For this instalment of This vs That, we are tackling (no pun intended, well actually it was, but I digress) the jocks and the geeks of the pest world. Read on to find out why we put which pest where we did.
GEEK AND LAZY
Common clothes moth caterpillar
Is it a geek? It’s a solitary life for these caterpillars, so yes. The larvae of the common clothes moth, they see no reason to hang out with their siblings: as soon as they hatch, the caterpillars go searching for food.
Is it a jock? They are so lazy that their lives pretty much only consists of eating. But if that’s not lazy enough for you, they won’t even stick to a life cycle schedule. They can spend anywhere from a few weeks to more than a year as caterpillars, depending on the temperature or the abundance of food.
Dark winged fungus gnat
Is it a geek? Because of their tiny size, little is know about these gnats, so they may very well have a super-organised social structure. But considering other species of gnats aren’t particularly social, we can assume that they aren’t, either.
Is it a jock? They live for only 5 days, and they can barely fly properly. That said, they do still fly, and they can run across plant surfaces, so they do have some athletic moments.
SOCIAL AND LAZY
Is it a geek? Aphids are definitely not geeks – they are so popular, loads of insects, including ants and bees, will do whatever they need to do to protect the aphids from predators.
Is it a jock? Not so much. Aphids that are under the care of dairy ants enjoy quite a lush life – they don’t have to search out food, as they are carried to their food source, and they are also gently petted until they secrete honeydew.
JOCK AND SOCIAL
Is it a geek? Well, like most ants, pharaoh ants live in colonies. And though these colonies usually only number around 1000 to 2500 workers, there can also be a couple hundred queens, all producing offspring. So they are very social.
Is it a jock? Again, like most ants, pharoah ants are quite strong. They can eat loads of different foods, especially sweet ones, and they have been known to eat shoe polish! But what makes these guys superstars is their invasiveness: a single seed colony can populate a large office block in fewer than six months.
Dry wood termite
Is it a geek? Surprisingly, the development of dry wood termite colonies is quite slow. The king and queen often have produced only 3 or 4 larvae as long as 1 year after establishing the colony. So they aren’t as sociable as other termites, which can produce up to 2000 eggs a day. (NB: the Formosan subterranean termite does this)
Is it a jock? Like most good termites, they spend a lot of their time building and maintaining their colonies. Rather than chewing through decaying wood, these guys build their nests in and feed on dry timber, leaving only little piles of frass to indicate they have eaten a beam through until practically hollow.
GEEK AND JOCK
Is it a geek? With leathery or scaly green-grey skin and spikes running down their backs, chupacabras are incredibly evasive and shy. The name literally means ‘goat sucker’ because they reportedly mutilate livestock, and particularly goats, sucking all the blood out of the animals.
Is it a jock? They hop like kangaroos, and one person reported seeing one leap 20 feet (6 meters)! And considering there have been sightings of chupacabras from Maine to Chile, they do seem to move quickly and easily. It’s safe to say, that if they actually existed, they certainly would be very athletic.
As usual, feel free to mention any other pests we may have missed out…