• Question: What is your favorite insect that you've ever worked with???

    Asked by anon-349109 to Sam on 8 Mar 2023.
    • Photo: Sam Mugford

      Sam Mugford answered on 8 Mar 2023: last edited 8 Mar 2023 8:00 pm

      Thanks, I’m very pleased you asked me that! The insect I spend a lot of time with, the green peach aphid, doesn’t have a lot about it that’s loveable, but I have grown some fondness for it. Much more charismatic (although many people might disagree with me on that) are the spittlebugs, they are a bit bigger than aphids (but still only a few millimetres long), and they’ve got more personality. They can jump extremely well- 100’s of times they’re own body length, that’s like you jumping the length of a football pitch. And when they’re young they live inside a cluster of bubbles made from thier own excretions, yummy.

      Actually, many years ago I did a project on ants, and I must admit that ants are much much more intelligent than aphids or spittlebugs. The ants I was working with lived in large colonies that live in cracks in rocks. when they need to find somewhere new to live, the scout ants can measure the size of cracks in the rock and decide whether it is big enough for the colony. Amazingly it turned out that they use an equation that was developed by a French mathematician in the 1800’s to measure the area of the crack. I don’t think an aphid would be clever enough to do that.

      If i could work with any insect at all, i would like to work with treehoppers. They are very closely related to spittlebugs but they look incredibly strange. have a look at the picture of them for yourself.