The Ecology

A journal of how things fit into our environment
Dog noses are amazing! Compared to the human nose, dogs have us out done in every way!

In the nasal epithelium, there are scent receptors. These are special olfactory neurons that bind to the particles causing the smell and can send the information about it back to the brain! The smells (smell particles) get dissolved in the mucous of the nose and bind there, either through diffusion or through protein binding. Your body has to keep refreshing your nasal mucous to prepare the epithelium for new smells!

Now, humans have about 1.5 square inches of nasal epithelium, about the size of two postage stamps. Dogs, on the other hand, can have up to 30 square inches! That’s the size of over 4 credit cards, or a large index card!

More than that, the amount of receptors they have dwarfs us completely. Humans can have around 5 million receptors, while dogs such as the bloodhound can have over 300 million!

FUN FACT: It has been theorized that dog nose prints are as unique as human fingerprints! Some dog breeding associations and kennel clubs keep records of the dog nose prints as proof of pedigree and identity!

Dog noses are amazing! Compared to the human nose, dogs have us out done in every way!



In the nasal epithelium, there are scent receptors. These are special olfactory neurons that bind to the particles causing the smell and can send the information about it back to the brain! The smells (smell particles) get dissolved in the mucous of the nose and bind there, either through diffusion or through protein binding. Your body has to keep refreshing your nasal mucous to prepare the epithelium for new smells!



Now, humans have about 1.5 square inches of nasal epithelium, about the size of two postage stamps. Dogs, on the other hand, can have up to 30 square inches! That’s the size of over 4 credit cards, or a large index card!



More than that, the amount of receptors they have dwarfs us completely. Humans can have around 5 million receptors, while dogs such as the bloodhound can have over 300 million!



FUN FACT: It has been theorized that dog nose prints are as unique as human fingerprints! Some dog breeding associations and kennel clubs keep records of the dog nose prints as proof of pedigree and identity!


what happens when we die?


I’ll give you the abbreviated version.

Okay, assuming that you have died outside somewhere and are exposed on open ground (not buried or anything), one of the first things that’s going to happen is autolysis. Self-digestion.

The body is host to billions of bacteria, which live on our tissues in a delicate balance. Once your body is unable to keep that balance in check, these bacteria can often run rampant! This means that, unchecked, these bacteria can eat through cell walls, cause “leaks” in the body cavity and much more.

A leak in the lining of the stomach due to a boom in the stomach or intestinal flora means a release of digestive enzymes into the rest of the body, accelerating self-digestion! While this is happening, another process is coming about.

Eyes usually go first. They are full of liquid and very unprotected once an animal has died, plus the can represent some hard-to-acquire nutrients. These will often shrivel and collapse in on themselves with the removal of the aqueous humors.

Flies. Flies are so good at colonizing bodies, they are used by forensic teams to trace down murder times in court. Within a very short timeframe, usually less than a few hours, blowflies will colonize a body, even one as human as you. Blowflies can even lay their eggs from the air, literally bombing a corpse with their eggs.

Maggots love fat. The fly larvae will borrow down to the subcutaneous fat tissue layer and then migrate horizontally, eating the fat layers. This causes the skin to become very loose and sometimes may slough off entirely.

As the body’s bacteria continues to go insane reproducing, the by-product of their respiration is gas. Gases like CO2 or methane can build up in you as to eventually cause ruptures, opening the body up to give more available surface area.

By this time, other decomposers have joined the scene: beetles. Beetles are sometimes used in the removal of flesh from bones that scientists want to have preserved! That’s how good they are at removing tissue. These guys will remove much of muscle and connective tissue your body. Give enough time, you will have putrefied, as the bacteria break tissue down to such a degree that it is more like soup. Pure liquid.

These processes continue until the eventual skeletonization of the body, with various insects coming and going, sometimes living out multiple generations on a single body. Fungi may colonize the body, too, as it is a heterotropic organism, gaining its food from outside sources besides the sun. If blood was spilled, this may be create ground that is moist and nutrient rich, facilitating plants and fungi, too.

These processes will continue, as I stated, until all is gone except the bones, which may be scattered by scavengers in some previous stage.

