Energy Efficient Hornets


In the search for energy efficient animals, I came across this neat little bug, the Oriental hornet (Vespa orientalis) that can apparently derive energy from the sun. These bugs will actually work their hardest when the sun is at its peak, which is in contrast to similar species that work hardest in the morning when it is cool. Researchers have long known that if you shine light on them, an electrical current is generated across their exoskeleton. This means that their exoskeleton acts like a solar panel since it can convert light energy into an electrical current. Last year, researchers discovered what they think might be the key to this light converting ability. It turns out that the yellow stripe across their back contains the pigment xanthopterin. If this pigment is used in an artificial solar cell, it is capable of capturing light and converting it into electrical currents!

Maybe we should call this "yellow" energy. Researchers are now trying to figure out how to use this information to create new forms of renewable energy.

PLoS One


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So can we call these hornets electric insects and give them free commuter passes (similar to electric cars in California being able to use the car pool lanes with only the driver)?