Student - 10 februari 2011

Midas muses over insects, humans and other creatures

Joris Tielens

'I would love to be an insect. To undergo a metamorphosis in mid-life, after which you get a new lease of life; who wouldn't want that?' Midas Dekkers, the famous biologist and author of tens of books about animals and creatures. is speaking. He will be in Wageningen on 16 February to talk about his fascination for insects, as part of the lecture series 'Insects and Society' organized by the Laboratory of Entomology.

Dekkers is particularly impressed by the biological ability of insects to turn into pupae. 'Imagine that you are god. I would be well-pleased to have created just one life, that of a fly, for example. Isn't it a wonder if you succeed in creating a larva first, and then use the accompanying mechanism to change the larva into a fly?'

This pupa stage should be an example to humans, says the biologist in that well-known casual tone of voice, when asked to give a foretaste of what is to come. 'People have difficulty with bringing up their young, because they treat their children as young adults. Take a leaf from the insects: a larva's only goal in life is to eat and grow, whereas an adult insect's only goal is to propagate.' The two lives must not be confused with each other, is all he wants to disclose, taking a view expressed in his award-winning book 'The Larva' (De Larf).
'The nice thing about insects is that they are so tiny, and yet they are almost as successful as human beings on the earth. Insects are by far the largest number of animals on earth. If there is just one creature which stirs up curiosity, it has to be the insect', says Dekkers. He says that when he was a child, he too put insects into jars and pulled out their legs. 'This is irresistible, especially for little boys. And that was perhaps my first science experiment: pull out one of the left legs to see if the creature would walk towards the left or the right.'
Whoever wants to know more from Midas can wait till spring for his new book, in which he writes about his love for red-haired women. But you can of course also listen to him next week in the Forum.

Date: 16 February 2011
Time: 20:00 hours
Venue: Forum building, room C222