A paper by the University of Basel’s Zoological Institute to be published in the upcoming issue of the journal, Animal Behavior, reveals the complex relationship that baby bugs – nymphs and larvae – have with their parents.
When young tree hoppers feel threatened they will shake the leaves and stems that they reside on, signaling their mothers to sit on top of them and chase away any attackers. Burying beetles and earwigs kick their mothers in the face until they regurgitate delicious filth into their babies’ open mouths. Even Vespidae wasp larvae, which grow up in cells, will scratch at the walls of their enclosure to get their parents’ attention.
Mom! Jimmy hit me! No I didn’t. I’m way over here. Wait which one of you is Jimmy? You are! No I’m not. I’m Billy. You can’t be Billy. I’m Billy! What!? I’ve been calling you Mort for the last two weeks….and so on.
In an interview for Discovery News, the study’s co-author Flore Mas explains…
… that some cues by the bug babies are “honest,” like emitting a hormone to summon their parents when there is a true threat. But other times, the larvae are tricking their rents into pampering them.
“It is possible, and often observed, that actually it is the strongest or the oldest that get the best spot in the nest where parents are feeding, and thus those behaviors positively correlate with competitive ability but not necessarily with true need for food,” said Mas in the interview.
Sarah Palin arrives at the RNC with her family. If you look closely, you can see Bristol’s “larva bump.”
That’s funny, because I remember the time that Andrew and I were but two nymphs, aged four and five. I had gotten a balloon from going to the doctor but Andrew hadn’t gone to the doctor and thus was balloonless. Nonetheless Andrew convinced me that Mom said my balloon was filled with poisonous gas and I had to pop it. I did. By the time I realized the folly of my actions, it was too late. No more balloon. And that is one of the many ways my brother resembles an earwig.