Coprophagy insect brethren of the crowned pigs of Borneo

Cuenot, the French biologist, trying to demonstrate the finality of the things of this world, once wrote in a humorous vein, Excretion (he meant egestion) is pleasant Horatius, the Latin poet, in his Satires, wrote one day the following verses Mentior at si quid, merdis caput inquiner albis Corvorum atque in me veniant mictum atque cacatum (If I am lying in something, may my head be covered with the white shit of the crows, that come to me poo and pee). This aspect of life has been touched in...

Digestive strategies in insects

In the chapter How successful are insects we have noted that insects present a much greater biodiversity than vertebrates. Among insects, the number of the known species of beetles (insect order Coleoptera) alone is about seven times the number of all the vertebrate species put together. The main factors, responsible for so extensive biodiversity presented by insects, are (i) their great dispersal capacity due to presence of wings, (ii) their highly developed fecundity a single female laying...

Interesting ways of bees and dung beetles

It is well known now, through Jean-Henri Fabre's observations, that many Hymenoptera hunt spiders, caterpillars, locusts and grasshoppers, which they paralyse with their sting to feed their offspring. The paralysed prey remains fresh and without any rot for a long period. This preservation of the prey, which is in a state of prolonged coma, is a primitive substitute of the modern refrigeration. The honey bees (Apis melifera) amass honey, which they collect and produce from the nectar and pollen...

AIDS and Insects

One of us (PJ) got malaria twice in his life, once in Zaire, because he had stopped taking quinine as a prophylactic, and another time in Papua-New Guinea, in the highlands, after collapsing of car on a road and a full night passed there under the stars. PJ was badly bitten by mosquitoes, one of which was infected, but fortunately his wife and kids escaped getting the infection. In both the instances nivaquine promptly put things in order, since it was a benign form of the disease. Then again...

Insects and Tools

Man may be described as the tool wielding animal. Much of his civilization built up, including writing and literature, has been through extensive use of tools and implements. At the outset let us make clear to ourselves what a tool is. The generally accepted definition of a tool is that it is a foreign object, that is an object outside the body of the user, which is used as such or with modifications to increase the mechanical efficiency of the user. Perhaps the mechanical efficiency part of...

Insect migrations

Among arthropods, insects are provided with wings, as are birds among vertebrates. Presence of wings gives these animals increased mobility. Insects show migrations, which, in some respects, remind one of the better known bird migrations. Cases of insect migrations may be grouped under three categories (2) Migrations to new lands areas due to insect's special attributes. (3) Migrations due to human activities. Seasonal migrations of butterflies have been known to man quite long. Early explorers...

Chemical defence in beetles and moths

Insects take to various defence strategies against predation. These strategies include homochromy (i.e. resembling the background in colour and marking pattern, very common among adults and developing stages of insects), camouflage (i.e. having a close resemblance with some objects in the surroundings, e.g. the dry leaf butterfly of the Orient, Kallima, and various stick insects or Phyllies resembling dried up twigs or leaves), aposematism (warning coloration for defence), mimetism, mechanical...

Round Defence Cycloalexy

Some vertebrates are known to take to round defence, when a predator is around. Males form a circle, with their heads outward and with females and weaker adults within the circle. This behaviour is shown, for example by penguins, musk oxen of Canada, Canadian deer, etc. Humans also sometimes resort to the round defence strategy. When Europeans were moving westward in the North American continent in the early days of white settlement, they often faced Red Indian resistance and attack. They then...