Hello folks who wonder if in the future we will honor COVID-19 survivors as we currently honor cancer survivors,

Here is a quiz to find out whether you have a stressful full-time job?

  • Is a glass of wine during dinner the only thing keeping you sane?
  • Is sleep an optional part of your lifestyle?
  • Do you secretly cheer for the mom who is gritting her teeth and whispering to her kids to behave themselves at the mall?
  • Do you reply with "Because I said so, that's why" to end any argument?
  • Do you get annoyed when your kid is not putting their best face for your next Instagram post because you worry this will compromise the number of likes?

If you answered yes to all the above questions, there is a high probability you are a mom. Being a mom means raising kids which serve you breakfast in bed consisting of Jelly beans on a burnt toast on Mother's Day. But there are some insects that spend sleepless nights taking care of their babies without any Mother's Day card or breakfast in bed.

Earwigs are universally hated for their gross appearance but they are one of the few insect orders that display a high degree of maternal care. Below is how you can tell an Earwig mother is spending sleepless nights to make sure most of her litter get to see the light of the day. (How to tell the difference between a male and female Earwig? Read about it here)

But it is not all fun and games while waiting for this litter to hatch. The mother earwigs live in the soil where it doesn't have access to hand sanitizer (which humans have hoarded) and is surrounded by a ripe environment for the mold to thrive on her helpless clutch of eggs. Hence, she will constantly groom her eggs, cleaning off mold and spores that might start to grow on her eggs.

Another headache mothers have to face is to decide which daycare to put their kids in. Several insects have gamed the system in having plants pay the cost of raising their offspring. Thus, you might see structures on plants called as plant galls (Read more about plant galls over here). The gall shown below is one kind of plant gall called Coyote Brush Bud Gall that you might frequently see on the Coyote Brush plant. The eggs are laid by a type of midge (a group of tiny two-winged flies).

In the above video each pink structure is hosting a baby midge that is growing up away from the prying eyes of predators with the plant paying for child care. At this point you might think the midge had the last laugh, but then mother nature throws a curveball. If you observe carefully, you might see a tiny wasp walking over these galls like shown below.

At first glance it looks like that wasp is still feeling nostalgic about the bygone Harry Potter series and trying to relive those special moments by riding a broomstick. Turns out that broomstick that is extending past its body is an organ called as an ovipositor that as you will soon see will be used for something more nefarious than pretending it is playing Quidditch.

These parasitoid wasps will actively look for galls that house a midge that is still growing and then deposit their eggs, so their babies will eat the midge baby that is developing inside the plant gall. But the timing of the wasp has to be just right, come too early and its babies will not have any food when they hatch, come too late and the midge has already left the plant gall. Below is the wasp manipulating its unwieldy ovipositor and injecting it into the plant gall to deposit its eggs. Gosh, I wonder how this wasp travels in economy class. And you thought you did not have enough legroom on your plane. Makes you feel grateful, doesn't it? Thought so.

1 comment:

  1. I've been trying to figure out what those eggs were for a LONG time :)


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