Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Three Flamboyant Facts


3 flamboyant facts that I have come across recently are:

1. Moths can detect the pheromones of a potential mate from a radius of five miles and within a smoke filled room. It seems the pheromone carries some DNA coding so that the moth can tell if the prospective mate is of the same genotype.

2. Moths and butterflies, when they move into the chrysalis stage of their life cycle, turn into a 'pupal stew'. Amazingly from that blob of goop they resurrect into a butterfly.
(As an aside, did you know that the Greek word 'psyche' means butterfly...)

3. Locusts are usually solitary creatures but when the rain arrives they breed energetically and thus their numbers become concentrated. This crowding triggers the release of serotonin which prompts the locusts to become gregarious and they swarm.

Photo from: The State of Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries.

Now scientists are looking for chemicals to prevent the serotonin from causing this behaviour.
Scientists know this release of serotonin occurs because it can be induced by rubbing the hind legs of locusts to simulate jostling in a crowd.



  1. Is there anything more magical or unlikely than the natural world?

    When you wrote, "Moths and butterflies, when they move into the chrysalis stage of their life cycle, turn into a 'pupal stew'. Amazingly from that blob of goop they resurrect into a butterfly." it made me wonder:

    How can a six year old child take hamburgers, fries, milk shakes, random fruits and veggies, candy bars and popcorn, plus some air and water and transform all this chewed up junk into an adult?

    Most puzzling of all: how is it that we don't notice the miracles that surround and reside inside of us every moment?

  2. Dan: That's just how I felt when I came across these facts in my reading...how much wonder is there in the world around us. And as I struggled to feed my four kids only wholesome food for all those years, I used to think the same as you when I looked at their healthy robust little mates thriving on junk food...

  3. We are in sync, Delwyn! I have just come back from a Monster Bug display. Fascinating creatures, the way they have evolved in order to survive.

  4. Violet: when do you sleep? On TV the other night to commemorate Darwin's birthday they stated that 40% of Americans don't believe in evolution! Amazing.How else can these wonderful critters change and survive.

  5. Yes. Many of my fellow Americans believe in "intelligent design," despite the fact that they lived with W. as president for eight years. And, of course, they also believe that the moon landing was a hoax.

  6. Meri, wasn't it???

    CC - I'm glad that makes 2 of us at least...

  7. Too see and wonder past ourselves, shows much to wonder about.

    I remember being in the desert once and looking at the big dipper. The guy I was with mentioned that when I'm 70 and I look at it, that's where it was in the sky when I was born.

    That's when I first took in the awe of life, being bigger than the sum of us ; )

  8. Coffee Messiah: that's a good anecdote, have you told your children to tell their children....and so on.

  9. Rebecca, of the blog Pocahantas County Faire, is a bug expert, but she has never reported any of this.

    One thing I read recently is that butterflies can remember being caterpillars. Isn't that something?? And people don't believe that we, too, can remember past lives ... hmmmm....

  10. Reya: thats a very interesting addition.What we don't know grows bigger everyday - "the brighter the light the greater the shadow". I hope you got the bug out of your posting yesterday.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.