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Monday, August 29, 2011

I'm glad I'm not an aphid

aphids on rose bush SOOC

In some ways, aphids have it made. They just sit there and suck plant juices until they die. They don't move much, although some of them have wings, and fly, and they usually seem to live in a place that has abundant food available. They have endosymbiotic bacteria in their guts, which make the essential amino acids that are in scant supply in the juice flowing in the plant's vessels. (Which is mostly water and carbohydrates.)

But, on the other hand, they are exposed to predators, with their main defense seeming to be their ability to produce little aphids, so many that they can't all be eaten. They don't live a long time. They don't see much, except whatever plant stem they are on, and a little of their surroundings. Presumably, they don't have any education, any arts, any sports, any politics, any religion. Many of them don't even have any sex life -- they produce new aphids mostly by parthenogenesis, that is, having little ones without a sexual process. (Sexual processes generally reshuffle the genetic material. They may accomplish other things, too!) Some aphid species produce up to 40 generations, all female, and all genetically identical to a first ancestor, in a single summer. (There is usually a sexual phase just before anticipated cold weather, which, instead of giving "birth" to little aphids, mates, and the females lay eggs.)

These insects are amazingly successful, if being numerous, and having lots of offspring, is success. But I'd rather be a human, a fallen human, with more of the image of God in me than aphids, and with a path to redemption.

Thanks for reading. To see more photos of aphids, giving birth, being eaten, and in other activities, see here.


i am Grateful... Kerry i am. said...

WOW! What a unique subject. I'm learning just by hanging out at your blog.

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, Kerry i am. I'm learning in writing it.

atlibertytosay said...

Don't ants herd these like cows?

Martin LaBar said...

Yes. Some ants herd some aphids.

See the link for more photos for pictures of this.