Sleep tight, everyone!

what happens when we die?



I’ll give you the abbreviated version.



Okay, assuming that you have died outside somewhere and are exposed on open ground (not buried or anything), one of the first things that’s going to happen is autolysis. Self-digestion.



The body is host to billions of bacteria, which live on our tissues in a delicate balance. Once your body is unable to keep that balance in check, these bacteria can often run rampant! This means that, unchecked, these bacteria can eat through cell walls, cause “leaks” in the body cavity and much more.



A leak in the lining of the stomach due to a boom in the stomach or intestinal flora means a release of digestive enzymes into the rest of the body, accelerating self-digestion! While this is happening, another process is coming about.



Eyes usually go first. They are full of liquid and very unprotected once an animal has died, plus the can represent some hard-to-acquire nutrients. These will often shrivel and collapse in on themselves with the removal of the aqueous humors.



Flies. Flies are so good at colonizing bodies, they are used by forensic teams to trace down murder times in court. Within a very short timeframe, usually less than a few hours, blowflies will colonize a body, even one as human as you. Blowflies can even lay their eggs from the air, literally bombing a corpse with their eggs.



Maggots love fat. The fly larvae will borrow down to the subcutaneous fat tissue layer and then migrate horizontally, eating the fat layers. This causes the skin to become very loose and sometimes may slough off entirely.



As the body’s bacteria continues to go insane reproducing, the by-product of their respiration is gas. Gases like CO2 or methane can build up in you as to eventually cause ruptures, opening the body up to give more available surface area.



By this time, other decomposers have joined the scene: beetles. Beetles are sometimes used in the removal of flesh from bones that scientists want to have preserved! That’s how good they are at removing tissue. These guys will remove much of muscle and connective tissue your body. Give enough time, you will have putrefied, as the bacteria break tissue down to such a degree that it is more like soup. Pure liquid.



These processes continue until the eventual skeletonization of the body, with various insects coming and going, sometimes living out multiple generations on a single body. Fungi may colonize the body, too, as it is a heterotropic organism, gaining its food from outside sources besides the sun. If blood was spilled, this may be create ground that is moist and nutrient rich, facilitating plants and fungi, too.



These processes will continue, as I stated, until all is gone except the bones, which may be scattered by scavengers in some previous stage.



Sleep tight, everyone!

A user on Reddit recently posted this picture after he threw some of his cat’s food outside in his garden.  He came back a few hours later to find slugs everywhere.


cats become slugs at night


I can confirm this. Cats are secretly slugs. For the average gardener, putting out cat food to attract slugs for mass disposal is a common tactic. On the scientific side, however, slugs are super cool, just like cats!

They are also hermaphrodites, and can reproduce in some very interesting ways! Several groups of land slugs will dangle precipitously from mucus threads and push out their genitalia (which are extremely large considering their body size) until they entwine with one another.

It’s actually quite beautiful!

Some land slugs, like these, go through a less beautiful process, which is called ‘apophallation,’ which basically means that after they mate in this fashion, they may be unable to separate from one another, their penises having become knotted permanently.

So what happens? Simple. One slug simply chews the other slug’s penis off, allowing separation!

The dickless slug will be fine and, due to its hermaphroditic nature, simply function as a female for the rest of its life!

A user on Reddit recently posted this picture after he threw some of his cat’s food outside in his garden.  He came back a few hours later to find slugs everywhere.



cats become slugs at night



I can confirm this. Cats are secretly slugs. For the average gardener, putting out cat food to attract slugs for mass disposal is a common tactic. On the scientific side, however, slugs are super cool, just like cats!



They are also hermaphrodites, and can reproduce in some very interesting ways! Several groups of land slugs will dangle precipitously from mucus threads and push out their genitalia (which are extremely large considering their body size) until they entwine with one another.



It’s actually quite beautiful!



Some land slugs, like these, go through a less beautiful process, which is called ‘apophallation,’ which basically means that after they mate in this fashion, they may be unable to separate from one another, their penises having become knotted permanently.



So what happens? Simple. One slug simply chews the other slug’s penis off, allowing separation!



The dickless slug will be fine and, due to its hermaphroditic nature, simply function as a female for the rest of its life!

