Tiny wonders

Last week my wife and I went to see the latest Cirque du Soleil show called OVO. I had never been to one of these modern circus shows before,  and the insect theme of the show (ovo is Portuguese for egg–as in insect egg) was the hook that my wife thought would get me out of the house.  According to the official description, OVO looks at the world of insects and its biodiversity.  The rather thin storyline is overshadowed by the spectacle of the show, but is centered around a mysterious egg that appears in the midst of the insect community.  The egg represents the “enigma and cycles” of their six- and eight-legged lives.

The show was breath-taking and entertaining, and the insect costumes and athleticism of the actors impressive; but the artistry and imagination of OVO doesn’t begin to compare to the tiny wonders of actual insects and their eggs.  With most no bigger in size than a grain of sand, and intricate external architecture that rivals any human building, insect eggs are among nature’s tiniest marvels.

I was reminded of the size of insect eggs today doing an inspection for bed bugs.  A dozen empty bed bug eggs easily fit in the grooves of a single Phillips-head screw in the head board of a hotel bed we were examining.  If I hadn’t had more experienced colleagues there to point out the signs, I would easily have overlooked this evidence of past infestation.  The tiny size of bed bug eggs is an effective defense against human detection.

One of the best photographic galleries of insect eggs that I’ve seen recently was published last September in a National Geographic article on The Beauty of Insect Eggs. Whether you’ve seen the dance and acrobatic celebration of OVO or not, you owe it to yourself to look more closely at the universe seen through not a telescope but the most powerful of microscopes.  It will take your breath away.

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