Around the globe, colonies of tiny, sugar pooping, clone producing insects are tucking into their favorite treat. Though they only grow to about an eighth of an inch, these powerhouses nearly wiped out the wine industry in the mid-1800s 1, and continue to be the curse of gardeners, today! But for all of their destructive power, aphids are some of nature’s weirdest creatures. And if you give them a chance, you may find a soft spot for these walking jelly beans of the natural world.
Walking jelly beans? Clone babies? What is up with aphids? That’s a great question. And the answer will have you turning over leaves in your own backyard in hopes of seeing one of these colonies face to face to get a better appreciation for these tiny weirdos.
Some Aphid Basics
There are over 4000 species in the aphid family. Most are tiny and unassuming, but when they get together, they can be incredibly destructive to the plants they call home. They are like the mosquitoes of the plant world, feeding off the sap of plants–and sometimes, carrying diseases with them. But for all of the articles suggesting ways to “Get Rid of Aphids, Quick” or “Protect Your Garden from Aphid Colonies” these creatures are way more interesting than you might think.
With specialized bodies, they are able to consume a diet that would kill most creatures. And as a byproduct of this unique diet, these little guys excrete a sweet treat beloved by ants and people alike!
If you take a closer look, you’ll see how these candy pooping, rapidly reproducing little creatures are fascinating marvels of the natural world. TED-Ed gives us a closer look at these odd neighbors of ours in this hilarious video!
No matter your age, TED-Ed is one of the best educational resources out there. Their videos are always entertaining and informative and give you a look at unique corners of the world from science to history to literature!
There’s always more than meets the eye!
I’ve been running into aphids my entire life, maybe even given honeydew a try, and yet I never knew enough about them to fully appreciate them! It makes me wonder, how many other little wonders of nature are out there in my own backyard?
Imagine if we knew more about these kinds of little wonders. How would we walk through the world differently? What leaves would we turn over with a little more wild fascination? How would the sound of the birds around us be more interesting? Could discovering just a little more about the world around us bring us that joy we’re looking for?
As kids, we start out with that wild sense of fascination. Every bug is a fantastical beast, every crack in the sidewalk is worthy of inspection, every plane that flies overhead deserves a moment of pause, and maybe even a wave. Where does that feeling go?
Certainly, we don’t grow up and know all there is to know about the world around us.
Here’s a little challenge for you this week. Take a few minutes every day to look at something common with a spirit of curiosity. Then, take a little time to answer your questions, or just be in awe of how cool it is!
Take a look at the mass of cords poking out of the back of your TV, pause to think about the technology that brings Netflix to your living room. Go for a little walk, see how many steps outside your door it takes you before you see a bug or plant that you can dream up some questions about. If you’ve got your favorite tunes playing in the background, maybe take a minute to learn more about the artist.
There are all these moments in our day to get lost in the beauty of curiosity.
Though we may not be pointing to the sky with quite as much wonder as we did when we were a child, we can still bring some of that uplifting spirit with us wherever we go.
[h4] So, what will you wonder? If you need some awe-spiration here are a few of my favorite articles to get you started!
The Toilet is Saving Our Lives!
Did you know that this innovation stops deadly diseases from finding you with every flush? Billions of people still don’t have access to one. So we’d like to take a moment to celebrate the humble toilet and see how some truly amazing thought leaders are bringing them to everyone around the globe!Read Article Watch Video Listen to Podcast
Your Dog is Traveling Through Time… With Their Nose!
From finding missing people, sniffing out bombs, and even detecting health problems, dogs’ remarkable sense of smell continues to impress. But what’s actually going on inside those beloved noses?Read Article Watch Video Listen to Podcast
Medical Device to Fashion Statement: The Amazing History of Glasses
In the past few decades, glasses have become a fashion statement and form of expression. But how did they make the transition from a medical device to a stylish accessory? And can we transform prosthetics, wheelchairs, and hearing aids in the same creative and widely accepted way?Read Article Watch Video Listen to Podcast
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- Clark, Laura. “American Bugs Almost Wiped Out France’s Wine Industry.” Smithsonian Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine, 19 Mar. 2015, www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/american-bugs-almost-wiped-out-frances-wine-industry-180954619/. Accessed 4 June 2020./ ↩
- TED-Ed. “The Bug That Poops Candy – George Zaidan.” YouTube, 2020, www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVdynVuJsBo&feature=youtu.be. Accessed 4 June 2020. ↩