Monday, July 7, 2008

Inside a bug's brain

The bug pictured below, I learned today, is a net-winged beetle, family Lycidae, Calopteron speciosa. First described and named in 1830. Native to the eastern U.S. and Canada.

I sit here engaging in my human activities and somewhere out there, in the darkness of the night, that bug is engaged in net-winged beetle nocturnal activities -- living out its life as I am living out my life.

To this little creature, its small self is as worthy of preservation as I feel I am, and it will hunt relentlessly for its food and fight for its life.

What goes on in a bug's brain? Speaking scientifically, I wonder exactly what transpires when the time comes for the little being to lift off from its leaf and zip away. Could a scientist track the synapses as they fire up, that stimulate the creature to vibrate its wings and achieve flight?

Is instinct all reflex, like pulling one's hand away from a flame, or is there some conscious thought and choice involved, even for a bug?


Janice Thomson said...

I would expect at some sub-conscious level there is thought/instinct to eat, fight, protect etc etc. - just not logical thought/reasoning that we humans are capable of. It's a very pretty insect to be sure.

Eastcoastdweller said...

So is the entire life of this bug a sequence of instinct? The same sort of thing that causes our hand to jerk away from a flame without conscious decision-making, or our heart to beat second after second?

Is there any rising above those instincts, any moments at all when a bug or some other little creature simply experiences joy or ponders the world around it?

It's just interesting to think about.