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Researchers Discover A Way To Immobilize Insect For Improved Internal Viewing

Researchers Discover A Way To Immobilize Insect For Improved Internal Viewing

Have you ever had an X-ray or a CT-Scan? The doctors and technicians will always tell you to remain perfectly still, and there is a good reason for this. As many of you probably know already, moving around while a machine forms images of your internal body results in smeared and ultimately useless results. This poses a problem for entomologists who want to view the internal working of insects with computerized tomography (CT) scans. Of course, insects cannot stay still when demanded to by an entomologist. Therefore finding a way to make insects motionless is important in order to better understand insect anatomy and physiology. Only recently have scientists learned how to knock out bugs in order to keep them still. It turns out that high levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) can act as a sort of anesthesia for insects.

In a recent study published in BMT Zoology researchers used the black and yellow striped Colorado potato beetles (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) as a test subject for the carbon dioxide induced paralysis. The researchers were pleased when, after just a few seconds, the insects were immobile, but still alive. As a result of this method, researchers were able to view the internal working of an insect with perfect clarity.

The beetles remained in a sleeping state between three to seven hours. This is enough time to gather the images necessary. Obviously, when carbon dioxide is released for a longer period of time, the beetles can stay motionless for a longer period as well. All of the beetles were easily woken up after the tests were finished, except for older males. The older males required longer coaxing to awaken from the sleep. Also, the carbon dioxide as well as the radiation exposure from the X-rays did not harm the beetles at all. This new method of insect-anesthesia will allow for an entirely new way to study insects.

Why would holding the insects in place with an object of some sort not work for X-rays and CT scans?