I just read Twelve little guests. The secret life of the uncomfortable creatures that sneak into our homes de Karl von Frisch, zoologist and Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1973. I have read a newer edition of RBA but that I cannot find by Amazon here I leave you a link to the edition of the Salvat Scientific Library in case you want to buy it.
A real gem of popularization that all naturalists will love. The essay makes us better know 12 small animals that we live with in one way or another and that many times we do not know well enough. Fleas, aphids, flies, mosquitoes, ants, cockroaches, bed bugs, lice, silverfish, moths, ticks, and spiders. The curiosities as you will see are great, but the book is not only made up of anecdotes, it describes each species and talks extensively about each one. For example, a very interesting game is when he recounts step by step how a garden spider makes its web.
From here, if you like, you can expand information on each species or look for new animals to study or simply observe. Choosing these species is a good starting point to generate curiosity in children and hobbyists.
In the volume many things are learned about the life, customs, characteristics and habits of 12 insects that live with us. Well really 11 insects and spiders. Very entertaining and interesting. I leave you the curiosities that have impacted me the most about each one.
The common fly
- They can pick up the direction polarized light travels. In this way they are able to know where the sun is even if it is hidden behind the clouds and allows them to orient themselves.
- The size of a fly is not an indicator of its youth. Flies are born and die with the same size. So let's not think that little girls are young. If not, they are a different species.
- More than 85.000 different species of flies have been described.
- The only mosquitoes that suck blood are female.
- A flea can jump about four inches high and over a foot long. An adult man who wants to jump equal in proportion to his size should jump one hundred meters high and more than three hundred long
- The amount of saliva that a flea lets into the wound when biting is 0,00004 cubic millimeters. Which implies that it would take more than a million and a half fleas to get the size of a drop of water with their saliva.
- With that drop we could make 2 million people scratch their skin.
- Fleas similar to today's fleas have been found in amber 60 million years ago.
The bed bug
- More than 40.000 species of bed bugs are known.
- A newborn bed bug may fast for two months while waiting to find food.
- A headless bug can live for many months to an older age than its undeheaded sisters.
- A bed bug can go more than 4 years without eating.
- A louse can carry with its front legs, for a minute, a weight equivalent to its own multiplied by two thousand. To match it, a person would have to lift a XNUMX-ton load.
- A well-known zoologist (he does not say who) says that in 1915 he collected 3.800 live lice belonging to the clothing louse species on the shirt of a Russian prisoner of war.
The clothes moth
- Moths do not make holes in clothing, they are Lepidoptera like butterflies. Those that pierce are its caterpillars.
- Clothes moths eat absolutely nothing. They live as eu beings and they fast for their entire existence, a couple of weeks, until they perish due to lack of strength.
- While the males hover happily, the females are not given to fly and prefer to stay hidden in folds and crevices.
- They are insects that are closely related to grasshoppers and crickets.
- They are among the most primitive insects living today and among the oldest on earth. Fossils with cockroaches from 300 million years ago have been found.
- They reach a speed of up to 1 kilometer per hour
- The first aphids hatch from eggs laid the previous winter. All that are born are females that reproduce by partogenesis, the eggs reproduce in the mother's ovaries without being fertilized, without the need for males and the mothers can give birth to aphids already formed with their final form. Only when there is a change in temperature do the males appear so that the females lay fertilized eggs that will endure the winter.
- The aphid has a pair of very fine needles inside the proboscis that are the ones it introduces into the plant. The sap then rises by itself through the mincer tube because it is under pressure. No need to absorb it. So much so that if we cut the aphid's body while it eats the sap propelled through the beak, it drips from the dead head for two or four days.
- The current species existed already sixty million years ago. There are older species that date back 100 million years.
- More than six thousand different species have been described.
- Some with lengths of less than a millimeter to others of 4 centimeters.
- Their societies range from some that do not exceed a dozen individuals to others with more than ten million.
- The great mass of an ant colony is made up of females with atrophied sexual organs.
- It is called a silverfish (Lepisma Saccharina) because its entire body is covered with shiny silver scales; That is why it has the scientific name of silverfish. If we crush one of them, those scales will stick to our fingers like fine silver dust.
- They are called apterygogenic, which means "begotten without wings," and they are considered primitive or ancestral insects, although they will have had to undergo many transformations, along with other insects.
- Sugar is among their favorite foods.
- It lays its eggs in cracks and crevices, abandoning them to their fate.
- Free in nature live other species of apterygogenic insects such as the bronze minnow or the minnow of the ants that lives with them and gets to take the food out of their mouths.
- Spiders are not insects, they are related, but they are two groups of animals clearly differentiated from each other.
- Insects, spiders, myriapods, and crustaceans form the quaternary phylum of arthropods. Where the only ones that have wings are insects.
- More than 30.000 different species of spiders have been described.
- An insect has 6 legs while a spider has 8 legs.
- The garden spider uses its web both as a home and as a trap.
- The fabrics are made up of two types of threads, the central watchtowers and the rays that come out, which are dry threads, and the capture loops, whose viscous threads are attached to the spokes and are produced by special silk-producing glands.
- They detect when an insect falls on the fabric by shaking it.
- When it entangles a prey, it inflicts a series of bites with its strong chelicerae, where it has poisonous glands. A spider spits its gastric juices on for example a fly by biting it and then absorbs the already dissolved content together with the digestive juices. and thus it gradually dissolves all the muscles and structure of the prey. The indigestible remains are thrown when finished.
- In some regions of China, the silk produced by spiders is used as sewing thread.
- The webs of the Madagascar spinning spider can measure up to 2 meters in diameter.
- The spider mite (Ixodes ricinus) is the most common species of tick that lives in Europe.
- They are included within the group of arachnids, where they belong to mites. They also have 8 legs.
- Females differ from males by the large number of folds that the body has.
- Only the females turn into pea-sized balls filled with blood.
- A female can gain 200 times her original weight in a few days.
- Young ticks can go up to a year without eating anything.
- There are ticks that have lived without food (and without a head) for 4 years.
- Ticks do not have eyes, they smell and have a highly developed sense of heat.
How to remove a tick?
To remove a tick there are different methods:
- If the tick is not swollen, we can stick it with a piece of tape and leave it for 24 hours, when we take it off it will have removed its hooks from our body.
- If we have iodine tincture, we dilute it with alcohol and with a drop it will be enough to detach it and at the same time we will disinfect the wound.
- If they are already fatter, it is to place a cotton soaked in turpentine essence with a bandage. it can also run on gasoline.
Once removed it is very difficult to crush it, it is best to burn it, for example with a match.