Hello folks who wonder if in the post-pandemic era saying "Bless me" after someone else in the room sneezes is going to be the only acceptable response in society,

When the pandemic started back in 2020, there was a mad rush to classify jobs as essential and non-essential. Only essential workers were going to receive free donuts and pizza for the services they provide along with heart emojis on social media. I knew I had to jump on this bandwagon to cash in on this once in a lifetime opportunity. "What profession will help me find appreciation on social media and ultimately validate my existence?" was the question that haunted me for several nights.

Ultimately, I decided to play the role of a Doula, helping this fly deliver its baby in an egg case. "Push, Push, Push! You've got this girl!" I shouted in encouragement.

These days, it is a fad to thank primarily the insects who play the roles of pollinators. While the role they play in the environment is no doubt essential, the ones who do not get enough praise or attention are the decomposers. And when you think of decomposers, one word instantly comes to mind: "Maggots!". Now, just reading this word, might leave most of you with a bad taste in your mouth similar to when I taste the dinner, I make every night. The sight of these maggots in decaying meat and other foods may make your stomach churn and compel you to immediately leave the situation. I noticed the bad press these maggots were getting for a while and I decided to help them improve their brand image. So, I asked them to give me the teddy bear of maggots to lower the barrier of entry in appreciating these essential workers.

Presenting Rat-tailed Maggots.

Rat-tailed maggots are distinct from other maggots due to their long tail. If you use your imagination, they may even look like tiny wingless dragons. These maggots are the larval stage of a pollinator called the Drone Fly a type of Hover fly. Unlike other maggots that feed on decaying meat or food, these maggots are found in filthy, stagnant water. Sometimes you might even see some of these rat-tailed maggots in the same pool along with mosquito larvae (what do mosquito larvae look like? Click here) complaining about how porch pirates constantly steal their Amazon packages. Like mosquito larvae these maggots will feed on decaying organic matter and since they don't have any other defenses other than looking cute, living in murky waters helps them shield from predators. Here is how they might look if you see one in the wild.

If you look closely at the video shown above you will see the tip of their tail touching the water surface. Since the water is so dirty and stagnant, it is pointless to try and extract the oxygen from this water. So, they will use their tail as a snorkel to extend to the water surface for air. Here is a closer look at the maggot breathing through the tip of its tail.

Now, we humans constantly obsess over technology at our disposal to make our iPhones thinner and have a better selfie cam in every iteration. Despite where science is today, we still have two different types of equipment depending on whether we are going to swim at the water's surface (read snorkeling) or descend deeper into the sea using a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (read scuba diving). Last time I met a rat-tailed maggot it laughed at how foolish humans are at inventing new stuff and then worrying about running out of resources and polluting this planet. "I don't get it, what do you propose we do then?" I asked. "Hold my beer" it responded and dived deeper into the water.

As you can see they can extend their tail more than the length of their body size and thus reach the bottom of the pond to get the good stuff. Here are some rat-tailed maggots giggling at our obsession with our iPhones. "Joke's on you, the next iteration of the iPhone selfie cam is going to have kitten and puppy filters in-built"  I screamed.

This extension of the tail is possible because they neatly coil part of their tails inside their bodies when they do not need the entire length. They will constantly release it bit by bit as they keep on going deeper and then pull it back when they are at the water surface. Below is how the tail is coiled inside their body.

If you aren't sold already on making rat-tailed maggots your spirit animal, here is another cool thing about these maggots. Just like cats, they will extend their claws on their legs to increase traction on the surface they will be walking on.

Scientists who were curious about how these maggots are able to fight bacteria when the environment they live in is literally the Coachella of bacteria, found out that these rat-tailed maggots have Nano structures on the surface of their bodies that are similar to the bird spikes we use to keep the birds from shitting on parked cars while sitting on the street lights. Maybe we can use this technology in the future to protect humans when we will have polluted the entire earth and are forced to live in the same filthy waters these maggots call home.

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