Young squash bugs seek out adults’ poop for an essential microbe

Insects that don’t pick up Caballeronia bacteria die

A close up photo of several squash bug nymphs climbing over a green plant.

Squash bug nymphs (pictured) need a certain type of bacteria to survive. They find it themselves in poop from adult squash bugs.

Pollinator/English Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

For young squash bugs, a sip full of feces can help the microbes go down.

Squash bugs (Anasa tristis) are a major agricultural pest, and a bacterial partner called Caballeronia is essential for their survival. To pick up the bacteria, fledgling squash bugs home in on adult poop in the environment, researchers report in the July 10 Current Biology.