Stocks and News
Home | Week in Review Process | Terms of Use | About UsContact Us
   Articles Go Fund Me All-Species List Hot Spots Go Fund Me
Week in Review   |  Bar Chat    |  Hot Spots    |   Dr. Bortrum    |   Wall St. History
Stock and News: Hot Spots
  Search Our Archives: 
 

 

Dr. Bortrum

 

AddThis Feed Button

http://www.gofundme.com/s3h2w8

 

   

02/06/2018

Beetle Behaviors

 CHAPTER 89  Bugs  

 

This column is late due to a number of factors.  First I spent literally days trying to accomplish filing a W2 form on the Social Security Web site, which touts its "quick and easy" process.  I have not succeeded and the deadline passed.  How much easier it was to rectify the fact that an order of checks from Bank of America either was stolen from my doorstep or was misdelivered to someone else.  It took only minutes talking with a representative of the bank to initiate a new order, place a stop payment on the missing checks and deal with the financial aspects of having paid for the missing checks.  A third incident contributed to a delay in working on this column.  I won't go into details but it was around 1 AM in the morning when a toilet flush resulted in an overflow of water and contents onto the bathroom floor.  What a sickening feeling when you realize the water is not going down but is rising inexorably to the top of the chamber!  The plumber only charged $173 to rectify the problem, cause unknown.  His arrival prompted a postponed replacement of a leaky faucet fixture in the basement, probably an original faucet from when the house was built around 1940.  Cost - over $350! 

 Apropos of the toilet event, getting rid of debris of various sorts can be a problem.  When I first began this column our recycling trucks were picking up the week's piles of paper, plastic and metal that our town requires us to place at the curb every Thursday.  Sadly, too much of our waste seems to end up in our oceans and our sea life suffers as a result.  I read recently that even in the deepest spot in our oceans bits of plastic have been ingested by organisms living down there.  Another type of debris is dead animal life and animal waste.  In past columns I've written about the vulture, one of nature's scavengers, being in trouble due to the use of toxic chemicals in Asia.  Another scavenger I've written about is the dung beetle in Africa, where the beetle uses the Milky Way as a tool to find its way home carrying its load of dung.  Now I've come across another scavenger beetle whose range used to include essentially almost all of the eastern half of the United States.  Now the critters are only found in eastern Oklahoma and a small island off the coast of Rhode Island.  Hardly anyone has seen one of these beetles but they are the source of considerable controversy in Oklahoma, where members of the oil and gas industries are trying to get the beetle off the Endangered Species List.

 This beetle is the American burying beetle, the subject of an article titled "Beetle Resurrection" by Hannah Nordhaus in the December 2017 issue of Scientific American.  The burying beetle interested me because its manner of raising its young reminded me of the time, shortly after my wife and I got married, two robins built their nest on the sill right outside a window in our apartment in Cleveland.  We got to observe the avian couple raise their young up close and personal.  The burying beetle's choice of a "nest" is decidedly not as esthetically appealing to me as was our robins' abode.  First, the beetles find a dead carcass of something not too big for them to handle but not too small to provide a source of food for their offspring.  When the beetles find a suitable corpse they turn on their backs and use their legs to move the body to a soft patch of soil where they can dig or scrape out the soil underneath until they've managed to bury the carcass.  They then strip off any fur or feathers and use stuff from their mouths and elsewhere to convert the corpse to a slimy object akin to a meatball. 

 Having worked hard to prepare this tasty repast, they mate.  The females then lay batches of eggs, typically around 15 for each female.  Now here's what surprised me.  When the larva hatch both male and female beetles act in a manner similar to birds feeding their young.  The beetles take turns nibbling on their slimy carcass and regurgitate the morsels into the mouths of their offspring until, after some 40 to 50 days, the youngsters are ready to go out into the world and find their own dead animal to convert into a tasty home.  A visit to the Web site of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service revealed more details about the burying beetles.  The beetles are about an inch and a half long in size and will fight each other for a carcass with the largest male and female usually winning the battle.  The female lays her eggs in an adjacent tunnel, not in the carcass.  The size of a suitable corpse is about the size of a chipmunk or a dove.  The parents feed the larvae for about a week, after which the larvae dig themselves into the soil to pupate and emerge as beetles.  The reasons for the demise of the burying beetle and its precarious hold on existence is probably a combination of factors such as decreasing numbers of appropriate birds and animals to provide corpses, changing habitat  and who knows what else?   Even the loss of the passenger pigeon may have played a role.  The beetle was put on the Endangered Species List back in 1989. 

