Friday, 5 June 2009

The Astonishing Eggs of Alien Nations

They look like they come straight out of a science fiction film, but these eggs are real. It’s life, but most certainly not as we know it. Take a look at the astonishing eggs of the alien nations all around us.

Where is John Hurt when you need him? If he could perhaps just lean over these eggs he might get a nasty surprise but we would perhaps have a chance of identifying these eggs. Although the species is unknown this is a good starting point on our journey through insect eggs. At once a little scary but fascinating, it is difficult to believe that these will hatch in to something probably harmless to us. Fortunately, the eggs measure millimeters rather than meters so don’t have nightmares!

The Lacewing is a clever creature. It doesn’t want the eggs it has spent time and a great deal of energy producing snaffled up by the first hungry bug that wanders by in search of a meal. So, the female extends a slither if silk and deposits the egg at the end. In this way the eggs can be kept out of the way of casual predators in search of a free meal. Come to think of it though, isn’t every meal in the bug world free?

Again an unknown species but the eggs look so much like tiny rolls of sushi that to not include this would have been a crime. The eggs do seem very exposed, however. It is a wonder that they haven’t been eaten yet!

The Australian mosquito Culex quinquefasciatus oviposits on still water. Although most of the insects featured here are harmless, this one most certainly isn’t. This species can carry Murray Valley Encephalitis. It is also a vector of dog heartworm and is thought to be involved in the transmission of myxomatosis in some areas. Ew.

Staying in Australia for a while, these empty Shield Bug eggs give a good idea how much the young must grown in order to reach maturity. Once hatched, the Shield bug will stick around the same leaf until it leaves as a fully grown adult. Some kids just can’t fly the nest!

The eggs of the Vapourer moth are joined by a Harlequin Ladybird. It is thought that Harlequins will eat insect eggs, so perhaps that is just what this one is doing. It could, however, just be passing by on its way to a certain Ball.

More unidentified eggs, but at least the parent had the good taste to lay them on something as exquisite as a peacock feather. Quite what the young are expected to eat once they hatch (unless it is the egg shell) is anyone’s guess. No doubt they have to make their way to a slightly more ‘des res’ but one not quite so aesthetically pleasing.

The eyes have it! Perhaps this is a way of warding off possible predators. A hundred eyes glaring at you might put would-be predators of a nervous disposition off their lunch altogether.

Sometimes, though, camouflage is the best form of defense. These eggs go so well with the plant on which they have been laid that it would be difficult to spot them from much of a distance.

An egg of the Cabbage White butterfly. Many find beauty in simplicity but for many the Cabbage White is the plainest of the plain in the butterfly world. However, the structure of its egg is nothing short of remarkable. It looks like some tiny eco-friendly skyscraper that should be inhabited by hundred of tiny members of Greenpeace.

Take two, four times a day before eating. These eggs have a sheen and shape on them which is reminiscent of something a doctor might prescribe you. The gorgeous color gives the eggs a slightly unreal look, almost as if they have been industrially manufactured.

Most people know the mantis – it is one of the most popular insects on the planet because of its alien appearance. The female has the reputation of devouring her mate after procreation, which only adds to the attraction. What is not known about the mantis, however, is that the female oviposits in to an egg sack. The sack forms an extra layer of protection for the shells and most certainly looks like something Sigourney Weaver and co might get stuck in while awaiting their fate.

A Papaya Fruit fly ovipositing on a fruit. If you look closely you can just about make out the milky white eggs. Again, if this was anything bigger than a centimeter in length, this would be a truly alarming animal. However, its tiny size is, to us, a massive relief!

Another unidentified species, but it puts a whole new meaning in to the phrase ‘a bun in the oven’. These eggs look uncannily like a tray of muffins, just out of the oven and cooling down before being put in to the baker’s shop window.

Here are the eggs of the Spined Soldier Bug Eggs. With the spines around the eggs and their metallic gleam, these look as if they are just about to explode! There is a good reason for the spines, however. They are to deter other insects from taking a bite. After the eggs are laid they stiffen and make them difficult to eat.

Stink Bug eggs are green. Very green. They are like something that can be found in candy packets the world over. If there are ‘E’ numbers in any eggs at all, it would be these. With a slightly retro seventies feel to them, these glow in the dark beauties might well have looked at home around the neck of a model tripping the light fantastic at Studio 54.

These eggs, of the Hibiscus Harlequin bug, look almost like grapes ripening, without a vine. One or two of them have already hatched or been eaten by predators but there is a wonderful beauty to them which is quite lovely.

A raft of mosquito eggs with the developing young inside. There is a small dot of ‘sap’ on the top of each one which is in fact a pheromone. This picture was taken by lifting the eggs gently out of the barrel in which they were found and depositing them in a shallow dish of water. They look like tiny ink cartridges, lining up to be inserted in to a hundred fountain pens.

The egg of the Hoverfly really does look like something out of a science fiction film. The silver grey coloring gives it an out of world feel that is utterly alien. Fortunately, the egg is only a few millimeters in length!

The eggs of the harlequin bug are black and white and not the first mini sushi to be seen in this collection. The adult is multi-colored –like a splash of gasoline in a puddle so it is a little odd that the eggs should be so monochrome. There is a strange unearthly beauty to these eggs, however.

Come and explore

¡venga y explore!


Glynis said...

Strange but interesting.

Debbie said...

awesome find!

Dr. Lauren said...

These are so bizarre

Anonymous said...

Excellent article,innovative matter.

Anonymous said...

This is REALLY cool.

icecreamandcake said...

Amazingly cool!

Anonymous said...

Very unique and pretty :)

bjtp said...

Nuts! Thanks QI Elves!

Anonymous said...

nice photos. writing is a bit dorky.

Librarian said...

A friend sent me the link to this. Fascinating and entertaining, thank you!

Skipweasel said...

I wouldn't say meals are free for insects - bees, for example, have to work darned hard for their grub.

Anonymous said...

Thanks elves perfect bedtime viewing! :-)

Anonymous said...

Anne McNew: Wow!

pitta said...