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THIS MONTH’S TOPIC: ENTOMOLOGY (THE STUDY OF INSECTS)





Do insects have blood?

Insects do have blood, but it is very different from human blood. Insect’s blood, referred to as hemolymph, contains various nutrients and hormones. Unlike human blood, it is not red in color; it is clear. Sometimes, though, insect blood does appear to have a yellow or green color to it – this comes from the pigment of the plants that the insect has eaten.

 Our blood is red because it has hemoglobin, which is used to carry oxygen to where it is needed in the body. Insects do not have any red blood cells or hemoglobin. They breathe through their skin and get oxygen from a complex system of air tubes that connect to the outside air through their spiracles. So instead of carrying oxygen, their blood carries nutrients from one part of the body to another.

Can insects communicate
with one another?

Yes, they sure can! Have you ever seen a swarm of ants around a piece of food? How did they know it was there? How did the ant who found it tell all its friends?

The most important communication insects have is with members of the same species. With their members, they use different signals to give warnings about danger and to tell about food sources. They also use signals to ward off predators or attract prey. These signal communications are based on the insects’ senses of touch, smell, sound, and sight.

Is bee honey kosher?

Strange as it may seem, bee honey is a kosher food. We say it may seem “strange,” because the general rule is that “what comes out of an unclean (tamei) thing is unclean.” In other words, according to halachah, if an animal is not kosher, then anything it produces is not kosher either. For this reason, milk from a horse or a camel is not kosher, because the horse and camel are non-kosher animals. Now, the bee is a non-kosher insect, yet its honey is kosher! How can that be?

The reason is due to the fact that a bee does not really produce honey from its body. It merely collects the nectar from blossoms and stores it in the honeycomb. The Creator has given the honeybee two stomachs. One is its “personal stomach,” where it digests its own food. The other is really just a sac for honey. It is a “honey stomach” where the bee collects the nectar it sips from the blossoms, in order to carry it off to the hive, where it will regurgitate (“throw up”) the nectar. Eventually it will deposit the nectar into the honeycomb, and that’s where the substance turns into real honey. This is why bee honey is kosher.

QUESTION OF THE MONTH:

This month’s question was submitted by Nechama G. of Lakewood, NJ

Dear Professor, What is the fastest flying insect?

The dragonfly is arguably the fastest flying insect in the world. Some say that the male horsefly is faster, but either way, the dragonfly is quite the speed demon, as well as a very skillful flier.