Chemical Agents in Bug Warfare

NOW wishes a happy birthday to Thomas Eisner, 68, considered the founder of chemical ecology. An entomologist at Cornell University, Eisner has earned renown for discovering many of the intricate ways that insects court, communicate, and defend themselves with chemicals. The bombardier beetle, for example, shoots its enemies with scalding hot poison at 500 pulses per second. Eisner and his colleague Jerrold Meinwald, a chemist at Cornell, have also found new nerve drugs in millipedes, cardiac stimulants in fireflies, and cockroach repellents in an endangered mint plant. Eisner has also vocally supported the conservation of biodiversity.

An interview with Eisner was published in the Cornell Science and Technology Magazine.

[Source: Emily McMurray, Ed., Notable Twentieth Century Scientists (Gale Research Inc., ITP, 1995).]