Posts Tagged: egg
Nobody really bats an eye when a chicken lays an egg. That's what we expect them to do.
But when a butterfly lays an egg, that's a different story--especially in December.
Gulf Fritillary butterflies or passion butterflies (Agraulis vanillae) head for the nearest Passiflora, their host plant, and lay their eggs, tiny little yellow eggs about the size of a sesame seed.
It's done so quietly and so effortlessly--and it's such a miracle--that you expect to hear Vivaldi's Spring or the sound of trumpets or loud applause or a standing ovation. Something.
But no, the female butterfly goes about her business of laying eggs, deftly avoiding mate-seeking males that attempt to draw her attention.
The egg will hatch into a larva or caterpillar, and the caterpillar will morph into a munching machine, devouring every leaf in sight. Then comes the chrysalis, and an adult butterfly emerges.
That itself, in the dead of winter, warrants Vivaldi's Spring!
A Gulf Fritillary laying an egg in the dead of winter on a passionflower leaf. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A female Gulf Fritillary, after laying an egg, soaks up some sunshine. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Not to worry. Put it all in perspective by thinking about the larvae of the honey bee.
Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, likes to talk about the massive weight gain that occurs during the larval stage of the honey bee. He speaks at scores of beekeeping functions throughout the year and what he says about the larval weight gain always draws a "Wow!" or "Incredible!" or "Amazing!"
"A honey bee egg weighs about 0.1 mg," Mussen says. "The first stage larva weighs the same. Over the next six days of larval life the larva goes from 0.1 mg to around 120 mg. It defecates once, just before pupating, and the resulting adult bee weighs around 110 mg. Thus, the new bee weighs about 1,000 times the weight of the one-day-old larva."
Now get this:
"If a human baby, weighing eight pounds at birth, were to grow at the same rate, the baby would weigh 8,000 pounds, or 4 tons, at the end of six days."
Four tons in six days? Fortunately, what goes on with Apis mellifera does not apply to Homo sapiens.
Now go get that second helping of pumpkin pie.
As for Mussen, he quips: "I only feel that heavy some days!"
The tiny egg of a future honey bee weighs about 0.1 mg. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Larvae gain weight rapidly. A larva goes from 0.1 mg to around 120 mg. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Close-up of a pupa with a Varroa mite. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Newly emerged honey bee, just a minute old. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)