Bugs fascinate me and have since I was very young. While totally annoyed as I watch them marching boldly from the window sill, nose to tail, in serious search for some scrumptious scent, I can’t help but observe their steadfast ways. And, nothing can be much more disconcerting than the scurry of a giant roach as it darts into hiding when the room is suddenly illuminated….eeeew!
And, by sheer numbers, insects just can’t be ignored. As a youngster, with my early love of nature…and insects are indeed a part of nature….I started a bug collection like any young scientist want-a-be would do. Poisons and pins to stop them in their tracks and position them in the cigar box became a passion for me. Now when I think back on it, I was pretty pathetic as a collector. I read the other day that “At any moment approximately ten quintillion (10,000,000,000,000,000,000) individual insects surround you in the world.” This startling fact made me keenly aware of how woeful my three cigar boxes were as a collection.
I also grew up during the “bug eyed monster” genre of horror films featuring giant ants or other mutant insects intent on taking over the world. Now I am reading about bug behaviors that are even more frightening especially if you carry the giant, mutant image very far. Not only are there social insect communities that are organized and appear to have a political system that works for the benefit of the whole…how unique, but there are also behaviors that are scary in their reality like the female black widow killing her mate or the female mantis ‘chowing down’ (I can hear the crunch.) on her ‘beau’, that when magnified send chills down my spine!
The excerpt that I read (from Sex on Six Legs, by Marlene Zuk) referred to insect’s use of “mind” control. The emerald cockroach wasp has developed a system (supposedly a form of mind control) to direct the cockroaches to her brood for food. The jewel wasp has developed a technique that doesn’t stop the roach in its tracks but, by biting the roach strategically on its head, the wasp is able to lead the “zombie-like” roach using a feeler like a leash” to march the unfortunate roach to the hungry little ones. Now that is a visual to remember.
Lest you think all insects are evil, there are beetles and earwigs (another big eeew for me) that are actually known to care for their young…how sweet! With insects making up 80 % of all species and with more being identified all of the time, we can hardly dismiss them as bad and uninteresting…..and we definitely should never underestimate them!
This Week at Liberty
The intake total is now at 3078.
The window (and the rescue arrivals) rare really slowing down now, but as previously noted, that’s to be expected this time of year. Orphan care is officially closed now, although we still get the occasional off-schedule fledgling. Now we’re getting to the point where we can move some long term patients outside and even to release some! And to top off the good news, we may have seen the last of the triple digit days for the year! Let’s see what happened last week…
OK, so even if orphan care is closed, we do still get the stray off-season youngster, like the little inca dove, the youthful roadrunner, and the little GHO. All appear to be doing OK, and with a little TLC from the Med Services people, they will all soon be outside and on their way to freedom shortly. (Check next month’s Nature News for an article about what effect global climate change is having on animal migration.)
A cooper’s hawk came in last week with some flight impairment. Upon a thorough exam by Jan and the vet night crew, it appears he might have been the victim of a gun shot. A wrap was placed around the wing and body and X-rays are now ordered to confirm the diagnosis. We usually place a tail guard on accipiters since they are prone to damaging their feathers while in captivity, so this little guy got the full treatment so he’ll be ready to release after he heals.
Another burrowing owl is in our care with a damaged wing. The break seems to be in a good spot (for a break, that is) and after rewrapping the small wing, he gets to rest up in a brooder for a few more days.
Just to show we don’t only put orthopedic shoes on mockingbirds and doves, the little male kestrel that has been with us for a couple of weeks also got a new shoe last week. DSW called, they want to hire the vet night crew!
Somebody brought in a very nice looking desert tortoise last week. He seems to be in good health and from his size, he has been well fed and is probably someone’s pet that got loose and ran (?) away. He was checked out for health issues, marked with a permanent marker for identification in case his owner shows up to claim him, and transferred to Phoenix Herp for maintenance.