Tom Turpin
Professor of
Purdue University


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Check out these books by Tom Turpin:

Flies in the face of fashion

What's Buggin You Now?





Download the audio of On Six Legs: MP3, WMV.

Dear Miss Ladybug

Dear Miss Ladybug: I am a new queen ant who just returned from her wedding flight. I found the perfect place to start a colony. New queen ants have to do that, you know. However, in queen training school we were told to shed our wings before laying eggs. Miss Ladybug, I really like the beautiful wings I used for my wedding flight and would like to wear them for the rest of my life. Is it really necessary to shed my wings now that I have to start a colony? Signed: Distressed Winged Ant

Dear Distressed: All brides are sentimental about their wedding dresses, but these gowns aren't very functional for daily life. Imagine how difficult it would be for a human bride to grocery shop in a wedding dress with two young kids in tow. In your case, it would be difficult to move around in the nest galleries with those wings. Also, you will need the energy from the wing muscles to sustain you until your first children begin to bring food into the nest. Besides you'll soon be too large to use those wings anyway! Signed Miss Ladybug

Dear Miss Ladybug: Some of my moth friends say that I am not a moth because I fly around during daylight hours. They claim that real moths only fly at night. My friends are causing me to have an identity crisis, because I always thought of myself as a moth and was proud to be one. Should I just ignore my friends, or is it possible I am not really a moth? Signed: Distraught Daytime Flyer

Dear Distraught: A number of species of moths are day fliers, although most moths do fly at night. As a day-flying moth, you are most likely brighter colored than your night-flying cousins. That's because bright colors are visible in daylight, a time when most moths don't want to be seen. So tell your dull-colored friends that they are just jealous of your fancy duds and keep on being yourself! Signed Miss Ladybug

Dear Miss Ladybug: A group of us male honey bees were relaxing with a few sips of honey one day when one of the female worker bees accused us of being lazy. Then she declared, "You bums don't even have fathers." Being lazy is one thing, but not having a father is a bit disconcerting. Please tell me that the worker bee is mistaken about this fatherless thing! Signed: Disconcerted Drone

Dear Disconcerted: I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but the worker bee is correct. Male bees develop from unfertilized eggs and, therefore, have only one set of chromosomes, those of their mother. Female bees develop from fertilized eggs so they have a mother and a father. So every male bee has a mother and a grandfather, but no father. Don't complain; that feisty female worker could have accused you of "only being half there!" Signed: Miss Ladybug

Dear Miss Ladybug: Last week a few of us dragonflies were cruising over the water on the lake, where we had lived as nymphs before emerging this spring. While we were zooming about some humans with binoculars spotted us and proclaimed, "Look at the snake doctors." Then one of the humans said, "Those aren't snake doctors, they're 'devil's darning needles.'" These names sound satanic and derogatory to me. Where do humans come up with this stuff? Signed: Miffed Dragon.

Dear Miffed: Of course you and I know that you are members of the insect order Odonata of the suborder Anisoptera. But humans like to call living things by what are called common names. The term "snake doctor" reflects that Odonata are associated with lakes and marshes--water habitats also frequented by snakes. The idea of a darning needle is in reference to your long, narrow abdomen that reminds humans of a needle. Folklore held that Odonata would use that needle-like abdomen to stitch human eyelids, mouths and other orifices shut if given the chance. But, hey, if I were you I wouldn't fret about this; after all, with dragon in your name what harm can come from throwing in a snake or a needle or two? Signed: Miss Ladybug


Writer: Tom Turpin
Editor: Olivia Maddox