Grasshoppers, crickets and silkworms are excellent sources of antioxidants for humans

After testing various commercial edible insects and invertebrates, a group of researchers came to the conclusion that crickets can boast 75% of the antioxidant power of fresh orange juice while the fat in the silkworm boasts a comparable antioxidant power to twice that of olive oil.

This is the comforting data that emphasizes even more how edible insects and arthropods can represent a solution to world hunger or can still lead to a lower level of exploitation of fields for cultivation. According to Mauro Serafini, who is the main author of the study published in Frontiers in Nutrition, there are already 2 billion people in the world who regularly eat insects but “the rest of us will need more encouragement.”

The researcher naturally refers in particular to western populations, substantially those in Europe and North America, for which insects and other “strange” arthropods do not represent a habit in the diet. The researchers found that the highest values ​​of antioxidant capacity were present in the water-soluble extracts of grasshoppers, silkworms and crickets. Negligible values ​​were instead represented by extracts of cicadas, aquatic insects, black tarantulas and black scorpions.

However, the antioxidant capacities of insects also depend on compounds that are still unknown, as Serafini himself underlines, since the quantity of polyphenols present in the body of insects is in any case much smaller than that present in orange juice. And the scientist predicts that, in the future, we can also modify the dietary regimes of the insects raised to increase or in any case change the level and quality of antioxidants for human beings for the better.

This is how mosquitoes track their victims

A group of researchers has seen fit to analyze the brain of female mosquitoes (only the latter feed on blood) when they choose their victim to suck the blood. Scientists at the University of Washington have discovered that mosquitoes use both the visual and olfactory systems to identify and track potential victims.

The mosquito chooses its victim by detecting some chemical signals and this had already been discovered previously. However, the ways in which these signals are processed in the brain and lead to the final decision were not known, at least until the study published today in Current Biology. First, the olfactory system detects the chemical signals of carbon dioxide coming from the potential victim and this causes changes in the brain of the mosquitoes. The intercepted carbon dioxide is essentially what we breathe out, an emission that mosquitoes can intercept even from a distance of more than 30 meters to locate the victim’s position and approach it.

After this first phase, the mosquitoes change their behavior and begin to use the visual system. With the latter they scrutinize the surroundings to delineate the forms of the guest and to decide to fly towards them. The researchers measured how carbon dioxide triggers these processes in the brain and modifies the flight behavior of mosquitoes.

With special equipment including an optical sensor to collect data related to the flapping of insect wings, the researchers have in fact tested the behavioral modalities of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes when they have to choose the victim. They discovered that even a small puff of air containing 5% of carbon dioxide could push a mosquito to turn towards the victim to visually locate it.

A new material for solid state batteries has been discovered

A new material for high-performance solid-state batteries was discovered by a group of researchers at the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium. This material could be used in the batteries of the future to make energy storage more efficient as well as charging and discharging.

The thought goes above all to the levels of safety considered not sufficient by many in regards to lithium-ion batteries. These are batteries in which there are liquid organic electrolytes, something that causes the same battery to be subject to fire as these liquids are flammable. The only solution planned to date is the use of a solid electrolyte, however no material is still considered to be up to date in relation to the efficiency that can be had with a lithium-ion battery.

The latter, in fact, in solids are much less mobile and this makes the performance of the battery less efficient especially when it has to be charged or discharged.

Scientists from the Belgian Institute have discovered a new material that could be a new candidate. We talk about LiTi2 (PS4) 3 or LTPS, a material that shows a higher diffusion coefficient than those already tested for solid-state batteries.

The study, published in Chem, describes this material and its unique crystalline structure that could open up new perspectives in the entire sector relating to lithium-ion conductors and, in general, solid-state batteries.