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06 August, 2012

Pollen Ate 'er

Lip-ticklin' the nectivory
One of the pleasures of my work is to be high up in the Cascades, in a little meadow, baby I don't wanna come down. This episode of MT comes to you from yon mt. Back in the golden days of summer (right at the beginning, before it gets all parched).

The flying insects queue upon a faint aroma, or a UV signal, or maybe even some color so obvious that even us humans can sense it, and dive into a flower. There they stick in mouth-parts, suck to heart's content, and move on to find some other content (they are never full til the sun sets, in near opposition to us humans). Accidentally (they would say), they transport pollen, the DNA transfer proof of their slavery to the supposedly more primitive plants they serve. 

Suckin da bugga dry
Other times, the insects just settle in. From the Bible to the Exorcist, canonical wisdom tells us of the locust swarms arriving and marauding til nothing is left for us bipedal apes. More often, the leeching suckage bypasses us, especially in our modern dependance on the few crops agribidness allows us to eat. As in the aphid dairy pictured above, tended by ants on a lupine. They will not stop sucking vital bodily fluids (salutations, doc strangelove) until the weather turns or the host is dead. 

Is the pollinator a hero, and the parasite a villain? Evolution thinks they're both heroes. Perpetuation and selection both have their place. High up in the Cascades, nature turns on and tunes in, but will never drop out or give up.


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