Monday, 2 January 2012

Cockroach Hookup Signal Could Benefit Endangered Woodpecker

ScienceDaily (Dec. 19, 2011) — A North Carolina State University discovery of the unique chemical composition of a cockroach signal -- a "Let's hook up" sex pheromone emitted by certain female wood cockroaches to entice potential mates -- could have far-ranging benefits, including improved conservation of an endangered woodpecker.



Dr. Coby Schal, Blanton J. Whitmire Professor of Entomology at NC State and the corresponding author of a paper describing the discovery, says that the study, published the week of Dec. 19 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, advances the knowledge of fundamental biological and chemical properties of an important North American cockroach genus that serves as both a beneficial forest insect and as a pest in homes.
Parcoblatta lata is the largest and most abundant of the wood cockroaches. It also serves as the favored meal of the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. Schal says that the study, which characterized the pheromone and produced a synthetic version of it, could help scientists determine whether certain habitats have enough woodpecker food. If the synthetic pheromone attracts large numbers of adult male P. lata cockroaches, Schal says, then the roach supply is probably ample. Provided that other aspects of the habitat are also right, the area could be a suitable home for red-cockaded woodpeckers.

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