December 18, 2003

The Gold Bug


For the computer programmer on your list that has everything, we'd suggest bugs -- gold bugs -- or bugs with rubies, lapis, and other rare gems.

"The larvae I use belong to the families Limnephilidae, Leptoceridae, Sericostomatidae and Odontoceridae, with a preference for the Limnephilid genera Potamophylax and Allogamus.

"I collect the larvae from January to April, in low- and medium-altitude mountain areas, and keep them in an aquarium where the water is oxygenated, circulated and kept at 40% C---this artificial winter prolongs the larvae's period of case-building and delays the process of nymphosis.

"I remove the cap of the larva's natural case at the rear end, and push the larva, which usually stays affixed to the case by means of its two hind hooks, gently forward with a blunt-tipped instrument. Pressure applied to the last ring of the case causes the larva to release its grip.

"Essentially, this in vitro experiment involves the modification of the larva's natural habitat and, more precisely, the replacement of the building materials ordinarily found by the larva (sand, small bits of gravel, sprigs of plants, the shells of planorbid and other water snails) with new materials.

"To begin with, I put the insect in a gold-filled environment for as long as it takes the creature to form a rough case. The larva must be able to move around in its new case and be picked up without any risk of breaking the fragile construction.

"First, I only provided the larvae with gold spangles, but then I gradually added beads of turquoise, opal, lapis lazuli and coral, as well as rubies, sapphires, diamonds, hemispherical and Baroque pearls, and tiny rods of 18-karat gold.

-- Leonardo On-Line: The Wonderful Caddis Worm

Posted by Vanderleun at December 18, 2003 12:39 PM
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