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Ecology and Life
The puppy room easing life's pain in a stroke
Gentle wobblings of a 'foul gull' fulmar
Frigatebird returns to nest on Ascension for first time since Darwin
New to Nature No 94: Canthigaster criobe
Uggie: 'He likes to fly first class'
It's a dog's life in China: sold for £1m or stolen and sold as meat
Malibu residents hire crew to remove rotting whale carcass from beach
Yellowstone's popular alpha female wolf shot dead by hunters outside park
What I miss most in the dead time of winter is the insects
BSE testing on cattle slaughtered for food 'no longer necessary'
Malaysia seizes 1,500 elephant tusks headed for China
The vibrant river was a welcome relief after the bleak, snow-covered fields
TV Review: Miniature Britain; Weight Loss Ward; Rome
Marine conservation group says UK lacks ambition to preserve seas
UK seas to gain 31 marine conservation zones
Live animal exports going via previously unknown routes
When a dozing otter steals the show
Newly discovered slow loris species already threatened
What the male bowerbird can teach us about home furnishings
Could this really be the fearsome, legendary Girt Dog reincarnate?
Overfishing is a solvable environmental challenge for the EU
Life comes cheap for winter wrens
Ash trees consumed by something of the night
Foie gras taken off menu in House of Lords
  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.
New to Nature No 96: Oncopodura fadriquei
Animal rights activists plan direct action against beagle imports
How the stink of a waterbuck could prevent sleeping sickness in Kenya
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New to nature No 97: Ferrisia uzinuri
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New to Nature No 98: Xerophytacolus claviverpus
Animal astronauts: the unsung heroes of space exploration
Pygmy elephants found dead in Borneo after 'poisoning'
A badger's biscuit-sized footprints in the snow follow the field edge
British moths in calamitous decline, major new study reveals
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Days of heavy rain have left the ancient woodland sodden
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What the Japanese red bug teaches us about parenting
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