 At this point, I was going to convert to a discussion of global warming in the Alps, but came across another beetle described on the Discover Web site under the title "A Better Catheter, Brought to you by the Beetle Penis" by Charles Choi.  The beetle is the  thistle tortoise beetle and it's distinguished by a fiber-like penis 10 millimeters long.  Having just watched Jimmy Kimmel's interview with Stormy Daniels and his attempt to get her to describe the size of our president's 'junk", a 10 millimeter penis is certainly not impressive, unless the size of its host is only 8 millimeters long and the organ is only about a tenth the thickness of a typical human hair!  The question is how does the male beetle managed to carry out mating with such a fragile instrument?  And, as per the title of the article, could studies of the beetle's penis lead to better catheters in medicine?

 Well, workers at Kiel University in Germany have removed the penises of 10 beetles and have actually carried out bending experiments on these penises, which are curved at their tips.  It's remarkable that they could even manage to handle the samples without breaking them, let alone do the bending experiments.  I won't attempt to summarize their results, which involve some chemistry, but suffice to say they have some ideas as to what factors in the structure of the penis allows the male to successfully copulate with the female. 

 I was going to end this column at this point but what should I see this morning when I opened my March 2018 issue of Discover magazine?  On page 9 there's a full page picture of a male feather-horned beetle!  There's no article accompanying the photo, just a short caption.  The distinguishing feature of this beetle is the pair of feathery curved antennae sticking out of it head.  The male beetle is thought to use the bushy antennae to sniff out pheromones emitted by females ready for mating.  The females don't have as prominent bushy antennae.  It's worth searching on the internet to see pictures of this odd insect. 

Next month I promise no more yucky stuff about toilets overflowing and corpses converted into edible housing and I'll try to post the column closer to the beginning of the month, March 1.  

 Allen F. Bortrum



AddThis Feed Button

 

-02/06/2018-      
Web Epoch NJ Web Design  |  (c) Copyright 2016 StocksandNews.com, LLC.

Dr. Bortrum

02/06/2018

Beetle Behaviors

 CHAPTER 89  Bugs  

 

This column is late due to a number of factors.  First I spent literally days trying to accomplish filing a W2 form on the Social Security Web site, which touts its "quick and easy" process.  I have not succeeded and the deadline passed.  How much easier it was to rectify the fact that an order of checks from Bank of America either was stolen from my doorstep or was misdelivered to someone else.  It took only minutes talking with a representative of the bank to initiate a new order, place a stop payment on the missing checks and deal with the financial aspects of having paid for the missing checks.  A third incident contributed to a delay in working on this column.  I won't go into details but it was around 1 AM in the morning when a toilet flush resulted in an overflow of water and contents onto the bathroom floor.  What a sickening feeling when you realize the water is not going down but is rising inexorably to the top of the chamber!  The plumber only charged $173 to rectify the problem, cause unknown.  His arrival prompted a postponed replacement of a leaky faucet fixture in the basement, probably an original faucet from when the house was built around 1940.  Cost - over $350! 

 Apropos of the toilet event, getting rid of debris of various sorts can be a problem.  When I first began this column our recycling trucks were picking up the week's piles of paper, plastic and metal that our town requires us to place at the curb every Thursday.  Sadly, too much of our waste seems to end up in our oceans and our sea life suffers as a result.  I read recently that even in the deepest spot in our oceans bits of plastic have been ingested by organisms living down there.  Another type of debris is dead animal life and animal waste.  In past columns I've written about the vulture, one of nature's scavengers, being in trouble due to the use of toxic chemicals in Asia.  Another scavenger I've written about is the dung beetle in Africa, where the beetle uses the Milky Way as a tool to find its way home carrying its load of dung.  Now I've come across another scavenger beetle whose range used to include essentially almost all of the eastern half of the United States.  Now the critters are only found in eastern Oklahoma and a small island off the coast of Rhode Island.  Hardly anyone has seen one of these beetles but they are the source of considerable controversy in Oklahoma, where members of the oil and gas industries are trying to get the beetle off the Endangered Species List.

