Caterpillar Sex

[Not yet online]

Seems George was pretty hard on “Axiomsj”, but the latter deserved it. . .for not cutting his pre-school classes to put cocoons in jars and wait for butterflies to develop.

Nader didn’t make it very far in the Florida saga, but he. . .oh, I guess I mean ‘nadir’. . .pretty well represents the point to which Cecil has taken us, in his orbit, on this one. Glad we didn’t have to look at Slug’s mind’s full graphical rendering of George’s entomological accounts of scenes of reproducing caterpillar-simulating species. Seems all that was a little off-topic, but I guess we have to let entomologists get their thrills somehow. :wink:

So, continuing in the grime, how do all those earthmoving namesakes do it?


Um, NanoByte, old bean, care to clarify your question? I’m having a little trouble figuring out what “earthmoving namesakes” is meant to convey. And do what? (Be specific now, don’t blush.)

And I’m not even going to attempt to deconstruct your second paragraph.

And this is the way you do a wink smiley ;), you :wally

George “Bagworm” Angehr

[[George “Bagworm” Angehr]]

Don’t like the images that nickname bring up, Coli.

While we’re waiting patiently for Nanobyte to collect his thoughts, here’s the link:

How do caterpillars have sex?

Jill, I’ll have you know that I’m hung like a Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis. Proportionately speaking, that is.

Nader does NOT have sex with caterpillars!

Colibri: I fancy “earthmoving namesakes” = Caterpillars, the brand of earthmoving equipment. As to the question, perhaps NanoByte is looking for links to tractor/ bulldozer porn.

Thank you so much, picmr. I had not considered the possibility that “earthmoving namesakes” was meant to indicate “namesakes of earthmovers.” My only excuse is that I got a brain cramp after trying to wade through NanoByte’s second paragraph.

While passing the time waiting for NanoByte to come back, I have conducted a detailed analysis of the grammar and syntax of the OP. I feel I owe NanoByte an apology, since it is clear that English is not his first language. Or second. Maybe not third. He’s probably doing the best he can.

In fact, there seems to be evidence that NanoByte’s native tongue may be akin to Lower Sorbian.

Gaz zajslosc spominach, jo cesto plac me dawil a martrow sezke stukanja su tsuny grali, gaz k njebju wolach, tos su woni zabrincali, me ako zwony wse, a wsykno som z nich zjawil!

There, NanoByte, I hope this makes you feel a little less homesick. (My apologies for not including the proper diacritical marks.)

Hold on just a minute here! I don’t want this thread turning into a slugfest (slug! get it? :D) so let’s try and keep any personal observations out of the discussion. That’s why we have The BBQ Pit. If people start fighting in all the other fora, then Lynn Bodoni, Alphagene and John Corrado will be out of a job, and the thought of an unemployed Alphagene roaming the SDMB gives me the willies.

moderator, «Comments on Cecil’s Columns»

Colibri said:

I had not considered the possibility that “earthmoving namesakes” was meant to indicate “namesakes of earthmovers.”

Well, I see the SD tribe has further degenerated since I left. This guy should knock off the Polish or whatever it is, stop worrying about language and start worrying about the logic of what he’s saying. Does he really think they named the insects after the earthmovers, as he appears to say in the above?


Well, I think Colibri/George is most certainly worthy of a permanent post on the Straight Dope Science Advisory Board.

He and Cecil make a nice double-act, too. Is this a trend we’re likely to see in future columns?

My apologies, NanoByte and Arnold. Seriously, I did not mean to offend you, NanoByte. Please take my comments in the spirit in which they are intended, which is: :wink: :wink: :wink:

However, when posting in CCC, one is theoretically addressing Cecil himself. In my opinion, it shows disrespect to The Master not to frame one’s question carefully and properly. If you neglect this you should be prepared to have the mickey taken out of you. Can you imagine what Cecil would have done with the OP, if he had the time?

NanoByte, I will be more than happy to provide additional enlightenment on the subject of bagworm sexual habits, if you wish to clarify what it is you want to know.

I was using the term in the broader sense, which is entirely correct. And as picmr correctly pointed out, if NanoByte was using the narrower meaning it implies he is asking about the sexual habits of bulldozers. “Earthmoving namesakes” indicates to me he is talking about Caterpillars and not caterpillars.

Sorbian, also known as Wendish or Lusatian, is a Slavic language spoken in southeastern Germany. You are correct in recognizing it as being akin to Polish. The verse I quoted means:

“Cries were often my companion, when with a sharp pain I called with my harp the heavy sighs of the past, when I shouted to heaven all strings sounded like bells.”

Excuse me for quoting it, but it seems to me the SDMB is woefully short on poetry.

