JULY
2008

 

By
Tom Turpin
 
Professor of
Entomology
Purdue University

 

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07-24-08

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Miss Ladybug: Insect Advice Columnist

Dear Miss Ladybug: I am a female cicada that last night crawled from the soil and emerged from my immature shell, which I left attached to a picnic table. The tree next door is filled with male cicadas that spend all of their time making this infernal racket that they call singing. How can I convince them to pipe down? Signed: Sick of the Singing

Dear Sick: I know that the acoustical antics of those "boys" are annoying at the moment. But in a few days when you are sexually mature you will change your mind and discover that the singing is a sweet love song designed to woo the favor of females like yourself. In the meantime, don't look at or talk to those "boys." Your attention will just encourage them to croon louder! Signed: Miss Ladybug

Dear Miss Ladybug: I am a hive bee in a honey bee colony. Some of my older sisters are field bees, and they have a disgusting habit of coming in from a nectar-collecting trip and vomiting partially digested nectar on the comb. I have to clean up the mess and place it in the cells of the comb. Should I complain to our mother the queen about my sisters? Signed: Sister of Slobs

Dear Sister: Complaining to your mother the queen will not change the situation. Your sister bees carry nectar to the hive in their honey stomachs. During the trip, complex sugars in nectar are being transformed to the simpler sugars found in honey. Some day you, too, will become a field bee. In the meantime, my advice is, "Suck it up sister" and do your job! Signed: Miss Ladybug

Dear Miss Ladybug: The other day I noticed a group of butterflies lined up sipping water from around the edge of a mud puddle. There were orange sulfurs, cabbage whites, three or four eastern tailed-blues, and a monarch or two. Being a butterfly myself, a painted lady, I flitted down to join the crowd. Lo and behold, all of those butterflies were males. I was embarrassed to be the only female there and quickly took my leave. Should I have stayed and struck a blow for butterfly women's rights? Signed: Would-Be Sipper

Dear Would-Be Sipper: Butterfly drinking parties are more functional than social. Adult male butterflies require some salt in their diet, which they acquire by sipping water from mud puddles. Thank your lucky stars that you are a female and don't have to be part of a mud-puddle gang of males that finds it necessary to dip their proboscises into dirty water. Signed: Miss Ladybug.

Dear Miss Ladybug: Are you ladybugs really all ladies? Signed: Just Wondering.

Dear Just Wondering: In spite of our name ladybug, not all of us are females. Like most other animals, the sex ratio of ladybugs is about 50-50 male and female. And we aren't bugs either; we're beetles! But, hey, the name ladybug has a nice ring to it, don't you think? Signed: Miss Ladybug

Dear Miss Ladybug: Could what the kids are saying about me in school be true? They claim that there is a good chance that my mother murdered my father in a fit of passion. I'm an emotional wreck over the possibility that such a horrible thing could have happened in my family. Signed: Distraught Teenage Mantid

Dear Teenage Mantid: Sometimes in life it makes sense to walk tall, walk straight and look the world in the eye! Scientists claim that about 30 percent of male mantids are killed and partially or entirely eaten during the mating process by female mantids. In such cases, the nutrients from the body of the male mantid help nourish the female so she produces a healthy egg mass. In other words, some male mantids give their lives to ensure the success of their children! Besides, since all mantids--including your parents-- died before last winter, does it really make any difference? Signed: Miss Ladybug

Miss Ladybug would be happy to answer your questions; just make sure you get questions to her before she goes into hibernation for the winter.

 

Writer: Tom Turpin
Editor: Olivia Maddox