You might assume it is an ant that has grown fur, for that is what the ‘Velvet Ant’ looks like. However, this furry creature is not an not an ant but a wasp. And a parasitic one at that. Its targets are the nests of other bees and wasps. The modus operandi is to puncture the host’s cocoon and lay its egg inside the cocoon! As the larva of the velvet ant grows, it feeds on the pupa inside the cocoon.
Ants are highly adaptive to their environment. When moved to a different climate or location, they quickly adapt. There are specially adapted ant species that only live in and around human dwellings. Some ant species can survive under water for up to 14 days or longer by going into something like suspended animation. Ants are resistant to hard radiation and some ant species are highly resistant to industrial pollution. If a nuclear holocaust ever destroys our civilization, ants will be giving the cockroaches a run for their money. Ants modify their environment. They regulate the temperature and humidity within their nests. They control airflow through their nests. They build mounds. They clear pathways. Ants modify themselves. Through a complex system of chemical communication and constant feedback, an ant colony regulates the amount of worker and soldiers, and controls the timing of production of males and fertile females. Ants are also vicious, merciless survival machines.
Mosquitoes are most active just before sunset until sunrise, yet some species remain active and bite all day long. Mosquitoes actually insert their saliva into your skin to prevent blood clotting before they take your blood. This substance is what makes your skin bump up and itch. Mosquitoes are attracted to humans for a number of reasons. We exhale carbon dioxide which is an attractant for all biting insects. Other substances on our skin may also be attractive to mosquitoes such as certain soaps, lotions, perfumes, and hair care products. They also prefer children to adults and blondes to brunettes. Only the female mosquito bites, she needs the protein from blood to develop her eggs. Light colors are less attractive to mosquitoes than dark. Loose fitting clothes make it more difficult for them to bite you. Repellents confuse mosquitoes by blocking the pores in your skin that allow mosquitoes to sense warmth and moisture in a person’s body.
Cockroaches have inhabited the earth for more than 250 million years. The average roach-infested household contains more than 20,000 roaches. Roaches can live up to 20 days without food and 14 days without water. They can flatten their bodies and crawl through a crack thinner than a dime. They'll eat anything -- food, leather, hair, and the glue in book bindings. They can live off the toothpaste residue in your toothbrush. They can survive radiation up to 12 time greater than humans. Roaches have been implicated in the spread of tuberculosis, leprosy, cholera, dysentery and typhoid. Roaches are startled by the smallest of air movements and can run for cover in less than .05 seconds. There are over 3,000 kinds of cockroaches, including the devastating Asian Roach, which has migrated to this country. They are cannibals and take a particular liking to each others' excrement. In extreme cases roaches will feed off people.
SIZE IS NOT MIGHT
What if we told you that an ant is stronger than you? No, we haven’t gone daft. An ant can lift 50 times its own weight. Just multiply your weight by 50 times and imagine what you will have to lift to match the strength of an ant!
INSECTS THAT LIVE IN PAGODAS
In the damp African rainforests Cubitermes, a type of termites builds nests out of moist earth. These nests are tall columns with a number of levels, each with a sloping roof to shed rain. It won’t be a mistake to assume that Cubitermes would have been the first living forms to build pagodas.
THE SCENT OF A FEMALE BUTTERFLY
One would imagine that given the beautiful colours of their wings, female butterflies would be fluttering their wings to attract the male. But no. Female butterflies have a store of perfume in their bodies. This store weighs about one-ten thousandth of a milligram. The female uses just a tiny fraction of this and yet, even from a distance of seven miles, the male manages to catch the scent and makes a beeline for her!
THE FERTILE FLY
Do you know for how long a fly lives? Nature has given it a life span of a few months. And if you wonder why it is that we see so many flies around, the reason is that most of them lay eggs at least five times a year and can at times even go up to laying eggs twenty five times in a year! The common housefly lays an average of 600 to 1000 eggs in a year. And the time taken to change from embryo to adult is just a matter of two weeks. And did you know that they have just one pair of wings? One variety known as the small-headed fly has eyes so big that they cover the better part of its head.