University of South Carolina

Come into my parlor, said the spider to the...cricket

 

Jon Storm doesn't know the cause just yet, but his research has illuminated one of nature's small mysteries: pregnant crickets somehow forewarn their offspring before birth (when they abandon their young) that a dangerous predator is lurking.

Jon Storm
Jon Storm

Storm, an assistant professor of biology at USC Upstate, conducted his cricket and spider research while earning a Ph.D. at Indiana State University. In his experiments, he put wolf spiders in an enclosure with pregnant crickets, coating the spiders' fangs with a beeswax mixture so they could stalk but not kill the mother crickets.

Baby crickets whose mothers had been exposed to the spiders before birth managed to hide out longer from the marauding spider than offspring whose mothers were not exposed to the spider.

"I'm guessing it could be a hormone that's transmitted from mother to offspring, but more research would have to be done to confirm or refute that idea," Storm said.

While he's continuing the cricket-spider research, Storm has his USC Upstate undergraduate students involved in a new line of research: urban bats.

"We're trying to figure out what animals actually live in urban forests, so we're setting up bat detectors to figure out if bats like to live in these places."

Posted: 06/22/10 @ 12:00 AM | Updated: 07/15/10 @ 11:00 AM | Permalink