The most unusual ways of survival in insects
• Insects do not have a headache about whether or not to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, whether to change jobs, where to go on vacation, and other problems that concern people. Their main task for the next day is to survive.
And for this purpose, nature has provided many opportunities. Some of them are so amazing that they deserve a separate short story. We present to you top 10 weirdest ways insects survive.
10 Sexual Cannibalism
• Female praying mantis, like many species of spiders (such as the black widow), often eat their soul mate after sex. And sometimes instead.
• This behavior seems cruel and unacceptable to us, but it is an effective survival tactic for these insects, and not as an act of cruelty. By eating a partner, the female gets an extremely healthy (and probably tasty) meal, full of proteins and amino acids, which will allow her to lay significantly more eggs.
• In addition, the researchers found that most of the food obtained from eating the male actually went to the offspring, not the mother.
• It is curious that sexual cannibalism is practiced not only by spiders, but also by male jumping spiders of the species Evarcha culicivora. And male water spiders of the species Argyronetia aquatica prefer women "in the body" and eat females that are smaller than them.
9. Birth after eating
• A team of researchers from Japan's Kobe University found that when a bird ingests a stick insect, the hard-shelled eggs inside the insect's body can pass through the bird's digestive tract and exit unharmed.
• Being warm and cozy in bird droppings, the egg slowly “reaches the condition” until the little stick insect hatches away from its relatives. The researchers hypothesized that bird-eating is one of the ways stick insects have so successfully expanded their habitat, jumping over islands and spreading to far-flung corners of the globe.
• Many plants do the same with seeds. And now it turns out that not only do stick insects look like plants, they travel like plants.
8. Defensive vomiting
Pine sawfly larvae gather in groups and literally vomit on predators to scare them away. However, among them there are also "freeloaders" who do nothing, nevertheless receiving protection from the group.
• Males appear to be more likely to avoid participating in a group "vomit" act than females, so they grow faster.
• This tactic, while effective, robs the insects of many nutrients, weakening them and reducing their chances of survival.
7. Imitation snake
• Some species of insects use bright colors to scare away predators. However, caterpillars of the elephant or hawk moth (Deilephila elpenor) went even further.
• When threatened, these creatures can inflate, taking on the shape and general appearance of a snake's head, which many compare to an extremely dangerous viper.
• While the hawk moth caterpillar is actually harmless, its camouflage is so convincing that it is an effective survival tactic capable of fooling any birds of prey and even humans that might cross paths with this formidable "snake".
6. Washing babies with poison
For ants, preventing an outbreak is of paramount importance: a single one of them, quite possibly, will destroy an entire colony. So they found a unique survival solution: they suck the venom out of their acidopora (the chitinous tube at the end of the abdomen where the acidic poison gland opens) and pass it on to their young through saliva to destroy the potentially dangerous fungi that infect them.
• The good news for the ant family is that this method actually works; even unkilled mushrooms have a much lower chance of spreading. Nature is truly amazing, even if it is a bit unattractive.
5. Poison from the chest
• Better not scare the large African grasshopper (aka African locust) from the Phymateus viridipes family. Because, being alarmed, this insect secretes a poisonous liquid from the chest.
• The liquid is obtained from the poisonous milkweed plant, which feeds on both the immature nymph of the African grasshopper and the adult. The colored hindwings, which are usually hidden when the grasshopper is at rest, can also glow to scare off potential predators.
4. Sweet Vomit
The statement “honey is bee vomit” has long been a viral saying. Whether this is correct depends on the definition of vomiting: honey does not come from the bee's stomach, but from a separate honey ventricle. However, this stuff does burp.
• Although we are accustomed to honey as a tasty and healthy food product, the reason why bees produce honey from the very beginning has faded into the background.
• This product has an indefinite shelf life as it is an unsuitable environment for bacteria. And the bees enjoy this circumstance even more than we do. During the cold winter months, when flowers are not available, the bees use the accumulated honey as a long-term food source.
3. Genitals in the form of a scorpion tail
• Seeing a flying insect with a scorpion tail is a frightening sight for those who are not familiar with the scorpion fly. However, for those who know about this harmless insect, fear turns into surprise “what nature has come to!”
• What looks like a scorpion tail with a stinger at the end is only found in males. Yes, the "scorpion tail" is actually for mating purposes and functions in a similar way to the genitals in other species.
• Aside from their very strange biology, scorpion fly mating is associated with the frequent gifting of females with dead insects collected from the ground, webs, or, alternatively, just large amounts of saliva.
2. Fake your own death
In the animal world, imaginary death is a very common phenomenon. Take, for example, the pig-nosed snake. This reptile could win an acting competition for staging his own death.
- First, these reptiles have convulsions, and then they turn over with their belly up.
- This performance ends with vomiting (or hemorrhage from the mouth) and a bowel movement.
- This impressive performance is usually enough to send would-be predators in a different direction.
• But the speech in the article is about insects, and the famous "pretenders" are red fire ants and prickly praying mantises Gyromantis kraussii. Young ants are not yet able to attack opponents or quickly run away. Therefore, imitation of death is the only option for them to save their lives.
• And prickly praying mantises choose imaginary death only when escape is impossible. This insect is so good at pretending that it can remain still even if you poke your finger at it.
1. Attack with a boiling toxic mixture
• Unlike flies, butterflies, dragonflies, and many other insects, beetles cannot instantly fly into the air. In order to use the wings, they must first deploy them from under the elytra, and this takes time. But in the case of the bombardier beetle, slow take-off is not its problem.
• Armed with the ability to release a hot (100°C) foul-smelling liquid to kill other insects and ward off both small and large predators, the bombardier beetle could become an apex predator if it were larger.
• An infernal concoction erupted from the body of the bombardier beetle under high pressure, powerful enough to incapacitate many animals and cause a nasty burn even on human skin. Moreover, this little “artilleryman” shoots her accurately and repeatedly.