Mini-Moms: Bugs & their Babies

a cockroach

To celebrate mother’s day, let’s take a look at the interesting world of bug moms. If you caught our virtual field trip video, you met our Golden Girls aka Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches. What we didn’t tell you yet though, is that these roaches are one of the few insects who give live birth to their young and we have at least 50 young roaches!

Most roach species carry eggs in a sac called an ootheca, then drop the ootheca off before the eggs hatch. The Madagascar roach, however, carries her ootheca internally and the newborns emerge after they have already hatched. Earth Touch News Network shared a fascinating video of a live birth caught on film, so you can watch it here. All the roaches in our brood are females so they came to us already carrying their young, which they typically carry for around 2 months. Our little guys are already about 2 months old, so will not reach maturity for another 5 months. Stay tuned on our social media for more updates as they continue to develop.

Another bug-mom with some interesting habits is the wolf spider. These arachnids lay a few dozen eggs at a time and wrap them in silk to create an egg sac. Where their maternal behavior really gets interesting though, is after the mother chews into the sac to help the babies emerge, when they crawl onto her back to be carried for several days. This is definitely not what you want to see after trying to kill a spider, but you may get more than you bargained for if your unwanted house guest is a spider carrying her young.

We saved the best (or at least the most bizarre) for last in this bug-mom biography. The jewel wasp is best known for its parasitic nature. The flying predator finds an unsuspecting roach and injects a venom with incredible precision into its brain. After the injection, the zombified roach is basically used as an egg sac for the wasp. The wasp will lay one single egg and as the larva develops, it feeds on the roach’s organs before killing it to emerge.

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