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Did you Know Some Insects are Great Mothers?

Happy Mother’s Day! All animals have mothers, but some are more nurturing than others. As for human mothers, their countless hours of dedication, sleepless nights, the often thankless work, the hugs and kisses, and endless love make them the crowned queens of motherhood. Of all the species in the animal kingdom, no other mothers deserve higher praise than our loving mothers and mother figures.

Unquestionably, human mothers are the best. But did you know that some insects often go the extra mile for their babies? It might surprise you when you look into the face of a nasty insect, but some of these multi-legged critters have some distinct motherly characteristics.

These are just a few of the insects and arachnids that show commitment and dedication to their offspring. Just for fun, we’ve also added a couple of examples of insects that aren’t good mothers at all.

Good Mothers of the Bug World

Spiders

Even though they don’t look friendly, spiders are heavily invested in their babies. Web-spinning spiders cocoon their eggs in a protective silk sac that they hang in a safe corner of the web. If a strong insect or rival spider threatens her eggs, she huddles around them and strikes at anything that gets too close. If she needs to, she’ll abandon her web and carry her eggs with her.

The wolf spider is the only spider species in the world that carries her eggs around wherever she goes. She also spins a protective silk sac around them and attached the sac to her spinnerets, where they remain until they hatch. Hundreds of little baby spiders cling to her back until they are able to hunt on their own. The extra weight makes the mother spider slower and more sluggish, so she often goes hungry until her babies leave.

Scorpions

Did you know that scorpion babies are born live? They don’t hatch from an egg, but like many other animals, they are born directly into the open air. Their bodies are still too soft for them to walk very well, which makes them vulnerable to attack and unable to hunt on their own. So their mother carries them on her back — just like the wolf spider — until they’re old enough to take on the world themselves.

Earwigs

That’s right, earwigs actually make surprisingly good mothers! The female makes an elaborate nest for her eggs, taking up a huge amount of her time and energy. She constantly stands guard over her eggs until they are ready to hatch, and then she continues to help them until they are strong enough to make it on their own. If the nest is threatened by a predator or poor conditions, the mother gathers her eggs and abandons all the hard work she put into her nest to find a safer place elsewhere.

Wasps and Bees

Honeybees take a community approach to raising their young. During the winter, the entire hive huddles together to stay warm, and the majority of the hive usually survives the winter, depending on the conditions. Once the colony is comfortable and the temperature rises enough, the queen resumes her egg-laying duties and everyone gets back to work. All the workers take part in gathering food, making the honey, guarding the hive, and attending the queen. Everything the hive does is centered around the survival of the next generation.

Social wasps are slightly different when it comes to motherhood, though their approach is very similar to honeybees. The only member of the colony that survives the winter is the queen, who emerges from her hiding place ready to start a new colony. At first, she’s completely alone. She alternates between feeding herself and building a nest. As soon as she can, she lays eggs in her new nest and alternates between hunting for them, feeding herself, and keeping the nest tidy and in good repair. As the eggs hatch, her duties slowly shift until she does nothing but lay eggs and her daughters take care of everything else.

Wasp and bee colonies give a new meaning to the old saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.”

Ants and Termites

These species are very similar to bees and wasps since the entire colony divides the duties and the queen (or queens) does nothing but lay eggs. Some of the colony guards the nest, some forage for food, others care for the eggs and the newly hatched larvae, and some attend the queen.

Some species of ants and termites can be aggressive and attack neighboring colonies. But if the nursery is threatened at any time, the fight is called off and the colony scrambles to transport the eggs and larvae to safety.

All social insects, from wasps to honeybees, ants, or termites, are like one giant animal with one focus: to feed and care for the next generation.

German cockroaches

When you look into the mothering instincts of these pests, it’s no wonder why their population size explodes when they find their way into a home. Female German cockroaches lay 30-40 eggs in a protective sac called an ootheca. She carries this sac with her everywhere until she finds a safe place with plenty of food and water nearby. German cockroaches are social, which means that they teach each other to avoid areas that are dangerous and where to find food.

Terrible Insect Mothers

Flies

With little going on in their heads anyway, flies don’t have much to contribute to their offspring. The only effort they give into parental care is to lay the eggs in a food source. They might lay their eggs in a dumpster, manure, or dog poop.

Bed bugs

Female bed bugs barely even know they are carrying eggs. Eggs could be laid out in the open where predators could find them, and the female barely even notices that she gave birth. Since bed bugs spend most of their time in hidden areas, most eggs accidentally end up in good hiding places, like mattress seams and tight corners.

But the female bed bugs have no concept of parenting responsibility. They don’t purposefully do anything to give their offspring advantages in life. The baby bugs are forced to figure everything out on their own.

Not many cockroaches are as caring for their kids as German cockroaches. Not many species carry the egg sac around with them like German roaches do, and most species don’t take the time to teach baby roaches life’s dangers. Usually, juvenile roaches are left to fend for themselves.

Fleas

Fleas put even less effort into parenting as flies and bed bugs. While feeding, females produce eggs randomly. That’s the full extent of their effort. The eggs either get tangled in the host’s fur or hair, or they drop into the grass or carpet. After they hatch, the flea babies rely completely on instincts.

Thank You Mothers

None of these mothers compares to the invaluable care our mothers give to each of us. Mother’s Day is a great opportunity to express your love and appreciation for your mother or mother figure. Thank you mothers, whether biological or otherwise, for everything you do and all the things you’ve done for us.

Professional Pest Control

If you’ve got these bugs around the house, Fox Pest Control has your back. Our Home Protection Plan covers wasps, crawling insects, and rodents. Restore your peace of mind with our family and pet safe, environmentally friendly products that work for you so you don’t have to worry about pests.

Because No Bugs is Simply Better.

Posted on May 6, 2020.

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