'Spiderman' gene could transform pest control

24 August 2016 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal

Pest control could undergo a major transformation following the discovery of a gene responsible for giving insects their waterproof coating.


The coating protects them from microbes and environmental stress.


An international research team, led by Joanne Yew from the University of Hawaii, Mānoa, identified the ‘spidey’ gene (nicknamed after Spiderman) in vinegar flies. The team hopes that with further study they can bridge the gap to pest species.


News reports state that Yew said: “When we knocked out spidey in adult flies, the flies exhibited several striking features: their life span was shortened by about 50 per cent, they lost almost all of their waxy coating and flies frequently got stuck to the sides of the plastic vials and were unable to free themselves.”


Vacant property firm Orbis said: “Infestations are incredibly difficult to avoid and once infected, a building can need multiple treatments.”

“The ability to remove an insect’s waxy coating could make their control easier and will enhance expert services. This is particularly important news in light of the study Orbis reported on earlier this year, revealing that bed bugs are developing a resistance to insecticides.”


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