Trying to get an elusive species of cave bug to come out of hiding? Well apparently the answer is pungent, rotting food. In the case of one recent research team, that specifically meant a supremely stinky cheese.
According to a delightful story over at Live Science, a group of scientists from Spain’s University of Alcalá recently discovered a new species of eyeless bug living in the darkness of a cave in Turkmenistan. The eyeless creature, now named Turkmenocampa mirabilis, is a narrow multi-legged insect with pale, nearly translucent skin, and long feeler antennae protruding from either end of its body, not unlike an earwig. While the little bug is remarkable for being “the first known underground land animal in Turkmenistan,” possibly more remarkable was the way the researchers managed to locate it.
Since the bug lived in tiny cracks and crevices in the cave, they were initially hard to locate. So the researchers put out traps near guano piles in the cave, which were likely the bugs’ primary source of nutrition. They baited the traps with smelly cheese in order to lure the bugs, and lo and behold, it worked.
Sometimes a simple, blunt solution is the best way to science. Even if that means catching bugs with cheese.