Pigeons.  Rock Pigeons.  Rock Doves.  All the same species!  These “urban exploiters” actually fit in quite nicely in a city landscape! Why is that? Well, it mimics their natural habitat, really!

While most birds need to construct elaborate nests, rock doves are able to lay their eggs right on the edges of cliffs with only a half-assed support structure in place. In their native range, this behavior works because most predators can’t get up cliffs, especially those facing open water, limiting access in that way as well.

Cities, with their many concrete ledges and window sills provide a perfect human analog to the pockmarked face of a cliff! Hence, pigeons are able to live quite easily in the city. The abundance of small rocks and gravel also supplement what is needed by their gizzards, which operate to grind up materials to facilitate digestion!

On a personal note, from the birds I study, some researchers I’ve worked with have devised methods to figure out where birds tend to hang out based on their diets! By using carbon and nitrogen isotopes, which have significant differences in their stable isotope proportions between certain grains (things that often make up human food due to high corn content) and other plants, one can make a guess as to where that bird may have foraged!

Anyhoo, back to pigeons, during our bird counts, these birds have vastly outnumbered most native birds in the range, with possibly the exception of the European starling (Sturnus vulgaris) which was intentionally introduced in New York by a man wanting to give the Americas all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays. The European starling can form up in such huge numbers that they are literally a black, morphing cloud, able to decimate crops and native bird populations. They are unprotected by the Migratory Bird Act, so it is completely legal to destroy them on sight. An ornithologist friend of mine took one from the wild and has been raising it as a pet! It has since been regarded as one of the worst cases of an invasive species in history.

Thanks, Shakespeare.

Pigeons.  Rock Pigeons.  Rock Doves.  All the same species!  These “urban exploiters” actually fit in quite nicely in a city landscape! Why is that? Well, it mimics their natural habitat, really!



While most birds need to construct elaborate nests, rock doves are able to lay their eggs right on the edges of cliffs with only a half-assed support structure in place. In their native range, this behavior works because most predators can’t get up cliffs, especially those facing open water, limiting access in that way as well.



Cities, with their many concrete ledges and window sills provide a perfect human analog to the pockmarked face of a cliff! Hence, pigeons are able to live quite easily in the city. The abundance of small rocks and gravel also supplement what is needed by their gizzards, which operate to grind up materials to facilitate digestion!



On a personal note, from the birds I study, some researchers I’ve worked with have devised methods to figure out where birds tend to hang out based on their diets! By using carbon and nitrogen isotopes, which have significant differences in their stable isotope proportions between certain grains (things that often make up human food due to high corn content) and other plants, one can make a guess as to where that bird may have foraged!



Anyhoo, back to pigeons, during our bird counts, these birds have vastly outnumbered most native birds in the range, with possibly the exception of the European starling (Sturnus vulgaris) which was intentionally introduced in New York by a man wanting to give the Americas all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays. The European starling can form up in such huge numbers that they are literally a black, morphing cloud, able to decimate crops and native bird populations. They are unprotected by the Migratory Bird Act, so it is completely legal to destroy them on sight. An ornithologist friend of mine took one from the wild and has been raising it as a pet! It has since been regarded as one of the worst cases of an invasive species in history.



Thanks, Shakespeare.



What the fuck did I find while digging?


A USB cord.  But, in all seriousness, I’m pretty sure these are snake eggs. When I was in Costa Rica, we used to compost a lot and lizards would lay their eggs in the loose dirt all the time, which is what snakes do as well.

Shape and coloration look about right and the fact that you found more than one makes sense, too. There’s probably more, honestly, that you didn’t find.

Were the eggs leathery or hard? If it’s leathery/soft, it’s even more likely to be due to a snake.

Also, there looks like a little snake coming out of the first egg! Finding a snake inside of the egg is a very strong clue that you found snake eggs.


exactly correct about more. There were multiples in the dirt, but I only brought two up to post pictures of




Yup, that’d confirm it for me!
If there are unbroken ones, you can hold it up to a light and see the embryo inside. It should look very round, as the snake is curled up inside very tightly.
The reddish part inside may be part of a ruptured allantois structure, which has lots of blood vessels inside. This is part of the waste-holding part of the egg.

