The Loh Down On Science

Weird—how bug moms ensure simultaneous births

Can you wake up baby by shaking your booty?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, saying, yes, if you're a burrower bug.

This pea-sized critter from Japan lays its eggs in a pile. Then cuddles them, protecting them from predators. Aww! But wait! After a few days, mom starts wiggling her body vigorously in rhythmic bursts—still embracing the eggs. What gives?

Researchers from Kagoshima University in Japan know. They filmed mothers tending eggs. Sure enough, each mother-to-be eventually began busting a move. Then? Her eggs hatched within fifteen minutes! All of them. But when the researchers removed mothers before they could boogie? The brood hatched randomly over the course of twelve hours. So mom’s moves somehow trigger synchronized, rapid hatching.

Why bother? It may ensure that all young stay in the same stage of development. Or perhaps to avoid cannibalism. Big brothers and sisters will snack on little sibs. Talk about sibling rivalry!

Or maybe it's because half an hour of shaking beats twelve hours of waiting for eggs to hatch! After all, insect moms have lives, too!

***** For more 90-SECOND SCIENCE FACTS, click here.*****

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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