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Mother’s Day: Which Insects are the Most Motherly?

Mother’s Day: Which Insects are the Most Motherly?

Mother’s Day: Which Insects are the Most Motherly?

Posted May 10, 2020

Happy Mother’s Day! All  creatures have mothers, from baboons to lions, birds to fish, and lizards to insects. But some types of mothers are more nurturing and attentive than others. 

While there’s no doubt that our human mothers and mother figures are the best, did you know that some insects and arachnids make pretty good mothers too?

In honor of Mother’s Day, here are a few of the arachnids and insects that are dedicated to their babies. And just for fun, we’ve also added a few insects that won’t be winning Mother of the Year. 

Great Mothers of the Bug World

Spiders

Even though these arachnids are super creepy, they’re also quite good mothers. Web-spinning spiders protect their eggs in a silk sac and hang them in a safe corner of the web. If the eggs are threatened by a rival spider or a strong insect, the spider curls around the egg sac and will strike at anything that gets too close. Some spiders will take their eggs and abandon the web to find a safer place for her babies.

The wolf spider is the only spider in the world that carries her eggs everywhere she goes. Since she doesn’t spin a web or dig a tunnel, she keeps them with her in a silk sac that she attaches to her spinnerets. When the hundreds of eggs hatch, they all clamber on her back and stay there until they are old enough to leave. The extra weight slows her down, so an egg carrying spider is in constant danger and  often goes hungry.

Scorpions

Did you know that scorpion babies are born live? Most spiders and insects hatch from an egg, but baby scorpions are born directly into the air, just like most mammals. The babies’ bodies are too soft to hunt or even walk very far, so they can’t provide for themselves or defend against predators. A scorpion mother will keep her babies on her back for several weeks until their exoskeletons harden and they’re strong enough to provide for themselves.

Earwigs

That’s right, of all the bugs in the world, the earwig is actually a pretty good mother! The female earwig spends a lot of time and energy making a nest for her eggs. She then stands guard over the eggs until they hatch and carefully attends them until they’re ready to live on their own, often going months without finding food for herself. 

If the nest is threatened by the weather or a predator, the mother earwig picks up her eggs and abandons all her hard work. Once she feels safe, the earwig mother starts over with her eggs and makes a new nest from scratch, all for the protection of her precious babies.

Wasps and Bees

Social insects like wasps and bees use a community approach to raising babies. 

Honeybee hives survive the cold winter by grouping together and vibrating to stay warm. Once spring rolls around and the hive is able to forage for nectar and make honey again, the queen resumes her full-time egg-laying duties. The honeybee hive divides the rest of the duties among themselves. Some guard the nest while others gather food and make honey. 

Social wasps are similar. Out of all the wasps from the summer before, only the queen survives the winter. She emerges from her winter hiding place in the spring and starts a new nest by herself. She looks for a good location with plenty of food nearby and then alternates between feeding herself and building the nest. When the nest is ready, she lays her eggs and hunts for food. 

Wasp larvae only eat meaty foods such as grasshoppers and caterpillars, so the mother risks her life every day by looking for insects that can fight back. As the larvae develop into adults, the females gradually take over the duties of the nest. They feed the larvae, repair and expand the nest, and guard against intruders. Once the hive is stable, the queen stays by the nest and does nothing but lay eggs.

When it comes to parenthood for wasps and bees, they really give a whole new meaning to the old saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.”

Ants and Termites

Just like wasps and bees, ants and termites are also social insects. While the queen (or queens) can focus on laying eggs, the colony members take care of everything else. They care for the nursery, expand the nest, forage for food, and attend to the queen. Every job is centered around raising the next generation. 

Some ants or termites are aggressive and attack intruders or rival colonies. However, if the nursery is ever in serious danger, the fight is instantly called off and the colony will evacuate the eggs and larvae. 

All social insects — from ants to bees — are like one many-legged, multi-eyed creature with one job: Feed and care for the next generation. 

German Cockroach

Although cockroaches are a pest you never want to see in your house, German cockroaches make surprisingly good mothers. Females lay 30-40 eggs in a purse-shaped case called an ootheca. She carries this everywhere until she finds a good hiding spot with plenty of water and food nearby. The ootheca is about half her size and slows her down. When she finds the right place, she sets the sticky case there carefully. The ootheca glues itself to the spot and pops open when the eggs hatch. 

German cockroaches are social, so the adults teach each other and the young roaches the best places to find food and water, places to avoid, and where to find the best hiding spots. No wonder German roaches are such a prolific pest!

Poor Insect Mothers

Flies

Since they don’t have much of a brain to begin with, it’s no surprise that flies put so little energy into parenthood. The mother lands on a food source, lays the eggs, and never looks back. Depending on the species, flies might lay their eggs in the gunk caught in drain pipes, in the manure out in fields, or in dog feces. 

Bed bugs

Bed bugs have no concept of parental responsibility. Female bed bugs barely even realize they’re pregnant and are hardly aware when they give birth. The female gives no thought at all to where the eggs should be laid. The eggs might end up out in the open where they can be destroyed or picked up by predators. She doesn’t do anything to give her offspring life advantages. The baby bed bugs have to figure out life on their own. However, since bed bugs spend most of their time hiding, most eggs coincidentally end up in a safe hiding place. This can make it easier for an infestation to flourish, so learning the signs of bed bugs and where to look for them is important.

Cockroaches

Not all cockroach species are as nurturing as German cockroaches. Few take the time to care for each other the way German roaches do. Most of the time, juvenile cockroaches are left on their own. 

Fleas

These tiny pests devote even less effort into motherhood than flies or bed bugs. The female produces her eggs at random while feeding, so they end up stuck in the host’s fur or hair or strewn on the ground. Larvae are forced to fend for themselves. As far as the fleas are concerned, their own larvae are pretty much a totally different species. In spite of their lack of parenting skills, fleas can cause serious problems for our pets. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to protect pets from fleas and ticks.

Thank You, Mothers!

We wouldn’t be the people we are today without our mothers and mother figures. Whether your mother is your biological parent or a special person who has played an important motherly role in your life, all mothers deserve love, respect, and appreciation.

Professional Pest Control

If you’ve got problems with these bugs around the house and you’re ready to take some action, Fox has your back. You can rest assured knowing that our family and pet safe, environmentally friendly products are working for you. Call today to talk to a Service Coordinator about how our Home Protection Plan can meet your needs. 

Because No Bugs is Simply Better.

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