Question for you, One time I killed a garter snake and when I split it open there were like 12 little snakes inside it, all the same length. What’s this mean?



Aha!
Like in many things, there’s always exceptions.
Garter snakes are viviparous, meaning that they give birth to live young. More specifically, they are ovoviviparous, meaning that there are still eggs, with yolks, unlike humans, for example, that have direct placental connections.
So, to answer your question: you killed 13 snakes.



What the fuck did I find while digging?



A USB cord.  But, in all seriousness, I’m pretty sure these are snake eggs. When I was in Costa Rica, we used to compost a lot and lizards would lay their eggs in the loose dirt all the time, which is what snakes do as well.



Shape and coloration look about right and the fact that you found more than one makes sense, too. There’s probably more, honestly, that you didn’t find.



Were the eggs leathery or hard? If it’s leathery/soft, it’s even more likely to be due to a snake.



Also, there looks like a little snake coming out of the first egg! Finding a snake inside of the egg is a very strong clue that you found snake eggs.



exactly correct about more. There were multiples in the dirt, but I only brought two up to post pictures of



Yup, that’d confirm it for me!



If there are unbroken ones, you can hold it up to a light and see the embryo inside. It should look very round, as the snake is curled up inside very tightly.



The reddish part inside may be part of a ruptured allantois structure, which has lots of blood vessels inside. This is part of the waste-holding part of the egg.





Question for you, One time I killed a garter snake and when I split it open there were like 12 little snakes inside it, all the same length. What’s this mean?



Aha!



Like in many things, there’s always exceptions.



Garter snakes are viviparous, meaning that they give birth to live young. More specifically, they are ovoviviparous, meaning that there are still eggs, with yolks, unlike humans, for example, that have direct placental connections.



So, to answer your question: you killed 13 snakes.


This post comes to me from Reddit, where a man found out that the apple seeds inside of his apple had begun to sprout!
This is very interesting! This is very much a “defective” seed, as, unfortunately, the apple would have no chance of being able to survive inside of its own fruit.

Most fruits have evolved to be eaten! That said, they aren’t meant to be entirely digested. It is in the fruit’s best interest to provide as little nutrition as possible while still being attractive to the thing that eats it. Most fruits include a laxative to ensure that the seed (which houses precious nutrients) passes through the animal’s digestive tract unharmed. Some berries and fruits can pass through a bird’s digestive tract in under half an hour!

Why is that? Well, it wouldn’t be good for the plant to have its fruit eaten and get nothing out of it!

The reason your apple seed may have developed inside the apple could be due to a variety of reasons. Temperature may have been right. Oxygen may have gotten in. Could have accumulated water somehow.

It may have been rubbed against something and had its seed coat damaged in some way. For many plants, etching of the seed coat can bring about germination. These techniques fall under a poorly understood part of biology which is called “seed dormancy.” Other seeds require temperature differences, for example, some apples require winter frost in order to grow correctly. Some plants, like certain conifers, require fire to melt the resin on their pinecones to release and scorch the seeds before they can germinate! Mercy!

Some seeds are chemically damaged by stomach acids, which “alerts” the seed that it has passed through the digestive tract of an animal and now is likely surrounded by nitrogenous wastes (in the form of urine or feces). For your little apple seed, though, there isn’t much of a chance. The seed houses nutrients that allow the cotyledon (the first “leaves” of a germinating plant) to reach out, even in darkness; however, this is just a kick start.

Thinking about this more, if there were no physical damage to the apple, there may have been a hormone imbalance. Abscisic acid prevents seed germination and typically builds up in fruits as they mature, so its possible that this particular fruit may have had abscisic acid deficiency or a giberellin overproduction!

Without the sun, the plant will obviously not survive, having quickly run out of energy held within the seed.

Additionally, do remember that most apples sold commercially are grafted, so if you were to plant that seed and have it survive, the apples you would potentially get would not necessarily be the apple that it came from!

This fact is also why Johnny Appleseed planted a bunch of worthless apples that no one wanted to eat. He probably made some cider, I guess.



This post comes to me from Reddit, where a man found out that the apple seeds inside of his apple had begun to sprout!

