Diamond in the Dump

One person’s poop is another’s treasure! 


This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Squash bugs are major pests for farmers, and resistant to many poisons. To survive, they have a symbiotic relationship with a healthy bacteria that lives in their gut. Other bugs get that bacteria from their mothers. They poop on ‘em at birth! Not squash bugs though! So how do they get THEIR gut bacteria? 

Scott Villa and a team from Emory University investigated.


The researchers set up arenas with options of squash bug poop and salt water. The baby bugs went for the poop – even in the dark! But –  only their own species’ poop. 

This suggests they’re attracted to the poop’s smell. Newborn squash bugs are on a mission to find and eat adults’ poop to survive! With these findings, researchers believe we can stop these pests at their most vulnerable. Without affecting the rest of the ecosystem!


Do you think when they die, they’ll hear a heavenly voice: “Come towards the poop, son…”?


Reference (APA-style)

Villa, S. M., Chen, J. Z., Kwong, Z., Acosta, A., Vega, N. M., & Gerardo, N. M. (2023). Specialized acquisition behaviors maintain reliable environmental transmission in an insect-microbial mutualism. Current Biology, 33(13). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2023.05.062