Silk Moth Tragedy.
...panicking about swine flu.
Having researched bird flu for a novel (which I started, but didn't finish) I knew rather too much about flu epidemics and became convinced that there was going to be a pandemic that was going to wipe most of us out. I thought it a logical result of world overpopulation - part of a Malthusian feedback mechanism, but I was wrong* - which I must say pleases me a lot.
Anyway, I have to report that following instructions from the Centre for Disease Control in Florida, I started my emergency store of bottled water and tinned haute cuisine items such as tinned sausages and beans, ravioli, and soup (and also panadol, tissues, and various other items in case of calamity) all the time thinking about the cache that the father and son discovered in McCarthy's THE ROAD. Needless to say the rest of my family thought I was overreacting.
But enough of that, and back to the more interesting dramatic and tragic events in the lives of my silkmoths...
On Friday I heard a rustling sound from one of the cocoons - clearly one of the moths was trying to get out. Since this went on for some time (about ten minutes) without the moth making progress, I stepped in and performed a cocoon Caeserian with a pair of scissors.
(Female moth to the left, her cocoon to the right)
The moth (a female full of eggs) duly arrived in the world, but was clearly the worse for wear. Her wings did not inflate, and her movements became weaker. I think her wings remained limp because she had already expelled some of her haemolyte (insect-'blood') as waste inside her cocoon, perhaps in her efforts to get out. Usually this haemolyte is pumped by an auxiliary heart at the base of the wings into the capillaries on the wings, and the surplus then expelled as waste.
A little later I realised that the moth had expired, and some of her pheromone was leaking from her because a moth nearby was frantically beating his wings and trying to mate with her. To put him out of his misery I removed her so he couldn't smell her any more. Once again my silk moths were providing more tragedy and pathos than any soap opera. Well, almost...
(* at least, when I wrote that it looked like I was wrong)