Team Carly and Abby have made several upgrades to the electroantennogram set up in an effort to minimize noise (the electrical static in the background which can cover up our bug’s electrical response). With guidance from our electrical expert, we went from copper to silver wire, Styrofoam surface to cardboard (apparently Styrofoam worsens noise!) and what made the biggest difference: having the air pump system separate and on a different table. That way, when we puff our chemical and our air pump vibrates, the movement is not directly wiggling our antenna setup! Now we can distinguish electrical response from background noise.
EAG: It’s electric!
Team Abby and Carly are gearing up for phase two: the electroantennogram assay! We hope to record our invasive stink bug’s electrical response to various chemicals, including [E]-2-hexenal which we’ve had promising behavioral data. If an insect is communicating with a chemical, then the antennae will have a voltage when it contacts that chemical. While Abby and I are excited to try this with our insect, we’ve definitely had to improvise with materials. With the expertise of an electrical wise guy, we’re attempting to adapt an electrocardiogram (EKG) into our electroantennogram (EAG)…the difficulty being that an EKG hooks up to a human to measure the voltage of heartbeats while an EAG measures the voltage of 2 mm antenna! (see picture below) We just received our electrical receptors that we’ll use to help make this adaptation happen, and are ready to start tinkering.