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Hidden trails: Visualizing arthropod silk

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Johnson, M.-L., Merritt, D.J., Cribb, B.W., Trent, C. and Zalucki, M.P. (2006) Hidden trails: Visualizing arthropod silk. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata, 121 (3). pp. 271-274.

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Article Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1570-8703.2006.00447.x

Publisher URL: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/home


Arthropods are known to use silk for a number of different purposes including web construction, shelter building, leaf tying, construction of pupal cocoons, and as a safety line when dislodged from a substrate (Alexander, 1961; Fitzgerald, 1983; Common, 1990). Across the arthropods, silk displays a diversity of material properties and chemical constituents and is produced from glands with different evolutionary origins (Craig, 1997). Among insects, larval Lepidoptera are prolific producers of silk. Because many lepidopteran larvae are pests, an ability to interfere with silk production or, at the very least, an understanding of how silk is used, could provide new options for pest control. After testing many known fluorescent dyes, we found that Fluorescent Brightener 28 (also known as Calcofluor White M2R) (Sigma-Aldrich Pty Ltd, Sydney, NSW, Australia), an optical brightener used in the textile industry, binds to arthropod silk in a simple staining reaction, causing it to fluoresce under ultraviolet (UV) light. Such brighteners have also been used in insect gut content analysis (Schlein & Muller, 1995; Hugo et al., 2003). Here we describe the method of visualizing arthropod silk on plant surfaces, using as a model the thin, barely visible, single strands of silk produced by Helicoverpa armigera (Hübner) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) neonates.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:© The Netherlands Entomological Society.
Keywords:Helicoverpa armigera; behaviour; tracking; fluorescent brightener 28; image analysis; Lepidoptera; Noctuidae.
Subjects:Plant pests and diseases > Pest control and treatment of diseases. Plant protection
Science > Science (General)
Science > Zoology > Invertebrates > Insects
Live Archive:23 Feb 2009 03:22
Last Modified:03 Sep 2021 16:48

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