This Insect Uses Farts to Immobilize Its Prey

Illustration for article titled This Insect Uses Farts to Immobilize Its Prey

I’m sorry, did you not hear me? I said THIS INSECT FARTS ON ITS PREY.

At Wired, Gwen Pearson writes at surprising, but nevertheless compelling, length on the unconventional hunting tactics of Lomamyia latipennis, a termite-predating species of Beaded Lacewig. When a baby of the species gets hungry it stuns its prey with what researchers characterized as a “vapor-phase toxicant,” which it emits from its anus. “That’s a fancy way of saying it farts on it,” says Pearson. “In fact, their farts are powerful enough to immobilize six termites with one blow.”

Vapor-phase toxicant! This is my new favorite euphemism.

Go read the rest at Wired, where you’ll learn about such things as the potency of L. latipennis’ toots, the duration of the paralyses they induce, and the bacterio-evolutionary means by which a fart is weaponized—not to mention links to surveys of insect flatulence. Seriously. It’s excellent.


Contact the author at and @rtg0nzalez. Photo credit: Robert Lord Zimlich | CC BY-ND-NC 1.0.

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Pffft, I do the same thing to my wife at night.