I Wouldn’t Want to Be a Bedbug

Bedbugs lead traumatic lives.

Yeah, I know, that goes without saying. Bedbugs are vile creatures that make my flesh crawl just thinking about them. I tend to be very much against interacting with creatures that want to feed upon me in any way.

I wouldn’t want to have to actively feed on a living thing in order to survive. (Let’s leave the vegetarian debate out of this. It gets complicated. If I had to suck on a live cow to have a steak, I’d definitely think twice. And then there’s the breastfeeding issue, proving that many of us have been parasites at one point or another… oh, my head hurts.)

I’m not a proponent of reincarnation, so I suspect the odds of me living the bedbug life are rather slim. But you never know. The reason bedbugs are at the top of my lives-to-be-avoided list boils down to one thing above all others: traumatic insemination.

In simple terms, the male grabs a female and pierces her through the wall of her abdomen and injects the sperm that way. This causes a lot of down time in the female while she heals from essentially being stabbed in the gut. Infections can occur. Her lifespan is shortened. She loses blood. In some cases she has an allergic reaction and dies.

Nice, huh? And she can be attacked like this by multiple males in a season. Some types of female bedbugs are passive during this trauma. Other types fight back vigorously. But given how many bedbugs are still in the world, it seems the males prevail.

And the crazy thing is, it doesn’t have to be this way. The female bedbug has a genital tract. Unfortunately, it’s only used for laying fertilized eggs.

And bedbugs aren’t the only creatures that employ traumatic insemination. I also wouldn’t want to be a nematode, a thorny-headed worm, a twisted-winged parasite, a fruit fly, a sea slug, or a type of spider that is aptly named the Harpactea Sadistica.

And omigod, then we have the Turbellaria, or the free living flatworm, which engages in “penis fencing”. These worms are hermaphrodites, and when two decide to mate they engage in a fierce battle with their penises. Whoever gets pierced first has to bear the energy cost of reproduction.

And then there’s the water beetle of the genus Acilius. These guys are brutal. They will suffocate a female underwater until she’s too exhausted to fight back. And this process can last up to six hours, with very few breathing breaks. Horrific.

And I’ve personally seen Muscovy ducks mate, where the male forces the female’s head underwater while she frantically struggles. I wanted to wade into that pond and beat that male senseless. It was very upsetting to watch.

So the next time a guy jokes about male praying mantises getting their heads bitten off, or what some female spiders do, direct them to this blog post. Nature can be brutal on both sides. But I find it interesting that we hear more about the brutal females than the brutal males.

Note the crack in the female’s abdomen on the picture to the right.

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Unnatural Nature

I just watched a squirrel run down a 40 foot pine tree head first, like it was nothing. And it was nothing, for him. He probably does it a hundred times a day. I tried to imagine doing it myself, even once, and the thought made me kind of queasy.

There are a lot of natural things that I couldn’t or wouldn’t do.

  • Roll poop into balls bigger than I am like a dung beetle.
  • Eat rotting flesh like a vulture.
  • Dive into ice laden seas like a penguin.
  • Scream for hours at the top of my lungs like a howler monkey. (But it might actually be quite spiritually cleansing to do it for a minute or two.)
  • Echolocate like a dolphin or a bat.
  • Slam my head into a rival like a ram. (I heard a great quip on Welcome to Night Vale the other day: “Dodge Ram. Great car. Even better advice.”)
  • Eat the head off my partner like a praying mantis. (Or eat the head off anything or anyone, for that matter.)
  • Remain pregnant for 23 months like an elephant.
  • Mate for life like a swan.
  • Chase down something, catch it, tear it to shreds and eat it raw like so many creatures do.
  • Stay outside in horrible weather like most animals do at some time or another.
  • Lay an egg. Or sit patiently on a nest and count on my partner to bring me food.
  • Shed my skin all at once.
  • Chew through (often chemically treated) wood like a mouse.

Nature is awesome. I’m glad we have yet to succeed in destroying it in all its many forms. But I’m also glad I’m me.


Epic Animals Indeed

At the time I originally wrote this article, I was in a wonderful mood. I was writing this at the beginning of a mini-break, and it felt like the world Was full of possibilities. I was surrounded by good friends, loving family, and beautiful landscapes. As a friend said to me recently, we are hard wired for variety. Problematic at times, but very true.

Fortunately, our amazing planet is all too happy to provide us with said variety, and in this modern age, even if we can’t experience it firsthand, we can still do so vicariously. The following images are posted with permission of an AMAZING facebook page called Epic Animal. If you haven’t already checked it out, I strongly encourage you to do so. You will be in awe of what nature produces.

As I view these images, I often think about that unique set of circumstances that made me into me, rather than some other creature. It’s all so random and unexpected and amazing. What a wonderful world we live in! Enjoy!

