Agriculture
Microbes at the Gas Pump
Earth-Friendly Fabrics
New Gene Fights Potato Blight
Amphibians
Poison Dart Frogs
Tree Frogs
Salamanders
Animals
From Chimps to People
Color-Changing Bugs
Professor Ant
Behavior
Longer lives for wild elephants
Lost Sight, Found Sound
Video Game Violence
Birds
Chicken
Kookaburras
Cranes
Chemistry and Materials
A New Basketball Gets Slick
Batteries built by Viruses
Hitting the redo button on evolution
Computers
A New Look at Saturn's rings
The solar system's biggest junkyard
The hungry blob at the edge of the universe
Dinosaurs and Fossils
Dino Babies
Dino Bite Leaves a Tooth
Dino-Dining Dinosaurs
E Learning Jamaica
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
Earth
Undersea Vent System Active for Ages
Polar Ice Feels the Heat
Easy Ways to Conserve Water
Environment
Hazy with a Chance of Sunshine
Whale Watch
Groundwater and the Water Cycle
Finding the Past
Salt and Early Civilization
Big Woman of the Distant Past
Ancient Cave Behavior
Fish
Salmon
Carp
Bull Sharks
Food and Nutrition
The Color of Health
Yummy bugs
Food for Life
GSAT English Rules
Whoever vs. Whomever
Who vs. Whom
Who vs. That vs. Which
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
GSAT stars reap scholarship glory
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
10 Common Mistakes When Preparing for the GSAT Math Test
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
42,000 students will sit for the GSAT Exam in two weeks
GSAT stars reap scholarship glory
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
GSAT Mathematics
How a Venus Flytrap Snaps Shut
Math of the World
GSAT Mathematics Quiz, Teaching Math, teaching anxiety
Human Body
Heavy Sleep
Fighting Off Micro-Invader Epidemics
A Better Flu Shot
Invertebrates
Giant Squid
Daddy Long Legs
Butterflies
Mammals
Tigers
African Hyenas
Glider
Parents
Expert report highlights the importance to parents of reading to children!
Choosing a Preschool: What to Consider
What Not to Say to Emerging Readers
Physics
Speedy stars
Black Hole Journey
One ring around them all
Plants
The algae invasion
Bright Blooms That Glow
Pumping Up Poison Ivy
Reptiles
Lizards
Copperhead Snakes
Pythons
Space and Astronomy
Ready, Set, Supernova
Galaxies Divide Sharply Along Color Lines
Return to Space
Technology and Engineering
Riding Sunlight
Squeezing Oil from Old Wells
Bionic Bacteria
The Parts of Speech
Problems with Prepositions
Adjectives and Adverbs
Countable and Uncountable Nouns
Transportation
Middle school science adventures
Reach for the Sky
Flying the Hyper Skies
Weather
Recipe for a Hurricane
Catching Some Rays
The Best Defense Is a Good Snow Fence
Add your Article

Color-Changing Bugs

A variety of animals can dramatically change the colors of their bodies to blend with the environment or to ward off predators, among other reasons. Such creatures, including chameleons and squid, usually switch shades by altering the size of special cells. These cells carry colored chemicals called pigments. The Panamanian golden tortoise beetle also changes colors—from gold to red. Instead of using pigment cells, however, the bug uses an entirely different strategy to make the color switch. The color-changing beetle, called Charidotella egregia, grows to be about 8 millimeters (0.3 inch) long. It has a see-through shell. Usually, the shell reflects a metallic-gold color. But when the insect is disturbed, the gold hue fades, revealing a dull red. Researchers from the University of Numar in Belgium used an electron microscope to take a close look at the beetle's shell. They found that the shell has three tiers, or layers, arranged one on top of the other. The bottom tier is thickest. The top tier is thinnest. Each tier is made up of a number of closely packed smaller layers. Each of the three tiers reflects light of a different color. Combined, these reflections produce a gold color. Beneath all three tiers is a layer of red pigment. Within the layers that make up each tier, the scientists noticed tiny grooves. Sometimes, the beetle's body fluids fill these grooves. When that happens, the layers become smooth. Then, they act as "perfect mirrors," says Jean Pol Vigneron, one of the Belgian scientists studying the beetle. As a result, the bug looks shiny and metallic. When the grooves are empty of fluid, on the other hand, the tiers act more like windows than mirrors. The shell loses its shine, and the red pigment shows through. To make sure that the bug's body liquid was essential to the color-changing process, the researchers froze a beetle in its gold state. Once it was frozen solid, the dead beetle turned red. But when the scientists removed the beetle from the freezer, the bug's frozen body fluid turned back to liquid and the beetle regained its gold hue. Later, when the insect dried out completely, it became red and stayed red. This liquid-dependent process is "a new mechanism that hasn't been found in nature before," says Andrew Parker of the University of Oxford in England. He studies color changes in animals. "Nature never stops surprising us with elegant solutions to everyday problems," adds Radislav Potyrailo, an analytical chemist at the GE Global Research Center in Niskayuna, N.Y. Scientists hope to some day apply the beetle's technique to create devices that use color and light to show the presence or absence of liquids in other situations.—Emily Sohn

Color-Changing Bugs
Color-Changing Bugs








Designed and Powered by HBJamaica.com™