Colibri said:

However, when posting in CCC, one is theoretically addressing Cecil himself. In my opinion,. . .

My OP clearly did center on The Master. Since I had no real quarrel with what he published, I did not address him face to face.

But, wow, I think you far outdo CA in padding your posts in attempt to show all your collected extraneous knowledge. I’m not sure we’re all good ab-Sorbians of it though. [Put that in your poetic dictionary.]

Checking with Webster’s 3rd [“New”, 1961], across the street in the North Branch of the Berkeley Public Library (So Athens of the West, on its refined side of town, doesn’t have an unabridged dictionary newer than than that of four decades ago?), I find that you conveniently left out their tentative etymology: “prob. fr. name’s sake (for the sake of another’s name)”. Clearly you poets are similar to MDs, who never seem to care what the direction of causation is in whatever they’re dealing with. Being from the other side of campus (engineering), I think one should use words to make sense. As are lexicographers wont, the generalization presented in this dictionary entry is probably a result of some noted poet’s reversal of the causal arrow. Have you ever heard anyone, in the US or even in Sorbia, refer to someone’s uncle as that one’s ‘namesake’, in a case where such person was named after his uncle?

“Earthmoving namesakes” indicates to me he is talking about Caterpillars and not caterpillars.

Of course. All silliness should be extrapolated to its extreme.

Are you attempting to break off another new nation in Europe – at a time when it’s desperately trying to unite? Quo vadis? Where do we Wend? Let us forget what Went before. OK, so you don’t tune in the SD when you want poetry. Even Slug knows that. But things could get verse:

I think that I shall never see
A bagworm lovely as a flea.
But if the choice be left to me –
Yes, the “Pit”'s where this should be.

But responders should be advised that I never hang out with the bagworms down there.


Thank you Colibri. I didn’t think your first post was that bad, but I could see the discussion slowly inching over to a fight, which we don’t want here.

My word of advice to people in this foruum - if you think someone has belittle you or insulted you, then take it to The BBQ Pit or let it go.

Allow me to derail this back on topic. (There, that will give everyone something benign to complain about, so all the nit-pickers can go crazy. Now, to the meat of the issue.)

NanoByte, your post is rather confusing, and many of us (or at least Colibri and me, at any rate) don’t know what it is you’ve said and asked.

To wit:

Your first sentence appears to be a comment about the person asking Cecil the question for the column. The remark is to the effect that the poster in question should be bright enough to know that a caterpiller is a larva, and as such cannot have sex. (Leaving aside the comments in the column regarding certain caterpiller like critters and their reproductive methods.) In that line, you seem to agree with George Angehr (Anger?; Colibri, right?) that the original questioner is a dolt.

Second (and this is where the confusion starts), you bring up Ralph Nader and the presidential election. There doesn’t seem to be any connection to the column whatsoever. Even the word “nadir” has no bearing on the column that I can discern. Head scratch 1.

Next you comment that your glad we didn’t have to see full renditions of all the described reproduction methods. So you’re saying you’re glad the pic and a “censored” block, and you don’t care to see depictions of larvae eating their way out of their mother? I can dig it. Does your comment about “off topic” apply in some way to the column, or your own post? Head scratch 2.

Last question: “how do the earthmoving namesakes do it?”

I was lost, too, until picmr helped out. I should have figured that one out, but by that time had given up on making sense of your question and wanted to see if anyone else had better luck.

Given that you are asking about caterpillers and not Caterpiller, now we’re back to square one. You seemed to agree at the beginning that everyone should realize that caterpillars can’t have sex. Why then do you end by asking how they have sex? Or did you intend to suggest there should have been the explicit statement somewhere about butterflies and moths getting it on?

Perhaps if you could clarify the questions above, someone could actually address your questions instead of make jokes about the lack of communication.

One more nitpick on the “earthmoving” comment: shouldn’t that be “earthmovers’ namesakes” rather than “earthmoving namesakes”?

[cautiously peering out from behind the sofa]

An announcement: I am now officially forming the George Angehr Fan Club, self to be President. George, honey, if I weren’t already the happily married mother of three, I’d be down there in Panama and have you stuffed in a sack before you could say “enormous copulatory apparatus”.

Cecil–better look to your laurels, boy. :smiley:

In Cecil’s column, George Angehr said:

It sure helps myweekend start off with a bang.

If I may be so bold as to attempt to deconstruct, I believe that Nanobyte was making a pun, with Ralph Nader in Florida and the “caterpillar sex” column both being the nadir, or lowest point, of something. I gather that the OP didn’t like the column, thinks all the information about bagworms was off-topic, wasn’t happy that the column, which was supposed to be written by Cecil, was actually written by George (my hero!), and, ultimately, doesn’t feel that the question, “How do caterpillars have sex?” was adequately answered.

