Helmut Schmitz

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Pyrophilous jewel beetles of the genus Melanophila approach forest fires and there is considerable evidence that these beetles can detect fires from great distances of more than 60 km. Because Melanophila beetles are equipped with infrared receptors and are also attracted by hot surfaces it can be concluded that these infrared receptors are used for fire(More)
The pyrophilous Australian "fire-beetle"Merimna atrata approaches forest fires and possesses abdominal infrared (IR) organs. Each round IR organ is centrally innervated by a sensory complex showing two different units: one thermoreceptive multipolar neuron and one mechanosensitive chordotonal organ (CO) consisting of two scolopidia. We investigated the CO(More)
Globally the flat bug genus Aradus comprises about 200 species. About half a dozen Aradus species can be primarily found on burnt areas and, therefore, have been called pyrophilous. Bugs and their offspring feed on fungi growing on burnt wood. Recently, prothoracic infrared (IR) receptors have been described in the pyrophilous Australian species Aradus(More)
Infrared (IR) receptors are so far known only in boid and crotalid snakes and in three genera of pyrophilous beetles that seek out forest fires. Pyrophilous insects can also be found in other orders, however, so it can be hypothesised that IR receptors also occur in some of these species. We investigated the pyrophilous Australian flat bug Aradus albicornis(More)
This study characterises the response properties of the sensilla located on the prothoracic disc organ of the beetle Acanthocnemus nigricans, such as intensity response functions and temporal coding properties. Warming the sensilla by a red laser accelerated their ongoing spiking activity, cessation of the stimulus suppressed their firing as revealed by(More)
Every year forest fires cause severe financial losses in many countries of the world. Additionally, lives of humans as well as of countless animals are often lost. Due to global warming, the problem of wildfires is getting out of control; hence, the burning of thousands of hectares is obviously increasing. Most important, therefore, is the early detection(More)
Jewel beetles of the genus Melanophila possess a pair of metathoracic infrared (IR) organs. These organs are used for forest fire detection because Melanophila larvae can only develop in fire killed trees. Several reports in the literature and a modeling of a historic oil tank fire suggest that beetles may be able to detect large fires by means of their IR(More)
The pyrophilous Australian "fire-beetle" Merimna atrata strongly depends on the occurrence and localization of forest fires for its reproduction. As a special adaptation to its unusual biology, elaborate infrared (IR) organs have evolved in this species. The IR-organs consist of a specialized cuticular portion, the absorbing area, innervated by a sensory(More)
Jewel beetles of the genus Melanophila and some pyrophilous species of the flat bugs genus Aradus show a pyrophilous behaviour and have developed so-called photomechanical infrared (IR) receptors. In a spherical photomechanical IR sensillum incoming IR radiation is converted into micromechanical action, finally stimulating the dendritic tip of a(More)
Most individuals of the Australian 'fire-beetle' Merimna atrata have two pairs of IR receptors which are located ventrolaterally on the second and third abdominal sternite. An IR receptor consists of a specialized IR absorbing area, which is innervated by a neural complex. This complex contains one thermoreceptive multipolar neuron with a unique terminal(More)
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