This is very interesting! This is very much a “defective” seed, as, unfortunately, the apple would have no chance of being able to survive inside of its own fruit.



Most fruits have evolved to be eaten! That said, they aren’t meant to be entirely digested. It is in the fruit’s best interest to provide as little nutrition as possible while still being attractive to the thing that eats it. Most fruits include a laxative to ensure that the seed (which houses precious nutrients) passes through the animal’s digestive tract unharmed. Some berries and fruits can pass through a bird’s digestive tract in under half an hour!



Why is that? Well, it wouldn’t be good for the plant to have its fruit eaten and get nothing out of it!



The reason your apple seed may have developed inside the apple could be due to a variety of reasons. Temperature may have been right. Oxygen may have gotten in. Could have accumulated water somehow.



It may have been rubbed against something and had its seed coat damaged in some way. For many plants, etching of the seed coat can bring about germination. These techniques fall under a poorly understood part of biology which is called “seed dormancy.” Other seeds require temperature differences, for example, some apples require winter frost in order to grow correctly. Some plants, like certain conifers, require fire to melt the resin on their pinecones to release and scorch the seeds before they can germinate! Mercy!



Some seeds are chemically damaged by stomach acids, which “alerts” the seed that it has passed through the digestive tract of an animal and now is likely surrounded by nitrogenous wastes (in the form of urine or feces). For your little apple seed, though, there isn’t much of a chance. The seed houses nutrients that allow the cotyledon (the first “leaves” of a germinating plant) to reach out, even in darkness; however, this is just a kick start.



Thinking about this more, if there were no physical damage to the apple, there may have been a hormone imbalance. Abscisic acid prevents seed germination and typically builds up in fruits as they mature, so its possible that this particular fruit may have had abscisic acid deficiency or a giberellin overproduction!



Without the sun, the plant will obviously not survive, having quickly run out of energy held within the seed.



Additionally, do remember that most apples sold commercially are grafted, so if you were to plant that seed and have it survive, the apples you would potentially get would not necessarily be the apple that it came from!



This fact is also why Johnny Appleseed planted a bunch of worthless apples that no one wanted to eat. He probably made some cider, I guess.

Here’s a great old illustration!  The big indentations on the top/sides of the head are areas where muscles attach in from the neck.  These are what give animals like the hyena such amazing crushing jaw strength!  The flattened bone in the middle of these muscles groups is referred to as the “sagittal crest!”

Here’s a great old illustration!  The big indentations on the top/sides of the head are areas where muscles attach in from the neck.  These are what give animals like the hyena such amazing crushing jaw strength!  The flattened bone in the middle of these muscles groups is referred to as the “sagittal crest!”

(Source: f1re0nthesun, via scientificillustration)


While many people think of bugs, insects and spiders as simple, uncaring monsters, some actually have a very high amount of parental care! A female spider will fertilize the eggs with sperm stored from a previous encounter with a male spider and then often times, weave a specialized web egg sac for them to be housed in.

Other spiders, like wolf spiders, will carry the young on her abdomen! If you squish the spider, their babies may escape and be off on their own a bit more prematurely.  Some spiders species have moms that may take care of them for a while as they grow, feeding them from her mouth, or cutting open prey for them to feed on. For other spiders, while they are growing up, the baby spiders will help with web maintenance in some cases, too, while they are provisioned by their mother.

Then, just like human teenagers, the young will suck the mother dry of all resources and leave her for dead.



While many people think of bugs, insects and spiders as simple, uncaring monsters, some actually have a very high amount of parental care! A female spider will fertilize the eggs with sperm stored from a previous encounter with a male spider and then often times, weave a specialized web egg sac for them to be housed in.



Other spiders, like wolf spiders, will carry the young on her abdomen! If you squish the spider, their babies may escape and be off on their own a bit more prematurely.  Some spiders species have moms that may take care of them for a while as they grow, feeding them from her mouth, or cutting open prey for them to feed on. For other spiders, while they are growing up, the baby spiders will help with web maintenance in some cases, too, while they are provisioned by their mother.



Then, just like human teenagers, the young will suck the mother dry of all resources and leave her for dead.


