by Shannon Farley
Our mothers are one of the most important and influential persons in our lives. We wouldn’t be here without them! In general, they spend a lot of time caring for and raising us.
In the animal kingdom, how much time mothers spend with their offspring varies radically. On the high end of the spectrum, orangutans care fulltime for their young for six to seven years and maintain contact for up to 16. While on the other end, sea turtle mothers lay their eggs onshore and return immediately to the ocean, never seeing their turtle babies hatch.
Insects aren’t usually thought of as being good mothers and fathers. But nature is amazing and Tortoise Beetles (Cassidinae, a subfamily of the leaf beetles – Chrysomelidae) show us that mothering is important in even the smallest creatures.
A two-year scientific study on the tortoise beetle Omaspides bistriata (Boheman 1862) at the Veragua Rainforest, by entomologist Rolando Ramirez, shows mothers meticulously caring for their offspring. This starts with female beetles laying their eggs on the leaves that their larvae need to feed on to grow into maturity. And it continues with the mothers protecting them through the different larval stages into the pupal stage, and even their first days as adult individuals.
This instinctive caring behavior represents a primitive but effective strategy to improve their chances for the longevity of the species. Be it humans, mammals, birds, or even tiny insects, all creatures on Earth are committed to ensuring their species survives to the next generation.
The Foundation for Rainforest Research (the Veragua Foundation) carries out important scientific investigation of rainforest flora and fauna in Costa Rica that is valuable to the planet in terms of understanding and protecting biodiversity and the effects of climate change.