Living With Insect Eggs

"Golden" Squash Bug Eggs  Perhaps new means to control squash bugs will earn a future Golden Goose award?

Squash bug eggs. Eggs are white when first laid, but turn brown due to sclerotization (cross-linking of proteins).

The eggs of insects consist of a nutrient yolk surrounded by a proteinaceous outer layer. In many insects, the eggs, when first laid, are soft and white or colorless. Over time the eggs harden and darken, often to a brown color. The color change is due to sclerotization, the cross-linking of the proteins in the outer layer of the egg by reactive chemicals. The sclerotization shields the eggs somewhat from potential predators and pathogens. However, hardening is not the only protection. The reactive chemicals responsible for the sclerotization can also react with the proteins of pathogens to inhibit or kill a pathogen. This raises an interesting question for physiologists. Is the egg hardening necessary for protection of the embryo and proper development? Or is the hardening a by-product of the reactive chemicals that protect the egg from pathogens?

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is a retired Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in Biomaterials, by jjneal, Environment. Bookmark the permalink.

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