Friday, October 28, 2005


Okay, long story short:

You may know that Janie recently dressed up as a Ladybug for a Halloween Party. You may also know that ladybugs have varying numbers and patterns of spot which indicate thier SPECIES, not their age (although the colour of spots are an indicator of age). I came acorss this fact while looking up ladybug information for Janie's costume on the world wide web. While doing so I came across this page. Cute little page about "Ladybirds", not terribly accademic. You may notice, however, an interesting addtion on the bottum of the page.


For years scientists have known that ladybugs will climb a stalk to capture aphids and aphids will escape by falling off the stalk with the help of gravity. The burning question that still remained was how would the aphid's defense mechanisms work in the absence of gravity? In other words, what would the aphid do to escape the ladybug in space? Finally, in 1999 four ladybugs were sent into space on NASA's space shuttle led by Eileen Collins. Ladybugs and their favorite food, aphids, were sent to zero gravity to study how aphids would get away without the aid of gravity. After completing the mission, it was evident that ladybugs survived and did eat aphids in a microgravity environment. Seems like ladybugs could qualify being astronauts!

I simply couldn't believe what I read. Surely NASA has better things to put it's time and effort (not to mention cost?) towards than Ladybugs chasing aphids. So I decided to do a little back-checking. Detective Colvinson is out on the prowl!

NASA Quest, a resource page for children and teachers, sites a online chat session where children could ask real astronauts questions. Indeed, according to this interview with Eileen Collins, leader of the famed 1999 shuttle, Eileen says that they do plan on taking ladybugs into space.

And finally, here at, the ships itnerary is listed, including one Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus (CGBA) samples included ladybugs, aphids and caterpillars.

So the United States Government is in the habit of funding the exportation of BUGS into SPACE, in order to record any possible change in their dietary habits due to a lack of gravity. And what changes did they discover? None! Way to go, team!

Now, here is my purpose for this post. I would like to hear from you, the readers, in response to these questions: What purpose could such an experiment have? Commercial? Philosophical? Purely Recreational? And should we stop at Ladybugs? What if roaches eat differently in space? Or fireflies! And what of mammals? Purhaps bats hang rightside-up in space! May dogs can actually catch their own tails! How will we know unless we try? And Would it be unethical to put sheep into space, just to see the looks on their faces?

Respond Now! Inquiring minds need to know!

(okay, long story short-ER. sorry.)


westcoastloon said...

A comment for Mom (I'm leaving it here 'cause I know she'll stop by): Remember that chat we were having in email I think about how the giggle/ general sillyness gene runs strong in our family, kinda like The Force but without the light sabers? Well, when I read this "And Would it be unethical to put sheep into space, just to see the looks on their faces?" I thought to myself, "and there's another one." Proof he's definitely one of us :)

And now a comment for DAve:
I think you pose an excellent question. Perhaps the Scientists have read Ender's Game and took it too seriously and think that there really are aliens in space who are bugs (aphids maybe) so knowing if they (aphids AND thereby aliens) can be eaten would be very important. Especially if there were out to get us. Except that we're not Ladybugs. But maybe they can be trained to eat aliens. And except also that Ender's Game was pretent. Maybe the NASA boys missed that part.

bre said...

i don't understand a word you said.

Sue said...

I think that ladybugs will take over the world if we allow them to eat all the aphids they desire....we must put an end to "bugs in space", the findings will only destroy us.

Sue said...

i want to see pics of your costumes!!