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Spider sex, busy bees and honest whales. That resident beast, TBS’ fave Paris Portingale, shares some cold hard facts about nature we’d never considered.
Nature and spiders
I was watching a couple of spiders recently, a mother and a father spider as it turned out. They’d just been going about their business, fixing up the web, catching flies etc, then the other afternoon I saw something special – the daddy spider went up and started crawling over the mummy spider, and then in a matter of minutes they were “doing it.” Ah, the wonders of nature. Strangely though, after they’d finished, the mummy spider killed and ate the daddy spider. I don’t know what he’d done wrong, maybe he finished up too early or was too quick to put it in – sex is a complicated thing and there are any number of ways you can roll off to a frosty reception and the no-talking for the next couple of weeks. Anyway, sometime later the miracle of birth occurred and there were a hundred thousand tiny little baby spiders running about the place, cute as Christmas.
Except for the killing and eating bit, I thought this was an interesting view into the world of insect behaviour and reproduction. However, sometime later the alarming idea struck that this stuff is constantly happening everywhere, millions of times a second, all over the whole world. I suddenly found the whole idea quite alarming – billions of spiders producing billions and billions more spiders every second of the day. And they can bite too, the little bastards. Have you ever seen the fangs on the things? Bloody horrible, and with the kind of turnover they can deliver, it’s a wonder there’s any other creature on the planet still alive.
Nature when it comes to bees and ants
Down through the ages, the symbol for constant activity has always been the bee. “Busy as a bee,” people have been saying, right back from the dawn of time when man first emerged from the primeval ooze and started doing stuff.
But there’s another insect that can give the bee a run for its money, and that’s the ant. While you can often see bees sitting around the place, taking a bit of a breather, that’s never the case with ants; they never stop.
You can see they’re a smart creature too, considering the size of the head they’ve got, and they can carry a thousand times their own weight for miles and not even break into a sweat.
One of their favourite activities is to spread out in a long line and trot along back and forth, stopping every now and then to pass on a bit of gossip to someone coming the other way like, “Bob just threw up in his mouth. Pass it on.”
While ants are great little chaps, you don’t want to get them in your kitchen cupboard. I’ve got them in my kitchen cupboard and despite a number of dissuasive measures, they seem reluctant to leave. Understandable really, and I don’t blame them because it’s one of the most efficiently stocked kitchen cupboards you’re ever likely see. For every can or packet or jar in my kitchen cupboard I have multiple backups siting directly behind. If I finish off the jar of Vegemite for instance, no worries because bang, there’s a fresh one sitting there, ready to be opened, just behind it.
And just like my kitchen cupboard, I have the same arrangement for friends. For each of my friends, I have a backup, ready to go at a moment’s notice. If, say, a friend has some sort of accident, rendering him or her unable to continue with the obligations of friendship, there’s a backup instantly ready to step in and take over.
It’s only common sense really because friendships are important and quotas have to maintained otherwise you’re on the slippery slope to having no friends, which can develop into having the opposite of friends, where you have an exponentially increasing body of anti-friends who hate you and quite honestly want to see you dead.
Nature and whales
I love whales, those gentle giants of the earth’s mighty oceans and seas. The thing with whales is, they will never turn on you the way some other species will, and you have to look no further than bears in this regard. If you’ve ever been playing with a bear and have it suddenly turn and then, rip – splosh, there’s your insides out on the ground in front of you, you’ll know what I mean.
And it’s not only other species that can leave you anxious and mistrustful; inanimate objects can do the same thing. Up there with the bears are the shopping trolleys and the wheels that can suddenly go sideways without warning and drag you off into uncharted waters so much better avoided.
You see, life is a tightrope walk, with things waiting around every corner, ready to rip your insides out or send you careening off course into the fat woman in the biscuit section who’s going to fall on top of you, dragging three aisles of shelving down with here, so there’s no way you’re going to get out of that one without some particularly serious injuries.
So, I’m going to stick with whales.
You always know where you are with whales.
To celebrate being a year old we want you, the readers, to help us decide the articles you loved best during our first year – and to encourage you to participate, we are giving away three prizes!
All you have to do is look through our archives of content and email us your favourite article – and also if you want, the one you weren’t so up with. From the submissions, we will assess the most-loved content from our first year and republish it at the end of our birthday month.
Both writers and readers are encouraged to enter (no, Paris, you cannot nominate your own articles…#justsaying), so please email us at [email protected] by Nov 30 to enter! Please include your name, address and mobile number.
And the prizes are…(did we mention there are prizes…?)
First prize: A brilliant acting course based in Sydney and hosted by Darlo Drama worth $550!
Second prize: A gift pack from our friends at Booktopia
Third prize: Four movie passes
(Plus watch out for a couple of other competitions during our birthday month!)