Behold!  The social feather duster!  A relative of Bispira brunnea, which has more of an orange/tan coloration, this grouping of feather dusters (Sabellastarte spectabilis) is absolutely gorgeous!

When I ran a salt water aquarium, these were some of my favorite guys to have in there.  But what are they?  Coral?

Nope, as with most biology, the answer is much grosser: it’s a worm.  Encasing itself in a thin cuticle, this worm extends long, feathery appendages out to capture food.  If you or something else touches the fan part of the worm, it can retract it almostinstantaneouslyinto its body cavity!

Interestingly, we are not so different from this worm, as their blood often runs red like ours, owing to hemoglobin, the same iron-based protein we have!  This is what is responsible for the coloration in the protrusions in the giant tube worm (Riftia pachyptila) as well, give it its characteristic “lipstick” look.



Behold!  The social feather duster!  A relative of Bispira brunnea, which has more of an orange/tan coloration, this grouping of feather dusters (Sabellastarte spectabilis) is absolutely gorgeous!



When I ran a salt water aquarium, these were some of my favorite guys to have in there.  But what are they?  Coral?



Nope, as with most biology, the answer is much grosser: it’s a worm.  Encasing itself in a thin cuticle, this worm extends long, feathery appendages out to capture food.  If you or something else touches the fan part of the worm, it can retract it almostinstantaneouslyinto its body cavity!



Interestingly, we are not so different from this worm, as their blood often runs red like ours, owing to hemoglobin, the same iron-based protein we have!  This is what is responsible for the coloration in the protrusions in the giant tube worm (Riftia pachyptila) as well, give it its characteristic “lipstick” look.

Giant Tube Worms!

oldbookillustrations:

Tubeworms: Spirographis Spallanzani
Paul Flanderky, from Brehms Tierleben (Brehm’s animal life) first volume, under the direction of Alfred Edmund Brehm, Leipzig & Vienna, 1918.
(Source: archive.org)

Great illustration of tube worms, see my next post for more on social feather dusters!

oldbookillustrations:

Tubeworms: Spirographis Spallanzani

Paul Flanderky, from Brehms Tierleben (Brehm’s animal life) first volume, under the direction of Alfred Edmund Brehm, Leipzig & Vienna, 1918.

(Source: archive.org)

Great illustration of tube worms, see my next post for more on social feather dusters!

(via scientificillustration)



How do jellyfish reproduce?


First things first: jellyfish are both sexual and asexual, so how they reproduce can be very tricky and depend on the chosen route taken!

People also don’t realize that jellyfish have an asexual “polyp” stage in which they are sessile (immobile). Eventually, that polyp elongates and divides eventually releasing a huge amount of ephyrae (baby jellyfish) in the water, these develop into the medusa of the jellyfish that are most known.

Some jellyfish skip this stage entirely and can reproduce through fission.

When sexually reproducing, the jellyfish will release huge amounts of eggs and sperm into the water and essentially work in an analogous way to wind-pollination on land (or more accurately, we are analogous to the water, as they came first! [joke intended]) where they essentially are relying on random chance for egg and sperm to meet.

tl;dr: Jellyfish are weird.



How do jellyfish reproduce?



First things first: jellyfish are both sexual and asexual, so how they reproduce can be very tricky and depend on the chosen route taken!



People also don’t realize that jellyfish have an asexual “polyp” stage in which they are sessile (immobile). Eventually, that polyp elongates and divides eventually releasing a huge amount of ephyrae (baby jellyfish) in the water, these develop into the medusa of the jellyfish that are most known.



Some jellyfish skip this stage entirely and can reproduce through fission.



When sexually reproducing, the jellyfish will release huge amounts of eggs and sperm into the water and essentially work in an analogous way to wind-pollination on land (or more accurately, we are analogous to the water, as they came first! [joke intended]) where they essentially are relying on random chance for egg and sperm to meet.



tl;dr: Jellyfish are weird.

oldbookillustrations:

Jellyfish.
Paul Flanderky, from Brehms Tierleben (Brehm’s animal life) first volume, under the direction of Alfred Edmund Brehm, Leipzig & Vienna, 1918.
(Source: archive.org)

Lovely old illustration!  See the following post for more on jellyfish!

oldbookillustrations:

Jellyfish.

