Bug Blog

Insects Grow Weak In Their Old Age Too

The physical problems that come with aging are inevitable, even for the healthiest of individuals. Problems like arthritis and issues with the spinal cord, as well as declining cognitive abilities are just a few of the most common problems that affect people in their old age, and dealing with such problems is one of the hardest facts of life to live with. Considering that humans live relatively long lives, it is not surprising that certain bodily functions and structures eventually deteriorate. However, humans are not the only animals that suffer from such physical issues that accompany old age. This may not be surprising, as other mammals also live long lives, but most people would not expect insects to fall victim to the physical weakness that goes along with old age. But, as it happens, insects are just as apt to develop such problems, and researchers have recently demonstrated this to be the case with video footage.

Common field crickets are exposed to harsh conditions, much like any other insect. These harsh conditions could explain why insects experience physical decline as they age. But, as it turns out, even laboratory-raised insects become physically weak as they age, even if their lifespan is no longer than a couple of weeks. Field crickets that put a relatively large amount of energy into reproduction in early age suffered more severe symptoms of physical decline in old age. Researchers with the University of Exeter placed 130 cameras in various spots within the wild living space of crickets. These cameras collected footage that clearly showed that more reproductively active crickets suffered a greater degree of physical decline than their less reproductively active counterparts. These cameras did not just record a mere few weeks of cricket behavior, as this experiment has been going on for ten straight years, which provides conclusive evidence supporting the researcher’s hypothesis that insects suffer the problems associated with old age just as humans do.

Do you think that crickets or any other insect could be used as a model for better understanding the physical aspects of aging in humans?