 This beetle is the American burying beetle, the subject of an article titled "Beetle Resurrection" by Hannah Nordhaus in the December 2017 issue of Scientific American.  The burying beetle interested me because its manner of raising its young reminded me of the time, shortly after my wife and I got married, two robins built their nest on the sill right outside a window in our apartment in Cleveland.  We got to observe the avian couple raise their young up close and personal.  The burying beetle's choice of a "nest" is decidedly not as esthetically appealing to me as was our robins' abode.  First, the beetles find a dead carcass of something not too big for them to handle but not too small to provide a source of food for their offspring.  When the beetles find a suitable corpse they turn on their backs and use their legs to move the body to a soft patch of soil where they can dig or scrape out the soil underneath until they've managed to bury the carcass.  They then strip off any fur or feathers and use stuff from their mouths and elsewhere to convert the corpse to a slimy object akin to a meatball. 

 Having worked hard to prepare this tasty repast, they mate.  The females then lay batches of eggs, typically around 15 for each female.  Now here's what surprised me.  When the larva hatch both male and female beetles act in a manner similar to birds feeding their young.  The beetles take turns nibbling on their slimy carcass and regurgitate the morsels into the mouths of their offspring until, after some 40 to 50 days, the youngsters are ready to go out into the world and find their own dead animal to convert into a tasty home.  A visit to the Web site of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service revealed more details about the burying beetles.  The beetles are about an inch and a half long in size and will fight each other for a carcass with the largest male and female usually winning the battle.  The female lays her eggs in an adjacent tunnel, not in the carcass.  The size of a suitable corpse is about the size of a chipmunk or a dove.  The parents feed the larvae for about a week, after which the larvae dig themselves into the soil to pupate and emerge as beetles.  The reasons for the demise of the burying beetle and its precarious hold on existence is probably a combination of factors such as decreasing numbers of appropriate birds and animals to provide corpses, changing habitat  and who knows what else?   Even the loss of the passenger pigeon may have played a role.  The beetle was put on the Endangered Species List back in 1989. 

 At this point, I was going to convert to a discussion of global warming in the Alps, but came across another beetle described on the Discover Web site under the title "A Better Catheter, Brought to you by the Beetle Penis" by Charles Choi.  The beetle is the  thistle tortoise beetle and it's distinguished by a fiber-like penis 10 millimeters long.  Having just watched Jimmy Kimmel's interview with Stormy Daniels and his attempt to get her to describe the size of our president's 'junk", a 10 millimeter penis is certainly not impressive, unless the size of its host is only 8 millimeters long and the organ is only about a tenth the thickness of a typical human hair!  The question is how does the male beetle managed to carry out mating with such a fragile instrument?  And, as per the title of the article, could studies of the beetle's penis lead to better catheters in medicine?

 Well, workers at Kiel University in Germany have removed the penises of 10 beetles and have actually carried out bending experiments on these penises, which are curved at their tips.  It's remarkable that they could even manage to handle the samples without breaking them, let alone do the bending experiments.  I won't attempt to summarize their results, which involve some chemistry, but suffice to say they have some ideas as to what factors in the structure of the penis allows the male to successfully copulate with the female. 

 I was going to end this column at this point but what should I see this morning when I opened my March 2018 issue of Discover magazine?  On page 9 there's a full page picture of a male feather-horned beetle!  There's no article accompanying the photo, just a short caption.  The distinguishing feature of this beetle is the pair of feathery curved antennae sticking out of it head.  The male beetle is thought to use the bushy antennae to sniff out pheromones emitted by females ready for mating.  The females don't have as prominent bushy antennae.  It's worth searching on the internet to see pictures of this odd insect. 

Next month I promise no more yucky stuff about toilets overflowing and corpses converted into edible housing and I'll try to post the column closer to the beginning of the month, March 1.  

 Allen F. Bortrum