Can I come out from behind the couch now?

Arnold, my apologies once again if my actions are perceived have introduced any hint of rancor into this highest of all SD fora. Perhaps I got a little carried away, but reading Sorbian poetry does that to me. I shall strive mightily to refrain from any further note of contentiousness.

:innocent angel with halo smiley:
:fingers crossed behind back smiley:

NanoByte, pax. I reiterate that if I genuinely offended you, I apologize. At the worst, I hinted you might be Sorbian, and that is no insult. They are a charming and gregarious people, if a trifle deficient in the poetry department. And as I said before, when posting anywhere in the vicinity of Cecil (or for that matter, me), it is wise to do so with caution, lest the ignoble fate of the benighted Axiomsj befall you. With regard to the OP, I cannot improve on the detailed critiques so generously provided by the ever-perspicacious Hibernian Irishman and the voluptuous :wink: anatid Duck Duck Goose.

As I am much more interested in talking about concupiscent caterpillars than playing Dueling Dictionaries, I shall proceed to answer the question that NanoByte apparently intended to pose, even if he is still reluctant to ask it outright. (And just in case you were asking about bulldozer porn, here’s a site: [link edited by the Chicago Reader to protect the morals of tricycles].)

To wit: How do bagworm moths actually have sex?

The Bagworm Moths (Family Psychidae) comprise a group of about 600 species, being found mostly in the tropics with a few in the temperate zones. In the more “primitive” members of the group (that is, closest to the supposed ancestral condition), the female is much like the male. She metamorphoses into a winged, normal-looking moth, although she usually remains perched on the cocoon from which she emerged waiting for the male rather than flitting around. In the more “advanced” species (that is, most modified from the ancestral condition) the female is “degenerate,” that is, she has lost many of the more complicated structures usually associated with adult insects, including legs and wings. Both male and female bagworm moths have only vestigial mouthparts, for they do not feed at all as adults and may live only a few hours after metamorphosis.

The bagworm’s bag has outlets at either end, one for the head and forelegs and the other to allow for the disposal of wastes. When it comes time to pupate, the caterpillar firmly attaches the bag to a twig with silk fibers. The caterpillar then seals off the head end of the bag with silk, turns around to face the tail opening, and pupates in a head down position. Upon metamorphosis, the adult female does not emerge entirely from the pupal skin, but only cracks open the front part of the hard case. She is described as “a [bare], yellow, maggoty creature with a swollen, shapeless body, with no legs, antennae, or eyes, and with vestigial wings or none at all” (loose translation of the German original). Being almost completely immobile, she remains within the bag, but attracts the male by emitting a powerful aphrodisiac scent (a pheremone).

Once the male finds her, he must insert his schlong (technical entomological term) in the hole in the tail end of the bag, and then into the crack in the front part of the female’s pupal case. He then extends his apparatus along the entire length of the female’s body, within the pupal skin, in order to reach her genitalia. “This remarkable feat is accomplished primarily by the telescopic action of the male abdomen, which is capable of extending itself to three times its normal length” (D. Davis. 1964. The Bagworm Moths of the Western Hemisphere. This edifying work, which I highly recommend, contains ten pages of plates featuring the impressive willies of various bagworm species.) The female may deposit her eggs within the pupal case, or the eggs may remain inside her body, from which the larvae later emerge. At least some species of bagworm dispense with this entire elaborate operation, since like some aphids they are parthenogenetic and thus have no need of either males or sex.

In some tropical bagworm moths the male apparatus appears to do double duty. When resting, the male curves his extensile abdomen over his back, according to some observers in an attempt to fool birds into thinking he is a scorpion and thus dangerous. For fellow males, the thought of a male bagworm moth attempting to intimidate a predator 10,000 times his size by waving his whanger at it will evoke an image of ineffable poignance. Sort of reminiscent of that battle scene in Braveheart.

Any further questions?

Well, actually, yes. A bit of a hijack, but what would the SDMB be without the hijacking of threads?

I have heard that, strictly speaking, caterpillars do not turn into butterflies, etc. Rather, an early stage of the development of the egg, it divides into two groups of cells. One of these becomes dormant, whilst the other one develops into a larva. When the larva has gorged itself and spun (or otherwise generated) a cocoon, chrysalis, or what have you, the larva then dissolves into mere nutrients; the hitherto dormant group of embryonic cells then reactivates and turns into the adult insect, using the remnants of the larva as an extended egg, as it were.

Always true, sometimes true, or mere rumor by people who ate too many hot peppers before dozing off in entymology class?

Cecil referred to aphids being pregnant before they are born, and that they are clonal. But they must have sex sometimes, right? And it can’t be intrauterine, right? How do they mix it up?