What journalists hear: SEX, SEX,SEX,SEX,SEX,SEX,SEX,SEX... Oh, BTW SEX!

The preceding was an homage to Gary Larson [google.com] author of The Far Side.

Please don't... (2, Funny)

ciotog (1098035) | more than 4 years ago | (#31547190)

"the idea that the insects will be having some fun..."

Insects hate anthropomorphization.

E-birth control? (2, Insightful)

fragMasterFlash (989911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31547198)

How many unwanted pregnancies could be prevented if Ecstasy tablets included a dose of birth control hormones? Club kids would make wonderful lab rats.

Tiger Woods? (1)

elfleco (672452) | more than 4 years ago | (#31547330)

No Tiger Woods related jokes yet? Is this slashdot or what?

Re:Tiger Woods? (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#31548402)

Nah, Tiger Woods is for the plebs. Over here we have civilized humor. For example:

In Soviet Russia, sex-crazed pest bugs you!

Re:Tiger Woods? (1)

ascari (1400977) | more than 4 years ago | (#31548610)

FTIW I'm working on an Irish catholic priest joke...

Re:Tiger Woods? (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31550534)

Bad analogy. Tiger Woods isn't sterile, and didn't use condoms.

Bug porn on my vegibubbles ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31548430)

Well pesticides were never fantastic, but now you're telling me my fresh produce had front row seats, and was more often that not probably the stage, for rampant bug sex ?

What about people? (1)

Dr.Syshalt (702491) | more than 4 years ago | (#31548648)

You mean that if we supercharge human libido with pr0n, pr0n-like clips on TV, semi-naked girls everywhere *and* give them contraceptives - the population will start quickly decreasing? Oh.. It's good no one have tried anything like that.

Evolution will work around this (1)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 4 years ago | (#31549114)

This will work for a short time but it is a certainty that there are females out there now that can detect and prefer the fertile male partners over the infertile male partners. Natural selection will favor the resulting offspring that all will inherit this stronger ability to select the fertile males. Then this technique will be, ahem, neutered. Read The Beak Of The Finch [wikipedia.org] if you do not believe me. It has a chapter devoted to the long term ineffectiveness of pesticides.

They tested it on humans first. (1)

AlexLibman (785653) | more than 4 years ago | (#31549460)

The test version was called 20th century liberalism.

The result on fertility rates was equally catastrophic, except of course full extinction will require a lot more than just 2-3 generations.

When tweetle beetles bonk it's called... (1)

turing_m (1030530) | more than 4 years ago | (#31549684)

...a tweetle beetle jottle. And when they jottle in a bottle it's called a tweetle beetle bottle jottle.

AND when beetles from a bottle have a fizzle with their jizzle it's called a bottled beetle jizzle fizzle. AND...

when beetles from these bottles with the fizzle in their jizzle eat a brekkie that is specky and battle beetles for a jottle...

they call this a fizzled jizzled specky brekkied bottled beetle jottle battle.

Remember Killer Bees? (1)

Parstron (1771836) | more than 4 years ago | (#31549918)

Haven't these so called scientist learned anything from that little Killer Bee incident??? @#$%% Next thing you know these bugs will be chasing your cat trying to mate with her.

That explains it (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31550480)

So, Rick James was actually a biologically engineered pesticide?

Sex on fruit (1)

Graham J - XVI (1076671) | more than 4 years ago | (#31552562)

Gee thanks, now when I eat fruits or veg I'm going to be thinking of bugs having sex on it.

Inconceivable! (1)

Noam.of.Doom (934040) | more than 4 years ago | (#31555872)

As I told you, it would be absolutely, totally, and in all other ways inconceivable.
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