| What the Japanese red bug teaches us about parenting|
|The female Japanese red bug is a single mother. She spends her days clambering across rough terrain that is littered with leaves and twigs, searching out food for her many children, called "nymphs". Not just any morsel will do, because her offspring have very sensitive palates and only desire the perfectly ripened fruit of a very rare plant. And so she trudges endlessly – tirelessly – through the harsh landscape to satiate her brood's growing hunger.|
Speaking of finicky eaters, you might have heard that human children can be just as demanding. Doubtless everyone loves their own kids, but the challenges associated with raising a juvenile, much less a litter of them, can seem endless. At least the Japanese red bug instinctively knows what her youngsters want for dinner, because not all species are quite as lucky.
Nurturing the young can be a dizzy whirlwind of hasty cooking, temperature taking and exasperated drives to karate practice often followed by new grey hairs, backache, or that sudden desire to run out of your home howling at the sky. At a certain point you might ask yourself: "Who is taking care of me while I'm taking care of everyone else?" Alas, parenting creates such joys. But you are not alone in the way you feel.
For mother bug, the exhausting devotion to her little rabble eventually wears her down. Each journey outside the earthy den she built becomes increasingly draining to her body. Her young ones have grown big and strong and no longer require her attention. Nature permits her to give birth only once and, now full grown, they will leave her – only to linger, if she dies, to catch one last meal.
Some people say that the relationship between mother and child is unbreakable; others argue that it is bone breaking. A number of animals have it easy: drop the goopy eggs in this dingy pool, or plant the larvae in that unsuspecting host. But it is not the same for most humans. What we need to remember is that for every miserable human parent, there are many more thousands of insect parents to commiserate with us. For creatures like the Japanese red bug, motherhood is a life-threatening ordeal, yet they do it anyway, probably because caring for their children is just as important to them as it is to you.