Blue glowing coconut octopus

Blue Glowing Coconut Octopus

Rufous-Backed Kingfisher

Rufous-Backed Kingfisher



Peacock Spider

Peacock Spider


Unidentified, but still stunning!

Eurasian Lynx

Eurasian Lynx



Praying Mantis and Butterfly

Praying Mantis and Butterfly

Come the Apocalypse, I Want to be with my Dog.

I have a new theory. The best possible thing that can happen when you are searching for a mate is a horrible first date, because then you can see how that person reacts under pressure. Stress separates the men from the boys. It cuts through all the surface bs and shows you what someone is truly made of. There are all sorts of ways of dealing with negativity, as evidenced by nature. All of these ways are legitimate, but only a few of them are viable in terms of a life partner in this modern world. Here are a few examples.


The Shark. In times of great tension, the shark will not only attack the source of the problem, but will also turn on anyone and anything that happens to be in his vicinity, even members of its own family. When in the midst of this feeding frenzy, the shark has absolutely no regard for loyalty, and does not care about who is on his side. When in the presence of this type of fury, there is nothing you can do except prepare to be eaten. Frankly, I find the shark to be tragic and self-destructive. And the most depressing thing about the shark is he cannot see why this type of behavior is a problem. Somehow being eaten will become your fault. You’ll never feel completely safe with a shark.


The Fainting Goat. Also known as the Myotonic Goat, this poor creature freezes in times of panic and keels over, thus rendering him utterly useless to himself or anyone else. I used to date one of these. Don’t ask me why.


The Turtle. When the sh*t comes down and you’re with a turtle, you are on your own. He will pull himself into his shell and wait for the boogeyman to go away. Oh, he’ll protect himself all right, but he won’t confront anyone or anything and prefers to live in a state of denial. He’s completely resistant to change, which makes improvement impossible. Also, if you come by his house and he doesn’t feel like talking, he simply won’t come to the door. Who needs that?


The Badger. No need to wait for a crisis situation when on a date with a badger. He’s going to be in a foul mood regardless, even if you could potentially be the best thing that ever happened to him. He’s never going to see it.


The Porcupine. Now, here’s a guy who is prepared. He doesn’t want to be messed with, and has made sure that he won’t be. The problem is, since all he wants is to be left alone, he’ll never let you in.


The Octopus. I have to admire this guy’s ability to avoid conflict. I like his stealth and intelligence. But if none of that works, he shoots ink. Do you want someone who’s going to throw stuff at you? No. That, and he tends to be clingy.


Frilled Lizard. You’ve probably seen one of these guys on the National Geographic channel. When you piss one of them off, the frill on their neck expands and they’ll chase you on two feet. Yes, they look intimidating and they get the job done for the most part, but honestly, what would happen if you stood your ground with them? Not too much, I suspect. I think you’d win that confrontation. These guys are all sizzle and no steak.


The Rattlesnake. The rattler is sort of a first strike kind of guy. He prefers to be the aggressor in anticipation of any possible antagonism you may or may not have in mind. Don’t hang out with the rattlesnake if you’re hoping for cozy get togethers with groups of friends.


The Praying Mantis. Honestly? Do you really want to hang out with a guy who is so desperate for sex that he’s willing to go there with you even though he knows he’s going to get his head bitten off for his troubles? This guy is so focused on what he wants that he has no concept of the consequences.


The Meerkat. I have to admit that I have a certain fondness for meerkats. They’re loyal. They’re family oriented, they’re protective, they’re cautious. But they’re also an emotional drain. They’re constantly anticipating trouble. They’re always on the lookout. Their watchword is paranoia. They never seem to relax.


The Benobo. Scientists have dedicated their lives to studying benobos, because these cousins of ours seem to be totally devoid of aggression. They’re the hippies of the primate world. They’re all about free love and live and let live. I could see myself getting caught up in this lifestyle, but I suspect I’d get fat and complacent, and years would go by without my realizing it.


The Dog. Dogs don’t seek fights, and in fact try to avoid them, but if you eff with them, they’ll take you out. I can respect that. They tend to restrict their aggression to those that deserve it. They’re loyal and protective, and usually generous and kind unless they’ve been abused. They’d much rather cuddle with you than argue, but they’ll do what they have to in order to protect themselves and the ones they love. A dog will always have your back. They also know how to heave a heavy sigh and release all tension. This, to me, is a very healthy and well-balanced approach to life. Yup, I’ll take a dog every time.

So next time you’re thrust into the dating world, pray for a flash flood or an earthquake or an armed robbery, because then you’ll know exactly what you’ve got on your hands. Disaster can save you a lot of time and heartache.