Paul Flanderky, from Brehms Tierleben (Brehm’s animal life) first volume, under the direction of Alfred Edmund Brehm, Leipzig & Vienna, 1918.

(Source: archive.org)

Lovely old illustration!  See the following post for more on jellyfish!

(via scientificillustration)

majorcupcake said: Have you gotten a surge of followers since you were up voted to oblivion on the mountain goat post?

Haha, I wish!  I have gotten about twenty or so extra followers since yesterday, though, which already blows my mind!

It’s great to see that people actually seem to want more biological facts crammed down their throats! 

I’m very okay with that.

As a bonus for your question, here’s a photo of a very content urban rabbit that I found in a park a week ago!


The above photo of “The World’s Most Badass Ladybug” was posted on Reddit, which I found as a great way to open the door for some great biological conversation!

While this bug may be in for an unexpectedly high (and probably fatal) ride, many insects do, in fact, travel quite high!

There is a billion-bug byway in the sky above your head, and you may not even know it! Some insects have been found as high as 19,000 feet! That’s higher than some private planes are allowed to fly, due to a need for pressurization!

Why do insects fly this high? The same reason you and I do: transportation! It’s possible that they even join the mile high club, just like humans, while airborne, but it’s probably a bit more difficult. Even spiders may throw out a piece of web to catch the breeze. Dispersion in the wind is a common tactic for many organisms to travel huge distances, which is how many pests for agriculture are spread! Tiny little bugs can travel much farther on a steady windstream than they could on foot.

Falling isn’t a problem for a little insect, as their surface area to body weight ratio is huge, allowing them to remain unscathed from falls that would kill a human easily.

Some estimates have put the number of sky-bound insects at over 3 billion a month over places like England in the summer! Other places have been estimated as high as 6 billion!

Let’s have some fun: if a ladybug weighs approximately 0.02 grams, and we assume most bugs weigh around the same, on average, that means that, over a month, there is 0.02 x 3,000,000,000 grams of bugs in the sky over a large city. This comes out to 60,000 kg (132,000 lbs) of insect biomass in the city air, about the same weight as a Bowhead whale.

This number may be large, but it is not surprising, especially when you consider that the total number of insects on Earth have been estimated by famed biologists such as E. O. Wilson as ten quintillion. That’s 10,000,000,000,000,000,000, or, scientifically speaking: a metric shit-ton.



The above photo of “The World’s Most Badass Ladybug” was posted on Reddit, which I found as a great way to open the door for some great biological conversation!



While this bug may be in for an unexpectedly high (and probably fatal) ride, many insects do, in fact, travel quite high!



There is a billion-bug byway in the sky above your head, and you may not even know it! Some insects have been found as high as 19,000 feet! That’s higher than some private planes are allowed to fly, due to a need for pressurization!



Why do insects fly this high? The same reason you and I do: transportation! It’s possible that they even join the mile high club, just like humans, while airborne, but it’s probably a bit more difficult. Even spiders may throw out a piece of web to catch the breeze. Dispersion in the wind is a common tactic for many organisms to travel huge distances, which is how many pests for agriculture are spread! Tiny little bugs can travel much farther on a steady windstream than they could on foot.



Falling isn’t a problem for a little insect, as their surface area to body weight ratio is huge, allowing them to remain unscathed from falls that would kill a human easily.



Some estimates have put the number of sky-bound insects at over 3 billion a month over places like England in the summer! Other places have been estimated as high as 6 billion!



Let’s have some fun: if a ladybug weighs approximately 0.02 grams, and we assume most bugs weigh around the same, on average, that means that, over a month, there is 0.02 x 3,000,000,000 grams of bugs in the sky over a large city. This comes out to 60,000 kg (132,000 lbs) of insect biomass in the city air, about the same weight as a Bowhead whale.



This number may be large, but it is not surprising, especially when you consider that the total number of insects on Earth have been estimated by famed biologists such as E. O. Wilson as ten quintillion. That’s 10,000,000,000,000,000,000, or, scientifically speaking: a metric shit-ton.